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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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18.

 Clergymen who on the pretext of an incursion of barbarians, or as a result of any other circumstance, have emigrated, whenever their exigency has ceased, or the incursions of barbarians, on account of which they made their departure, are commanded to return to their own churches, and not to stay away from them for a long time without a good excuse. If anyone fails to conduct himself agreeably to the present Canon, let him be excommunicated until he returns to his own church. Let this same rule apply also to the Bishop who is keeping him.

(Ap. c. XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, X, XX, XXIII of the 4th; c. XVII of the 6th; c. XV of the 7th; c. III of Antioch; cc. XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica; cc. LXIII, XCVIII of Carthage.)

 

Interpretation.

Not only does this Canon refuse to let clergymen leave their churches without cause, but not even those who depart from them either on account of an incursion of barbarians, or perhaps on account of heavy debts or taxes, or on account of hunger, or on account of a deadly visit of the plague, or on account of any other circumstance. For it commands that when that cause ceases on account of which they departed, they must return again to their churches. Whoever, on the other hand, fails to comply with this Canon, let him be excommunicated, as well as the bishop who is keeping him in his eparchy (or bishopric), until he goes back where he belongs. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XV.

 

 




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