Frequently Asked Questions

Council of Bishops

In the Roman Catholic Church, all Bishops are allowed to attend and participate in ecumenical councils. Council decisions (with the approval of the reigning Pope) are binding upon church doctrine. In contrast, synods are convened more frequently than councils and participants are chosen by election or appointment of the Pope. Synods act in an advisory capacity to the Pope and their decisions are not binding.  

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Council of Chalcedon

This council was held in 451 and addressed the challenges of monophysitism or the assertion that Christ has only one divine nature and Nestorianism, the belief that Jesus has two distinct natures (human and divine). The council decreed that Christ has two natures (human and divine) that were fully united into a single entity without division. 

Council of Jerusalem

This council was held in approximately 50 CE and determined that gentile converts to Christianity did not need to first convert to Judaism.

Council of Nicaea I

Held in 325, the council affirmed that Jesus is the Son of God and thus is of the same divine essence as God while also being fully human. 

Council of Nicaea II

Held in 787, the council affirmed that the veneration of images or icons is permitted. This overturned the decision by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III who issued an edict in 726 condemning the presence of images and icons in churches.  

Council of Trent

A Roman Catholic council held from 1545-1553 to address challenges by Protestant Reformation. Members redefined Roman Catholic doctrine and theology in ways that endured through much of the twentieth century. This council was a central foundation of the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reformation. Highlights include the following: Scripture and tradition are important sources of religious authority (as opposed to Protestant assertions that Scripture alone is authoritative); individuals cannot interpret Scripture for themselves but must rely on the Church for Scriptural...

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Crémieux Decree, The

The Crémieux Decree was passed in Algeria in October 1870 granting French citizenship to Algerian Jews but not to Muslims, effectively dividing indigenous Algerians with a potent political wedge. The Decree transformed the structure of the Algerian Jewish community, which had prior been autonomous and self-governed by Jewish religious law. As French citizens, Algerian Jews were subject to secular French laws, which prompted some dissent among the Jewish community. French colonists and colonial leaders in Algeria did not themselves accept the Jews as fellow citizens, and expressed a...

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Creole/Mestizo

Creole and Mestizo are colonial racial categories referring to children to a Spanish parent and a Filipino or Chinese parent, usually a Spanish father and Filipino or Chinese mother. They were favored during the Spanish colonial period, and often granted opportunities for higher education not afforded to children of two Indios parents. Mestizo families tended to benefit economically and represented the bulk of land-holding elites by the end of the colonial period. Their sons, educated abroad...

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