By Norman Tanner
Councils were of primary significance to the ancient improvement of the Catholic Church. From the 1st Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to the reforming moment Vatican Council of 1962-5, the conciliar stream has mostly represented the pursuits and prerogatives of the mass of the trustworthy: usually -- specifically from medieval occasions -- as a bulwark opposed to the untrammelled supremacy of the Pope. Norman Tanner is arguably the exceptional pupil of church councils writing in English and his paintings offers an important framework to our realizing of the advance of Western Catholicism. during this quantity, which assembles a few of his most sensible paintings at the subject, he displays at the legacy of conciliarism, and indicates how and why the apostolic spirit of Nicaea was once to resurface at Vatican II.
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Additional resources for The Church in Council: Conciliar Movements, Religious Practice and the Papacy from Nicea to Vatican II (International Library of Historical Studies)
The council may be seen as trying to grapple with this problem of separation – perhaps a false problem – in which Western analytic thought had become enmeshed. On the other hand, the oneness and unity of truth, upon which the decree also insists, may be closer to the mentality of Asia, which sees truth under different facets but rejects any dichotomies in it. Vatican I’s second decree, ‘On the Church of Christ’, known from its opening words as Pastor aeternus, is more famous. It was originally intended to be a complete treatise on the Church but the curtailment of the council’s business means that in fact only the papacy was treated, culminating in a fourth and final chapter on papal infallibility.
The answer is not simple. Medieval people themselves, in Western Christendom, were uncertain about the status of their own councils and the weight of opinion appears to have been that they were not ecumenical. The point is brought out most clearly in the profession of faith that the Council of Constance in 1417 required of a future pope. 1 The distinction between ecumenical and general councils was not expanded upon but it is evident that some difference in status was intended. 2 It was thought impossible to have an ecumenical council without the participation of the Eastern church.
They took place at a time when, for the first time in history, Christianity had become a world religion. What was the Asian contribution to them? Vatican I The first Vatican Council, which took place in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome during the eight months between December 1869 and July 1870, will not detain us long. It was from the beginning threatened by the outbreak of war between France and Germany and the withdrawal of the two countries’ bishops that would probably result. There was also the danger posed by the Italian army, which had encircled Rome in its quest to conquer the Papal States and complete the reunification of Italy.