Council of Sardica

342. A council summoned by the emperors Constans and Constantius at the request of Pope Julius to settle the orthodoxy of Athanasius,* Marcellus of Ancyra,* and Asclepiades of Gaza, deposed at the Council of Tyre (335). Though it was intended to be an ecumenical council, the seventy-six Eastern bishops-including Acacius of Caesarea, Basil of Ancyra, Maris of Chalcedon-and the Western bishops Ursacius of Singidunum and Valens of Mursa refused to take part because Athanasius was accepted as a proper council member. Nearly 300 Western bishops met under the presidency of Hosius* of Cordova and Protogenes of Sardica. They confirmed the restoration of Athanasius, acquitted Marcellus of heresy, and restored Asclepiades. They deposed Acacius, Basil, Gregory of Alexandria, Ursacius, and Valens, among others, as Arians. They also passed disciplinary canons, among which canons 3, 4, and 5 constituted the bishop of Rome as a court of appeal for accused bishops in certain circumstances. They set the date of Easter for the following fifty years. They also promulgated in general terms a formula of faith declaring that the “hypostasis” of the Father and Son was one, taking the word in the sense of nature or substance.

The Eastern bishops withdrew to Philippopolis, where they subscribed the Fourth Creed of Antioch (341). They explained in more detail their reasons for deposing Athanasius and Marcellus and issued their own list of condemnations, which included Julius, Hosius, Protogenes, and Maximin of Treves. The Council of Sardica began a schismatic process leading straight to the East/West separation of 1054. Sardica is the modern Sofia.