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§ 112. The Sixth Oecumenical Council. a.d. 680.


Constans II. was murdered in a bath at Syracuse (668). His son, Constantine IV. Pogonatus (Barbatus, 668–685), changed the policy of his father, and wished to restore harmony between the East and the West. He stood on good or neutral terms with Pope Vitalian (6 57–672), who maintained a prudent silence on the disputed question, and with his successors, Adeodatus (672–676), Donus or Domnus (676–678), and Agatho (678–681).

After sufficient preparations, he called, in concert with Agatho, a General Council. It convened in the imperial palace at Constantinople, and held eighteen sessions from Nov. 7, 680, to Sept. 16, 681. it is called the Sixth Oecumenical, and also the First Trullan Synod, from the name of the hall or chapel in the palace.617617    Τρούλλονor Τρούλλιον, Trullum, Trulla, Trullus, a technical term for buildings with a cupola. The Acts say that the sessions were held ἐντῷ σεκρέτῳ τοῦθείουπαλατίου, τῷ οὕτωλεγομένῳ Τρούλλῳ , and Anastasius: ”in basilica, quae Trullus appellatur, intra palatium.” The highest number of members in attendance was one hundred and seventy-four, including three papal legates (two priests and one deacon). The emperor presided in person, surrounded by civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries. The acts are preserved in the Greek original and in two old Latin versions.618618    Mansi, XI. 195-922. See a full account in Hefele, III. 252-313.

After a full discussion of the subject on both sides, the council, in the eighteenth and last session, defined and sanctioned the two-will doctrine, almost in the very language of the letter of Pope Agatho to the emperor.619619    See above, § 110. Macarius, the patriarch of Alexandria, who adhered to Monotheletism, was deposed.

The epistle of Agatho is a worthy sequel of Leo’s Epistle to the Chalcedonian Council, and equally clear and precise in stating the orthodox view. It is also remarkable for the confidence with which it claims infallibility for the Roman church, in spite of the monotheletic heresy of Pope Honorius (who is prudently ignored). Agatho quotes the words of Christ to Peter, Luke 22:31, 32, in favor of papal infallibility, anticipating, as it were, the Vatican decision of 1870.620620    Comp. Creeds of Christendom, I. 163 and 187.

But while the council fully endorsed the dyotheletic view of Agatho, and clothed it with oecumenical authority, it had no idea of endorsing his claim to papal infallibility; on the contrary, it expressly condemned Pope Honorius I. as a Monotheletic heretic, together with Sergius, Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Paulus, Petrus, and Theodore of Pharan.

Immediately after the close of the council, the emperor published the decision, with an edict enforcing it and anathematizing all heretics from Simon Magus down to Theodore of Pharan, Sergius, Pope Honorius, who in all was their follower and associate, and confirmed the heresy.621621    τὸν̔ κατὰ πάντα τούτοις συναιρέτην καὶ σύνδρομον καὶβεβαιωτὴν τῆς αἱρέσεως. The edict forbids any one hereafter to teach the doctrine of one will and one energy under penalty of deposition, confiscation, and exile.

Pope Agatho died Jan. 10, 682; but his successor, Leo II., who was consecrated Aug. 17 of the same year, confirmed the sixth council, and anathematized all heretics, including his predecessor, Honorius, who, instead of adorning the apostolic see, dared to prostitute its immaculate faith by profane treason, and all who died in the same error.622622    “Honorium [anathematizamus] qui hanc apostolicam sedem non apostolicae traditionis doctrina lustraVit. sed profana proditione immaculatam fidem subvertere conatus est, et omnes qui in suo errore defuncti sunt.” Mansi, XI. 731; Hefele, III. 289. See § 113.



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