Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox)

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The Fourth Council of Constantinople of 879-880 is believed to have been the Eighth Ecumenical Council by some Eastern Orthodox.[1] Photios had been appointed Patriarch of Constantinople but deposed by a Council of Constantinople called in 869 by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II.[2] Called in 879, this Greek Fourth Council of Constantinople, held after Photios had been reinstated on order of the Emperor, annulled the earlier one.[2] Today, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the council in 869-870 as "Constantinople IV", while the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize the councils in 879-880 as "Constantinople IV" and revere Photios as a saint. At the time that these councils were being held, this division was not entirely apparent.

These two councils represent a break between East and West. The previous seven ecumenical councils are recognized as ecumenical and authoritative by both Greek-literate Eastern Christians and Latin-literate Western Christians. This division led eventually to the East-West Schism of 1054.



In 858, Photius, a scholar whom taught philosophy and lectured at the University of Constantinople, was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople,[2] making him equal to the Patriarch of Rome per Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.[3] Emperor Michael III had deposed the previous patriarch, Ignatius.[2] Ignatius refused to abdicate, setting up a power struggle between the Emperor and the Pope.[2] In 867, another council in Constantinople deposed the pope, declared him anathema, and excommunicated him.[2] In addition Roman claims of Papal primacy and the Filioque clause were condemned.[4][5]

The Council of 879-880

After the death of Ignatius in 877, Photius mounted the See of Constantinople for a second time. A Council, comprising the representatives of all the five patriarchates, including that of Rome (all in all 383 bishops), was called in 879 and reinstated Photius as Ecumenical Patriarch.

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