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Bishop Demetrius

Bishop Demetrius convened a council of Egyptian bishops and some priests to judge Origen, accused of having been ordained priest by Theoctistus of Caesarea without Demetrius’s knowledge, on whom Origen was legally dependent. Origen’s cultural policy of openness to the contribution of Greek culture was also causing dissension, and some of his doctrines appeared questionable; his very fame aroused Demetrius’s suspicion. The council forbade Origen from residing or teaching at Alexandria. Not content with his expulsion from Alexandria, Demetrius, supported by some Egyptian bishops, invalidated his priestly ordination. The condemnation was approved by the bishop of Rome and others, but not in Palestine, Syria, Greece and Arabia. ca. 305. Athanasius Apol. sec. 59 tells us of a council called by Peter of Alexandria to condemn Melitius of Lycopolis, accused of sacrificing to idols and other crimes. In fact, Melitius was condemned for having gone ahead with irregular episcopal ordinations during the persecution of Diocletian and because he did not approve of Peter’s moderate measures toward the lapsi of that persecution. ca. 322. Bishop Alexander condemned the Alexandrian priest Arius for spreading a doctrine which held the radical inferiority and heterogeneity of the Son with respect to the Father. Arius continued to spread his ideas, however, so Alexander gathered a council of about 100 bishops of Egypt and Libya that reexamined the case and confirmed the condemnation against Arius and his followers. Some time later Alexander wrote an encyclical letter about this council, signed by him, his priests and his deacons. ca. 324. Athanasius Apol. sec. 74.75 tells us that Ossius of Cordoba, charged by Constantine with settling the dispute between Alexander and Arius, took part in a council at Alexandria that restored Colluthus, who had claimed episcopal rank, to his priestly condition; the ordinations he had performed were declared null. 338. Athanasius, back from the exile ca. 335-337 to which Constantine had condemned him after the Council of Tyre, called a council of the bishops of Egypt, Thebaid, Libya and Pentapolis to obtain approval and support against the accusations made by the Eusebians. An encyclical to this effect was sent to all the bishops of Christendom. 346. Back in Alexandria from his second exile ca. 339-346, Athanasius called a council of Egyptian bishops that ratified the deliberations of the Council of Serdica 343 and took note of the synodal decree of the Council of Jerusalem, issued sometime earlier, which had welcomed him as he passed through on his way home. The council is mentioned by Socrates HE 2, 26 and Sozomen HE 4, 1 but not by the Historia acephala, which gives the exact date of Athanasius’s return 21 Oct. 346 and contains an excellent record of his movements. 362. Back in Alexandria after his third exile ca. 356-362 at the death of Constantius, Athanasius called a Council of Egyptian bishops, attended also by some Nicene bishops that Constantius had exiled in Egypt, among them Eusebius of Vercelli. The council dealt with all the undecided questions directly or indirectly connected with the Arian controversy, publishing their decisions in a synodal letter Tomus ad Antiochenos: 1 moderate measures against the bishops who had subscribed the proArian formula of Rimini; 2 invitation to the Antiochenes to end their schism by reuniting with the Nicene group led by Paulinus; 3 condemnation of those who considered the Holy Spirit a creature; 4 acceptance of formulas which affirmed either only one or three hypostases of the Trinity, as long as they were duly clarified; and 5 minimization of the rising Apollinarist question by means of a generic compromise formula. 

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Bishop Demetrius

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