Third Council of Constantinople

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The Third Council of Constantinople is believed to have been the Sixth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups[1]. It met on November 7, 680 for its first session; it ended its meetings, said to have been eighteen in number, on September 16 of 681[1]. The number of bishops present was under three hundred and the minutes of the last session have only 174 signatures attached to them.

The council's conclusion was that Jesus has two wills as well as two natures (divine and human), and that those two wills did not conflict with each other. It thus refuted monothelitism as heresy, which held that Jesus Christ had only one (divine) will[1]. Also, it posthumuously restored Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor to communion with the church.[citation needed]


The Council

When the Emperor Constantine IV first summoned the council he had no intention that it would be ecumenical. From the Sacras it appears that he had summoned all the Metropolitans and bishops of the jurisdiction of Constantinople, and had also informed the Patriarch of Antioch that he might send Metropolitans and bishops. A long time before, he had written to Pope Agatho on the subject.

When the synod assembled however, it assumed at its first session the title "Ecumenical." All five patriarchs were represented, Alexandria and Jerusalem having sent deputies although they were at the time in the hands of the Muslims.

In this particular Council, the Emperor presided in person surrounded by high court officials. On his right sat Patriarch George I of Constantinople and Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch and next to them the representative of the Patriarch of Alexandria. On the Emperor's left were seated the representatives of the Pope. In the midst were placed, as usual, the Holy Gospels. After the eleventh session, however, the Emperor was no longer able to be present, but returned and presided at the closing meeting.

The sessions of the council were held in the domed hall (or possibly chapel) in the imperial palace; which, the Acts tell us, was called Trullo (εν ώ σεκρετω του Θειου παλτιου τη ουτη λεγομενω Τρουλλω).

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