Lecture on Course: CL 600 Ancient Canon Law
Topic: Apostolic Canons of the Council of Jerusalem, Canons of the Ecumenical Councils and Trullo
by Brother Macfonse Osmond, OSM
Edited by +David Leon Cooper, KTG, OCC, OMM
This is a discussion of the historical church canons. The actual canons and dispensations from them are not included. It should be viewed simply as history.
The first thing to understand is the old saying about Canon Law which is this: "The main way that canon law was changed is by breaking it." When a canon was violated enough it was usually changed.
A bishop may grant a dispensation for canons. That means he is authorized to make an exemption. We do not do this for anything that would make make a sacrament invalid.
For current canons and dispensations, consult your bishop! Questions about current canon law for the Metropolitan Archdioces of the Americas, Europe, Australia, Africa and Inpartibus of the SOC EACS and Allied Jurisdictions contact +David Leon Cooper, Metropolitan Archbishop.
Apostolic Canons of the Council of Jerusalem
The Apostolic Canons is a collection of earliest ecclesiastical decrees (eighty-five in the Eastern, fifty in the Western Church) concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, incorporated with the Apostolic Constitutions which are part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers collection.
They deal typically with the office and duties of a Christian bishop, the qualifications and conduct of the clergy, the religious life of the Christian flock (abstinence, fasting), its external administration (excommunication, synods, relations with pagans and Jews), the sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Marriage); in a word, they are a handy summary of the statutory legislation of the Early Church.
1 A Bishop must be ordained by two or three other Bishops.
2 A Presbyter must be ordained by a single Bishop, and so must a Deacon.
3 If any Bishop or Presbyter, contrary to the Lord’s ordinance relating to sacrifice, offers anything else at the sacrificial altar, whether it be honey, or milk, or artificial liquor instead of wine, chickens, or any kind of animals, or vegetables, contrary to the ordinance, let him be deposed from office: except ears of new wheat or bunches of grapes, in due season. let it not be permissible to bring anything else to the sacrificial altar but oil for the lamp, and incense at the time of the holy oblation.
4 Let all other fruit be sent home to the Bishop and Presbyters as firstfruits, but not to the sacrificial altar. It is understood that the Bishop and Presbyters shall distribute a fair share to the Deacons and other Clergymen.
5 No Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon shall put away his own wife under pretext of reverence. If, however, he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persist in so doing, let him be deposed from office.
6 A Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon must not undertake worldly cares. If he does, let him be deposed from office.
7 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrates the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him he deposed.
8 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else in the sacerdotal list, fail to partake of communion when the oblation has been offered, he must tell the reason; and if it is good excuse, he shall receive a pardon. But if he refuses to tell it, he shall be excommunicated, on the ground that he has become a cause of harm to the laity and has instilled a suspicion as against the offerer of it that the latter has failed to present it in a sound manner.
9 All those faithful who enter and listen to the Scriptures, but do not stay for prayer and Holy Communion must be excommunicated, on the ground that they are causing the Church a breach of order.
10 If anyone pray in company with one who has been excommunicated, he shall be excommunicated himself.
11 If any clergyman pray in company with a deposed clergyman, let him also be deposed.
12 If any clergyman, or layman, who has been excommunicated, or who has not been admitted to penance, shall go away and be received in another city, without commendatory letters, both the receiver and the one received shall be excommunicated.
13 If he has been excommunicated, let his excommunication be augmented, on the ground that he has lied and that he has deceived the Church of God.
14 A Bishop shall not abandon his own parish and go outside of it to interlope to another one, even though urged by a number of persons to go there, unless there be a good reason for doing so, on the ground that he can be of greater help to the inhabitants there, by reason of his piety. And even then he must not do so of his own accord, but in obedience to the judgment of many Bishops and at their urgent request.
15 If any Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone at all in the Sacerdotal List, abandoning his own province, departs to another, and after deserting it entirely, sojourns in another, contrary to the opinion of his own Bishop, we bid him to officiate no longer; especially if his Bishop summons him to return, and he has not obeyed and persists in his disorderliness, he may, however, commune there as a layman.
16 If, on the other hand, the Bishop with whom they are associating, admits them as clergymen in defiance of the deprivation prescribed against them, he shall be excommunicated as a teacher of disorder.
17 Whoever has entered into two marriages after baptism, or has possessed himself of a concubine, cannot be a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or anything else in the Sacerdotal List.
18 No one who has taken a widow, or a divorced woman, or a harlot, or a house maid, or any actress as his wife, may be a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or hold any other position at all in the Sacerdotal List.
19 Whoever marries two sisters, or a niece, may not be a clergyman.
20 Any Clergyman that gives surety shall be deposed from office.
21 A Eunuch, whether he became such by influence of men, or was deprived of his virile parts under persecution, or was born thus, may, if he is worthy, become a Bishop.
22 Let no one who has mutilated himself become a clergyman; for he is a murderer of himself, and an enemy of God’s creation
23 If anyone who is a clergyman should mutilate himself, let him be deposed from office. For he is a self-murderer.
24. Any layman who has mutilated himself shall be excommunicated for three years. For he is a plotter against his own life.
25 Any Bishop, or presbyter, or Deacon that is taken in the act of committing fornication, or perjury, or theft, shall be deposed from office, but shall not be excommunicated. For Scripture says: "Thou shalt not exact revenge twice for the same offense." The same rule applies also to the rest of the clergymen.
26 As to bachelors who have entered the clergy, we allow only anagnosts and psalts to marry. if they wish to do so.
27 As for a Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that strikes believers for sinning, or unbelievers for wrong-doing, with the idea of making them afraid, we command that he be deposed from office. For the Lord has nowhere taught that -- on the contrary, He Himself when struck did not strike back -- when reviled, He did not revile His revilers, -- when suffering, He did not threaten.
