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Fourth Council of the Lateran

The Fourth Council of the Lateran was summoned by Pope Innocent III with his Bull of April 19, 1213. The assembly took place in November, 1215. It was the 12th ecumenical council and is sometimes called "the General Council of Lateran" due to the attendance by seventy-one patriarchs and metropolitans, four hundred and twelve bishops, and nine hundred abbots and priors.

Innocent III stated his purposes as the defence of the Catholic faith, for the aid to the Crusader states in Palestine (see Kingdom of Jerusalem), and to establish the liberty of the Church from lay investiture and other lay interference. The pope presented to the council seventy decrees; these were considered along with measures against heretics, and the organisation of the next crusade.

The council did little more than rubber-stamp the decrees presented to them. The decrees included:

  • Exposition of the faith and of the dogma of transubstantiation
  • Procedure and penalties against heretics and their protectors
  • Proclamation of the papal primacy - After the pope, primacy is attributed to the patriarchial sees in the following order:
    • Constantinople
    • Alexandria
    • Antioch
    • Jerusalem
  • Rules on the conduct of the clergy including against irregularities:
    • incontinence
    • drunkenness
    • hunting
    • attendance at farces and histrionic exhibitions
    • performing of surgical operations
  • the Omnis utriusque sexus (also called the Easter Duty), which commands every Christian who has reached the years of discretion to confess all their sins at least once a year to their priest
  • Jews and Moslems shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians.

The council also confirmed the elevation of Frederick II to the position of Holy Roman Emperor.

see also:

Ecumenical council

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