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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 As for those Clergymen who hold a liturgy in oratories or prayerhouses or in private residences, or who carry out a baptism therein, without having obtained the consent of the local Bishop to do this, we decree that if any Clergyman fail to guard against doing this, let him be deposed from office.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXIV, LIX of the 6th; c. XII, XIII, XIV, XV of the lst-&-2nd; c. VI of Gangra; c. V of Antioch; c. LVIII of Laodicea; cc. X, LXII of Carthage.)



The present Canon does not permit those in holy orders to conduct a liturgy or to baptize inside a room or in the parlor of a private dwelling, or in a house of prayer, or one called an oratory and devoted to prayer, which has not been consecrated in the Orthodox manner, without the permission and consent of the local bishop: because this would amount to a conventicle (or “parasynagogue”) and apostasy; but they may do this with his consent and permission. Anyone who fails to abide by this rule, let him be deposed from office.[157]



This same Canon is iterated verbatim by the lst-&-2nd Council in its c. XII, and confirmed, and that Council adds that priests who are to officiate in the oratories of private houses must be appointed by a prelate. Anyone that dares to officiate in them without being duly appointed and permitted by a bishop is to be deposed, and laymen who have joined with him in communion are to be excommunicated. Canon LVIII of Laodicea, on the other hand, which says that neither bishops nor priests may conduct sacred services in houses, does not conflict with the present Canon, because it does not specify that sacred rites may not be performed in the oratories of houses, as this Canon says, but only in houses in general, that is to say, more plainly speaking, in ordinary houses, a thing which is prohibited except in case of great necessity.[158] Canon LIX of the present 6th deposes those clergymen who baptize anyone inside the prayerhouse of anyone, and not in the common church; and it excommunicates laymen who have joined in communion with them.[159] Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXI.


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