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Constance, A.D. 1414.
The next General Council recognized by the Romans, is that of 250 bishops who assembled at Constance in the year 1414, under John XXIII., the successor of Alexander V., mentioned above. They met for the purpose of putting an end to the schism in the Papacy, which they accomplished for a time by deposing two of the rival popes(LL), Benedict XIII. and John XXIII.(MM), (Gregory XII. sent in his resignation), and electing in their stead Martin V. This Council also passed a decree by which the bishops of the Christian Church were restored to their Apostolic privileges, and no longer deemed the vassals of the usurping Bishop of Rome. They declared that a General Council was superior to the single bishop who held the Roman See, and he amenable to that tribunal (nn). The Council is also remarkable for the sentence of heresy pronounced against Wickliffe, who was dead, and against John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, who were burned alive at the instigation of the council, in violation of the Emperor's safe conduct. But that which renders this council most worthy of note as concerns the present inquiry, is its impious decree concerning the administration of the Eucharist in only one kind. Thc Church of Rome chooses only to consider as of authority, the decrees of this council in matters of faith (oo), and in the condemnation of Wickliffe and the others. Its decisions in regard to the superiority of a General Council over the Bishop of Rome, were reprobated by the subsequent Councils of Florence, and the fifth Lateran.—Conc. xii. 1-294.
The style of a General Council was assumed by that which assembled (pursuant to a decree of Constance(PP), at Pavia in 1423, under Martin the Fifth, and was thence removed to Sienna on account of pestilence. In this Council there was much deliberation concerning the attempted reduction of the Greek Church under the Roman yoke. The style assumed by the Pope, through his ambassadors, when treating with the Greek Patriarch, as mentioned in this Council, is, perhaps, worth noticing. It is as follows, “ The most holy and most blessed, who hath the Heavenly judgment, who is Lord upon earth, the successor of Peter, the anointed of the Lord, the Lord of the Universe, the Father of kings, the Light of the World, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Martin."
The acts of this Council are not deemed of authority in the Church of Rome; nor does it hold a place in the list of their General Councils.-Conc, xii 365 -380.
Basle, A.D. 1431-1442.
Lausanne, A.D. 1449.
The next Council recognized by the Romans as General, is that which in pursuance of a decree of the preceding one at Sienna, was assembled at Basle in Switzerland, in the year 1431. It was convened by Martin V., and his successor, Eugenius IV. The object which the Fathers here assembled set before them and pursued with eagerness, was the reform of the many abuses which had been the fertile subject of complaint for many years. But they were not allowed to pursue their course without interruption. One of their first steps was to confirm anew the decrees of Constance concerning the superiority of a General Council over the Bishop of Rome, its power to punish him, if refractory, and its freedom from being dissolved by him. These and some other wholesome regulations, which restored the Church to her liberty, and restrained the tyrannical and most injurious usurpation of the Roman Pontiff, not unnaturally excited the wrath of Eugenius, who attempted to dissolve the Council. Upon this they summoned him to the Council, and threatened to declare him contumacious. Hereupon he revoked his order for dissolution, and engaged to adhere to the Council. But upon the Pope again mustering courage to attempt to transfer the place of the Council to Ferrara, A.D. 1438, they summoned him and his cardinals, and upon their not appearing, declared him and them con
tumacious, and finally deposed him, A.D. 1439; and elected in his stead Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, under the name of Felix V. This was met in turn on the part of Eugenius and his adherents in the Council, which, by this time, had moved from Ferrara to Florence, with excommunications and anathemas. Finally, the Council of Basle moved for an adjournment to Lausanne; and, Eugenius being now dead, and Felix having resigned, they agreed to recognize Nicolas V., the successor of Eugenius, and so came to an end. Besides the dispute with the existing Pope and the endeavour to curtail the Papal power; a chief point which engaged the attention of this Council was to effect a reconciliation between the Eastern and Western Churches. Only a very small portion (QQ) of the acts of this Council are deemed of authority in the Church of Rome.-Conc. xii. 459 and Seq. xiii. 1-4, and 1335.
XVI. Ferrara, A.D. 1438. Florence, A.D. 1439.
The next General Council, according to the Latins, is that of 141 bishops which was assembled at Ferrara, under Eugenius IV., in opposition to that which he had before convened at Basle. It met in the year 1438, but a plague breaking out in Ferrara, it was the next year transferred to Florence. The chief object of the Council was to consider the means of effecting a reconciliation between the Greek and Roman Churches; an attempt to accomplish which
was undertaken with much zeal by the Pope and the Western Bishops on the one hand, and the Greek Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople (Joseph), on the other, which last were present in person, and attended by many Eastern Bishops. The chief points to be got over were the doctrine of Purgatory, the Papal Supremacy, and the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son, all which the Greeks denied. At last, after much discussion, the Greek Bishops (with the exception of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who died at the Council,) Mark, Bishop of Ephesus, the Patriarch of Heraclea, and Athanasius, were, by force, and fraud, and bribery, prevailed upon to join in articles of agreement or union. However, this apparent union was to little purpose. No sooner were the Greek deputies returned to Constantinople than the Church there indignantly rejected all that had been done; and in a Council at Constantinople, held, according to their own account, a year and a half after the termination of that at Florence, all the Florentine proceedings were declared null and the Synod condemned (RR). The Patriarch of Constantinople (Gregory), who had şucceeded Joseph, and was inclined to the Latins, was deposed, and Athanasius chosen in his stead. The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and the chiefs of the old Patriarchates of Ephesus, Heraclea, and Cæsarea, were all present and concurred in these transactions. Some writers have styled the Synod of Florence, the eighth General Council (ss).