28 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, who has been justly deposed from office for proven crimes, should dare to touch the liturgy which had once been put in his hands, let him be cut off from the Church altogether.
29 If any Bishop become the recipient of this office by means of money, or any Presbyter, or any Deacon, let him be deposed as well as the one who ordained him, and let him be cut off entirely even from communion, as was Simon the Sorcerer by Peter.
30 If any Bishop comes into possession of a church by employing secular rulers, let him be deposed from office, and let him be excommunicated. And all those who communicate with him too.
31 If any Presbyter, condemning his own bishop, draw people aside, and set up another altar, without finding anything wrong with the Bishop in point of piety and righteousness, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is an office-seeker. For he is a tyrant. Let the rest of clergymen be treated likewise, and all those who abet him. But let the laymen be excommunicated. Let these thieves be done after one, and a second and a third request of the Bishop.
32 If any Bishop excommunicates any Presbyter or Deacon, these men must not be incardinated by anyone else but the one who excommunicated them. unless by a coincidence the Bishop who excommunicated them should decease.
33 None of the foreign Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons shall be received without letters commendatory. Even when they bear such, they shall be examined. And if they really are preachers of piety, they shall be received; but if they are not, after furnishing them what they have need of, they shall not be admitted to communion. For many things are done with a view to rapine.
34 It behoves the Bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognize him as their head, and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval: but, instead, each of them should do only whatever is necessitated by his own parish and by the territories under him. But let not even such a one do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all. For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in Holy Spirit -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
35 A Bishop shall not dare to confer ordinations outside of his own boundaries, in cities and territories not subject to him. If he be proved to have done so against the wishes of those having possession of those cities or territories, let him be deposed, as well as those whom he ordained.
36 In case any Bishop who has been ordained refuses the office and the care of the laity which has been entrusted to him, he shall be excommunicated and remain so until such time as he accepts it. Likewise as touching a Presbyter and a Deacon. But if, upon departing he fall to accept it, not contrary to his own inclination, but because of the spitefulness of the laity, let him be a bishop, but let the clergy of that city be excommunicated, since no one can correct such an insubordinate laity.
37 Twice a year let a council of bishops be held, and let them examine one another in regard to dogmas of piety, and let incidental ecclesiastical contradictions be eliminated: the first one, in the fourth week of Pentecost; the second one, on the twelfth of Hyperberetaeus.
38 Let the Bishop have the care of all ecclesiastical matters and let him manage them on the understanding that God is overseeing and supervising. Let him not be allowed to appropriate anything therefrom or to give God’s things to his relatives. If they be indigent, let him provide for them as indigents, but let him not trade off things of the Church under this pretext.
39 Let Presbyters and Deacons do nothing without the consent of the Bishop. For he is the one entrusted with the Lord’s people, and it is from him that an accounting will be demanded with respect to their souls.
40 Let the Bishop’s own property (if, indeed, he has any) be publicly known, and let the Lord’s be publicly known. In order that the Bishop may have authority to dispose of his own property when he dies, and leave it to whomsoever he wishes and as he wishes. And lest by reason of any pretext of ecclesiastical property that of the Bishop be submerged, be it that he has a wife and children, or relatives, or house servants. For it is only just with God and men that neither the church should suffer any loss owing to ignorance of the Bishop’s property, nor the Bishop, or his relatives, should have their property confiscated on the pretext that it belonged to the church. Or even to have trouble with those who are quarreling over his property, and to have his death involved in aspersions.
41 We command that the Bishop have authority over the property of the church. For if the precious souls of human beings ought to be entrusted to him, there is little need of any special injunction concerning money, so that everything may be entrusted to be governed in accordance with his authority, and he may grant to those in need through the presbyters and deacons with fear of God and all reverence, while he himself may partake thereof whatever he needs (if he needs anything) for his necessary wants, and for brethren who are his guests, so as not to deprive them of anything, in any manner. For God’s law has enjoined that those who serve at the altar are to be maintained at the altar’s expense. The more so in view of the fact that not even a soldier ever bears arms against belligerents at his own expense.
42 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon wastes his time by playing dice, or getting drunk, ether let him desist therefrom or let him be deposed from office.
43 Let any Subdeacon, or Anagnost, or Psalt, who does like things either desist or be excommunicated. likewise any Layman.
44 Let any Bishop or Presbyter or Deacon who demands interest on money lent to others either cease doing so or be deposed from office.
45 Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he has permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed.
46 We order any Bishop, or Presbyter, that has accepted any heretic's Baptism or sacrifice, to be deposed; for "what consonancy hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath the believer with an infidel?"
47 If a Bishop or Presbyter baptize anew anyone that has had a true baptism, of fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and death of the Lord and railing to distinguish priests from pseudopriests.
48 If any layman who has divorced his wife takes another, or one divorced by another man let him be excommunicated.
49 If any Bishop or Presbyter baptize anyone not into the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Lord’s ordinance, but into three beginningless beings or into three sons or into three comforters, let him be excommunicated.
50 TRINE IMMERSION IS REQUISITE FOR BAPTISM
If any Bishop or Presbyter does not perform three immersions (literally "three baptisms") in making one baptism (literally "one initiation "), but (only) a single immersion (literally, "a single baptism ), that given into the death of the Lord, let him be deposed (from office). For the Lord did not say, "Baptize ye into my death," but, "Go ye and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt.. 28:19).
