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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


The Quinisext Ecumenical Council - A.D. 692

Edited from a variety of translations (mentioned in the preface) by H. R. Percival

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As this is not a history of the Councils but a collection of their decrees and canons with illustrative notes, the only other point to be considered is the reception these canons met with.

The decrees were signed first by the Emperor, the next place was left vacant for the Pope, then followed the subscriptions of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch, the whole number being 211, bishops or representatives of bishops. It is not quite certain whether any of the Patriarchs were present except Paul of Constantinople; but taking it all in all the probability is in favour of their presence. [341] Blank places were left for the bishops of Thessalonica, Sardinia, Ravenna and Corinth. The Archbishop of Gortyna in Crete added to his signature the phrase "Holding the place of the holy Church of Rome in every synod." He had in the same way signed the decrees of III. Constantinople, Crete belonging to the Roman Patriarchate; as to whether his delegation on the part of the Roman Synod continued or was merely made to continue by his own volition we have no information. The ridiculous blunder of Balsamon must be noted here, who asserts that the bishops whose names are missing and for which blank places were left, had actually signed.

Pope Sergius refused to sign the decrees when they were sent to him, rejected them as "lacking authority" (invalidi) and described them as containing "novel errors." With the efforts to extort his signature we have no concern further than to state that they signally failed. Later on, in the time of Pope Constantine, a middle course seems to have been adopted, a course subsequently in the ninth century thus expressed by Pope John VIII., "he accepted all those canons which did not contradict the true faith, good morals, and the decrees of Rome," a truly notable statement! Nearly a century later Pope Hadrian I. distinctly recognizes all the Trullan decrees in his letter to Tenasius of Constantinople and attributes them to the Sixth Synod. "All the holy six synods I receive with all their canons, which rightly and divinely were promulgated by them, among which is contained that in which reference is made to a Lamb being pointed to by the Precursor as being found in certain of the venerable images." Here the reference is unmistakably to the Trullan Canon LXXXII.

Hefele's summing up of the whole matter is as follows:

(Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. V., p. 242.)

That the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nice ascribed the Trullan canons to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, and spoke of them entirely in the Greek spirit, cannot astonish us, as it was attended almost solely by Greeks. They specially pronounced the recognition of the canons in question in their own first canon; but their own canons have never received the ratification of the Holy See.

Thus far Hefele, but it seems that Gratian's statement on the subject in the Decretum should not be omitted here. (Pars I. Dist. XVI., c. v.)

[341] Cf. Hefele, l.c., Vol. V., 237. On the other hand vide Asseman (l.c. Tom. V., pp. 30, 69), who thinks Alexandria and Jerusalem were vacant at the time!

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