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Ecumenical Council of Beretea
First-ecumenical-council
I Ecumenical Council of Orthodox Church
Date 1000
Accepted Orthodox Church
St. Stephanos
Convoked by: St. Stephanos
President: St. Demetrios (Demetrios of Alonea)
Attendance: 300-350 approx.
Topics: Establishment of the Patriarchate,
Acceptation of Orthodox Church in Korimis People,
Alliegance of Ruthene people to the Church
Establishment of Saints and Official Churchs,
Protection of Mount Agios
Documents: Original Bereti creed
25 canons
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The Ecumenical Council of Beretea was a council of Orthodox bishops convened in Beretea in Ruthenia by the Grand Prince, later king, Stephanos of Beretea This ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.

Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, the promulgation of canon law between bishops and the recognizion of the Orthodox Church as the official religion of all Ruthene people and the duty of the sovereign to protect and guard the Orthodoxy born in the new Ecumenical Patriarchate, based in the capital of Kormenia.

Overview

The Council of Beretea was the first ecumenical council of the Church. Most significantly, it resulted in the first, uniform Orthodox doctrine, called the Bereti Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent local and regional councils of Bishops (Synods) to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy—the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom.

Derived from Hellenic (Hellenic: οἰκουμένη oikoumenē “the inhabited earth”), "ecumenical" means "worldwide" but generally is assumed to be limited to the known inhabited White Giant and at this time in history is synonymous with the Eridana Continent; "he convoked an Ecumenical Council" (Hellenic: σύνοδον οἰκουμενικὴν συνεκρότει)

One purpose of the council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church over the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father: in particular, whether the Son had been 'begotten' by the Father from his own being, or rather, created out of nothing, a characteristic shared with other creatures. St. Alexandros of Péretia and Athanasius took the first position. Another result of the council was an agreement on when to celebrate Easter, the most important feast of the ecclesiastical calendar.

Historically significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, the Council was the first occasion where the technical aspects of Christology were discussed. Through it a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to adopt creeds and canons. This council is generally considered the beginning of the period of the Grand Council in the History of Ruthene Orthodoxy.

Character and purpose

The Council of Beretea was convened by Saint Stephanos upon the recommendations of a synod led by Admetus of Egeris in the Eastertide of 1000. The bishops of all provinces were summoned to Beretea, a place reasonably accessible to many delegates, particularly those of Rothinoi Peninsula.

This was the first general council in the history of the Church since the Hispales Meeting 600 years before, the Apostolic council having established the conditions upon which Gentiles could join the Church. In the Council of Beretea, "The Church had taken her first great step to define revealed doctrine more precisely in response to a challenge from a heretical theology."

Attendees

St. Stephanos had invited all 1800 bishops of the Christian church, but a smaller and unknown number attended. Eusebius of Kasaria counted more than 250, Athanasius counted 318, and Eustathius estimated "about 270" (all three were present at the council).

Delegates came from every region of the Orthodox World. The participating bishops were given free travel to and from their episcopal sees to the council, as well as lodging. These bishops did not travel alone; each one had permission to bring with him two priests and three deacons, so the total number of attendees could have been above 1800. Eusebius speaks of an almost innumerable host of accompanying priests, deacons and acolytes.

A special prominence was also attached to this council because the persecution of Christians had just ended with the Edict of Hispales, issued in February of 390 by St. Hellena.

Athanasius, a young deacon and companion of Bishop Alexandros, was among the assistants. Athanasius eventually spent most of his life battling against Paganism. Alexander of Beretea, then a presbyter, was also present as representative of his aged bishop.

"Resplendent in purple and gold, Stephanos made a ceremonial entrance at the opening of the council, probably in early June, but respectfully seated the bishops ahead of himself." As Eusebius described, Stephanos "himself proceeded through the midst of the assembly, like some heavenly messenger of God, clothed in raiment which glittered as it were with rays of light, reflecting the glowing radiance of a purple robe, and adorned with the brilliant splendor of gold and precious stones". The Grand Prince was present as an overseer and presider, but did not cast any official vote. Stephanos organized the Council along the lines of the Selloi Senate. Honorios of Tortossa may have presided over its deliberations; he was probably one of the Papal legates. Eusebius of Beretea probably gave the welcoming address.

Bereti Creed

250px-Nicaea icon

Icon of the First Council

One of the projects undertaken by the Council was the creation of a Creed, a declaration and summary of the Christian faith. Several creeds were already in existence; many creeds were acceptable to the members of the council, including the new patriarch. From earliest times, various creeds served as a means of identification for Christians, as a means of inclusion and recognition, especially at baptism.

In Beretea, for example, the Apostles' Creed was popular, especially for use in Lent and the Easter season. In the Council of Beretea, one specific creed was used to define the Church's faith clearly, to include those who professed it, and to exclude those who did not.

Jesus Christ is described as "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God", proclaiming his divinity. Jesus Christ is said to be "begotten, not made", asserting that he was not a mere creature, brought into being out of nothing, but the true Son of God, brought into being 'from the substance of the Father'. He is said to be "of one being with The Father". Eusebius of Caesarea ascribes the term homoousios, or consubstantial, i.e., "of the same substance" (of the Father), to Constantine who, on this particular point, may have chosen to exercise his authority. The significance of this clause, however, is extremely ambiguous, and the issues it raised would be seriously controverted in future. At the end of the creed came a list of anathemas, designed to repudiate explicitly the Arians' stated claims.

