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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils
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Let the ancient customs prevail which were in vogue in Egypt and Libya and Pentapolis, to allow the bishop of Alexandria to have authority over all these parts, since this is also the treatment usually accorded to the bishop of Rome. Likewise with reference to Antioch, and in other provinces, let the seniority be preserved to the Churches. In general it is obvious that in the case in which anyone has been made a bishop without the Metropolitan’s approval, the great Council has prescribed that such a person must not be a Bishop. If, however, to the common vote of all, though reasonable and in accordance with an ecclesiastical Canon, two or three men object on account of a private quarrel, let the vote of the majority prevail.
(Ap. c. XXXIV; cc. II of the 2nd; c. VIII of the 3rd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; c. XXXVI of the 6th; c. XIX of Laodicea; c. XIII of Carthage.)
The present Canon ordains that the old customs of the three Patriarchs are to be kept in vogue, chiefly and mainly as regarding the Patriarch of Alexandria, and secondly as regarding the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Patriarch of Rome, succinctly and comprehensively. (Concerning the Patriarch of Jerusalem the present Council devote special and separate treatment in its c. VII; and concerning the Patriarch of Constantinople the Second Council set forth its views in its c. III). So that the Patriarch (whom it calls a Bishop here, owing to the fact that it had not yet become customary to designate one by calling him the Patriarch) of Alexandria came to have authority over all the bishops and metropolitans in Egypt and Libya and Pentapolis. In fact, the same custom also came to prevail with regard to the Patriarch of Rome in that he was allowed to have authority and presidency over all the occidental bishops and metropolitans. Likewise the Patriarch of Antioch is given authority over the bishops and metropolitans of Syria, of Middle Syria, of each of the two regions called Cilicia, of Mesopotamia, and of all the other dioceses subject to his jurisdiction. The present Canon, in fact, commands that not only the privileges of these Patriarchs are to be preserved, but even the privileges of other provinces and churches that are subject to the metropolitans. What is said of the Patriarchs in existence is also true of the independent Patriarchs, then and now — that is to say, the autocephalous Patriarchs, such as those of Asia, of Pontus, of Thrace, of Cyprus, of Africa, and of other countries. (Though others say that the Canon names here also other provinces, embraced, concisely speaking, in the dioceses subordinate to the other two Patriarchs, of Constantinople and of Jerusalem; and that of metropolitans it names only patriarchs. But the first interpretation is better; see also Dositheus, in the Dodecabiblus, pp. 117, 123.) Thus the effect of this Canon is that nothing relating to the administration of church affairs can be done without their consent and approval or sanction. Now, inasmuch as the greatest and chiefest of all ecclesiastical affairs is ordination, the Canon accordingly adds that if anyone is made a bishop without the approval of his own metropolitan, as this great Council has decreed, he is not to be a bishop, because in spite of the fact that the multitude of bishops voted for the bishop, the ratification of the election had to be made by the Metropolitan, and whoever was approved by the Metropolitan had to be made a bishop (and see the footnote to the present Council’s c. IV). Yet if all the bishops in common elect a candidate to an episcopate in accordance with ecclesiastical Canons, but two or three object to his election, not for a good reason and justly, but cavilously and spitefully, the vote of the majority shall decide the matter. Canon XIX of Antioch decrees the same thing. Canon XIII of Carthage says that if any one of those who took part in the voting and signed should afterwards oppose his own confession and signature, he shall deprive himself of the honor of (being) a bishop. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXIV.