Learn something: Church Councils

learn something

I’m really excited to begin a new “learn something” series on Vatican II.

Today’s post will break down how and when the church meets and what church leaders do at the meetings.

It’s also a little bit of history of the meetings.

In the future, I’ll break down other councils, but Vatican II is a hot topic now and important to cover.

The Catholic Church has held 21 ecumenical councils since the beginning.


To decide things.

The first council, held in AD 325, was held after a discord in the church regarding the heresy of Arius.

This council decided the 20 Canons that we have now and the Nicene Creed.

Since then the church leaders have meet at random intervals whenever needed.

For a great list of the councils and what was decided, check out New Advent’s list.

(That’s a great resource for everything.)

The Council of Trent is probably the most familiar, besides Vatican II.

Opened in 1545, the Council defined several issues that Protestant groups were debating.

A direct result of this council was the creation of the roman Catechism, issued in 1566 under Pope Pius V.

Trent wasn’t followed by another council for 300 years, until Pope John XXI called for Vatican II.

It’s important to note that these councils aren’t changing Catholic doctrine.

It can’t change.

Instead, these councils cement what we already know to be true and ensure that we are all following our traditions.

It’s like corporate memory.

Nothing new comes from these meetings. Revisions yes. That’s why Vatican II is often misunderstood.

I think it’s important to read the documents and study what our church leaders are trying to teach us.

Come back every Wednesday in October for a post about Vatican II.

I can’t wait to dive into the documents!

God bless.



  1. Pingback: Vatican II: Dei Verbum | Learning Mass
  2. Pingback: Vatican II: Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis | Learning Mass

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