Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church
Year of
Council
Name of Council
Location Council Held
Subject and Key TopicseBook Link
3251st General Council of Nicaea
Location:
Nicaea
(Current day Iznik,Turkey)
First official Council of the Catholic Church. This council was necessary to address the heresy of Arianism and clarify the Revealed Truths regarding the Holy Trinity and the true divinity of Jesus Christ.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Nicene Creed-Profession of FaithThe Holy TrinityThe Incarnation
True Divinity of ChristConsubstantialityJesus as true God and true man
3811st General Council of Constantinople
Location:
Constantinople
Current day Istanbul,Turkey
Subsequent to the Council of Nicaea in which all sides agreed on the errors of Arian and his followers, much controversy followed which included a deep disagreement, especially amongst Eastern Bishops, as to the validity of the wording used in defining the divinity of Christ (in the Profession of Faith of the 318 Fathers) - this Counicl was called to end the uneasiness and confusion.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
ArianismProfession of FaithThe Holy Trinity
True Divinity of Christ
431General Council of Ephesus
Location:
Ephesus
Current day Selçuk,Turkey
This General Council was very important for the refining/defining of the "Hypostatic Union" of Christ's Divine nature with His human nature - an important concept but one rarely understood. This was also the counicl that emphatically confirmed Mary as the the true "Mother of God".
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Hypostatic UnionThe IncarnationTrue Divinity of Christ
Christ as mankind's RedeemerMary as "Mother of God"Nestorianism
451General Council of Chalcedon
Location:
Chalcedon
Current day Kadiköy, Istanbul Turkey
This General Council continued to deal with the ongoing "confusion" and/or misrepresentation of Christ being one person (Divine) with two natures; divine and human.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The IncarnationThe Hypostatic UnionTrue Divinity of Christ
Christ as mankind's RedeemerMary as "Mother of God"Primacy of the Pope
5532nd General Council of Constantinople
Location:
Constantinople
Current day Istanbul,Turkey
Council was called to deal with the issue of "anathematizing" what was referred to as the"Three Chapters"; clerics who had preached things similar to the Nestorian heresy: Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia (anathematized even thought already dead), Theodoret bishop of Cyrrhus and Ibas, bishop of Edessa.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Holy TrinityThe Hypostatic UnionThe Incarnation
True Divinity of ChristMary as "Mother of God"
6803rd General Council of Constantinople
Location:
Constantinople
Current day Istanbul,Turkey
Council dealt heavily with the heresy of "Monothelitism", which had become popular, especially among many Eastern bishops - this is the idea that Jesus Christ had only one "will" and one "source of operation."
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The 2 Natures of ChristThe Hypostatic UnionThe 2 unique "wills" of Christ
Continutiy of prior CouncilsTwo Natures in Christ
7872nd General Council of Nicaea
Location:
Nicaea
(Current day Iznik,Turkey)
Council was called by Empress Irene (acting as regent for her son Emperor Constantine VI) primarily to denounce and condemn the iconoclast heresy, which tried to condemn any reverance for relics or images of saints.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Veneration of SaintsThe Veneration of ImagesPrayer to the souls of Saints
Continutiy of prior Councils
8694th General Council of Constantinople
Location:
Constantinople
Current day Istanbul,Turkey
Iconoclasm continued to be carried forward by numerous emperors, among them Leo V - he had Ignatius (Bishop of Constantinople) removed and a married lay person (Photios) put in to his place - this Council was called to remedy this grave mistake and once again restate the high value of venerating images and relics of saints.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Veneration of SaintsThe Veneration of ImagesPrayer to the souls of Saints
Hierarchical structure of the Church
11231st General Council of the Lateran
Location:
Lateran Basilica
Rome, Italy
The two greatest evils afflicting the Catholic Church in the early 12th century were clerical immorality and simony - Simony is the buying or selling of ecclesiastical privileges; for example pardons, benefices, parish assignments etc. This Council was called to correct these wrongs.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Priestly chastitySimonySacred Orders
11392nd General Council of the Lateran
Location:
Lateran Basilica
Rome, Italy
All that is known of this General Council are the Canons enacted; many of which were restatements of the First General Council of the Lateran.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
SimonySacred OrdersPriestly chasitity
Concubinage (Co-habitation)
11793rd General Council of the Lateran
Location:
Lateran Basilica
Rome, Italy
