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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 Paul the divine Apostle said: “Some men’s sins are plainly evident, . . . whereas those of other men follow inferentially (1 Tim. 5:24). Sins, therefore, being committed in advance, other sins follow them. Thus the impious heresy of accusers of the Christians was followed by other acts of impiety. For precisely as they removed the face in the venerable icons from the Church, they have also abandoned certain other customs which must be renewed, and in accordance with both the written and the unwritten law they must thus prevail. As to any venerable temples, therefore, that have been consecrated without holy relics of Martyrs, we decree that in them there shall be made a deposit of relics together with the usual prayer. Let anyone, then, that consecrates a temple without holy relics be deposed from office, on the ground that he has transgressed ecclesiastical traditions.

(c. XCI of Carthage.)



St. Basil the Great interpreted this apostolic saying otherwise, but the present Council has taken it more naively, since it says that the previous sins one commits are followed by other sins, just as happened in the case of the iconomachs who used to accuse the Christians and who, just as they deprived the Church of the holy icons, also flouted some other things of the Church and cast them out, which things must be renewed, in order that both the written legislation and the unwritten tradition[272] may prevail. So all the divine temples that have been consecrated by them without relics of martyrs are to have such relics deposited in them, while at the same time the prayer is said which relates thereto in the ceremony of dedication.[273] As for any prelate that consecrates a temple hereafter without holy relics of martyrs, let him be deposed from office as a transgressor of ecclesiastical traditions.



Canon XCI of Carthage decrees that those sacrificial altars in which there is treasured no body or relics of martyrs are to be wrecked or disapproved.


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