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The functions of councils were essentially dogmatic definitions on the truths of faith, liturgical regulation of rites and canonical ordering of ecclesiastical discipline. The first of these was the essential business of ecumenical councils; the seven great ecumenical councils of antiquity I Nicaea, 325; I Constantinople, 381; Ephesus, 431; Chalcedon, 451; II Constantinople, 533; III Constantinople, 680; II Nicaea, 787 laid the foundations of Christology and are recognized by Catholics and Orthodox. The majority of the ecumenical councils, but also the regional councils of antiquity Ancyra, 314; Neocaesarea, ca. 315; Gangra, ca. 340; Antioch, ca. Chile Map 341; Laodicea, ca. 380, laid the basis of a universal discipline, passed down through the generations by the canonical collections. National and provincial councils sought to adapt this discipline to changing times. Sometimes the councils of the first centuries exercised judicial functions: in fact the aim of the provincial council was to regulate local controversies both through legislative rules and by exercising genuine jurisdiction. A noteworthy fact in the councils of antiquity is the important role the emperor played in them: he called them, fixed the order of the day and confirmed their decisions; by ratifying them, he gave conciliar decisions the value of imperial laws since every citizen had to profess orthodox faith, subjecting those who opposed them to coercive secular justice.

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