Sixth Ecumenical Council

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The Sixth Ecumenical Council took place in Constantinople in 680-681 AD, and is also known as the Third Council of Constantinople.


The sixth of the seven Ecumenical Councils, called together by St. Constantine the New, dealt with the following:

  • Condemning the heresy of the Monothelites

By this point, Arianism had become largely marginalized and many Arians were accepted back into the Church. But a new attack on the Person of Christ emerged in the form of the Monothelites. The Monothelites argued that Christ has only one will, for He is one person albeit with two natures.

The Council

When the Emperor Constantine IV first summoned the council he had no intention that it would be ecumenical. From the Sacras it appears that he had summoned all the Metropolitans and bishops of the jurisdiction of Constantinople and had also informed the Patriarch of Antioch that he might send Metropolitans and bishops. A long time before, he had written to Pope Agatho on the subject.

When the synod assembled however, it assumed at its first session - held on November 7, 680 - the title "Ecumenical." All five patriarchs were represented, Alexandria and Jerusalem having sent deputies although they were at the time in the hands of the Muslims.

In this particular Council, the Emperor presided in person surrounded by high court officials however, after the 11th session, the Emperor was no longer able to be present, but returned and presided at the closing meeting held on September 16 of 681.

The Council concluded that Monothelitism "impaired the fullness of Christ's humanity," and that human nature without human will would be incomplete. It affirmed that since Christ was true man and true God, He must have two wills: a human will and a divine will. Monothelitism was condemned as heresy.


The Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council are commemorated on January 23 and also on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Six Councils.

See also


  • The Orthodox Church, Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia
  • The Orthodox Wiki

External links