Constantinople, Second Council of

Constantinople, Second Council of, 553, regarded generally as the fifth ecumenical council. It was convened by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to settle the dispute known as the Three Chapters. In an attempt to reconcile moderate Monophysite parties to orthodoxy, Justinian had issued (544) a declaration of faith. The last three chapters anathematized the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa for Nestorianism. While the charge was true of their writings to a certain extent, the Council of Chalcedon had cleared those men of any personal heresy. Justinian's edict had the effect of slighting the council and encouraging Monophysitism; it was deeply resented in the West. Pope Vigilius, resisting at first, was constrained to support the edict. Under pressure from the Western bishops he then reversed himself. In retaliation, Justinian called a council at Constantinople; it was attended by only six Western bishops, boycotted by Vigilius, and dominated by Justinian and the Eastern bishops. The council approved the imperial edict and seems to have censured Vigilius. The pope was forced to ratify the council's work the following year. The West, in general, was slow in recognizing it as an ecumenical council, though ultimately it was accepted, chiefly because of the orthodoxy of its pronouncements.

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