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Council in Trullo (A.D. 692)
That order is best of all which makes every word and act begin and end in God. Wherefore that piety may be clearly set forth by us and that the Church of which Christ is the foundation may be continually increased and advanced, and that it may be exalted above the cedars of Lebanon; now therefore we, by divine grace at the beginning of our decrees, define that the faith set forth by the God-chosen Apostles who themselves had both seen and were ministers of the Word, shall be preserved without any innovation, unchanged and inviolate.
Moreover the faith of the three hundred and eighteen holy and blessed fathers who were assembled at Nice under Constantine our Emperor, against the impious Arius, and the gentile diversity of deity or rather (to speak accurately) multitude of gods taught by him, who by the unanimous acknowledgment of the faithful revealed and declared to us the consubstantiality of the Three Persons comprehended in the Divine Nature, not suffering this faith to lie hidden under the bushel of ignorance, but openly teaching the faithful to adore with one worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, confuting and scattering to the winds the opinion of different grades, and demolishing and overturning the puerile toyings fabricated out of sand by the heretics against orthodoxy.
Likewise also we confirm that faith which was set forth by the one hundred and fifty fathers who in the time of Theodosius the Elder, our Emperor, assembled in this imperial city, accepting their decisions with regard to the Holy Ghost in assertion of his godhead, and expelling the profane Macedonius (together with all previous enemies of the truth) as one who dared to judge Him to be a servant who is Lord, and who wished to divide, like a robber, the inseparable unity, so that there might be no perfect mystery of our faith.
And together with this odious and detestable contender against the truth, we condemn Apollinaris, priest of the same iniquity, who impiously belched forth that the Lord assumed a body unendowed with a soul, thence also inferring that his salvation wrought for us was imperfect.
Moreover what things were set forth by the two hundred God-bearing fathers in the city of Ephesus in the days of Theodosius our Emperor, the son of Arcadius; these doctrines we assent to as the unbroken strength of piety, teaching that Christ the incarnate Son of God is one; and declaring that she who bore him without human seed was the immaculate Ever-Virgin, glorifying her as literally and in very truth the Mother of God. We condemn as foreign to the divine scheme the absurd division of Nestorius, who teaches that the one Christ consists of a man separately and of the Godhead separately and renews the Jewish impiety.
Moreover we confirm that faith which at Chalcedon, the Metropolis, was set forth in accordance with orthodoxy by the six hundred and thirty God-approved fathers in the time of Marcian, who was our Emperor, which handed down with a great and mighty voice, even unto the ends of the earth, that the one Christ, the son of God, is of two natures, and must be glorified in these two natures, and which cast forth from the sacred precincts of the Church as a black pestilence to be avoided, Eutyches, babbling stupidly and inanely, and teaching that the great mystery of the incarnation (οἰκονωμίας) was perfected in thought only. And together with him also Nestorius and Dioscorus of whom the former was the defender and champion of the division, the latter of the confusion [of the two natures in the one Christ], both of whom fell away from the divergence of their impiety to a common depth of perdition and denial of God.
Also we recognize as inspired by the Spirit the pious voices of the one hundred and sixty-five God-bearing fathers who assembled in this imperial city in the time of our Emperor Justinian of blessed memory, and we teach them to those who come after us; for these synodically anathematized and execrated Theodore of Mopsuestia (the teacher of Nestorius), and Origen, and Didymus, and Evagrius, all of whom reintroduced feigned Greek myths, and brought back again the circlings of certain bodies and souls, and deranged turnings [or transmigrations] to the wanderings or dreamings of their minds, and impiously insulting the resurrection of the dead. Moreover [they condemned] what things were written by Theodoret against the right faith and against the Twelve Chapters of blessed Cyril, and that letter which is said to have been written by Ibas.
Also we agree to guard untouched the faith of the Sixth Holy Synod, which first assembled in this imperial city in the time of Constantine, our Emperor, of blessed memory, which faith received still greater confirmation from the fact that the pious Emperor ratified with his own signet that which was written for the security of future generations. This council taught that we should openly profess our faith that in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, our true God, there are two natural wills or volitions and two natural operations; and condemned by a just sentence those who adulterated the true doctrine and taught the people that in the one Lord Jesus Christ there is but one will and one operation; to wit, Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Honorius of Rome, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter, who were bishops of this God-preserved city; Macarius, who was bishop of Antioch; Stephen, who was his disciple, and the insane Polychronius, depriving them henceforth from the communion of the body of Christ our God.
And, to say so once for all, we decree that the faith shall stand firm and remain unsullied until the end of the world as well as the writings divinely handed down and the teachings of all those who have beautified and adorned the Church of God and were lights in the world, having embraced the word of life. And we reject and anathematize those whom they rejected and anathematized, as being enemies of the truth, and as insane ragers against God, and as lifters up of iniquity.
But if any one at all shall not observe and embrace the aforesaid pious decrees, and teach and preach in accordance therewith, but shall attempt to set himself in opposition thereto, let him be anathema, according to the decree already promulgated by the approved holy and blessed Fathers, and let him be cast out and stricken off as an alien from the number of Christians. For our decrees add nothing to the things previously defined, nor do they take anything away, nor have we any such power.
It has also seemed good to this holy Council, that the eighty-five canons, received and ratified by the holy and blessed Fathers before us, and also handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles should from this time forth remain firm and unshaken for the cure of souls and the healing of disorders. And in these canons we are bidden to receive the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles [written] by Clement. But formerly through the agency of those who erred from the faith certain adulterous matter was introduced, clean contrary to piety, for the polluting of the Church, which obscures the elegance and beauty of the divine decrees in their present form. We therefore reject these Constitutions so as the better to make sure of the edification and security of the most Christian flock; by no means admitting the offspring of heretical error, and cleaving to the pure and perfect doctrine of the Apostles. But we set our seal likewise upon all the other holy canons set forth by our holy and blessed Fathers, that is, by the 318 holy God-bearing Fathers assembled at Nice, and those at Ancyra, further those at Neocæsarea and likewise those at Gangra, and besides, those at Antioch in Syria: those too at Laodicea in Phrygia: and likewise the 150 who assembled in this heaven-protected royal city: and the 200 who assembled the first time in the metropolis of the Ephesians, and the 630 holy and blessed Fathers at Chalcedon. In like manner those of Sardica, and those of Carthage: those also who again assembled in this heaven-protected royal city under its bishop Nectarius and Theophilus Archbishop of Alexandria. Likewise too the Canons [i.e. the decretal letters] of Dionysius, formerly Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria; and of Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria and Martyr; of Gregory the Wonder-worker, Bishop of Neocæsarea; of Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Basil, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia; of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa; of Gregory Theologus; of Amphilochius of Iconium; of Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Theophilus, Archbishop of the same great city of Alexandria; of Cyril, Archbishop of the same Alexandria; of Gennadius, Patriarch of this heaven-protected royal city. Moreover the Canon set forth by Cyprian, Archbishop of the country of the Africans and Martyr, and by the Synod under him, which has been kept only in the country of the aforesaid Bishops, according to the custom delivered down to them. And that no one be allowed to transgress or disregard the aforesaid canons, or to receive others beside them, supposititiously set forth by certain who have attempted to make a traffic of the truth. But should any one be convicted of innovating upon, or attempting to overturn, any of the afore-mentioned canons, he shall be subject to receive the penalty which that canon imposes, and to be cured by it of his transgression.
Since our pious and Christian Emperor has addressed this holy and ecumenical council, in order that it might provide for the purity of those who are in the list of the clergy, and who transmit divine things to others, and that they may be blameless ministrants, and worthy of the sacrifice of the great God, who is both Offering and High Priest, a sacrifice apprehended by the intelligence: and that it might cleanse away the pollutions wherewith these have been branded by unlawful marriages: now whereas they of the most holy Roman Church purpose to keep the rule of exact perfection, but those who are under the throne of this heaven-protected and royal city keep that of kindness and consideration, so blending both together as our fathers have done, and as the love of God requires, that neither gentleness fall into licence, nor severity into harshness; especially as the fault of ignorance has reached no small number of men, we decree, that those who are involved in a second marriage, and have been slaves to sin up to the fifteenth of the past month of January, in the past fourth Indiction, the 6109th year, and have not resolved to repent of it, be subjected to canonical deposition: but that they who are involved in this disorder of a second marriage, but before our decree have acknowledged what is fitting, and have cut off their sin, and have put far from them this strange and illegitimate connection, or they whose wives by second marriage are already dead, or who have turned to repentance of their own accord, having learned continence, and having quickly forgotten their former iniquities, whether they be presbyters or deacons, these we have determined should cease from all priestly ministrations or exercise, being under punishment for a certain time, but should retain the honour of their seat and station, being satisfied with their seat before the laity and begging with tears from the Lord that the transgression of their ignorance be pardoned them: for unfitting it were that he should bless another who has to tend his own wounds. But those who have been married to one wife, if she was a widow, and likewise those who after their ordination have unlawfully entered into one marriage that is, presbyters, and deacons, and subdeacons, being debarred for some short time from sacred ministration, and censured, shall be restored again to their proper rank, never advancing to any further rank, their unlawful marriage being openly dissolved. This we decree to hold good only in the case of those that are involved in the aforesaid faults up to the fifteenth (as was said) of the month of January, of the fourth Indiction, decreeing from the present time, and renewing the Canon which declares, that he who has been joined in two marriages after his baptism, or has had a concubine, cannot be bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or at all on the sacerdotal list; in like manner, that he who has taken a widow, or a divorced person, or a harlot, or a servant, or an actress, cannot be bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or at all on the sacerdotal list.
