Joachim of Flora, in a 15th century woodcut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Fourth Council of the Lateran was convoked by Pope Innocent III with the papal bull of April 19, 1213, and the Council gathered at Rome’s Lateran Palace beginning November 11, 1215.Due to the great length of time between the Council’s convocation and meeting, many bishops had the opportunity to attend. It was the 12th ecumenical council and is sometimes called the "Great Council" or "General Council of Lateran" due to the presence of seventy-one patriarchs and metropolitan bishops, four hundred and twelve bishops, and nine hundred abbots and priors together with representatives of several monarchs.The council made rules for the projected crusade, imposed a four years’ peace on all Christian peoples and princes published indulgences, and enjoined the bishops to reconcile all enemies, The council confirmed the elevation of Frederick II to the German throne and took other important measures Its decrees were widely published in many provincial councils.
Canons presented to the Council included:
Canon 2: Condemnation of the doctrines of Joachim of Flora and of Amaury.
Canon 3: Procedure and penalties against heretics and their protectors.
Canon 4: Exhortation to the Greeks to reunite with the Roman Church and accept its maxims, to the end that, according to the Gospel, there may be only one fold and only one shepherd.
Canon 6: Provincial councils must be held annually for the reform of morals, especially those of the clergy.
Canon 8: Procedure in regard to accusations against ecclesiastics. Until the French Revolution, this canon was of considerable importance in criminal law, not only ecclesiastical but even civil.
Canon 9: Celebration of public worship in places where the inhabitants belong to nations following different rites.
Canon 11 renews the ordinance of the council of 1179 on free schools for clerics in connection with every cathedral.
Canon 12: Abbots and priors are to hold their general chapter every three years.
Canon 13 forbids the establishment of new religious orders, lest too great diversity bring confusion into the Church.
Canons 14-17: Against the irregularities of the clergy — e.g., incontinence, drunkenness, attendance at farces and histrionic exhibitions.
Canon 18: Clerics may neither pronounce nor execute a sentence of death. Nor may they act as judges in extreme criminal cases, or take part in matters connected with judicial tests and ordeals.
Canon 19: Household goods must not be stored in churches unless there be an urgent necessity. Churches, church vessels, and the like must be kept clean.
Canon 21, the famous "Omnis utriusque sexus", which commands every Christian who has reached the years of discretion to confess all his, or her, sins at least once a year to his, or her, own (i.e. parish) priest. This canon did no more than confirm earlier legislation and custom, and has been often but wrongly, quoted as commanding for the first time the use of sacramental confession.
Canon 22: Before prescribing for the sick, physicians shall be bound under pain of exclusion from the Church, to exhort their patients to call in a priest, and thus provide for their spiritual welfare.
Canons 23-30 regulate ecclesiastical elections and the collation of benefices.
Canons 26, 44, and 48: Ecclesiastical procedure.
Canons 50-52: On marriage, impediments of relationship, publication of banns.
Canons 68, 69: Jews and Muslims shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians. Christian princes must take measures to prevent blasphemies against Jesus Christ.
- Nicaea I (325)
- Constantinople I (381)
- Ephesus (431)
- Chalcedon (451)
- Constantinople II (553)
- Constantinople III (680–81)
- Nicaea II (787)
Later councils partly recognized by
Eastern Orthodox Churches
- Quinisext Council (692)
- Constantinople IV (879/80)
- Constantinople V (1341/51)
- Synod of Jerusalem (1672)
- Synod of Constantinople (1872)
Later councils recognized by the
Roman Catholic Church
- Constantinople IV (869/70)
- Lateran I (1123)
- Lateran II (1139)
- Lateran III (1179)
- Lateran IV (1215)
- Lyon I (1245)
- Lyon II (1274)
- Vienne (1311–1312)
- Constance (1414/18)
- Basel/Florence (1431/45)
- Lateran V (1512/14)
- Trent (1545/63)
- Vatican I (1869/70)
- Vatican II (1962/65)
Of the first seven Councils, the Assyrian Church of the East recognizes the first two councils, Oriental Orthodox churches recognize the first three.
Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists and some other Protestants recognize the first four of those councils, and in some cases the first seven. Other Protestants have various views.
Old Catholics recognize all Councils recognized by the Roman Catholic Church up to Trent, excluding Vatican I and Vatican II.