Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, Michael D. Peterson
The A to Z of the Orthodox Church



REUNION COUNCILS. Two councils, one at Lyons in 1274 and the other at Ferrara-Florence in 1438 to 1439, were convoked by the papacy (q.v.) in cooperation with the Byzantine emperors, Michael VIII and Joh n VIII, respectively, in order to reunite the Catholic West and Orthodox East. They were motivated by a desire on the part of the popes to secure recognition of the Roman primacy (q.v.) from the East, and, on the part of the Orthodox, by the generally (though not exclusively) political desire for material and martial aide from the West against the Ottoman Turks. The earlier council at Lyons amounted to little more than a flat recognition of the papal claims by a small group of bishops and diplomats accredited by the Emperor Michael. The later one, however, was an impressive production.

Ferrara-Florence featured the attendance of most of the bishops subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch (q.v.), together with that of the Emperor Joh n himself and Pope Eugenius. Debate lasted for months and focused primarily on the filioque (q.v.). The council concluded by ratifying the western addition to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (q.v.), recognizing the papal primacy in terms approved by the pope, and affirming the medieval Latin doctrine of purgatory. Mark Eugenicus, Metropolitan of Ephesus (q.v.), was the only Eastern bishop present at the conclusion who refused to sign the conciliar decree. It was the same Mark who led resistance to the union on returning to Constantinople (q.v.). With his support, aided by the power of public opinion led by the monks, the Emperors Joh n and Constantine XI were unable to implement the union up to the fall of the Empire in 1453. Ferrara-Florence was officially repudiated by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1472. Elsewhere in the Orthodox oikoumene (q.v.), rejection came more swiftly. In the Roman Catholic Church (q.v.), the council would serve in following centuries as the ground and model for the various Uniate (q.v.) churches.


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