If any bishop, presbyter, deacon, subdeacon, lector, cantor, or doorkeeper has had intercourse with a woman dedicated to God, let him be deposed, as one who has corrupted a spouse of Christ, but if a layman let him be cut off.
Let none of those who are on the priestly list possess any woman or maid servant, beyond those who are enumerated in the canon as being persons free from suspicion, preserving himself hereby from being implicated in any blame. But if anyone transgresses our decree let him be deposed. And let eunuchs also observe the same rule, that by foresight they may be free of censure. But those who transgress, let them be deposed, if indeed they are clerics; but if laymen let them be excommunicated.
Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors and cantors are able to marry; we also, maintaining this, determine that henceforth it is in nowise lawful for any subdeacon, deacon or presbyter after his ordination to contract matrimony but if he shall have dared to do so, let him be deposed. And if any of those who enter the clergy, wishes to be joined to a wife in lawful marriage before he is ordained subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter, let it be done.
Since we have learned that in some churches deacons hold ecclesiastical offices, and that hereby some of them with arrogancy and license sit daringly before the presbyters: we have determined that a deacon, even if in an office of dignity, that is to say, in whatever ecclesiastical office he may be, is not to have his seat before a presbyter, except he 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. But if anyone, possessed with a tyrannical audacity, shall have dared to do such a thing, let him be ejected from his peculiar rank and be last of all of the order in whose list he is in his own church; our Lord admonishing us that we are not to delight in taking the chief seats, according to the doctrine which is found in the holy Evangelist Luke, as put forth by our Lord and God himself. For to those who were called he taught this parable: When you are bidden by anyone to a marriage sit not down in the highest place lest a more honourable man than you shall have been bidden by him; and he who bade you and him come and say to you: Give this man place, and you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are bidden, sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who bade you comes he may say to you, Friend go up higher: then you shall have honor in the presence of those who sit with you. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. But the same thing also shall be observed in the remaining sacred orders; seeing that we know that spiritual things are to be preferred to worldly dignity.
Since we desire that in every point the things which have been decreed by our holy fathers may also be established and confirmed, we hereby renew the canon which orders that synods of the bishops of each province be held every year where the bishop of the metropolis shall deem best. But since on account of the incursions of barbarians and certain other incidental causes, those who preside over the churches cannot hold synods twice a year, it seems right that by all means once a year — on account of ecclesiastical questions which are likely to arise — a synod of the aforesaid bishops should be holden in every province, between the holy feast of Easter and October, as has been said above, in the place which the Metropolitan shall have deemed most fitting. And let such bishops as do not attend, when they are at home in their own cities and are in good health, and free from all unavoidable and necessary business, be fraternally reproved.
Let no cleric be permitted to keep a public house. For if it be not permitted to enter a tavern, much more is it forbidden to serve others in it and to carry on a trade which is unlawful for him. But if he shall have done any such thing, either let him desist or be deposed.
A bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who receives usury, or what is called hecatostæ, let him desist or be deposed.
Let no one in the priestly order nor any layman eat the unleavened bread of the Jews, nor have any familiar intercourse with them, nor summon them in illness, nor receive medicines from them, nor bathe with them; but if anyone shall take in hand to do so, if he is a cleric, let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offense to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us — it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach. For the divine Apostle says: Do all to the glory of God, give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me even as I also am of Christ. But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed.
Since we know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate should promise no longer to cohabit with their wives, we, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse at a convenient time. Wherefore, if anyone shall have been found worthy to be ordained subdeacon, or deacon, or presbyter, he is by no means to be prohibited from admittance to such a rank, even if he shall live with a lawful wife. Nor shall it be demanded of him at the time of his ordination that he promise to abstain from lawful intercourse with his wife: lest we should affect injuriously marriage constituted by God and blessed by his presence, as the Gospel says: What God has joined together let no man put asunder; and the Apostle says, Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled; and again, Are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. But we know, as they who assembled at Carthage (with a care for the honest life of the clergy) said, that subdeacons, who handle the Holy Mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters should abstain from their consorts according to their own course [of ministration]. So that what has been handed down through the Apostles and preserved by ancient custom, we too likewise maintain, knowing that there is a time for all things and especially for fasting and prayer. For it is meet that they who assist at the divine altar should be absolutely continent when they are handling holy things, in order that they may be able to obtain from God what they ask in sincerity.
If therefore anyone shall have dared, contrary to the Apostolic Canons, to deprive any of those who are in holy orders, presbyter, or deacon, or subdeacon of cohabitation and intercourse with his lawful wife, let him be deposed. In like manner also if any presbyter or deacon on pretence of piety has dismissed his wife, let him be excluded from communion; and if he persevere in this let him be deposed.
Let the canon of our holy God-bearing Fathers be confirmed in this particular also; that a presbyter be not ordained before he is thirty years of age, even if he be a very worthy man, but let him be kept back. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach when he was thirty. In like manner let no deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five, nor a deaconess before she is forty.
A subdeacon is not to be ordained under twenty years of age. And if any one in any grade of the priesthood shall have been ordained contrary to the prescribed time let him be deposed.
Since the book of the Acts tells us that seven deacons were appointed by the Apostles, and the synod of Neocæsarea in the canons which it put forth determined that there ought to be canonically only seven deacons, even if the city be very large, in accordance with the book of the Acts; we, having fitted the mind of the fathers to the Apostles' words, find that they spoke not of those men who ministered at the Mysteries but in the administration which pertains to the serving of tables. For the book of the Acts reads as follows: In those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring dissension of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. And the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples with them and said, It is not meet for us to leave the word of God and serve tables. Look out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of good report full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually unto prayer and unto the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles.
John Chrysostom, a Doctor of the Church, interpreting these words, proceeds thus: It is a remarkable fact that the multitude was not divided in its choice of the men, and that the Apostles were not rejected by them. But we must learn what sort of rank they had, and what ordination they received. Was it that of deacons? But this office did not yet exist in the churches. But was it the dispensation of a presbyter? But there was not as yet any bishop, but only Apostles, whence I think it is clear and manifest that neither of deacons nor of presbyters was there then the name.
But on this account therefore we also announce that the aforesaid seven deacons are not to be understood as deacons who served at the Mysteries, according to the teaching before set forth, but that they were those to whom a dispensation was entrusted for the common benefit of those that were gathered together, who to us in this also were a type of philanthropy and zeal towards those who are in need.
Since clerics of different churches have left their own churches in which they were ordained and betaken themselves to other bishops, and without the consent of their own bishop have been settled in other churches, and thus they have proved themselves to be insolent and disobedient; we decree that from the month of January of the past IVth Indiction no cleric, of whatsoever grade he be, shall have power, without letters dimissory of his own bishop, to be registered in the clergy list of another church. Whoever in future shall not have observed this rule, but shall have brought disgrace upon himself as well as on the bishop who ordained him, let him be deposed together with him who also received him.
Those clerics who in consequence of a barbaric incursion or on account of any other circumstance have gone abroad, we order to return again to their churches after the cause has passed away, or when the incursion of the barbarians is at an end. Nor are they to leave them for long without cause. If anyone shall not have returned according to the direction of this present canon — let him be cut off until he shall return to his own church. And the same shall be the punishment of the bishop who received him.
It behooves those who preside over the churches, every day but especially on Lord's days, to teach all the clergy and people words of piety and of right religion, gathering out of holy Scripture meditations and determinations of the truth, and not going beyond the limits now fixed, nor varying from the tradition of the God-bearing fathers. And if any controversy in regard to Scripture shall have been raised, let them not interpret it otherwise than as the lights and doctors of the church in their writings have expounded it, and in those let them glory rather than in composing things out of their own heads, lest through their lack of skill they may have departed from what was fitting. For through the doctrine of the aforesaid fathers, the people coming to the knowledge of what is good and desirable, as well as what is useless and to be rejected, will remodel their life for the better, and not be led by ignorance, but applying their minds to the doctrine, they will take heed that no evil befall them and work out their salvation in fear of impending punishment.
It shall not be lawful for a bishop to teach publicly in any city which does not belong to him. If any shall have been observed doing this, let him cease from his episcopate, but let him discharge the office of a presbyter.
Those who have become guilty of crimes against the canons, and on this account subject to complete and perpetual deposition, are degraded to the condition of layman. If, however, keeping conversion continually before their eyes, they willingly deplore the sin on account of which they fell from grace, and made themselves aliens therefrom, they may still cut their hair after the manner of clerics. But if they are not willing to submit themselves to this canon, they must wear their hair as laymen, as being those who have preferred the communion of the world to the celestial life.
Those who are ordained for money, whether bishops or of any rank whatever, and not by examination and choice of life, we order to be deposed as well as those also who ordained them.
That no one, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon, when giving the immaculate Communion, shall exact from him who communicates fees of any kind. 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. But if any of those enrolled among the clergy make demands on those he communicates let him be deposed, as an imitator of the error and wickedness of Simon.
No one who is on the priestly catalogue nor any monk is allowed to take part in horse-races or to assist at theatrical representations. But if any clergyman be called to a marriage, as soon as the games begin let him rise up and go out, for so it is ordered by the doctrine of our fathers. And if any one shall be convicted of such an offense let him cease therefrom or be deposed.
Moreover we renew the canon which orders that country (ἀγροικικὰς) parishes and those which are in the provinces (ἐ γχωρίους) shall remain subject to the bishops who had possession of them; especially if for thirty years they had administered them without opposition. But if within thirty years there had been or should be any controversy on the point, it is lawful for those who think themselves injured to refer the matter to the provincial synod.