51 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone at all on the sacerdotal list, abstains from marriage, or meat, or wine, not as a matter of mortification, but out of an abhorrence thereof, forgetting that all things are exceedingly good, and that God made man male and female, and blasphemously misrepresenting God’s work of creation, either let him mend his ways or let him be deposed from office and expelled from the Church. Let a layman be treated similarly.
52 If any Bishop or Presbyter shall refuse to welcome back anyone returning from sin, but, on the contrary, rejects him, let him be deposed from office, since he grieves Christ, who said: "There is joy in heaven over a single sinner who repents."
53 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, on the days of feasts will not partake of meat and wine, because he loathes these things, and not on account of asceticism, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has his own conscience seared and has become a cause of scandal to many.
54 If any clergyman be caught eating in a tavern or any restaurant where intoxicating beverages are served, let him be excommunicated, except only in case it happens to be at a wayside inn where he has put up for the night by necessity.
55 If any Clergyman should insult the Bishop, let him be deposed from office. For "thou shalt not speak ill of thy people’s ruler."
56 If any Clergyman should insult a Presbyter or a Deacon, let him be excommunicated.
57 If any Bishop or Presbyter neglects the Clergy or the laity, and fails to instruct them in piety, let him be excommunicated: but if he persists in his negligence and indolence, let him be deposed from office.
58 If any Bishop or Presbyter fails to supply necessities when any of the clergy is in want, let him be excommunicated. If he persists, let him be deposed, as having murdered his brother.
59 If a charge of fornication, or of adultery, or of any other forbidden act be brought against a faithful one, and be proved, let him not be promoted to the clergy.
60 If any Clergyman, for fear of any human being, whether the latter be a Jew or a Greek or a heretic, should deny the name of Christ, let him be cast out and rejected; or if he deny the name of clergyman, let him be deposed; and if he repent, let him be accepted as a layman.
61 If any accusation be brought against a believer of fornication or adultery, or any forbidden action, and he be convicted, let him not be promoted to the clergy.
62 If any of the clergy, through fear of men, whether Jew, heathen, or heretic, shall deny the name of Christ, let him be cast out. If he deny the name of a clergyman, let him be deposed. If he repent, let him be received as a layman.
63 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else on the sacerdotal list at all, eat meat in the blood of its soul, or that has been killed by a wild beast, or that has died a natural death, let him be deposed. For the Lord has forbidden this. But if any layman do the same, let him be excommunicated.
64 If any Clergyman be found fasting on Sunday, or on Saturday with the exception of one only, let him be deposed from office. If, however, he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.
65 If any Clergyman, or Layman, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated.
66 If any Clergyman strikes anyone in a fight, and kills by a single blow, let him be deposed from office for his insolence. But if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.
67 If anyone is keeping a virgin whom he has forcibly raped, though she be not engaged to another man, let him be excommunicated. And let it not be permissible for him to take another, but let him be obliged to keep her whom he has made his choice even though she happen to be indigent.
68 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon accepts a second ordination from anyone, let him and the one who ordained him be deposed. Unless it be established that his ordination has been performed by heretics. For those who have been baptized or ordained by such persons cannot possibly be either faithful Christians or clergymen.
69 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or Subdeacon, or Anagnost, or Psalt fails to fast throughout the forty days of Holy Lent, or on Wednesday, or on Friday, let him be deposed from office. Unless he has been prevented from doing so by reason of bodily illness. If, on the other hand, a layman fail to do so. Let him be excommunicated.
70 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone at all who is on the list of clergymen, fasts together with Jews, or celebrates a holiday together with them, or accepts from them holiday gifts or favors such as unleavened wafers, or anything of the like, let him be deposed from office. If a layman do likewise, however, let him be excommunicated.
71 If any Christian conveys oil to a temple of heathen, or to a synagogue of Jews their festivals, or lights lamps for them, let him be excommunicated.
72 If any Clergyman, or Layman, takes a wax candle or any oil from the holy church, let him be excommunicated and be compelled to give back what he took, together with a fifth part of its value to boot.
73 Let no one appropriate any longer for his own use any golden or silver vessel that has been sanctified, or any cloth: for it is unlawful to do so. If anyone be caught in the act, let him be punished with excommunication.
74 When a Bishop has been accused of something by trustworthy men, he must be summoned by Bishops; and if he answers and confesses, or is found guilty, let the penalty be fixed. But if when summoned he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a second time by sending two Bishops to him. If even then he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a third time, two Bishops again being sent to him; but if even then he shows contempt and fails to answer, let the synod decide the matter against him in whatever way seems best, so that it may not seem that he is getting the benefit by evading a trial.
75 As a witness against a bishop no heretic shall be accepted, but neither shall one faithful alone: for "every charge shall be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses" (Deut. 17:6; Matt.. 18:16).
76 It is decreed that no Bishop shall be allowed to ordain whomsoever he wishes to the office of the Episcopate as a matter of concession to a brother, or to a son, or to a relative. For it is not right for heirs to the Episcopate to be created, by subjecting God’s things to human passion; for God’s Church ought not to be entrusted to heirs. If anyone shall do this, let the ordination remain invalid and void, and let the bishop himself be penanced with excommunication.
77 If any cripple, or anyone with a defect in an eye or in a leg, is worthy of the episcopate, let him be made a bishop. For it is not an injury to the body that defiles one but a pollution of the soul.
78 Let no one that is deaf nor anyone that is blind be made a Bishop, not on the ground that he is deficient morally, but lest he should be embarrassed in the exercise of ecclesiastical functions.
79 If anyone is possessed of a demon, let him not be made a Clergyman, nor even be allowed to pray in company with the faithful. But after he has been cleansed thereof, let him be received, and if worthy be made one.
