The Eighth Ecumenical Council

Originally posted 10/6/2009.

Tradition of Only Seven Councils
In The Photian Schism, Fr. Francis Dvornik of pious memory points out that the following witnesses speak of only seven ecumenical councils; they regarded neither the 869-870 anti-Photian synod nor the 879-880 reunion synod of Constantinople as the Eighth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople IV:

Eastern Witnesses to Seven Only:
1. Patriarch St. Euthymios I Synkellos of Constantinople
2. Patriarch St. Nicholas I Mystikos of Constantinople [Vatican MS., Ottob., n. 147, fol. 440]
3. Patriarch Michael I Cerularios of Constantinople [PG 120:781816]
4. 4. Metropolitan St. John II of Kiev [Letter to Antipope Clement III]
5. Patriarch Gregory II of Alexandria [PG 152:11021103]
6. Emperor John VIII Palaeologos [Mansi xxviii:1069A]

Western Witnesses to Seven Only:
1. Pope Marinus II of Rome [PL 133:874-875]
2. St. Peter Damian (Doctor) [PL 145:97C]
3. Pope St. Leo IX of Rome [PL 147:772-773]
4. Cardinal Humbert de Silva [PL 143:1004]

The End Result
So, even if Eastern Orthodox writers want to claim that the Photian reunion synod of 879-880 is Constantinople IV and the Eighth Ecumenical Council,{1} they have to admit that the matter was not settled in the ninth century. What was the deciding factor, then, that made the 879-880 synod ecumenical in the eyes of certain Orthodox writers? For Catholics, the papacy’s Petrine power to bind and loose is the deciding factor, and the important thing is that today the Church recognizes the 869-870 council as ecumenical.

Notes & References
{1} E.g., Metropolitan Nilos of Rhodes (d. post-1360), Patriarch Dositheos II Notarios of Jerusalem (d. 1707), Patriarch Hierotheos II of Alexandria (d. 1858), Patriarch Methodios of Antioch (d. 1859), Patriarch Cyril II of Jerusalem (d. 1872), Patriarch Anthimos VI of Constantinople (d. 1873), Archimandrite Justin Popovich of Serbia (d. 4/7/1979), Priest John Savvas Romanides of Greece (d. 11/1/2001), Protopresbyter George Dion Dragas, Dr. Clark Carlton of Tennessee, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpaktos, etc.


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