If a presbyter has through ignorance contracted an illegal marriage, while he still retains the right to his place, as we have defined in the sacred canons, yet he must abstain from all sacerdotal work. For it is sufficient if to such an one indulgence is granted. For he is unfit to bless another who needs to take care of his own wounds, for blessing is the imparting of sanctification. But how can he impart this to another who does not possess it himself through a sin of ignorance? Neither then in public nor in private can he bless nor distribute to others the body of Christ, [nor perform any other ministry]; but being content with his seat of honour let him lament to the Lord that his sin of ignorance may be remitted. For it is manifest that the nefarious marriage must be dissolved, neither can the man have any intercourse with her on account of whom he is deprived of the execution of his priesthood.
None of those who are in the catalogue of the clergy shall wear clothes unsuited to them, either while still living in town or when on a journey: but they shall wear such clothes as are assigned to those who belong to the clergy. And if any one shall violate this canon, he shall be cut off for one week.
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. And if any cleric shall violate this decree let him be deposed.
A canon of the Synod of Carthage says that the holy mysteries of the altar are not to be performed but by men who are fasting, except on one day in the year on which the Supper of the Lord is celebrated. At that time, on account perhaps of certain occasions in those places useful to the Church, even the holy Fathers themselves made use of this dispensation. But since nothing leads us to abandon exact observance, we decree that the Apostolic and Patristic tradition shall be followed; and define that it is not right to break the fast on the fifth feria of the last week of Lent, and thus to do dishonour to the whole of Lent.
Willing to do all things for the edification of the Church, we have determined to take care even of priests who are in barbarian churches. Wherefore if they think that they ought to exceed the Apostolic Canon concerning the not putting away of a wife on the pretext of piety and religion, and to do beyond that which is commanded, and therefore abstain by agreement with their wives from cohabitation, we decree they ought no longer to live with them in any way, so that hereby they may afford us a perfect demonstration of their promise. But we have conceded this to them on no other ground than their narrowness, and foreign and unsettled manners.
Clerics who in oratories which are in houses offer the Holy Mysteries or baptize, we decree ought to do this with the consent of the bishop of the place. Wherefore if any cleric shall not have so done, let him be deposed.
Since it has come to our knowledge that in the region of Armenia they offer wine only on the Holy Table, those who celebrate the unbloody sacrifice not mixing water with it, adducing, as authority thereof, John Chrysostom, a doctor of the Church, who says in his interpretation of the Gospel according to St. Matthew:
And wherefore did he not drink water after he was risen again, but wine? To pluck up by the roots another wicked heresy. For since there are certain who use water in the Mysteries to show that both when he delivered the mysteries he had given wine and that when he had risen and was setting before them a mere meal without mysteries, he used wine, 'of the fruit,' says he, 'of the vine.' But a vine produces wine, not water. And from this they think the doctor overthrows the admixture of water in the holy sacrifice. Now, lest on the point from this time forward they be held in ignorance, we open out the orthodox opinion of the Father. For since there was an ancient and wicked heresy of the Hydroparastatæ (i.e., of those who offered water), who instead of wine used water in their sacrifice, this divine, confuting the detestable teaching of such a heresy, and showing that it is directly opposed to Apostolic tradition, asserted that which has just been quoted. For to his own church, where the pastoral administration had been given him, he ordered that water mixed with wine should be used at the unbloody sacrifice, so as to show forth the mingling of the blood and water which for the life of the whole world and for the redemption of its sins, was poured forth from the precious side of Christ our Redeemer; and moreover in every church where spiritual light has shined this divinely given order is observed.
For also James, the brother, according to the flesh, of Christ our God, to whom the throne of the church of Jerusalem first was entrusted, and Basil, the Archbishop of the Church of Cæsarea, whose glory has spread through all the world, when they delivered to us directions for the mystical sacrifice in writing, declared that the holy chalice is consecrated in the Divine Liturgy with water and wine. And the holy Fathers who assembled at Carthage provided in these express terms: That in the holy Mysteries nothing besides the body and blood of the Lord be offered, as the Lord himself laid down, that is bread and wine mixed with water. Therefore if any bishop or presbyter shall not perform the holy action according to what has been handed down by the Apostles, and shall not offer the sacrifice with wine mixed with water, let him be deposed, as imperfectly showing forth the mystery and innovating on the things which have been handed down.
Since we know that, in the region of the Armenians, only those are appointed to the clerical orders who are of priestly descent (following in this Jewish customs); and some of those who are even untonsured are appointed to succeed cantors and readers of the divine law, we decree that henceforth it shall not be lawful for those who wish to bring any one into the clergy, to pay regard to the descent of him who is to be ordained; but let them examine whether they are worthy (according to the decrees set forth in the holy canons) to be placed on the list of the clergy, so that they may be ecclesiastically promoted, whether they are of priestly descent or not; moreover, let them not permit any one at all to read in the ambo, according to the order of those enrolled in the clergy, unless such an one have received the priestly tonsure and the canonical benediction of his own pastor; but if any one shall have been observed to act contrary to these directions, let him be cut off.
But in future, since the priestly canon openly sets this forth, that the crime of conspiracy or secret society is forbidden by external laws, but much more ought it to be prohibited in the Church; we also hasten to observe that if any clerics or monks are found either conspiring or entering secret societies, or devising anything against bishops or clergymen, they shall be altogether deprived of their rank.
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: but these are to be in the custody of the clergy of the diocese over which he presided until the election of another bishop, unless in the said church there are no clergymen left. For then the Metropolitan shall protect the property without diminution, handing over everything to the bishop when he is appointed.
Renewing the enactments by the 150 Fathers assembled at the God-protected and imperial city, and those of the 630 who met at Chalcedon; we decree that the see of Constantinople shall have equal privileges with the see of Old Rome, and shall be highly regarded in ecclesiastical matters as that is, and shall be second after it. After Constantinople shall be ranked the See of Alexandria, then that of Antioch, and afterwards the See of Jerusalem.
Since at different times there have been invasions of barbarians, and therefore very many cities have been subjected to the infidels, so that the bishop of a city may not be able, after he has been ordained, to take possession of his see, and to be settled in it in sacerdotal order, and so to perform and manage for it the ordinations and all things which by custom appertain to the bishop: we, preserving honour and veneration for the priesthood, and in no wise wishing to employ the Gentile injury to the ruin of ecclesiastical rights, have decreed that those who have been ordained thus, and on account of the aforesaid cause have not been settled in their sees, without any prejudice from this thing may be kept [in good standing] and that they may canonically perform the ordination of the different clerics and use the authority of their office according to the defined limits, and that whatever administration proceeds from them may be valid and legitimate. For the exercise of his office shall not be circumscribed by a season of necessity when the exact observance of law is circumscribed.
The canon which was made by the Fathers we also observe, which thus decreed: 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.
Since our brother and fellow-worker, John, bishop of the island of Cyprus, together with his people in the province of the Hellespont, both on account of barbarian incursions, and that they may be freed from servitude of the heathen, and may be subject alone to the sceptres of most Christian rule, have emigrated from the said island, by the providence of the philanthropic God, and the labour of our Christ-loving and pious Empress; we determine that the privileges which were conceded by the divine fathers who first at Ephesus assembled, are to be preserved without any innovations, viz.: 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, and be elected [?] by his own bishops according to ancient custom. For the customs which obtain in each church our divine Fathers also took pains should be maintained, the existing bishop of the city of Cyzicus being subject to the metropolitan of the aforesaid Justinianopolis, for the imitation of all the rest of the bishops who are under the aforesaid beloved of God metropolitan John, by whom, as custom demands, even the bishop of the very city of Cyzicus shall be ordained.
Since to cleave to God by retiring from the noise and turmoil of life is very beneficial, it behooves us not without examination to admit before the proper time those who choose the monastic life, but to observe respecting them the limit handed down by our fathers, in order that we may then admit a profession of the life according to God as for ever firm, and the result of knowledge and judgment after years of discretion have been reached. He therefore who is about to submit to the yoke of monastic life should not be less than ten years of age, the examination of the matter depending on the decision of the bishop, whether he considers a longer time more conducive for his entrance and establishment in the monastic life. For although the great Basil in his holy canons decreed that she who willingly offers to God and embraces virginity, if she has completed her seventeenth year, is to be entered in the order of virgins: nevertheless, having followed the example respecting widows and deaconesses, analogy and proportion being considered, we have admitted at the said time those who have chosen the monastic life. For it is written in the divine Apostle that a widow is to be elected in the church at sixty years old: but the sacred canons have decreed that a deaconess shall be ordained at forty, since they saw that the Church by divine grace had gone forth more powerful and robust and was advancing still further, and they saw the firmness and stability of the faithful in observing the divine commandments. Wherefore we also, since we most rightly comprehend the matter, appoint the benediction of grace to him who is about to enter the struggle according to God, even as impressing speedily a certain seal upon him, hereupon introducing him to the not-long-to-be-hesitated-over and declined, or rather inciting him even to the choice and determination of good.
Those who in town or in villages wish to go away into cloisters, and take heed for themselves apart, before they enter a monastery and practise the anchorite's life, should for the space of three years in the fear of God submit to the Superior of the house, and fulfil obedience in all things, as is right, thus showing forth their choice of this life and that they embrace it willingly and with their whole hearts; they are then to be examined by the superior (προέδρος) of the place; and then to bear bravely outside the cloister one year more, so that their purpose may be fully manifested. For by this they will show fully and perfectly that they are not catching at vain glory, but that they are pursuing the life of solitude because of its inherent beauty and honour. After the completion of such a period, if they remain in the same intention in their choice of the life, they are to be enclosed, and no longer is it lawful for them to go out of such a house when they so desire, unless they be induced to do so for the common advantage, or other pressing necessity urging on to death; and then only with the blessing of the bishop of that place.
