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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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18.

 Be ye unoffending even to outsiders, says the Apostle (1 Cor. 10:32). But for women to be dwelling in bishoprics, or in monasteries, is a cause for everyone’s taking offense. If, therefore, anyone be caught in possession of a female slave or of a free woman in a bishopric, or in a monastery, for the performance of any service, or ministration, let him be penanced; and if he persists, let him be deposed from office. If, on the other hand, it should happen that in the suburbs there are women, and a Bishop, or an Abbot, wants to go to there, while the Bishop or Abbot is present, let no woman perform any sort of service whatever for him during that time, but let her keep to herself in a different place until the Bishop takes his departure, to avoid any reproach.

(c. III of the 1st; c. V of the 6th; c. XXII of the 7th; c. XIX of Ancyra; c. XLV of Carthage; c. LXXXIX of Basil.)

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon prohibits women from being within bishoprics and monasteries in prder to act as servants, since such a thing causes great scandal and brings great discredit upon prelates and monks both among secular Christians and among the heathen. In fact, the Apostle orders us not to give any offense to even Jews and Greeks outside the Church. So if any prelate or abbot should be caught doing this, let him be duly canonized. But if he should persist in doing it and be incorrigible, let him be deposed from office. If, on the other hand, in the latifundia of a bishopric or of a monastery there should be any women, and the prelate or the abbot should go there to any part of them, as long as these men are there the women are not to perform any act of service, but are to keep away until they depart, on account of the necessity of avoiding any offense or reproach. See also c. III of the First.

 

 




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