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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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4.

 It is most fitting that a Bishop should be installed by all those in his province. But if such a thing is difficult either because of the urgency of circumstances, or because of the distance to be travelled, at least three should meet together somewhere and by their votes combined with those of the ones absent and joining in the election by letter they should carry out the ordination thereafter. But as for the ratification of the proceedings, let it be entrusted in each province to the Metropolitan.

(Ap. c. I; c. III of the 7th; c. XIX of Antioch; c. VI of Sardican; c. XII of Laodicea; and cc. XII, LVIII, LIX of Carthage.)

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon decrees that a bishop ought to be ordained by all the bishops in the province whenever this is feasible; but in case it is difficult for all of them to be gathered together at a meeting for this purpose, whether on account of some urgent necessity, or because of the long distance of travel involved, let at least three bishops meet together in any event, and let those absent contribute their votes by letter in the ordination, and then let them ordain him. As for the validity and ratification of everything that has been done — that is to say, the validity of the election held by all the bishops, and the appointment of the one of the three candidates — because three must be voted for, according to ecclesiastical formality — the appointment, I say, of the one to receive notification of the ordination, must be left and referred to the metropolitan of each province as the supreme authority.[5] But inasmuch as the annotators, namely, Zonaras and Balsamon, explain the text as meaning to be appointed, instead of meaning to be voted for; and others say that instead of ordination we ought to know that previous thereto and properly necessary thereto the election signifies installation. Accordingly, I prefer the word install to the word make. So even here the expression “it is fitting that he should be installed” as previously necessary is a comprehensive term denoting that he should be elected, chosen, ordained by all of them. I saidpreviously” and “comprehensive” because this order of procedure is sacred: that is to say, one must first be voted for and afterwards be ordained. Accordingly, we thus obtain a most complete understanding that he has been installed; that is to say, that he has actually been made a bishop. There hence appear to be two significations inherent in the words of the expression “to be installed,” just as there are also in the words of the expression “to be elected”: one implying action by all, and the other implying action by three, both in accordance with the present Canon and in accordance with Ap. c. I. This is about the same as the explanation given by the Seventh Ecum. C. in its own c. III: therefore when only three carry out the ordination, it must previously have been voted for by all of them, those absent signifying their choice by letter.

 

 




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