And those who, without the above-mentioned causes, venture forth of their convents, are first of all to be shut up in the said convent even against their wills, and then are to cure themselves with fasting and other afflictions, knowing how it is written that no one who has put his hand to the plough and has looked back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.
Those who are called Eremites and are clothed in black robes, and with long hair go about cities and associate with the worldly both men and women and bring odium upon their profession — we decree that if they will receive the habit of other monks and wear their hair cut short, they may be shut up in a monastery and numbered among the brothers; but if they do not choose to do this, they are to be expelled from the cities and forced to live in the desert (ἐρήμους) from whence also they derive their name.
It is lawful for every Christian to choose the life of religious discipline, and setting aside the troublous surgings of the affairs of this life to enter a monastery, and to be shaven in the fashion of a monk, without regard to what faults he may have previously committed. For God our Saviour says: Whose comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.
As therefore the monastic method of life engraves upon us as on a tablet the life of penitence, we receive whoever approaches it sincerely; nor is any custom to be allowed to hinder him from fulfilling his intention.
A monk convicted of fornication, or who takes a wife for the communion of matrimony and for society, is to be subjected to the penalties of fornicators, according to the canons.
Whereas we understand that in some monasteries of women those who are about to be clothed with the sacred habit are first adorned in silks and garments of all kinds, and also with gold and jewels, by those who bring them there, and that they thus approach the altar and are there stripped of such a display of wealth, and that immediately thereafter the blessing of their habit takes place, and they are clothed with the black robe; we decree that henceforth this shall not be done. For it is not lawful for her who has already of her own free will put away every delight of life, and has embraced that method of life which is according to God, and has confirmed it with strong and stable reasons, and so has come to the monastery, to recall to memory the things which they had already forgotten, things of this world which perishes and passes away. For thus they raise in themselves doubts, and are disturbed in their souls, like the tossing waves, turning hither and there. Moreover, they should not give bodily evidence of heaviness of heart by weeping, but if a few tears drop from their eyes, as is like enough to be the case, they may be supposed by those who see them to have flowed μὴ μᾶλλον on account of their affection (διαθέσεως, affectionem) for the ascetic struggle rather than (ἢ) because they are quitting the world and worldly things.
Those women who choose the ascetic life and are settled in monasteries may by no means go forth of them. If, however, any inexorable necessity compels them, let them do so with the blessing and permission of her who is mother superior; and even then they must not go forth alone, but with some old women who are eminent in the monastery, and at the command of the lady superior. But it is not at all permitted that they should stop outside.
And men also who follow the monastic life let them on urgent necessity go forth with the blessing of him to whom the rule is entrusted.
Wherefore, those who transgress that which is now decreed by us, whether they be men or women, are to be subjected to suitable punishments.
No woman may sleep in a monastery of men, nor any man in a monastery of women. For it behooves the faithful to be without offense and to give no scandal, and to order their lives decorously and honestly and acceptably to God. But if any one shall have done this, whether he be cleric or layman, let him be cut off.
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.
Renewing also the holy canon, we decree that the monasteries which have been once consecrated by the Episcopal will, are always to remain monasteries, and the things which belong to them are to be preserved to the monastery, and they cannot any more be secular abodes nor be given by any one to seculars. But if anything of this kind has been done already, we declare it to be null; and those who hereafter attempt to do so are to be subjected to canonical penalties.
No one at all, whether cleric or layman, is from this time forward to play at dice. And if any one hereafter shall be found doing so, if he be a cleric he is to be deposed, if a layman let him be cut off.
This holy and ecumenical synod altogether forbids those who are called players, and their spectacles, as well as the exhibition of hunts, and the theatrical dances. If any one despises the present canon, and gives himself to any of the things which are forbidden, if he be a cleric he shall be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
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.
Whereas the spiritual relationship is greater than fleshly affinity; and since it has come to our knowledge that in some places certain persons who become sponsors to children in holy salvation-bearing baptism, afterwards contract matrimony with their mothers (being widows), we decree that for the future nothing of this sort is to be done. But if any, after the present canon, shall be observed to do this, they must, in the first place, desist from this unlawful marriage, and then be subjected to the penalties of fornicators.
The divine scriptures plainly teach us as follows, You shall not approach to any that is near of kin to you to uncover their nakedness. Basil, the bearer-of-God, has enumerated in his canons some marriages which are prohibited and has passed over the greater part in silence, and in both these ways has done us good service. For by avoiding a number of disgraceful names (lest by such words he should pollute his discourse) he included impurities under general terms, by which course he showed to us in a general way the marriages which are forbidden. But since by such silence, and because of the difficulty of understanding what marriages are prohibited, the matter has become confused; it seemed good to us to set it forth a little more clearly, decreeing that from this time forth he who shall marry the daughter of his father's brother; or a father or son with a mother and daughter; or a father and son with two girls who are sisters; or a mother and daughter with two brothers; or two brothers with two sisters, fall under the canon of seven years, provided they openly separate from this unlawful union.
Since we understand that in the city of the Romans, in the holy fast of Lent they fast on the Saturdays, contrary to the ecclesiastical observance which is traditional, it seemed good to the holy synod that also in the Church of the Romans the canon shall immovably stands fast which says: 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.
We have likewise learned that in the regions of Armenia and in other places certain people eat eggs and cheese on the Sabbaths and Lord's days of the holy lent. 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. But if any shall not observe this law, if they be clerics, let them be deposed; but if laymen, let them be cut off.
It is not right to offer honey and milk on the altar.
None of those who are in the order of laymen may distribute the Divine Mysteries to himself if a bishop, presbyter, or deacon be present. But whoever shall dare to do such a thing, as acting contrary to what has been determined shall be cut off for a week and thenceforth let him learn not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.
Baptism is by no means to be administered in an oratory which is within a house; but they who are about to be held worthy of the spotless illumination are to go to a Catholic Church and there to enjoy this gift. But if any one shall be convicted of not observing what we have determined, if he be a cleric let him be deposed, if a layman let him be cut off.
Since the Apostle exclaims that he who cleaves to the Lord is one spirit, it is clear that he who is intimate with his [i.e. the Lord's] enemy becomes one by his affinity with him. Therefore, those who pretend they are possessed by a devil and by their depravity of manners feign to manifest their form and appearance; it seems good by all means that they should be punished and that they should be subjected to afflictions and hardships of the same kind as those to which they who are truly demoniacally possessed are justly subjected with the intent of delivering them from the [work or rather] energy of the devil.
Those who give themselves up to soothsayers or to those who are called hecatontarchs or to any such, in order that they may learn from them what things they wish to have revealed to them, let all such, according to the decrees lately made by the Fathers concerning them, be subjected to the canon of six years. And to this [penalty] they also should be subjected who carry about she-bears or animals of the kind for the diversion and injury of the simple; as well as those who tell fortunes and fates, and genealogy, and a multitude of words of this kind from the nonsense of deceit and imposture. Also those who are called expellers of clouds, enchanters, amulet-givers, and soothsayers.
The so-called Calends, and what are called Bota and Brumalia, and the full assembly which takes place on the first of March, we wish to be abolished from the life of the faithful. And also the public dances of women, which may do much harm and mischief. Moreover we drive away from the life of Christians the dances given in the names of those falsely called gods by the Greeks whether of men or women, and which are performed after an ancient and un-Christian fashion; decreeing that no man from this time forth shall be dressed as a woman, nor any woman in the garb suitable to men. Nor shall he assume comic, satyric, or tragic masks; nor may men invoke the name of the execrable Bacchus when they squeeze out the wine in the presses; nor when pouring out wine into jars [to cause a laugh ], practising in ignorance and vanity the things which proceed from the deceit of insanity. Therefore those who in the future attempt any of these things which are written, having obtained a knowledge of them, if they be clerics we order them to be deposed, and if laymen to be cut off.
We forbid to be publicly read in Church, histories of the martyrs which have been falsely put together by the enemies of the truth, in order to dishonour the martyrs of Christ and induce unbelief among those who hear them, but we order that such books be given to the flames. But those who accept them or apply their mind to them as true we anathematize.
It does not befit a layman to dispute or teach publicly, thus claiming for himself authority to teach, but he should yield to the order appointed by the Lord, and to open his ears to those who have received the grace to teach, and be taught by them divine things; for in one Church God has made different members, according to the word of the Apostle: and Gregory the Theologian, wisely interpreting this passage, commends the order in vogue with them saying: This order brethren we revere, this we guard. Let this one be the ear; that one the tongue, the hand or any other member. Let this one teach, but let that one learn. And a little further on: Learning in docility and abounding in cheerfulness, and ministering with alacrity, we shall not all be the tongue which is the more active member, not all of us Apostles, not all prophets, nor shall we all interpret. And again: Why do you make yourself a shepherd when you are a sheep? Why become the head when you are a foot? Why do you try to be a commander when you are enrolled in the number of the soldiers? And elsewhere: Wisdom orders, Be not swift in words; nor compare yourself with the rich, being poor; nor seek to be wiser than the wise. But if any one be found weakening the present canon, he is to be cut off for forty days.
The fires which are lighted on the new moons by some before their shops and houses, upon which (according to a certain ancient custom) they are wont foolishly and crazily to leap, we order henceforth to cease. Therefore, whosoever shall do such a thing, if he be a cleric, let him be deposed; but if he be a layman, let him be cut off. For it is written in the Fourth Book of the Kings And Manasses built an altar to the whole host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord, and made his sons to pass through the fire, he used lots and augurs and divinations by birds and made ventriloquists [or pythons ] and multiplied diviners, that he might do evil before the Lord and provoke him to anger.
