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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Heraclian epoch (610-717)

Religious Policy of the dynasty

The Sixth Ecumenical Council and religious peace   -Cf. Acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council


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Although Monotheletism had lost its political significance, it still continued to sow discord among the people even after the prohibition of the Type. Then the successor of Constans II, Constantine IV, desirous of establishing complete religious peace in the Empire, convoked in the year 680 in Constantinople the Sixth Ecumenical Council, which condemned Monotheletism and recognized two natures in Jesus Christ displayed in his one hypostasis, and two natural wills and operations (energies) going together harmoniously for the salvation of the human race.

Peace with Rome was definitely re-established. The communication sent by the sixth council to the pope addressed him as the head of the first see of the Universal Church, standing on the firm rock of faith, and declared that the pope's message to the Emperor expounded the true principles of religion.

Thus, in the time of Constantine IV, the Byzantine government definitely expressed itself against Monophysitism and Monotheletism. The patriarchates of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch, torn from the Empire by the Arabian conquest, nevertheless took part in the Sixth Ecumenical Council by sending their representatives. The patriarch of Antioch, Macarius, who apparently lived in Constantinople and exercised jurisdiction only in Cilicia and Isauria, argued the case of Monotheletism at the council, and for this stand was deposed and excommunicated. The decisions of the sixth council proved to Syria, Palestine, and Egypt that Constantinople had abandoned the desire to find a path for religious reconciliation with the provinces which no longer formed part of the Byzantine Empire. Religious peace with Rome was reached by way of resolute alienation from the Monophysitic and Monotheletic population of the eastern provinces, a fact which aided greatly the further strengthening of the Arabian power in these provinces. Syria, Palestine, and Egypt became definitely separated from the Byzantine Empire.

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