Post by Imperium Romanum (Orientalis) on Jul 8, 2016 18:00:10 GMT
In spite of the chaos enveloping much or the world, the rigours of Imperial Governance must continue. The religious question within and without the Empire has come to such a pitch that the Regent and Emperor have decided to call a Council of the Church at Ephesus.
The key topics to be discussed are: 1. The continued prevalence of un-orthodox beliefs, including the persistence and spread of Pelagianism 2. Ecclesiastical organisation and structure; especially in light of the collapse of authority in the West, and growth of Oriental churches and rites 3. Growing Christological disagreement within the church - this as the key sticking point is split into a few key areas of discussion:
OoC: Certainly. It'll be a good way to get your position across without overtly declaring it. As you long as you don't pre-empt the actual conclusions of the council.
IC: In the calling of the council, and the chaos of the world, there is much room to try and engineer the result. It is likely that many Bishops will be unable or too fearful to attend. Obviously, the Bishops within Theodosius' temporal realm will be invited, and the Bishops of the West (unless arrangements are made to 'lose' their invitations), but what about Bishops from outside the empire? There are several Bishops of importance within the Persian world, now in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, though their presence will undoubtedly cause some heated argument with the School of Alexandria. Should the non-Roman Bishops be considered as part of the Church and invited to the Council?
Post by Imperium Romanum (Orientalis) on Jul 11, 2016 20:17:25 GMT
The Augustus makes his wish firm, all Bishops whose beliefs are not anathema (i.e. not Donatists, Pelagians, or Arians) are invited. It is essential that the entire Church share and exchange their views if the Council is to have any Ecumenical authority...
Three British Bishops arrive, granted protection by the fleet of Julianus Augustus of Carthage. The fourth of the British Bishops is unable to attend due to circumstances beyond his control (he is currently busy decomposing). None of the three refuse to denounce the teachings of Pelagius, and so are accepted into the council. Despite attempts by Cyril of Alexandria to initiate the council before the representatives are able to arrive from the west and Antioch, the council is postponed until all bishops from the east and the bishops of Ireland have arrived. The rough number of diocese represented are as follows:
A few Bishops from Macedonia and Thrace are not present, as their seats have become vacant in the recent chaos. Most of the Gallic and Spanish Bishops are not in attendance, as most are in hiding or retirement.
The council is ready to discuss the topics, beginning with 1., despite the fact that all present know they are really there for 3.
((OOC: Hibernia's votes are excluded for now, but you can post which way you voted. Since your voting power is 2, it wouldn't sway anything as it stands so it's just to fly your colours))
The Council Begins with the discussion of heresies. It starts with general agreement, with all taking turns to denounce the teachings of Pelagius, which will be reaffirmed. A Bishop from Egypt then adds a denouncement of Arianism, which is a concern to him as a series of Arian Kings have been installed in the west, including the current puppeteer-king of Italy, Athaulf. The Bishop steps too far and compares Arianism and Nestorianism, as being in the same category of heresy. The Council degenerates into a shouting contest, as Bishops and Prelates yell at eachother various forms of hell and damnation that heretics are doomed to suffer, as well as personal insults. One Bishop is even slapped in the face during the proceedings.
Reconvening the second day, the Council agrees to leave the Nestorian debate to the Christological debate placed by the Emperor as the final point of discussion.
The council agree that the spread of Pelagianism is vile, and that all clergy and laymen found to be practicing or preaching Pelagianism should be excommunicated and treated as heretics. The British Bishops ask that the Pentarchs gathered excommunicate the tyrant Gwrtheyrn, for his heresy, and so Gwrtheyrn's name is added to a list of heretical teachers to be denounced, granting him the privilege of being the only secular figure mentioned.
The debate on Ecclesiastical structure is more hotly contested. In general, opinions seem to form into three camps.
I. Those that believe in the primacy of the three Petrine Sees Believing that Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria should be the three pre-eminent Bishops of the Christian world. With two Popes in their ranks, and enviable historicity, they make a strong case, though they are slightly divided as to whether there should be a primus inter pares, and who that would be. They seem to hold ranks in opposition to the imperial plan, however, and agree to drop the matter of primacy between the three.
II. Those supporting the imperial plan Consisting of the formalisation of a Pentarchy consisting of the Bishops of Rome, Constantinople (Nova Roma), Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria; as well as the granting of autonomy to eastern churches through the appointment of Autocephalous Patriarchs. In addition, the Pentarchs should elect from their own number one Bishop to act as Primus inter pares of the Pentarchy, and therefore the single highest figure in the Church, mirroring the secular power of the emperor.