80 It is not right to ordain a man a bishop immediately after he has joined the Church and been baptized if he has hitherto been leading a heathenish life, or has been converted from wicked behavior. For it is wrong to let one without experience become the teacher of others, unless in some special case this be allowed as a matter of divine favor and grace.
81 We have said that a Bishop, or a Presbyter, must not descend himself into public offices, but must attend to ecclesiastical needs. Either let him be persuaded, therefore, not to do so, or let him be deposed. For no one can serve two masters, according to the Lord’s injunction.
82 We do not permit house servants to be ordained to the clergy without the consent of their masters, to the sorrow of the masters owning them. For such a tiling causes an upheaval in the households. But if any house servant should appear to be worthy to be ordained to any rank, as our own Onesimus did, and their masters are willing to permit it, and grant them their freedom and allow them to leave home, let him be so ordained.
83 If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon is engaged in military matters, and wishes to hold both a Roman (i.e., civil) and a sacerdotal office, let him be deposed. For "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s" (Matt.. 22:21).
84 If anyone insults an emperor or king, or any other ruler, contrary to what is right and just, let him pay the penalty. Accordingly, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed; But if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.
85 To all you Clergymen and Laymen let the following books be venerable and sacred: Of the Old Testament, the five of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; the one of Jesus of Nave (Joshua); the one of Judges; the one of Ruth; the four of the Kingdoms; two Paralipomena or the Book of Days; two of Esdras; one of Esther; three of the Maccabees; one of Job; one Psalter ; three of Solomon, namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; twelve of the Prophets; one of Isaiah; one of Jeremiah; one of Ezekiel; one of Daniel; outside of these it is permissible for you to recount in addition thereto also the Wisdom of very learned Sirach by way of teaching your younger folks. Our own books, that is to say. those of the New Testament, comprising four Gospels, namely, that of Matthew, of Mark. of Luke, and of John; fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter, three Epistles of John; one of James; one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Injunctions addressed to you Bishops through me, Clement, in eight books, which ought not to be divulged to all on account of the secret matters they contain) and the Acts of us Apostles.
Canons of the Ecumenical Councils
The canons of the Ecumenical Councils are regarded within the Orthodox Church as universally authoritative, though not in a strictly constructionist sense. Their canons have often been repealed or revised by the decisions of local synods or even of later Ecumenical Councils. Nevertheless, their legislation is central to the Orthodox canonical tradition, and appeals to such canons are more frequently made than to any other source of canonical legislation.
First Ecumenical Council
The council promulgated twenty canons,
1. prohibition of self-castration; (see Origen)
2. establishment of a minimum term for catechumen;
3. prohibition of the presence in the house of a cleric of a younger woman who might bring him under suspicion;
4. ordination of a bishop in the presence of at least three provincial bishops and confirmation by the metropolitan;
5. provision for two provincial synods to be held annually;
6. exceptional authority acknowledged for the patriarchs of Alexandria and Rome, for their respective regions;
7. recognition of the honorary rights of the see of Jerusalem;
8. provision for agreement with the Novatianists;
9–14. provision for mild procedure against the lapsed during the persecution under Licinius;
15–16. prohibition of the removal of priests;
17. prohibition of usury among the clergy;
18. precedence of bishops and presbyters before deacons in receiving Holy Communion, the Eucharist;
19. declaration of the invalidity of baptism by Paulian heretics;
20. prohibition of kneeling during the liturgy on Sundays and in the fifty days of Eastertide ("the pentecost"). Standing was the normative posture for prayer at this time, as it still is among the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics. (In time, Western Christianity adopted the term Pentecost to refer to the last Sunday of Eastertide, the fiftieth day.)
Second Ecumenical Council
1. an important dogmatic condemnation of all shades of Arianism, also of Macedonianism and Apollinarianism.
2. renews the Nicene legislation imposing upon the bishops the observance of diocesan and patriarchal limits.
3. gives the Bishop of Constantinople, the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is New Rome.
4. declares invalid the consecration of Maximus of Constantinople, the Cynic philosopher and rival of Gregory of Nazianzus, as Bishop of Constantinople.
5. This might have been passed the next year, 382, and is in regard to a Tome of the Western bishops, perhaps that of Pope Damasus I.
6 This might belong to the year 382 as well and was passed at the Quinisext Council as #95 and limits the ability to accuse bishops of wrongdoing.
7. This is in regards to procedures for receiving certain heretics into the church.
Third Ecumencal Council
Eight canons were passed:
Canon 1-5 condemned Nestorius and Caelestius and their followers as heretics
Canon 6 decreed deposition from clerical office or excommunication for those who did not accept the Council's decrees
Canon 7 condemned any departure from the creed established by the First Council of Nicaea, in particular an exposition by the priest Charisius.
Canon 8 condemned interference by the Bishop in affairs of the Church in Cyprus and decreed generally, so that no bishop was to "assume control of any province which has not heretofore, from the very beginning, been under his own hand or that of his predecessors ... the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed".
Fourth Ecumenical Council
The work of the council was completed by a series of 27 disciplinary canons: States that all canons of previous councils shall remain in force; specific councils were clarified by Quinisext Council canon 2.
Forbids simony (paying for ecclesiastic office).
Prohibits bishops from engaging in business.
Gives authority to bishops over the monks in their dioceses, with the right to permit or forbid the foundation of new monasteries.
States that travelling bishops are subject to canon law.
Forbids the clergy from changing dioceses.
Forbids the clergy from serving in the military.
Places the poorhouses under the jurisdiction of the bishop.
Limits the ability to accuse a bishop of wrong doing.
Prevents clergy belonging to multiple churches.
Regards letters of travel for the poor.
Prohibits provinces from being divided for the purposes of creating another church.