This Council was called to clear up a major conflict regarding the rightful Pope - the then Emperor Frederick had designs on controlling all of Rome and imposed his own "pope" that he could control. Many of the canons from this Council became the backbone of the laws and regulations that now govern the Catholic Church.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Papal Elections
12154th General Council of the Lateran
Location:
Lateran Basilica
Rome, Italy
Overall objective of Council as stated by Pope Innocent III: "to eradicate vices and to plant virtues, to correct faults and to reform morals, to remove heresies and to strengthen faith, to settle discords and to establish peace, to get rid of oppression and to foster liberty, to induce princes and Christian people to come to the aid and succour of the holy Land. "
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Heresy of Manichaeism TransubstantiationThe Holy Trinity
Divine Work of CreationChrist's Human NatureAttributes of God
12451st General Council of Lyons
Location:
Lyon, France
Main instigator behind the need for this General Council was the emperor of Sicily (and all of Italy) Frederick, who wanted to be the "Catholic" Roman Emperor with all power over the civil state and the church, usurping the rightful powers of the See of Peter.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Sacred OrdersThe Crusade against the attacks by the MuslimsState persecution of the Church
Papal Primacy
12742nd General Council of Lyons
Location:
Lyon, France
The focus of this Council centered on the prolonged stresses between the Western "Latin" churches and the Eastern "Greek" Churches, especially as it related to 2 primary issues: The primacy of the Roman Pope over all Catholic Churches, and the understanding of the origin of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Holy SpiritThe Holy TrinityPapal Primacy
Crusdade against the MuslimsPapal Conclave and the election of a new Pope
1311General Council of Vienne
Location:
Vienne
(Southern France)
The history leading up to this Council involves, most notably, King "Philip the Fair" of France, who overtly demanded that the Church (and popes) be made subject to his rule, but who was resisted initially by Pope Boniface VIII, who infamously wrote the strongly worded Bull Unam Sanctam - this Counicl set the stage for the "Avignon Captivity" in which the popes lived and ruled from France.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Attributes of GodThe Human SoulThe Incarnation
Sacrament of BaptismCrusade to regain the Holy Land stolen by the Muslims
1414General Council of Constance
Location:
Constance, Germany
Council convoked to address the "Great Schism" and the terrible issue of there existing three (3) concurrent popes: 1. Gregory XII of the Roman party, 2.Benedict XIII of the Avignon party and 3.John XXIII, who had been elected after the death of Alexander V but who ended up fleeing Constance and refusing to return to the Council.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Sacrament of the Holy EucharistPapal Primacy
1431General Council of Florence
Location:
Florence, Italy
"Conciliarism" was a reform movement in the 14th-, 15th- and 16th-century Catholic Church which held that supreme authority in the Church resided with an Ecumenical council, apart from, or even against, the pope - one of the reasons for this movement to take place was to address the Western Schism that divided the Church based on popes chosen by state heads and those elected by the Church itself - a decree issued during the Council of Constance "codified" this concept, but was subsequently nullified by all popes since that time.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Catholic ChurchThe Attributes and Nature of GodThe Doctrine of the Triune God
The IncarnationThe Seven SacramentsHeaven, Hell and Purgatory
15125th General Council of the Lateran
Location:
Lateran Basilica
Rome, Italy
This council was summoned by pope Julius II by the bull Sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, issued at Rome on 18 July 1511, after several schismatic cardinals, officially supported by Louis XII, king of France, had assembled a quasi-council at Pisa and threatened the unity of the Church.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The Human SoulConciliarismSimony
1545General Council of Trent
Location:
Trento & Bologna Italy
Most important General Council ever held in terms of the defining of Catholic Dogma and Doctrine, especially as it related to: 1.Original Sin, 2.Justification and 3.The 7 Sacraments. This Counicl was primarily focused on combatting the many grave errors put forth by the "protestants" like Martin Luther and John Calvin.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
The 7 SacramentsCreation/Original Sin/Fallen ManDivine Grace
Redemption of ManThe Catholic Church of ChristThe Incarnation
18691st General Council of the Vatican
Location:
Vatican City
Council was originally called by Pius IX to address the following: 1. Restate the faith on certain matters that had been attacked and misunderstood 2. Review and strengthening of the cleric 3. Provide new safeguards for Christian marriage and Christian education and 4. Clarify issues relative to the relationship between state and Church.
Key Doctrines and Topics:
Existence and Nature of GodAttributes of GodAct and Work of Creation
Doctrine of GracePapal InfallibilityThe Catholic Church