From the holy day of the Resurrection of Christ our God until the next Lord's day, for a whole week, in the holy churches the faithful ought to be free from labour, rejoicing in Christ with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; and celebrating the feast, and applying their minds to the reading of the holy Scriptures, and delighting in the Holy Mysteries; for thus shall we be exalted with Christ and together with him be raised up. Therefore, on the aforesaid days there must not be any horse races or any public spectacle.
The divine Scripture commands us to abstain from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. Those therefore who on account of a dainty stomach prepare by any art for food the blood of any animal, and so eat it, we punish suitably. If anyone henceforth venture to eat in any way the blood of an animal, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be cut off.
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: unless to be sure it has been rendered useless either by bookworms, or by water, or in some other way. He who henceforth shall be observed to do such a thing shall be cut off for one year. Likewise also he who buys such books (unless he keeps them for his own use, or gives them to another for his benefit to be preserved) and has attempted to corrupt them, let him be cut off.
It is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator.
Women are not permitted to speak at the time of the Divine Liturgy; but, according to the word of Paul the Apostle, let them be silent. For it is not permitted to them to speak, but to be in subjection, as the law also says. But if they wish to learn anything let them ask their own husbands at home.
Those who are taught the civil laws must not adopt the customs of the Gentiles, nor be induced to go to the theatre, nor to keep what are called Cylestras, nor to wear clothing contrary to the general custom; and this holds good when they begin their training, when they reach its end, and, in short, all the time of its duration. If any one from this time shall dare to do contrary to this canon he is to be cut off.
An orthodox man is not permitted to marry an heretical woman, nor an orthodox woman to be joined to an heretical man. But if anything of this kind appear to have been done by any [we require them] to consider the marriage null, and that the marriage be dissolved. For it is not fitting to mingle together what should not be mingled, nor is it right that the sheep be joined with the wolf, nor the lot of sinners with the portion of Christ. But if any one shall transgress the things which we have decreed let him be cut off. But if any who up to this time are unbelievers and are not yet numbered in the flock of the orthodox have contracted lawful marriage between themselves, and if then, one choosing the right and coming to the light of truth and the other remaining still detained by the bond of error and not willing to behold with steady eye the divine rays, the unbelieving woman is pleased to cohabit with the believing man, or the unbelieving man with the believing woman, let them not be separated, according to the divine Apostle, for the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife by her husband.
Since the life-giving cross has shown to us Salvation, we should be careful that we render due honour to that by which we were saved from the ancient fall. Wherefore, in mind, in word, in feeling giving veneration (προσκύνησιν) to it, we command that the figure of the cross, which some have placed on the floor, be entirely removed therefrom, lest the trophy of the victory won for us be desecrated by the trampling under foot of those who walk over it. Therefore those who from this present represent on the pavement the sign of the cross, we decree are to be cut off.
It is not permitted to hold what are called Agapæ, that is love-feasts, in the Lord's houses or churches, nor to eat within the house, nor to spread couches. If any dare to do so let him cease therefrom or be cut off.
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: but that they offer the psalmody to God, who is the observer of secrets, with great attention and compunction. For the Sacred Oracle taught that the Sons of Israel were to be pious.
It is not right that those who are responsible for reverence to churches should place within the sacred bounds an eating place, nor offer food there, nor make other sales. For God our Saviour teaching us when he was tabernacling in the flesh commanded not to make his Father's house a house of merchandize. He also poured out the small coins of the money-changers, and drove out all those who made common the temple. If, therefore, anyone shall be taken in the aforesaid fault let him be cut off.
It is not right that those who are dedicated to religion, whether clerics or ascetics, should wash in the bath with women, nor should any Christian man or layman do so. For this is severely condemned by the heathens. But if any one is caught in this thing, if he is a cleric let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be cut off.
It behooves 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.
As we confess the divine birth of the Virgin to be without any childbed, since it came to pass without seed, and as we preach this to the entire flock, so we subject to correction those who through ignorance do anything which is inconsistent therewith. Wherefore since some on the day after the holy Nativity of Christ our God are seen cooking σεμίδαλῖν, and distributing it to each other, on pretext of doing honour to the puerperia of the spotless Virgin Maternity, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind be done by the faithful. For this is not honouring the Virgin (who above thought and speech bare in the flesh the incomprehensible Word) when we define and describe, from ordinary things and from such as occur with ourselves, her ineffable parturition. If therefore anyone henceforth be discovered doing any such thing, if he be a cleric let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or any of those who are enumerated in the list of the clergy, or a layman, has no very grave necessity nor difficult business so as to keep him from church for a very long time, but being in town does not go to church on three consecutive Sundays — three weeks — if he is a cleric let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
Whereas we have heard that in some places in the hymn Trisagion there is added after Holy and Immortal, Who was crucified for us, have mercy upon us, and since this as being alien to piety was by the ancient and holy Fathers cast out of the hymn, as also the violent heretics who inserted these new words were cast out of the Church; we also, confirming the things which were formerly piously established by our holy Fathers, anathematize those who after this present decree allow in church this or any other addition to the most sacred hymn; but if indeed he who has transgressed is of the sacerdotal order, we command that he be deprived of his priestly dignity, but if he be a layman or monk let him be cut off.
In some pictures of the venerable icons, a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his finger, which is received as a type of grace, indicating beforehand through the Law, our true Lamb, Christ our God. Embracing therefore the ancient types and shadows as symbols of the truth, and patterns given to the Church, we prefer grace and truth, receiving it as the fulfilment of the Law. In order therefore that that which is perfect may be delineated to the eyes of all, at least in colored expression, we decree that the figure in human form of the Lamb who takes 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.
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.
Following the canonical laws of the Fathers, we decree concerning infants, as often as they are found without trusty witnesses who say that they are undoubtedly baptized; and as often as they are themselves unable on account of their age to answer satisfactorily in respect to the initiatory mystery given to them; that they ought without any offense to be baptized, lest such a doubt might deprive them of the sanctification of such a purification.
We have received from the Scriptures that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. Therefore we decree that slaves who are manumitted by their masters in the presence of three witnesses shall enjoy that honour; for they being present at the time will add strength and stability to the liberty given, and they will bring it to pass that faith will be kept in those things which they now witness were done in their presence.
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.
She who has left her husband is an adulteress if she has come to another, according to the holy and divine Basil, who has gathered this most excellently from the prophet Jeremiah: If a woman has become another man's, her husband shall not return to her, but being defiled she shall remain defiled; and again, He who has an adulteress is senseless and impious. If therefore she appears to have departed from her husband without reason, he is deserving of pardon and she of punishment. And pardon shall be given to him that he may be in communion with the Church. But he who leaves the wife lawfully given him, and shall take another is guilty of adultery by the sentence of the Lord. And it has been decreed by our Fathers that they who are such must be weepers for a year, hearers for two years, prostrators for three years, and in the seventh year to stand with the faithful and thus be counted worthy of the Oblation [if with tears they do penance].
No one may drive any beast into a church except perchance a traveller, urged thereto by the greatest necessity, in default of a shed or resting-place, may have turned aside into said church. For unless the beast had been taken inside, it would have perished, and he, by the loss of his beast of burden, and thus without means of continuing his journey, would be in peril of death. And we are taught that the Sabbath was made for man: wherefore also the safety and comfort of man are by all means to be placed first. But should anyone be detected without any necessity such as we have just mentioned, leading his beast into a church, if he be a cleric let him be deposed, and if a layman let him be cut off.
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: since the divine Evangelists, Matthew and Luke, have shown us how late at night it was [that the resurrection took place], the one by using the words ὀΨὲ σαββάτων, and the other by the words ὄρθρου βαθέος .
We have received from our divine Fathers the canon law that in honour of Christ's resurrection, we are not to kneel on Sundays. Lest therefore we should ignore the fullness of this observance we make it plain to the faithful that after the priests have gone to the Altar for Vespers on Saturdays (according to the prevailing custom) no one shall kneel in prayer until the evening of Sunday, at which time after the entrance for compline, again with bended knees we offer our prayers to the Lord. For taking the night after the Sabbath, which was the forerunner of our Lord's resurrection, we begin from it to sing in the spirit hymns to God, leading our feast out of darkness into light, and thus during an entire day and night, we celebrate the Resurrection.
Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the fœtus, are subjected to the penalty of murder.
The holy synod decrees that those who in the name of marriage carry off women and those who in any way assist the ravishers, if they be clerics, they shall lose their rank, but if they be laymen they shall be anathematized.
If the wife of a man who has gone away and does not appear, cohabit with another before she is assured of the death of the first, she is an adulteress. The wives of soldiers who have married husbands who do not appear are in the same case; as are also they who on account of the wanderings of their husbands do not wait for their return. But the circumstance here has some excuse, in that the suspicion of his death becomes very great. But she who in ignorance has married a man who at the time was deserted by his wife, and then is dismissed because his first wife returns to him, has indeed committed fornication, but through ignorance; therefore she is not prevented from marrying, but it is better if she remain as she is. If a soldier shall return after a long time, and find his wife on account of his long absence has been united to another man, if he so wishes, he may receive his own wife [back again], pardon being extended in consideration of their ignorance both to her and to the man who took her home in second marriage.
The canon subjects to penalties those who take heathen oaths, and we decree to them excommunication.