Prohibits clergy from officiating where they are unknown without a letter of recommendation from their bishop.
Regards wives and children of cantors and lectors.
Requires a deaconess to be at least 40.
Forbids monks and nuns from marrying on pain of excommunication.
Forbids rural parishes from changing bishops.
Forbids conspiracy against bishops.
Requires bishops to conduct a synod twice a year.
Lists exemptions for those who have been driven to another city.
States an accuser of a bishop shall be suspect before the bishop.
Forbids seizing the goods of a dead bishop.
Allows the expulsion of outsiders who cause trouble in Constantinople.
Asserts that monasteries are permanent.
Requires a new bishop to be ordained within 3 months of election.
Requires cathedrals to have a steward from among the clergy to monitor church business.
Forbids carrying off women under pretense of marriage (eloping).
Canon 28 grants equal privileges (isa presbeia) to Constantinople as of Rome because Constantinople is the New Rome as renewed by canon 36 of the Quinisext Council. The papal legates were not present for the vote on this canon, and protested it afterwards, and was not ratified by Pope Leo in Rome.
According to some ancient Greek collections, canons 29 and 30 are attributed to the council: canon 29, which states that an unworthy bishop cannot be demoted but can be removed, is an extract from the minutes of the 19th session; canon 30, which grants the Egyptians time to consider their rejection of Leo's Tome, is an extract from the minutes of the fourth session.
Fifth Ecumenical Council
This Council did not promulgate any Canons relating to the ecclesiastical constitution, but only fourteen anathematisms against the said heretics and others, and twenty-five more directed solely against the Origenists
Sixth Ecumenical Council
The Sixth Ecumenical Council, with 170 Holy Fathers attending, also met in Constantinople, in the year 680 A.D. (sometimes called the Council of Trullo). This council condemned the teachings of the Monotheists who acknowledged only the divine will of Christ while denying the human one. Also, this council dealt with moral questions, confirmed the canons of the various councils and the 85 Apostolic Canons, decreed that bishops shall not be married and that deacons and priests may not marry after their ordination.
This council adjourned and reconvened in 691 A.D. at the Trula Palace. The council approved the canons of preceding councils.
Seventh Ecumenical Council
In the seven council meetings, about 2000 representatives of the undivided Christian church participated. The council promulgated twenty-two canons relating to points of discipline, which may be summarized as follows:
1. The clergy must observe "the holy canons," which include the Apostolic, those of the six previous Ecumenical Councils, those of the particular synods which have been published at other synods, and those of the Fathers.
2. Candidates for a bishop's orders must know the Psalter by heart and must have read thoroughly, not cursorily, all the sacred Scriptures.
3. Condemns the appointment of bishops, priests, and deacons by secular princes.
4. Bishops are not to demand money of their clergy: any bishop who through covetousness deprives one of his clergy is himself deposed.
5. Is directed against those who boast of having obtained church preferment with money, and recalls the Thirtieth Apostolic Canon and the canons of Chalcedon against those who buy preferment with money.
6. Provincial synods are to be held annually.
7. Relics are to be placed in all churches: no church is to be consecrated without relics.
8. prescribes precautions to be taken against feigned converts from Judaism.
9. All writings against the venerable images are to be surrendered, to be shut up with other heretical books.
10. Against clerics who leave their own dioceses without permission, and become private chaplains to great personages.
11. Every church and every monastery must have its own œconomus.
12:. Against bishops or abbots who convey church property to temporal lords.
13. Episcopal residences, monasteries and other ecclesiastical buildings converted to profane uses are to be restored their rightful ownership.
14. Tonsured persons not ordained lectors must not read the Epistle or Gospel in the ambo.
15. Against pluralities of benefices.
16. The clergy must not wear sumptuous apparel.
17. Monks are not to leave their monasteries and begin building other houses of prayer without being provided with the means to finish the same.
18. Women are not to dwell in bishops' houses or in monasteries of men.
19. Superiors of churches and monasteries are not to demand money of those who enter the clerical or monastic state. But the dowry brought by a novice to a religious house is to be retained by that house if the novice leaves it without any fault on the part of the superior.
20. Prohibits double monasteries.
21. A monk or nun may not leave one convent for another.
22. Among the laity, persons of opposite sexes may eat together, provided they give thanks and behave with decorum. But among religious persons, those of opposite sexes may eat together only in the presence of several God-fearing men and women, except on a journey when necessity compels.
Canon of the Council of Trullo
Many of the canons were reiterations of previously passed canons. Several of the regulations passed were attempts at eliminating certain festivals and practices, in many cases because they were ascribed a pagan origin.
The Quinisext Council also known as the Council in Trullo, because it was held in the same domed hall where the Sixth Ecumenical Council had met. Both the Fifth and the Sixth Ecumenical Councils had omitted to draw up disciplinary canons, and as this council was intended to complete both in this respect, it took the name of Quinisext i.e. the Fifth-Sixth Council. This council promulgated 102 canons
1. The first canon recapitulates the heresies that have been condemned previously by the entire Church
2. The second canon names all the previous collections of canons that are to be received by the entire Church, rectifies the 85 Apostolic canons, The Apostolic Constitutions of Clement, The canons of Nicaea, of Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, of the 150 at Constantinople, of the 200 first assembled at Ephesus, and of Chalcedon, • The decretal letters of Dionysius of Alexandria, and of Peter of Alexandria, Martyr; of Gregory the Wonder-Worker, of Neocaesarea; of Athanasius of Alexandria; of Basil of Caesarea in Cappadocia; of Gregory of Nyssa; of Gregory Theologus; of Amphilochius of Iconium; of Timothy of Alexandria; of Theophilus of Alexandria; of Cyril of Alexandria; of Gennadius of Constantinople, The canon of Cyprian of Africa, Martyr, and of his synod (III Carthage, AD 257), which was kept only in that country.
