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Magisterial Documents: A Concilio Constantinopolitano I

Magisterial Documents: A Concilio Constantinopolitano I

Apostolic Letter for the 1600th Anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th Anniversary of the Council of Ephesus Pope John Paul II
25 March 1981
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Brief History

In the document, Pope John Paul II gives the reason for the apostolic letter as follows:

I am impelled to write you this letter - which is both a theological reflection and a pastoral invitation coming from the depths of my heart - first of all, by the Sixteenth Centenary of the First Council of Constantinople, which was held in the year 381. As I pointed out at the beginning of the new year in St. Peter's Basilica, "after the Council of Nicaea this was the second Ecumenical Council of the Church...."

To it we owe the Credo that is constantly recited in the Liturgy. A particular heritage of that Council is the doctrine on the Holy Spirit, thus proclaimed in the Latin Liturgy: Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem.... qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur, qui locutus est per prophetas." (L'Osservatore Romano, January 2-3, 1981)

These words repeated in the Creed by so many generations of Christians will have a particular significance both of doctrine and religious sentiment for us this year and will remind us of the profound bonds that link the Church of today - as we look towards the coming of the third millennium of her life, a life so wonderfully rich and tested, continually sharing in the cross and resurrection of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit - with the Church of the fourth century, in the one continuity of her first beginnings, and in fidelity to the teaching of the Gospel and the preaching of the Apostles.

What has just been said suffices to enable us to understand how the teaching of the First Council of Constantinople is still the expression of the one common faith of the Church, of the whole or Christianity.

The letter states the theological foundation for the title of Theotokos, Mother of God.


I. 1-2
II. 3-5
III. 6-8
IV. 9-11
V. 12


AAS 73 (October 1, 1981) : 513-27
Origins 10 (April 16, 1981): 697-701

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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