Those who from the heretics come over to orthodoxy, and to the number of those who should be saved, we receive according to the following order and custom. Arians, Macedonians, Novatians, who call themselves Cathari, Aristeri, and Testareskaidecatitæ, or Tetraditæ, and Apollinarians, we receive on their presentation of certificates and on their anathematizing every heresy which does not hold as does the holy Apostolic Church of God: then first of all we anoint them with the holy chrism on their foreheads, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears; and as we seal them we say — The seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
But concerning the Paulianists it has been determined by the Catholic Church that they shall by all means be rebaptized. The Eunomeans also, who baptize with one immersion; and the Montanists, who here are called Phrygians; and the Sabellians, who consider the Son to be the same as the Father, and are guilty in certain other grave matters, and all the other heresies— for there are many heretics here, especially those who come from the region of the Galatians — all of their number who are desirous of coming to the Orthodox faith, we receive as Gentiles. And on the first day we make them Christians, on the second Catechumens, then on the third day we exorcise them, at the same time also breathing thrice upon their faces and ears; and thus we initiate them, and we make them spend time in church and hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.
And the Manichæans, and Valentinians and Marcionites and all of similar heresies must give certificates and anathematize each his own heresy, and also Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Severus, and the other chiefs of such heresies, and those who think with them, and all the aforesaid heresies; and so they become partakers of the holy Communion.
Those who by baptism have put on Christ have professed that they will copy his manner of life which he led in the flesh. Those therefore who adorn and arrange their hair to the detriment of those who see them, that is by cunningly devised intertwinings, and by this means put a bait in the way of unstable souls, we take in hand to cure paternally with a suitable punishment: training them and teaching them to live soberly, in order that having laid aside the deceit and vanity of material things, they may give their minds continually to a life which is blessed and free from mischief, and have their conversation in fear, pure, [and holy ]; and thus come as near as possible to God through their purity of life; and adorn the inner man rather than the outer, and that with virtues, and good and blameless manners, so that they leave in themselves no remains of the left-handedness of the adversary. But if any shall act contrary to the present canon let him be cut off.
Those who have commerce with a wife or in any other manner without regard thereto make sacred places common, and treat them with contempt and thus remain in them, we order all such to be expelled, even from the dwellings of the catechumens which are in the venerable temples. And if any one shall not observe these directions, if he be a cleric let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
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.
We have further learned that, in the regions of the Armenians, certain persons boil joints of meat within the sanctuary and offer portions to the priests, distributing it after the Jewish fashion. Wherefore, that we may keep the church undefiled, we decree that it is not lawful for any priest to seize the separate portions of flesh meat from those who offer them, but they are to be content with what he that offers pleases to give them; and further we decree that such offering be made outside the church. And if any one does not thus, let him be cut off.
Let your eyes behold the thing which is right, orders Wisdom, and keep your heart with all care. For the bodily senses easily bring their own impressions into the soul. Therefore we order that henceforth there shall in no way be made pictures, whether they are in paintings or in what way so ever, which attract the eye and corrupt the mind, and incite it to the enkindling of base pleasures. And if any one shall attempt to do this he is to be cut off.
The great and divine Apostle Paul with loud voice calls man created in the image of God, the body and temple of Christ. Excelling, therefore, every sensible creature, he who by the saving Passion has attained to the celestial dignity, eating and drinking Christ, is fitted in all respects for eternal life, sanctifying his soul and body by the participation of divine grace. Wherefore, if any one wishes to be a participator of the immaculate Body in the time of the Synaxis, and to offer himself for the communion, let him draw near, arranging his hands in the form of a cross, and so let him receive the communion of grace. But such as, instead of their hands, make vessels of gold or other materials for the reception of the divine gift, and by these receive the immaculate communion, we by no means allow to come, as preferring inanimate and inferior matter to the image of God. But if any one shall be found imparting the immaculate Communion to those who bring vessels of this kind, let him be cut off as well as the one who brings them.
It behooves those who have received from God the power to loose and bind, to consider the quality of the sin and the readiness of the sinner for conversion, and to apply medicine suitable for the disease, lest if he is injudicious in each of these respects he should fail in regard to the healing of the sick man. For the disease of sin is not simple, but various and multiform, and it germinates many mischievous offshoots, from which much evil is diffused, and it proceeds further until it is checked by the power of the physician. Wherefore he who professes the science of spiritual medicine ought first of all to consider the disposition of him who has sinned, and to see whether he tends to health or (on the contrary) provokes to himself disease by his own behaviour, and to look how he can care for his manner of life during the interval. And if he does not resist the physician, and if the ulcer of the soul is increased by the application of the imposed medicaments, then let him mete out mercy to him according as he is worthy of it. For the whole account is between God and him to whom the pastoral rule has been delivered, to lead back the wandering sheep and to cure that which is wounded by the serpent; and that he may neither cast them down into the precipices of despair, nor loosen the bridle towards dissolution or contempt of life; but in some way or other, either by means of sternness and astringency, or by greater softness and mild medicines, to resist this sickness and exert himself for the healing of the ulcer, now examining the fruits of his repentance and wisely managing the man who is called to higher illumination. For we ought to know two things, to wit, the things which belong to strictness and those which belong to custom, and to follow the traditional form in the case of those who are not fitted for the highest things, as holy Basil teaches us.
Council of Sardica (A.D. 344)
Our inquiries concerning the Synod of Sardica must begin with a chronological examination of the date of this assembly. Socrates and Sozomen place it expressly in the year A.D. 347, with the more precise statement that it was held under the Consuls Rufinus and Eusebius in the eleventh year after the death of Constantine the Great, therefore after the 22d of May, 347, according to our way of reckoning.
This was the most general view until, rather more than a hundred years ago, the learned Scipio Maffei discovered at Verona, the fragment of a Latin translation of an old Alexandrian chronicle (the Historia Acephala), and edited it in the third volume of the Osservazioni Litterarii in 1738. This fragment contains the information that on the 24th Phaophi (October 21), under the Consuls Constantius IV. and Constans II., in the year 346, Athanasius had returned to Alexandria from his second exile. As it is universally allowed, however, as we shall presently show more clearly, that this return certainly only took place about two years after the Synod of Sardica, Mansi hence saw the necessity of dating this synod as early as the year 344. In this he is confirmed by St. Jerome, in the continuation of the Eusebian chronicle, who, in accordance with the Historia Acephala, has assigned the return of St. Athanasius to the tenth year of the reign of the Emperor Constantius, in 346.
Many learned men now followed Mansi, the greater number blindly; others, again, sought to contradict him, at first the learned Dominican, Mamachi; then Dr. Wetzer (Professor at Freiburg); and latterly, we ourselves in a treatise, Controversen über die Synode von Sardika, in the Tübinger Theol. Quartalschrift, 1852. Soon after there was a fresh discovery. Some of the Paschal Letters of St. Athanasius, which until then were supposed to be lost, were discovered in an Egyptian monastery, with a very ancient preface translated into Syriac, and were published in that language by Cureton in London, and in the year 1852 in German by Professor Larsow, at the Grey Friars Convent, in Berlin.
Among these Festal Letters, the nineteenth, intended for Easter 347, and therefore composed in the beginning of that year, had been rewritten in Alexandria, as the introduction expressly states. This confirms the statement of the Historia Acephala, that Athanasius was already returned to Alexandria in October, 346, and confirms the chief points of Mansi's hypothesis; while, on the other hand, it unanswerably refutes, by Athanasius' own testimony, the statements of Socrates and Sozomen (which, from their dependence on each other, only count as one), with reference to the date 347.
As we said, Mansi placed this Synod in the year 344; but the old preface to the Festal Letters of St. Athanasius dates it in the year 343, and in fact we can now only hesitate between the dates 343 and 344. If the preface were as ancient and as powerfully convincing as the Festal Letters themselves, then the question concerning the date of the Council of Sardica would be most accurately decided. As, however, this preface contains mistakes in several places, especially chronological errors— for instance, regarding the death of Constantine the Great — we cannot unconditionally accept its statement as to the date 344, but can only do so when it corresponds with other dates concerning that time.
Let us, at all events, assume that Athanasius came to Rome about Easter, 340. As is known, he was there for three whole years, and in the beginning of the fourth year was summoned to the Emperor Constans at Milan. This points to the summer of 343. From thence he went through Gaul to Sardica, and thus it is quite possible that that Synod might have begun in the autumn of 343. It probably lasted, however, until the spring; for when the two envoys, Euphrates of Cologne, and Vincent of Capua, who were sent by the Synod to the Emperor Constans, arrived in Antioch, it was already Easter 344. Stephen, the bishop of the latter city, treated them in a truly diabolical manner; but his wickedness soon became notorious, and a synod was established, which deposed him after Easter 344. Its members were Eusebians, who therefore appointed Leontius Castratus as Stephen's successor, and it is indeed no other than this assembly which Athanasius has in mind, when he says it took place three years after the Synod in Encæniis, and drew up a very explicit Eusebian confession of faith, the μακρόστιχος .
The disgraceful behaviour of Bishop Stephen of Antioch for some time inclined the Emperor to place less confidence in the Arian party, and to allow Athanasius's exiled clergy to return home in the summer of 344. Ten months later, the pseudo-bishop, Gregory of Alexandria, died (in June, 345), and Constantius did not permit any fresh appointment to the see of Alexandria, but recalled St. Athanasius by three letters, and waited for him more than a year. Thus the see of Alexandria remained unoccupied for more than a year, until the last six months of 346. At length, in October, 346, Athanasius returned to his bishopric.
