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05. The Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D.

05. The Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D.

The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. It is also recognized by the Old Catholics and others. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople. It was held from 5 May to 2 June 553. Participants were overwhelmingly Eastern bishops—only sixteen Western bishops were present, including nine from Illyricum and seven from Africa, but none from Italy—out of the 152 total.

The main work of the council was to confirm the condemnation issued by edict in 551 by the Emperor Justinian against the Three Chapters. These were the Christological writings and ultimately the person of Theodore of Mopsuestia (died 428), certain writings against Cyril of Alexandria's Twelve Anathemas accepted at the Council of Ephesus, written by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (died c. 466), and a letter written against Cyrillianism and the Ephesian Council by Ibas of Edessa (died 457).

The purpose of the condemnation was to make plain that the Great Church, which followed a Chalcedonian creed, was firmly opposed to Nestorianism as supported by the Antiochene school which had either assisted Nestorius, the eponymous heresiarch, or had inspired the teaching for which he was anathematized and exiled. The council also condemned the teaching that Mary could not be rightly called the Mother of God (Greek: Theotokos) but only the mother of the man (anthropotokos) or the mother of Christ (Christotokos).

The Second Council of Constantinople is also considered as one of the many attempts by Byzantine Emperors to bring peace in the empire between the Chalcedonian and Monophysite fractions of the church which had been in continuous conflict since the times of the Council of Ephesus in AD 431.

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