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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils
IntraText CT - Text
Wishing to do everything for the edification of the Church, we have decided to make concessions to priests in Barbarian churches, so that if they are seeking to circumvent Apostolic Canon V by not expelling their wife, on the pretext of reverence, and to do what is beyond the limits set by it, by coming to a private agreement with their spouses to abstain from intercourse with each other. We decree that these priests shall cohabit with these wives no more, in any manner whatsoever, so as to afford us thereby positive proof that they are carrying out their promise. We make this concession to them, not for any other reason, but because of the pusillanimity of their thought, and the bizarre character of their ideas of morality, and the unsettled state of their mind.
(Ap. c. V; cc. XII, XIII, XLVIII of the 6th; c. IV of Gangra; cc. III, IV, XXXIIII of Carthage.)
Since those in holy orders who are located in Barbary, Africa, as we have said, in the desire to circumvent, or get round, the legislation embodied in Ap. c. V, which commands that no one in holy orders shall separate his wife on the pretext of reverence, agree with their wives and abstain from carnal intercourse, therefore the present Canon decrees that those who have done this are not to cohabit with their wives any longer in any way: for one thing, in order to show, by this abstention from cohabitation, that they made this promise and agreement not on account of any hypocritical and false reverence, but truly on account of a longing after sobriety and virginity; and for another thing, because continual sight of and association with their wives prompts them to have carnal intercourse with them again. Nevertheless, says this Canon, we have given them this permission, not for any other reason, but simply on account of the pusillanimity of their way of thinking, on account of their wild character, according to Zonaras, or on account of their having a strange notion of what constitutes good order as respecting ecclesiastical morals, according to Balsamon, and because of their lack of firmness of faith (and notice that this same thing which the Council permits in regard to Barbary for these reasons, it does not permit to occur in Rome, on account of the docility of the moral character of the Romans, on account of their ecclesiastical orderliness, etc.; and in spite of the fact that this custom originally came from Rome to Barbary, according to c. IV of Carthage). Read also Ap. c.V, cc. XII and XIII of the 6th.