We see then that by accepting the distinct statements of the Paschal Letters of St. Athanasius and the preface, we obtain a satisfactory chronological system in which the separate details cohere well together, and which thus recommends itself. One great objection which we formerly raised ourselves against the date 344 can now be solved. It is certainly true that in 353 or 354 Pope Liberius wrote thus: Eight years ago the Eusebian deputies, Eudoxius and Martyrius (who came to the West with the formula μακρόστικος), refused to anathematize the Arian doctrine at Milan. But the Synod of Milan here alluded to, and placed about the year 345, was not, as we before erroneously supposed, held before the Synod of Sardica, but after it. We are somewhat less fortunate as regards another difficulty. The Eusebians assembled at Philippopolis (the pseudo-synod of Sardica) say, in their synodal letter: Bishop Asclepas of Gaza was deposed from his bishopric seventeen years ago. This deposition occurred at an Antiochian synod. If we identified this synod with the well-known one of 330, by which Eustathius of Antioch also was overthrown, we should, reckoning the seventeen years, have the year 346 or 347, in which to place the writing of the Synodal Letter of Philippopolis, and therefore the Synod of Sardica. There are, however, two ways of avoiding this conclusion, either we must suppose that Asclepas has been already deposed a year or so before the Antiochian Synod of 330; or that the statement as to the number seventeen in the Latin translation of the Synodal Letter of Philippopolis (for we no longer possess the original text) is an error or slip of the pen. But in no case can this Synodal Letter alter the fact that Athanasius was again in Alexandria when he composed his Paschal Letter for the year 347, and that the Synod of Sardica must therefore have been held several years before.
Note on the Text of the Canons
The Canons of Sardica have come down to us both in Greek and Latin, and some writers such as Richer (Histoire Conc. Générale, Tom. i., p. 98), have been of opinion that the Latin text alone was the original, while others, such as Walch (Gesch. der Kirchenvers., p. 179), have arrived at a directly opposite conclusion. Now, however, chiefly owing to the investigations of the Ballerini and of Spittler, the unanimous opinion of scholars — so says Hefele— is that the canons were originally drawn up in both languages, intended as they were for both Latins and Greeks. I may perhaps remind the reader that in many Western collections of canons the canons of Sardica immediately follow those of Nice without any break, or note that they were not enacted at that council. It will also be well to bear in mind that they were received by the Greeks as of Ecumenical authority by the Council in Trullo, and as such are contained in the body of the Greek Canon Law.
I have provided the reader with a very accurate translation of each text.
The holy synod assembled in Sardica from various provinces decreed as follows.
(Found in Greek in John of Constantinople's collection of the sixth century and several other mss. Found also in the works of the Greek scholiasts. Found in Latin in the Prisca, in Dionysius Exiguus, and in Isidore, genuine and false.)
Hosius, bishop of the city of Cordoba, said: A prevalent evil, or rather most mischievous corruption must be done away with from its very foundations. Let no bishop be allowed to transfer from a small city to a different one: as there is an obvious reason for this fault, accounting for such attempts; since no bishop could ever yet be found who endeavoured to be translated from a larger city to a smaller one. It is therefore evident that such persons are inflamed with excessive covetousness and are only serving ambition in order to have the repute of possessing greater authority. Is it then the pleasure of all that so grave an abuse be punished with great severity? For I think that men of this sort should not be admitted even to lay communion. All the bishops said: It is the pleasure of all.
Bishop Hosius said: A prevalent evil and mischievous corruption must be done away with from its foundation. Let no bishop be allowed to transfer from his own city to another. For the reason of such attempts is manifest, since in this matter no bishop has been found who would transfer from a larger city to a smaller one. It is therefore evident that these men are inflamed with excess of covetousness, and are serving ambition and aiming at the possession of power. If it be the pleasure of all, let so great an evil be punished right harshly and sternly, so that he who is such shall not even be admitted to lay communion. All with one accord answered: Such is our pleasure.
Bishop Hosius said: But if any such person should be found so mad or audacious as to think to advance by way of excuse an affirmation that he had brought letters from the people [laity], it is plain that some few persons, corrupted by bribes and rewards, could have got up an uproar in the church, demanding, forsooth, the said man for bishop. I think then that practices and devices of such sort absolutely must be punished, so that a man of this kind be deemed unworthy even of lay communion in extremis. Therefore make answer whether this sentence is approved by you. They [the bishops] answered: What has been said is approved of.
Bishop Hosius said: Even if any such person should show himself so rash as perhaps to allege as an excuse and affirm that he has received letters from the people, inasmuch as it is evident that a few persons could have been corrupted by rewards and bribes— [namely] persons who do not hold the pure faith— to raise an uproar in the church, and seem to ask for the said man as bishop; I judge that these frauds must be condemned, so that such an one should not receive even lay communion at the last. If you all approve, decree it. The synod answered: We approve.
The addition in the Latin text, qui sinceram fidem non habent, is found both in Dionysius Exiguus and in Isidore and the Prisca, and its meaning is as follows: In a town, some few, especially those who have not the true faith, can be easily bribed to demand this or that person as bishop. The Fathers of Sardica plainly had here in view the Arians and their adherents, who, through such like machinations, when they had gained over, if only a small party in a town, sought to press into the bishoprics. The Synod of Antioch moreover, in 341, although the Eusebians, properly speaking, were dominant there, had laid down in the twenty-first canon a similar, only less severe, rule.
Bishop Hosius said: This also it is necessary to add — that no bishop pass from his own province to another province in which there are bishops, unless indeed he be called by his brethren, that we seem not to close the gates of charity.
And this case likewise is to be provided for, that if in any province a bishop has some matter against his brother and fellow bishop, neither of the two should call in as arbiters bishops from another province.
But if perchance sentence be given against a bishop in any matter and he supposes his case to be not unsound but good, in order that the question may be reopened, let us, if it seem good to your charity, honour the memory of Peter the Apostle, and let those who gave judgment write to Julius, the bishop of Rome, so that, if necessary, the case may be retried by the bishops of the neighbouring provinces and let him appoint arbiters; but if it cannot be shown that his case is of such a sort as to need a new trial, let the judgment once given not be annulled, but stand good as before.
Bishop Hosius said: This also it is necessary to add — that bishops shall not pass from their own province to another province in which there are bishops, unless perchance upon invitation from their brethren, that we seem not to close the door of charity.
But if in any province a bishop have a matter in dispute against his brother bishop, one of the two shall not call in as judge a bishop from another province.
But if judgment have gone against a bishop in any cause, and he think that he has a good case, in order that the question may be reopened, let us, if it be your pleasure, honour the memory of St. Peter the Apostle, and let those who tried the case write to Julius, the bishop of Rome, and if he shall judge that the case should be retried, let that be done, and let him appoint judges; but if he shall find that the case is of such a sort that the former decision need not be disturbed, what he has decreed shall be confirmed. Is this the pleasure of all? The synod answered, It is our pleasure.
Bishop Gaudentius said: If it seems good to you, it is necessary to add to this decision full of sincere charity which you have pronounced, that if any bishop be deposed by the sentence of these neighbouring bishops, and assert that he has fresh matter in defense, a new bishop be not settled in his see, unless the bishop of Rome judge and render a decision as to this.
Bishop Gaudentius said: It ought to be added, if it be your pleasure, to this sentence full of sanctity which you have pronounced, that — when any bishop has been deposed by the judgment of those bishops who have sees in neighbouring places, and he [the bishop deposed] shall announce that his case is to be examined in the city of Rome— that no other bishop shall in any wise be ordained to his see, after the appeal of him who is apparently deposed, unless the case shall have been determined in the judgment of the Roman bishop.
Bishop Hosius said: Decreed, that if any bishop is accused, and the bishops of the same region assemble and depose him from his office, and he appealing, so to speak, takes refuge with the most blessed bishop of the Roman church, and he be willing to give him a hearing, and think it right to renew the examination of his case, let him be pleased to write to those fellow bishops who are nearest the province that they may examine the particulars with care and accuracy and give their votes on the matter in accordance with the word of truth. And if any one require that his case be heard yet again, and at his request it seem good to move the bishop of Rome to send presbyters a latere, let it be in the power of that bishop, according as he judges it to be good and decides it to be right — that some be sent to be judges with the bishops and invested with his authority by whom they were sent. And be this also ordained. But if he thinks that the bishops are sufficient for the examination and decision of the matter let him do what shall seem good in his most prudent judgment.
The bishops answered: What has been said is approved.
Bishop Hosius said: Further decreed, that if a bishop is accused, and the bishops of that region assemble and depose him from his office, if he who has been deposed shall appeal and take refuge with the bishop of the Roman church and wishes to be given a hearing, if he thinks it right that the trial or examination of his case be renewed, let him be pleased to write to those bishops who are in an adjacent and neighbouring province, that they may diligently inquire into all the particulars and decide according to the word of truth. But if he who asks to have his case reheard, shall by his entreaty move the Bishop of Rome to send a presbyter a latere it shall be in the power of that bishop to do what he shall resolve and determine upon; and if he shall decide that some be sent, who shall be present and be judges with the bishops invested with his authority by whom they were appointed, it shall be as he shall choose. But if he believe that the bishops suffice to give a final decision, he shall do what he shall determine upon in his most wise judgment.
Bishop Hosius said: If it happen that in a province in which there are very many bishops one bishop should stay away and by some negligence should not come to the council and assent to the appointment made by the bishops, but the people assemble and pray that the ordination of the bishop desired by them take place — it is necessary that the bishop who stayed away should first be reminded by letters from the exarch of the province (I mean, of course, the bishop of the metropolis), that the people demand a pastor to be given them. I think that it is well to await his [the absent bishop's] arrival also. But if after summons by letter he does not come, nor even write in reply, the wish of the people ought to be complied with.
The bishops from the neighbouring provinces also should be invited to the ordination of the bishop of the metropolis.
It is positively not permitted to ordain a bishop in a village or petty town, for which even one single presbyter is sufficient (for there is no necessity to ordain a bishop there) lest the name and authority of bishop should be made of small account, but the bishops of the province ought, as before said, to ordain bishops in those cities in which there were bishops previously; and if a city should be found with a population so large as to be thought worthy of an episcopal see, let it receive one.