III. Those denouncing the Pentarchy altogether The Bishop of Carthage denounces the idea that any Bishop should have power outside of his own metropolitan see, and that every bishop should effectively be Pope within his diocese. This system pictures the Church as a less top-down organisation, and more as a system of autonomous Christian communities brought together in communion, with none holding power over another. It is widely believed that Carthage only supports this position as it is a rather distant Latin Church, with decreasing influence over the Church hierarchy.
The Churches of Jerusalem and Alexandria support the primacy of the three Petrine Sees, and the demotion of Jerusalem and Constantinople to ordinary metropolitan sees with special honour, but no exceptional powers. They are also joined, after much deliberation, by the parties of Rome and Antioch, and the Bishop of Salona. The Italian Bishops, despite having a Pope appointed by the east, can not in good conscience surrender what they feel is a valid case for the primacy of Rome. Antioch's usually moderate party side with the Petrine trinity as it is in the self-interest of the Bishop of Antioch. (Voting power: 36)
The parties of Armenia, Britannia, Ghassania, al-Hirah, Constantinople, and Persia support the imperial model of a Pentrachy with an elected primus inter pares. (Voting power: 53)
The party of Africa support Carthage's attempt to break down the dominance of a select few Bishops over the wider Church. (Voting power: 4)
The council concludes that the Church shall be restructured to reflect the growth of Christianity. The five Pentarchs shall be the princes of the Church, and they shall elect from their own number one Bishop to hold Ecumenical authority. Autocephaly is to be granted to the Armenian Church, the Church of the East, the Bishop of al-Hirah (Lakhmids), and the Bishop of Gabitha (Ghassanids). This provision is contested, since many present believe these new Autocephalous Patriarchates are held by heretics.
The council adjourns for the day, to reconvene to discuss the true reason for the Council - the question of Christ's very nature.
On the matter of Consubstantialism the majority of those assembled see no reason to analyse the mystery of communion. Almost all present believe that when the correct liturgy is followed by a priest in the Apostolic succession, the bread and water become the actual flesh and blood of Christ. One says that since Christ said that 'I am the vine' then his blood must be wine. Many point out that the sight of the wine cannot be used as an argument, since it is assessing the mystery according to the laws of nature, which miracles need not follow. They say that Virgin birth is against nature, but no-one would contest that.
When it comes to the discussion of the nature of Christ, there are many who can wait no longer. The attempt to excommunicate Nestorius and condemn his beliefs is brought to a head. Alexandria, Jerusalem, Armenia, the Ghassanids, Rome, Britannia, Carthage - the representatives of all condemn Nestorius. Though, the Bishop of Rome also believes Cyril to be dangerously close to heresy, and says so openly, causing a great stir. [Voting power: 41]
The Lakhmids and Persians obviously support their own creed, and oppose the move. They are joined unexpectedly by the Bishop of Salona, who is then accused of being a closet Arian by the Bishop of Rome. [Voting power: 4]
The Bishops of the east, that arrived with the Patriarch of Antioch, stake out a position in the centreground. They are largely sympathetic to Cyril's arguments more than Nestorius', when it comes to the nature of Christ, they do not wish to divide the Church and so effectively abstain. They condemn the notion that the Church of the East should be excommunicated. The Syriac Orthodox Church would rather see a united Christian world than the immediate eradication of heterodoxy. [Voting power: 10]
The two Hibernian Bishops, and the great many Bishops under the influence of the Bishop of Constantinople have not yet taken their sides. The Emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople might exert their influence to get the bloc to vote in the way they desire. It could be possible to save the Nestorians from excommunication, though it may then be necessary to excommunicate Cyril. Many of the Constantinopolitan delegation are hostile to Nestorius, so there is no guarantee they will vote in line, but if all do then the Patriarch's position will win the day.
(OOC: The Constantinople faction is heavily influenced by the Patriarch (who works closely with the Emperor) and the Regent, so Imperium Romanum (Orientalis) may choose a side and win the day. The debate is so close that even the Hibernian Bishops might sway the result. If Imperium and Loegaire both choose the same position, there is a better chance of success as every vote is crucial)
(OOC: The choice is essentially - To excommunicate or exonerate Nestorians)