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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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3.

 The great Council has forbidden generally any Bishop or Presbyter or Deacon, and anyone else at all among those in the clergy, the privilege of having a subintroducta. Unless she is either a mother, or a sister, or an aunt, or a person above suspicion.

(c. V of the 6th; c. XXIII of the 7th; c. XIX of Ancyra; C. XIX of Carthage; c. LXXXVIII of Basil.)

 

Interpretation.[3]

Men in holy orders and clergymen ought not to cause the laity any suspicion or scandal. On this account the present Canon ordains that this great Council — the First Ecumenical, that is to say — has entirely forbidden any bishop or presbyter or deacon or any other clergyman to have a strange woman in his house, and to live with her, excepting only a mother, or a sister, or an aunt, or other persons that do not arouse any suspicion.

    The ordinance of the first title of the Novels, which is Justinian Novel 123, says as follows: “We too forbid, in accordance with the power of the divine Canons presbyters and deacons and subdeacons and all other clergymen that have no lawful wife to keep any strange woman in their house. Except that they may keep a mother, a daughter, and a sister, and any other persons that are exempt from suspicion. If, however, anyone fails to observe these rules, but, even after reminded by the prelate or by his fellow clergymen, he refuses to throw the woman out whom he has been keeping, or, after being accused, he is proved to be associating with her indecently, such a man shall be deposed, and shall be turned over to the civil authorities of that city where he is serving as a clergyman.” But if a bishop lives with a woman at all, he shall be deposed.[4] Note two things here, though: one, that those who have unsuspectable persons in their home, as we have said, namely, a mother, or a sister, or an aunt, or other, must not at the same time have also suspicious persons serving, not them, but those unsuspectable persons; because again in this manner they become violators and incur the penalties prescribed by the Canons. Instead, they ought either to serve themselves, or have servants to serve them who are unsuspectable. Another thing is that monks ought not to live with unsuspectable persons alone when they have such. Because if the above-mentioned c. XXII of the 7th prohibits one from eating with his female relatives only, who are unsuspectable, how much more does it not prohibit them from living with them? For Basil the Great says (in his discussion of virginity) that the pleasure of flesh has overcome even brothers and sisters born of the same mother and has led to every sort of sin against mothers and daughters, just as it stigmatized also Amnon, the son of David, as a result of his debauching his own sister Tamar (II Sam. ch. 13), because the seductive and magnetic power of sexual love of men for women, which has been placed in men’s bodies, in defiance, he says, of every right reasoning — such as, let us say, that she is a mother, or a sister, or an auntspontaneously and all on their own initiative prompts the mingling of bodies of men with bodies of women, regardless of whether they are strangers or relatives, and in spite of the fact that their inward thoughts struggling against it are averse thereto.

 

 




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