The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Councils of Faith: Vatican II (1962-65)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Councils of Faith: Vatican I (1869-1870)

Saturday, November 16, 2013
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Councils of Faith: Trent (1545-63)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Councils of Faith: Lateran V (1512-17)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517) happened in the sixteenth century before another important council, Trent. However, there is a considerable difference between the two councils as the second came to answer to an important matter: Protestantism. However, Lateran V also addressed issues that were very sensitive in the Church.

Before Lateran V, there had been the Great Schism or the Western Schism (1378-1417)  to avoid confusion with the East-West Schism in 1054. The Western Schism (also 'Papal Schism') consisted in a split that occurred in the Catholic Church when two popes, one in Avignon and another in Rome, claimed both to be the successors of Saint Peter. The Council of Constance (1414-1417) put an end to the disagreement but the division among Christian princes and among church leaders had left lasting marks. Another event had happened: a strong and divisive argument had erupted in the Church about the role of the Pope compared to that of the General Council that used to choose him. Some believed that the Council that chooses a pope is greater than him. It was called Conciliarism. Others however maintained the view that the Pope came first and his authority was greater than that of the General Council. This gives one a hint about the climate in the Church before Lateran V.

Pope Julius II
When Giuliano della Rovere became Pope Julius II he promised to his cardinals to convoke a general council. However, Pope Julius II, being pre-occupied by many other matters, especially wars, did honour his promise. The Emperor Maximilian and the king of France Louis XII convoked a council at Pisa in 1511. A small number of cardinals attended with a few bishops. The Conciliabulum of Pisa, as it is know, decided to suspend Pope Julius II, as they believed in Conciliarism. The same year, Pope Julius convoked a council and many cardinals and bishops joined him in condemning the conclusions of the Conciliabulum of Pisa. Even the Roman Emperor and the French king ended up rejecting the conclusions of the council they had convoked. The cardinals and bishops who met at Pisa were condemned as heretics and schismatics. When Pope Julius II died in 1513, Pope Leo X succeeded him and the council, which had been interrupted, resumed.

Lateran V condemned many other things including a 1438 document called Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges which limited the powers of the pope, especially when it came to the nomination of bishops and other religious leaders. However, it did not only condemn aspects that could have been seen as threats to the papacy; it also addressed other issues that were calling for a reform. It addressed concubinage, simony, church property issues, blasphemy, etc. It mostly addressed cardinals and other church authorities’ behaviours. It also required that books were to be given permission by the local bishop before they were printed.

Pope Leo XII
The Fifth Lateran Council came in a time when people were calling for radical changes. It came after many church leaders had given up hope on Pope Julius II to convoke a council as he had promised. It all ended in condemnations that could have been avoided. It intensified a climate that would in the end result into a big and sad change in the Church: the Protestant Reformation. Indeed, by the time the year 1517 ended, the same year during which the Fifth Lateran Council had been concluded, Martin Luther had started a movement that would not only split the church, but also strengthen the divisions among Christian nations.
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Councils of Faith: Constance (1414-18)

Sunday, June 16, 2013
There have been a number of times when there have been two or more people claiming to be the valid pope. These times were difficult for the Church for obvious reasons, especially when it was not immediately clear who was the validly chosen pope. The most troubling of these periods resulted in what is called the Great Western Schism (1378-1417) and the Council of Constance resolved it. Read more

Councils of Faith: Vienne (1311-12)

Thursday, June 13, 2013
Pope Francis’ decision to gather an advisory body of Cardinals from all over the world has prompted much discussion in recent months and reopened a debate over the authority of the Papacy relative to the college of Bishops. It is important to remember that ecclesiological questions of this kind cannot be asked in a vacuum. The juridical structure that the Church arrives at in any epoch is historically conditioned: in other words, how the Church is governed is to a certain extent structured by the kind or quality of freedom that secular rulers are prepared to give to the Church.  Read more

Councils of Faith - Lyon I and II

Saturday, June 01, 2013
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Councils of Faith: Lateran IV (1215)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Fourth Lateran Council (November 1215) represents a high-point in ecclesiastical governance in the Middle Ages. It is also of special interest to us here as it formed the backdrop to the establishment of the Order of Preachers in 1216.  Read more

Councils of Faith: Lateran I - III

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Our series on the Ecumenical councils of the Church here on Godzdogz has so far been dominated by the controversies in the Greek speaking East. The first three Lateran councils, convoked in a 60 year period between 1123 and 1179, mark a shift in focus towards the west. In these councils we see the Church wrestling in a very practical way with the question of authority. In the wake of the Western Roman Empire’s fall, the Papacy had stepped into a power vacuum at the heart of western European society. Yet as the centuries passed and European culture saw a political renewal the Church found it increasingly necessary to resist secular attempts to curtail its autonomy. Lateran I – III, then, can be seen as part of a broader project led by a number of reforming Popes in the eleventh and twelfth century to assert the independence of the Church from the crown and tighten clerical discipline.  Read more

Councils of Faith: Constantinople IV (869-70)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
This council was centred around whether Photius ought, or ought not, to be Patriarch of Constantinople.  It involved clear political interactions and, what is more, the political situation was complex, and changed significantly over short periods of time. An interaction with actual ‘secular’ politics and civic life is a feature of many of the ecumenical councils. An awareness of political factors is probably common to them all. After all, the Church exists in and interacts with the world. In common with other councils, it passed canons that have proved important over time, and often of more significance and use in theology, than the central business for which such councils were principally called. Read more
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