3. The third canon prescribes laws for priests regarding marriage
4. The fourth canon condemn sexual intercourse with a woman dedicated to God “the spouse of Christ”
5. The fifth canon forbids a priest to have women as servants in his household, unless they are free from suspicion
6. Forbids clergy from marriage after ordination
7. Deacons are forbidden to take places of honor above presbyters, except when the deacon is "acting as representative of his own patriarch or metropolitan in another city under another superior, for then he shall be honoured as filling his place.
8. This was to endorse that synods take place at least once a year, between Easter and October, at a location chosen by the metropolitan
9. Clerics are not allowed to keep taverns, as is fitting, since they are not allowed to frequent them.
10. Forbids usury is especially to the clergy
11. The council forbade Christians to have any interaction with the Jews
12. Endorses that bishop should not be married
13. Endorse married priest and deacons not to separate their marriage
14. Presbyters are not to be ordained before the age of thirty
15. The synod of Neocaesarea said there should be only seven deacons in a city, even if it is very large, in accordance with the Book of Acts
16. Clerics who disobediently leave their church are not to be received by another, under penalty of deposition.
17. Clerics who disobediently leave their church are not to be received by another, under penalty of deposition.
18. Clerics may leave their church on account of a barbarian incursion, but they are bound to return once the occasion has ended, or else be excommunicated, along with the bishop who receives him.
19. Prelates should teach the clergy and people every day and especially on the Lord's day, piety and religion from Holy Scripture
20.This forbids bishop to teach in in a city that does not belong to him or hence face demotion to Presbyterian
21. If a deposed cleric repents of the sin that caused him to lose his rank, he may keep his hair shorn like a cleric, though remaining deposed. Otherwise, he must allow his hair to grow, "as being those who have preferred the communion of the world to the celestial life.
22. Those who are ordained for pay to any clerical rank are to be deposed, as is the bishop.
23. No one may offer Holy Communion for pay. "For grace is not to be sold, nor do we give the sanctification of the Holy Spirit for money; but to those who are worthy of the gift it is to be communicated in all simplicity."
24. Priests and monks are forbidden to attend horse-races or the theatre and to attend the games at weddings.
25. Rural and provincial parishes shall be retained by the current bishops, provided they were administered without opposition for thirty years.
26. A priest who was in an illicit marriage out of ignorance may retain his status as a priest, but not exercise his priestly duties.
27. Clergy must wear clerical garb, even while in town or on a journey. If not, they are to be "cut off for one week."
28. We decree priest shall henceforth administer the oblation alone to the people for the quickening of their souls and for the remission of their sins. Grapes may be brought and distributed for thanksgiving only.
29. The council required that clergy must fast before offering the Eucharistic sacrifice, without an exception for the day of the Lord's Supper, Holy Thursday.
30. Since we understand that in several churches grapes are brought to the altar, according to a custom which has long prevailed, and the ministers joined this with the unbloody sacrifice of the oblation, and distributed both to the people at the same time, we decree that no priest shall do this for the future, but shall administer the oblation alone to the people for the quickening of their souls and for the remission of their sins. But with regard to the offering of grapes as first fruits, the priests may bless them apart [from the offering of the oblation] and distribute them to such as seek them as an act of thanksgiving to him who is the Giver of the fruits by which our bodies are increased and fed according to his divine decree.
31. Clerics may not offer the holy mysteries in oratories that are in private houses, without the consent of the bishop.
32. This Council forbids priests to omit mixing the wine with water in the Holy Sacrifice.
33. The Council in requires that no regard be paid to the priestly descent of a candidate for the priesthood, and further, that no one may "read in the ambo" (i.e., be a lector, or perhaps even a cantor) without receiving the tonsure and benediction of his pastor.
34. Clergy are forbidden to join secret societies or to conspire against other clergy. Secret societies were already forbidden by civil law, and by the Council of Chalcedon.
35. It shall be lawful for no Metropolitan on the death of a bishop of his province to appropriate or sell the private property of the deceased, or that of the widowed church:
36. Let the throne of Constantinople be next after that of Rome, and enjoy equal privileges. After it Alexandria, then Antioch, and then Jerusalem.
37. A bishop who is not able to occupy his see on account of barbarian incursions may nonetheless exercise his authority from abroad, and his ordinations and other acts are valid.
38. This one was decreeing: "If any city be renewed by imperial authority, or shall have been renewed, let the order of things ecclesiastical follow the civil and public models."
39. That new Justinianopolis shall have the rights of Constantinople and whoever is constituted the pious and most religious bishop thereof shall take precedence of all the bishops of the province of the Hellespont". Hefele observes that "the rights of Constantinople
40. The Church may admit people to the monastic life as young as the age of ten
41. One who wishes to lead the monastic life in solitude (cloistered) must first live according to the communal monastic life for three years, before he is examined, and then must live one more year in a community. After then, if he still wishes it, he is to be shut away from others, and may not leave the monastery except under urgent necessity with the bishop's approval
42. Impostor monks who went by the name of "Eremites" ("of the desert," whence our term "hermit") would wear long hair and associate with worldly men and women, bringing odium upon the monastic, they are to be expelled to the desert, that they may be true to their name.
43. It is lawful for any Christian to choose the monastic life, regardless of his previous sins. No custom may hinder anyone from fulfilling this intention.
