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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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53.

 Since familiarity with respect to the spirit is superior to the association of bodies, while, on the other hand, we have learned that some persons, after becoming sponsors to children subjected to the formalities of a holy and salvatory baptism, have entered into a marriage contract with the widowed mothers of those children, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind shall be done. If any persons be detected doing this hereafter, first and foremost let such persons desist from such unlawful state of matrimony, and afterwards let them be compelled to undergo the penances prescribed to be suffered by those guilty of fornication.

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon forbids anybody to take to wife the mother of his goddaughter who has become a widow and whose child he has stood sponsor for at holy baptism, since this relationship based upon the spirit, whereby the godfather and the spiritually related mother of the child he has sponsored become spiritually brother and sister, is superior (superior, however, not in respect of quantity and rank; for blood relationship holds as an obstacle only to the third degree of rank — but in respect of quality and familiarity: and see in the section concerning marriage contract, ch. 8). As for any persons that may dare to do this, they are first of all to be divorced from this unlawful wedding, and next they are to be canonized (i.e., canonically punished) as fornicators on account of that unlawful marriage. This same provision, however, which the Canon makes in regard to sponsorship, ought to apply likewise to adoption solemnized by sacred rites and prayers, according to the twenty-fourth Novel of Leo the Wise.

 

 




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