Ecumenical Councils in the Church

“The first truly ‘ecumenical’ action was the Council in Nicea, in 325, the First Ecumenical Council. Councils were already in the tradition of the Church. But Nicea was the first Council of the whole Church, and it became the pattern on which all subsequent Ecumenical Councils were held. For the first time the voice of the whole Church was heard. We do not find in our primary sources any regulations concerning the organization of the Ecumenical Councils. It does not seem that there were any fixed rules or patterns. In the canonical sources there is no single mention of the Ecumenical council, as a permanent institution, which should be periodically convened, according to some authoritative scheme. The Ecumenical Councils were not an integral part of the Church’s constitution, nor of her basic administrative structure. In this respect they differed substantially from those provincial and local Councils which were supposed to meet yearly, to transact current matter and to exercise the function of unifying supervision. The authority of the Ecumenical Councils was high, ultimate, and binding.”    (Georges Florovsky, Christianity and Culture: Volume 2, pg. 94)

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