Jewish Persecution: 1 CE – Today, part 39

The Second Council of Ephesus was convened by Roman Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II in 449 CE. It was presided over by the leader of the Coptic Church, Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria. The Pope of Rome, Leo I, did not attend but sent his legate Hilarius. Patriarchs of the world church were gathered for an appeals case. Flavian of Constantinople had deposed and excommunicated Eutyches after the Bishop of Dorylaeum had charged him with Nestorianism. Neither Eutyches’s accuser nor Flavian was permitted to speak at the trial. The monks all ruled for Eutyches. 

Pope Dioscorus then said that Flavian and the Bishop of Dolyaeum should be punished for their wrong judgment. As the Coptic Pope began reading out his condemnation, some bishops rose to stop him. But Dioscorus had gathered some thousand monks in the hallways awaiting this moment. The Patriarchs begged him to show mercy as the secretaries were forcibly restrained from documenting the violence about to happen. 

The monks beat and kicked and flayed Flavian. He was deported, but it made little difference. He died of his injuries within days. Papal legate Hilarius escaped the scene after uttering the single word, “Contradicitur”. As he spoke for the pope, this indicated the Roman Catholic Church did not assent to Council the ruling. By the time Pope Leo heard news of anything, it was a letter from a worried Flavian, well after Flavian had died. Information delay was a fifth century problem being a Pope could not solve. 

Dioscorus of Alexandria spent the remaining sessions deposing churchmen accused of heresy. Many were his personal rivals, or personal friends of Nestorius. He replaced them with loyal allies. Dioscorus kept holding sessions after the papal legates had left for their return journey back to Rome, something which had never been done before. Once he’d replaced most of the eastern patriarchs with his own men, Dioscorus closed the council and set out for Nicea with a set of ten bishops. There he excommunicated the Pope!

When Pope Leo of Rome got word of all this, he reinstated all patriarchs who had been deposed, and excommunicated those responsible. The Catholic Church completely rejects the Second Council of Ephesus as nonbinding; they call it “the Robber’s Council”. Eastern Orthodox and most Protestant faiths agree. But the Coptic, Ethiopian Tewahedo, Eritrean Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic Church all consider Ephesus II correct. To them Dioscorus is the inheritor of Cyril’s legacy. 
Further reading 

McGuckin, John Anthony (2004). Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy. St. Vladimir Seminary Press. 

Catholic Encyclopedia – Council of Ephesus 

Kelly, Joseph (2009). The ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church: a history. Liturgical Press. 

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