44. A monk who commits fornication or takes a wife is to be punished as a fornicator.
45. This canon forbids the custom where a woman about to join a monastic order is first dressed in fine clothes and jewelry before the altar, where she is stripped of these and her habit is blessed
46. A nuns and Monks may not leave her convent except for serious necessity and with the approval of their superior. A nun must be accompanied by "some old women who are eminent in the monastery", and they may not stop outside.
47. "No woman may sleep in a monastery of men, nor any man in a monastery of women." A cleric or layman who does this shall be excommunicated.
48. The wife of him who is advanced to the Episcopal dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop’s provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to the dignity of a deaconess.
49. Monasteries are always to remain monasteries, and are never to be converted to use by the secular clergy.
50. Neither clerics nor laymen may play at dice, under penalty of deposition or excommunication respectively.
51. Those who actively participate (as opposed to being mere spectators) in theatrical dances and exhibition of hunts are excommunicated if laymen, or deposed if clerics.
52. On all days of the holy fast of Lent, except on the Sabbath, the Lord’s day and the holy day of the Annunciation, the Liturgy of the Presanctified is to be said.
53. A Godfather may not marry the widowed mother of his Godchild. This marriage is unlawful and is to be punished as fornication.
54. This council decrees that the following types of marriage are unlawful. A man may not marry his father's daughter (i.e., his half-sister). A father and son may not marry a mother and daughter (i.e., a man may not marry his stepmother's daughter). A father and son may not marry two girls who are sisters, nor may a mother and daughter marry two girls who are brothers. (That is, you may not marry one who is an aunt or uncle by marriage, nor your child's brother- or sister-in-law.) Nor may two brothers marry two sisters. All of these must separate and do canonical penance for seven years.
55. “If any cleric shall be found to fast on a Sunday or Saturday (except on one occasion only) he is to be deposed; and if he is a layman he shall be cut off.”
56. It seems good therefore that the whole Church of God which is in all the world should follow one rule and keep the fast perfectly, and as they abstain from everything which is killed, so also should they from eggs and cheese, which are the fruit and produce of those animals from which we abstain.
57. It is not right to offer honey and milk on the altar.
58. Laymen are forbidden to give themselves communion if a bishop, presbyter or deacon is present. Those who do so are to be cut off for a week
59. Baptism is by no means to be administered in an oratory which is within a house
60. Those who pretend to be possessed by the devil by exhibiting depraved manners should be subjected to the same hardships and penances as is customary for genuine demoniacs, since by their imitative behavior they show an affinity to the devil.
61. Those who turn to soothsayers, enchanters and other diviners in search of secret knowledge shall be sentenced to six years canonical penance.
62. No Christian may practice the Calends or the feasts of Pan and Bacchus. Nor shall there be public dances of women, nor those dances given in the names of the Greek gods. No man shall dress as a woman, nor a woman as a man. No one shall wear comic, satyric or tragic masks. No one may invoke the name of Bacchus at the wine press or at wine jars. The penalty is deposition for clerics, excommunication for laity.
63. The reading of false histories of the martyrs is forbidden, especially as many of these dishonor the martyrs, thereby inducing unbelief in the masses.
64. Since a layman has no teaching authority, he should not dispute or teach publicly regarding "divine things", for not all are Apostles, nor all prophets. The penalty is forty days excommunication.
65. It is forbidden to light fires on new moons for the purpose of leaping over them
66. For the whole of Easter week (beginning with Easter Sunday), the laity are to be free from labor. They should be celebrating the feast every day with psalms and hymns, and attend the Divine Liturgy every day.
67. In accordance with Scripture, no Christian should eat the blood of an animal, under pain of deposition or excommunication
68. It is unlawful for anyone to corrupt or cut up a book of the Old or New Testament or of our holy and approved preachers and teachers, or to give them up to the traders in books or to those who are called perfumers, or to hand it over for destruction to any other like persons
69. A layman may not go up to the altar (i.e., enter the sanctuary). The sole exception is the Emperor, "when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator."
70. Women are not permitted to speak during the Divine Liturgy, in accordance with the teaching of the Apostle Paul.
71. Law students must not adopt gentile customs, nor go to the theater, nor "roll in the dust" (perhaps as in athletic games, such as wrestling), nor wear clothing contrary to custom.
72. An orthodox person may not marry a heretic; such a marriage is null. However, if two unbelievers are lawfully married and one converts to the orthodox faith, then they may remain married, in accordance with the Apostle's teaching that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbeliever.
73. The Cross is to be venerated (proskuneois) "in mind, in word, in feeling". A cross paved in the floor should be removed, lest the trophy of Christ's victory should suffer the indignity of being trampled upon
74. Agapae or love-feasts are forbidden in the churches. There shall not be eating in the churches, nor laying out couches. This renews the twenty-eighth canon of Council of Laodicea.
75. We will that those whose office it is to sing in the churches do not use undisciplined vociferations, nor force nature to shouting, nor adopt any of those modes which are incongruous and unsuitable for the church
76. Churches should not be used as an eating place, nor to sell food or other goods.
77. No Christian man, whether a cleric or a layman, should bathe with a woman. Even the heathens severely condemn this.
78. It behoves those who are illuminated to learn the Creed by heart and to recite it to the bishop or presbyters on the Fifth Feria of the Week.
79. Forbids a certain blasphemouse pracitise of the faithful during the feast of nativity and insists that the Mary gave birth to Christ Our God without bleeding and labour pains.
