July 5, 1439: Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics sign the Decree of Union at the Council of Florence, creating an official union between the two churches. Popular sentiment in Constantinople opposed the decree, and when the Turks captured the city, the union ceased. However, the council's definition of doctrine and its principles of church union (unity of faith, diversity of rite) have proved useful in subsequent church talks (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).
July 5, 1962: H. Richard Niebuhr, theologian, Yale professor, and author of Christ and Culture (1951), dies at age 67.
August 7, 317: Constantius II, Son of Constantine the Great and Roman emperor from 337 to 361, is born. During his lifetime, he outlawed pagan sacrifice (see "The Emperor Strikes Back" in issue 57: The Conversion of Rome). But Constantius was also a devout Arian (a heresy his father had condemned at the Council of Nicea) and strongly opposed Athanasius (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).
August 7, 1409: The Council of Pisa, convened by the cardinals to end the Great Schism that had divided ...