The view that 'there was once that when he was not' was rejected to maintain the co-eternity of the Son with the Father. The view that he was 'mutable or subject to change' was rejected to maintain that the Son just like the Father was beyond any form of weakness or corruptibility, and most importantly that he could not fall away from absolute moral perfection. Thus, instead of a baptismal creed acceptable to both the Arians and their opponents the council promulgated one which was clearly opposed to Arianism and incompatible with the distinctive core of their beliefs. The text of this profession of faith is preserved in a letter of Eusebius to his congregation, in Athanasius, and elsewhere. Although the most vocal of anti-Arians, the Homoousians (from the Koine Greek word translated as "of same substance" which was condemned at the Council of Antioch in 264–268), were in the minority, the Creed was accepted by the council as an expression of the bishops' common faith and the ancient faith of the whole Church.

Bishop Hosius of Cordova, one of the firm Homoousians, may well have helped bring the council to consensus. At the time of the council, he was the confidant of the emperor in all Church matters. Hosius stands at the head of the lists of bishops, and Athanasius ascribes to him the actual formulation of the creed. Great leaders such as Eustathius of Antioch, Alexander of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Marcellus of Ancyra all adhered to the Homoousian position.

In spite of his sympathy for Arius, Eusebius of Kasaria adhered to the decisions of the council, accepting the entire creed. The initial number of bishops supporting was small. After a month of discussion, on June 19, almost all the bishops agreed the creed. Stephanos carried out his earlier statement: everybody who refused to endorse the Creed would be exiled.

Promulgation of Canon Law

The council promulgated twenty new church laws, called canons, (though the exact number is subject to debate, that is, unchanging rules of discipline. The twenty as listed in the Bereti and Post-Bereti Fathers are as follows:

1. prohibition of self-castration 2. establishment of a minimum term for catechumen (persons studying for baptism) 3. prohibition of the presence in the house of a cleric of a younger woman who might bring him under suspicion (the so called virgines subintroductae) 4. ordination of a bishop in the presence of at least three provincial bishops and confirmation by the Metropolitan bishop 5. provision for two provincial synods to be held annually 6. exceptional authority acknowledged for the Ecumenical Patriarchate 7. recognition of the honorary rights of the see of Beretea 8. provision for agreement with the Novatianists, an early sect 9–14. provision for mild procedure against the lapsed during the persecution under Licinius 15–16. prohibition of the removal of priests 17. prohibition of usury among the clergy 18. precedence of bishops and presbyters before deacons in receiving the Eucharist (Holy Communion) 19. declaration of the invalidity of baptism by Paulian heretics 20. prohibition of kneeling on Sundays and during the Pentecost (the fifty days commencing on Easter). Standing was the normative posture for prayer at this time, as it still is among the Eastern Christians. Kneeling was considered most appropriate to penitential prayer, as distinct from the festive nature of Eastertide and its remembrance every Sunday. The canon itself was designed only to ensure uniformity of practise at the designated times. On July 25, 1000, in conclusion, the fathers of the council celebrated the King twentieth anniversary. In his farewell address, Stephanos informed the audience how averse he was to dogmatic controversy; he wanted the Church to live in harmony and peace. In a circular letter, he announced the accomplished unity of practice by the whole Church in the date of the celebration of Christian Passover (Easter).

Mount Agios and Alliegance

Orthodoxflag

Flag of the Orthodox Church

Before the Council, the only place where the Christian people can celebrate and festive the cult in the peninsula was in the Mount Agios, Stephanos consagrated the Island as "Territory of the Church" and autonomous of the territory of his new kingdom, the consagration come 50 years later, during the consagration all the bishops was agreed and Mount Agios becomes part of the Ruthene Territory.

After the establishment of the first Patriarchy in Kormenia, the nation becomes the only known country professing the Orthodox religion and protects, becoming the dominant and official religion of the kingdom and all the inhabitants of the peninsula

Role of the Monarch

Saintstephan

Saint Stephanos during the Council

Christianity was little-known until the St. Hellena other Selloi Cities agreed in 313 to what became known as the Edict of Hispales. However, Bereti Christianity did not become the state religion of Kormenia until the Edict of Agios in 1002. In the mean time, paganism remained legal and present in public affairs. In 997 (four years before Beretea), Stephanos declared Sunday to be an Realm-wide day of rest in honor of the sun. At the time of the council, Korimi coinage and other royal motifs still depicted pagan cult symbology in combination with the Royal image.

Stephanos's role regarding Beretea was that of supreme civil leader and authority in Kormenia. As King, the responsibility for maintaining civil order was his, and he sought that the Church be of one mind and at peace. When first informed of the unrest in Terepesos by Pagan disputes, he was "greatly troubled" and, "rebuked" Aware also of "the diversity of opinion" regarding the celebration of Easter and hoping to settle both issues

Stephanos assisted in assembling the council by arranging that travel expenses to and from the bishops' episcopal sees, as well as lodging at Beretea, be covered out of public funds. He also provided and furnished a "great hall ... in the palace" as a place for discussion so that the attendees "should be treated with becoming dignity". In addressing the opening of the council, he "exhorted the Bishops to unanimity and concord" and called on them to follow the Holy Scriptures with: "Let, then, all contentious disputation be discarded; and let us seek in the divinely-inspired word the solution of the questions at issue." Thereupon, the debate church doctrine began. "The emperor gave patient attention to the speeches of both parties" and "deferred" to the decision of the bishops.

See Also

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