80. A cleric or layman shall not go three consecutive Sundays without attending church, unless some necessary business requires him to leave his town. The usual penalties apply: deposition for a cleric; excommunication for a layman
81. The council forbids the addition of the phrase "Who was crucified for us, have mercy on us," to the Trisagion hymn. The penalties of deposition and excommunication apply
82. In order therefore that “that which is perfect” may be delineated to the eyes of all, at least in coloured expression, we decree that the figure in human form of the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world, Christ our God, be henceforth exhibited in images, instead of the ancient lamb, so that all may understand by means of it the depths of the humiliation of the Word of God, and that we may recall to our memory his conversation in the flesh, his passion and salutary death, and his redemption which was wrought for the whole world.
83. No one may give the Eucharist to the bodies of the dead; for it is written “Take and eat.” But the bodies of the dead can neither “take” nor “eat.”
84. If it cannot be proved that an infant has been baptized, let it be baptized. This canon confirms infant baptism and the sanctifying effect of the sacrament.
85. Since three witnesses suffice to establish a fact, a slave is declared free on the testimony of himself and two other witnesses, according to an ancient epitome of this canon.
86. Those who to the destruction of their own souls procure and bring up harlots, if they be clerics, they are to be cut off and deposed, if laymen to be cut off.
87. A woman who leaves her husband for another is an adulteress, If she leaves her husband without cause, she deserves punishment and the husband pardon. His pardon is that he shall remain in communion with the Church, though he does not take back his spouse. However, if a husband leaves his wife to take another, he is "guilty of adultery by the sentence of the Lord." This is punished by a gradated penance of seven years before returning to full communion.
88. Cattle or other beasts are not to be led into a church, except under the gravest necessity
89. The faithful spending the days of the Salutatory Passion in fasting, praying and compunction of heart, ought to fast until the midnight of the Great Sabbath
90. No one shall kneel in prayer until the evening of Sunday, at which time ... again with bended knees we offer our prayers to the Lord.
91 Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the fœtus, are subjected to the penalty of murder.
92. Forbids eloping with a woman with removal for clergy and anathema for laity
93. A woman who when her husband does not turnup, before she is certain he is dead, takes another commits adultery. But when the man returns he may receive her again, if he so elects.
94. Whoever uses Gentile oaths, is worthy of punishment, for he is cut off
95. Thus we admit those converted from the heretics. We anoint with the holy chrism, upon the brow, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears, Arians, Macedonians, Novatians (who are called Cathari), Aristerians (who are called Quartadecimans or Tetraditae), and Apollinarians when they anathematize every heresy; and sign them with the cross as we say, "The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
96. Whoever twist up their hair into artistic plaits for the destruction of the beholders are to be cut off
97. Whoever in a temple has commerce with his wife and remains there out of contempt, shall be expelled even from the Catechumens. If any one shall not observe this he shall be deposed or cut off.
98. He who brings to the intercourse of marriage a woman who is betrothed to another man who is still alive, is to lie under the charge of adultery
99. There are some who like the Jews cook meat in the holy places. Whoever permits this, or receives aught from them, is not fit to be priest. But if any one should of his own free choice offer it, then he might receive as much as the offerer chose to give him, provided the offer were made outside the church.
100. Pictures which induce impurity are not to be painted. Whoso shall transgress shall be cut off.
101. Whoever comes to receive the Eucharist holds his hands in the form of a cross, and takes it with his mouth; whoever shall prepare a receptacle of gold or of any other material instead of his hand, shall be cut off
102. The character of a sin must be considered from all points and conversion expected. And so let mercy be meted out.
History of the Metropolitan Archdiocese and Metropolitans
Before the establishment of patriarchs (beginning in 325 AD), metropolitan was the highest episcopal rank in the Christian church. They presided over synods of bishops, and were granted special privileges by canon law and sacred tradition.
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or metropolitan archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital. His jurisdiction is called a metropolia or a metropolis.
The council of Constantinople enacted four disciplinary canons one of which its on limiting the power of bishops within fixed boundaries.
In a synod in Antioch 341 AD, The twenty-five canons adopted regulate the so-called metropolitan constitution of the church. Ecclesiastical power is vested chiefly in the metropolitan (later called archbishop), and the semi-annual provincial synod (cf. Nicaea, canon 5), which he summons and over which he presides. Consequently the powers of country bishops (chorepiscopi) are curtailed, and direct recourse to the emperor is forbidden. The sentence of one judicatory is to be respected by other judicatories of equal rank; re-trial may take place only before that authority to whom appeal regularly lies. Without due invitation, a bishop may not ordain, or in any other way interfere with affairs lying outside his proper territory; nor may he appoint his own successor.
Ecclesiastical provinces first assumed a fixed form in the Eastern Roman Empire. The more important centres (e.g. Antioch for Syria, Ephesus for the Province of Asia, Alexandria for Egypt, Rome for Italy), whence Christian missionaries issued to preach the Gospel, were regarded as the mother-churches (hence the Greek term metropolitan) of the newly-founded Christian communities. From the second half of the second century, the bishops of the territories within the same natural geographical boundaries were accustomed to assemble on important occasions for common counsel in synods. From the end of that century the summons to attend these increasingly important synods was usually issued by the bishop of the eparchy (capital of the state province), who also presided over the assembly, especially in the East. Important communications were also forwarded to the bishop of the provincial capital to be brought to the notice of the other bishops. Thus in the East during the third century the bishop of the provincial metropolis came gradually to occupy a certain superior position, and received the name of metropolitan.
- First Council of Nicaea
- First Council of Constantinople
- First Council of Ephesus
- Council of Chalcedon: Canons
- The Seven Ecumenical Councils
- Seven Ecumenical Councils and what they mean for us today...
- The Council in Trullo, or Quinisext Council: Daniel J. Castellano (2009)
- The Canons of the Council in Trullo; Often Called the Quinisext Council.
- Second Council of Nicaea - 787 A.D.
- The 85 canons of apostles
- The Rudder