I have heard various answers to this question in the blogo- and wiki-spheres, but I would be interested in knowing what has been officially stated by the Roman Catholic Church in Bulls, Encyclicals, canons, etc.

These are the Councils that are viewed as canonical within the Eastern Orthodox Church:

I - 1st Council of Nicea - 325
II - 1st Council of Constantinople - 381
III - Council of Ephesus - 431
IV - Council of Chalcedon - 451
V - 2nd Council of Constantinople - 553
VI - 3rd Council of Constantinople - 680-681
VII - 2nd Council of Nicea - 781

The Eastern Orthodox Church has historically considered the Council of Trullo in 692 as an extension of the 6th Ecumenical Council and I understand that this is disputed by the Roman Catholic Church, so I would also be interested in the official Roman Catholic position on this council.

I am not looking for private opinions expressed by Roman Catholic clerics or hierarchs, even if consistent with Roman Catholic doctrine. I would like to know the official, stated position of the Vatican.

  • The Church was in unity with the Eastern Rite Churches (Orthodox) during the whole time of the first seven Ecumenical Councils. Why would you think that the Latin Rite Catholic Church would not consider them as valid. Where are you getting your sources that state the contrary is true?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 23:07
  • @Ken Graham - I edited the title in response to your comment. I believe, however, that at least the canons of the Council of Trullo were rejected. I have seen mention of this in Orthodox and Catholic sources online. At the time of the councils there were five independent ancient sees: Jerusalem (the oldest), Rome (first in honor), Constantinople (second in honor), Alexandria and Antioch, all in communion with each other.
    – user22553
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


Each and every one of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils are recognized as valid councils by the Catholic Church. No Roman Pontiff has ever decreed it otherwise. You will not find any Papal Bulls or any other decrees of condemnations on this point!

In fact, any truly orthodox Catholic website will always list the first seven Ecumenical Councils in the list of their 21 recognized Ecumenical Councils.

Although the Council in Trullo is not officially recognized as an "Ecumenical" Council by the Church, there is so be found no formal condemnation of the council either.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about the Council of Trullo:

Rome had recognized fifty of the Apostolic Canons, therefore the other thirty-five obtain recognition from this council, and as inspired teaching (see APOSTOLIC CANONS).

In the matter of celibacy the Greek prelates are not content to let the Roman Church follow its own discipline, but insist on making a rule (for the whole Church) that all clerics except bishops may continue in wedlock, while they excommunicate anyone who tries to separate a priest or deacon from his wife, and any cleric who leaves his wife because he is ordained (can. iii, vi, xii, xiii, xlviii).

The Eastern Orthodox churches holds this council an ecumenical one, and adds its canons to the decrees of the Fifth and Sixth Councils. in the West St. Bede calls it (De sexta mundi aetate) a "reprobate" synod, and Paul the Deacon (Hist. Lang., VI, p. 11) an "erratic" one. Dr. Fortescue rightly says (op. cit. below, p. 96) that intolerance of all other customs with the wish to make the whole Christian world conform to its own local practices has always been and still is a characteristic note of the Byzantine Church. For the attitude of the popes, substantially identical, in face of the various attempts to obtain their approval of these canons, see Hefele, "Conciliengesch." (III, 345-48).

THE COUNCIL IN TRULLO REVISITED: ECUMENISM AND THE CANON OF THE COUNCILS states that neither the Pope or his Legate signed this document. The Emperor indeed had hoped for an Ecumenical Council, but the West was not represented!

The space for the signature of “the pope of Rome,” the second after the emperor, is indeed blank in the manuscripts, showing that the pope did not attend the council personally or through a delegate, but room had been made for the later papal reception (“confirmation”) of the council.

After the signature of “Paul the Bishop of Constantinople” in the third place, there follow those of patriarches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem—disproving the assertion of certain Western polemists that these patriarchs did not take part in the council, and that therefore it was not ecumenical (emphasis mine). Of the 227 participants at the Trullo Council, 190 were from the patriarchate of Constantinople; the others were the patriarch of Alexandria, 24 Antiochians, two participants from the patriarchate of Jerusalem, and ten bishops from Illiricum orientale. - (Page 16).

In more recent times, Pope Paul VI cited the Trullan Council (c. 13) to confirm the tradition of the Eastern Catholic Churches regarding the married clergy.54 And Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic constitution promulgating the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, referred expressly to the first canon of Nicaea II, which confirmed the canons of “the six holy and universal synods,” thus implicitly recognizing the Trullan Council as the sixth ecumenical council. - (Page 22).


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