Is this the pleasure of all? All answered: It is our pleasure.
Bishop Hosius said: If it shall have happened, that in a province in which there have been very many bishops, one [i.e., but one] bishop remains, but that he by negligence has not chosen [to ordain] a bishop, and the people have made application, the bishops of the neighbouring province ought first to address [by letter] the bishop who resides in that province, and show that the people seek a ruler [i.e., pastor] for themselves and that this is right, so that they also may come and with him ordain a bishop. But if he refuses to acknowledge their written communication, and leaves it unnoticed, and writes no reply, the people's request should be satisfied, so that bishops should come from the neighbouring province and ordain a bishop.
But permission is not to be given to ordain a bishop either in any village, or in an unimportant city, for which one presbyter suffices, lest the name and authority of bishop grow cheap. Those [bishops] who are invited from another province ought not to ordain a bishop unless in the cities which have [previously] had bishops, or in a city which is so important or so populous as to be entitled to have a bishop.
Is this the pleasure of all? The synod replied: It is our pleasure.
The second portion of this canon is entirely lacking in the Latin. The Greek scholiasts, Zonaras, Balsamon, and Aristenus, understand this to mean that ‘at the appointment of a metropolitan the bishops of the neighbouring provinces shall also be invited,' probably to give greater solemnity to the act, so says Hefele. And to this agree Van Espen, Tillemont, and Herbst.
The first part in the Greek and Latin have different meanings; the Greek text contemplating the case of one bishop stopping away from a meeting of bishops for an election to fill a vacancy; the Latin text the case of there being only one bishop left in a province (after war, pestilence, or the like). This second meaning is accepted by Van Espen, Christian Lupus and others. Moreover, it would seem from Flodoard's History of the Church of Rheims (Geschichte der Rheimser Kirche, Lib. III., c. 20 [a book I have never seen]) that the Gallican Church acted upon this understanding of this canon. It is that also of Gratian.
Between the Latin and the Greek text stands the interpretation of Zonaras, which is that if a province once having many bishops has by any contingency only one left besides the Metropolitan, and he neglects to be present at the consecration of the new bishops, he is to be summoned by letter of the Metropolitan, and if he does not then come, the consecrations are to go on without him. With this explanation Harmenopulus also agrees, adding further that the Metropolitan might alone consecrate the bishops, resting his argument on the words τὸ ἱκαυὸν κ .τ λ .
Some scholars have supposed that neither the present Greek nor the present Latin text represent the original, but that the Greek text is nearest to it, but must be corrected by an ancient Latin version found by Maffei in a codex at Verona. The Ballerini have devoted careful attention to this point in their notes to the Works of St. Leo the Great (Tom. iii., p. xxxij. 4). It would seem that this might be the canon quoted by the fathers of Constantinople in 382, and if so, it would seem that they had a Greek text like that from which the Verona version was made.
Bishop Hosius said: Our importunity and great pertinacity and unjust petitions have brought it about that we do not have as much favour and confidence as we ought to enjoy. For many of the bishops do not intermit resorting to the imperial Court, especially the Africans, who, as we have learned from our beloved brother and fellow bishop, Gratus, do not accept salutary counsels, but so despise them that one man carries to the Court petitions many and diverse and of no possible benefit to the Church, and does not (as ought to be done and as is fitting) assist and help the poor and the laity or the widows, but is intriguing to obtain worldly dignities and offices for certain persons. This evil then causes enfeeblement [better, murmuring (read τονθρυσμόν or τονθορυσμόν)], not without some scandal and blame to us. But I account it quite proper for a bishop to give assistance to one oppressed by some one, or to a widow suffering injustice, or, again, an orphan robbed of his estate, always provided that these persons have a just cause of petition.
If, then, beloved brethren, this seems good to all, decree that no bishop shall go to the imperial Court except those whom our most pious emperor may summon by his own letters. Yet since it often happens that persons condemned for their offenses to deportation or banishment to an island, or who have received some sentence or other, beg for mercy and seek refuge with the Church [i.e., take sanctuary], such persons are not to be refused assistance, but pardon should be asked for them without delay and without hesitation. If this, then, is also your pleasure, all vote assent.
All gave answer: Be this also decreed.
Bishop Hosius said: Importunities and excessive pertinacity and unjust petitions have caused us to have too little favour or confidence, while certain bishops cease not to go to the Court, especially the Africans, who (as we have learned) spurn and contemn the salutary counsels of our most holy brother and fellow bishop, Gratus, so that they not only bring to the Court many and diverse petitions (not for the good of the Church nor, as is usual and right, to succour the poor or widows or orphans), but even seek to obtain worldly dignities and offices for certain persons. This evil therefore stirs up at times not only murmurings, but even scandals. But it is proper that bishops should intercede for persons suffering from violence and oppression, afflicted widows and defrauded orphans, provided, nevertheless, that these persons have a just cause or petition.
If, then, brethren dearly beloved, such be your pleasure, do we decree that no bishops go to the Court except those who may have been invited or summoned by letters of the God-fearing emperor. But since it often happens that those who are suffering from injustice or who are condemned for their offenses to deportation or banishment to an island, or, in short, have received some sentence or other, seek refuge with the mercy of the Church, such persons should be succoured and pardon be begged for them without hesitation. Decree this, therefore, if it be your pleasure.
All said: It is our pleasure and be it decreed.
Bishop Hosius said: This also let your sagacity determine, that — inasmuch as this was decreed in order that a bishop might not fall under censure by going to the Court — that if any have such petitions as we mentioned above, they should send these by one of their deacons. For the person of a subordinate does not excite jealousy, and what shall be granted [by the Emperor] can thus be reported more quickly.
All answered: Be this also decreed.
Bishop Hosius said: This also your forethought should provide for — inasmuch as you have made this decree in order that the audacity of bishops might not labour [or, be observed] to go to Court. Whosoever therefore shall have or receive petitions such as we have mentioned above, let them send these [each] by a deacon of his, because the person of a minister is not an object of jealousy, and he will be able to report more quickly what he has obtained.
This decree is threefold. First, that the bishop in going to Court should not fall under suspicion either at Court or of his own people that he was approaching the Prince to obtain some cause of his own. Second, according to the interpretation of Zonaras, that no one should be angry with the Minister or Deacon who tarried in camp, as the bishop had departed thence. And third, that the Minister could carry away what he had asked for, that is (according to Zonaras), the letters of the Emperor pardoning the fault, or such like other matters.
Bishop Hosius said: This also, I think, follows, that, if in any province whatever, bishops send petitions to one of their brothers and fellow bishops, he that is in the largest city, that is, the metropolis, should himself send his deacon and the petitions, providing him also with letters commendatory, writing also of course in succession to our brethren and fellow bishops, if any of them should be staying at that time in the places or cities in which the most pious Emperor is administering public affairs.
But if any of the bishops should have friends at the Court and should wish to make requests of them as to some proper object, let him not be forbidden to make such requests through his deacon and move these [friends] to give their kind assistance as his desire.
But those who come to Rome ought, as I said before, to deliver to our beloved brother and fellow bishop, Julius, the petitions which they have to give, in order that he may first examine them, lest some of them should be improper, and so, giving them his own advocacy and care, shall send them to the Court.
All the Bishops made answer that such was their pleasure and that the regulation was most proper.
This also seems to follow, that from whatever province bishops shall send petitions to that brother and fellow bishop of ours who has his see in the metropolis, he [the metropolitan] should dispatch his deacon with the petitions, providing him with commendatory letters of like tenour to our brethren and fellow bishops at that time resident in those regions and cities in which the fortunate and blessed Emperor is ruling the State.
If however a bishop who seeks to obtain some petition (a worthy one, that is) has friends in the palace, he is not forbidden to make his request through his deacon and to advise those who, he knows, can kindly intercede for him in his absence.
X. But let those who come to Rome, deliver, as before said, to our most holy brother and fellow bishop, the bishop of the Roman church, the petitions which they bear, that he also may examine whether they are worthy and just, and let him give diligence and care that they be forwarded to the Court.
All said that such was their pleasure and that the regulation was proper.
Bishop Alypius said: If they have incurred the discomforts of travel for the sake of orphans and widows or any in distress and having cases that are not unjust, they will have some good reason [for their journey]; but now since they chiefly make requests which cannot be granted without envy and reproach, it is not necessary for them to go to Court.
Here the Latin is not only a translation but an interpretation of the Greek text, for it distinctly says that every bishop shall send the petition he intends to present at court first to his Metropolitan, who shall send it in. This is not clearly in the Greek, and yet the Greek Commentators find it there.
Hefele: "Zonaras, Balsamon, and Aristenus explained this canon somewhat differently, thus: If a bishop desires to send his petitions addressed to the Emperor to the bishop of the town where the Emperor is staying, he shall first send them to the Metropolitan of that province (according to Aristenus, his own Metropolitan) and the latter shall send his own deacon with letters of recommendation to the bishop or bishops who may be at court. This difference rests upon the various meanings of to the brother and fellow bishop in the beginning of the canon. We understand by this his own Metropolitan, and treat the words: ὁ ἐν τῇ μείζονι κ .τ.λ ., as a more exact definition of fellow-bishop, and the participle τυγχάνων as equivalent to τυγχάνει, and make the principal clause begin at αὐτὸς καὶ τὸν διάκονον . Beveridge translated the canon in the same way. Zonaras and others, on the contrary, understood by fellow-bishop, the bishop of the Emperor's residence for the time being, and regarded the words ὁ ἐν τῇ μείζοη κ .τ λ . not as a clearer definition of what had gone before, but as the principal clause, in the sense of then the Metropolitan shall, etc. According to this interpretation, the words conveying the idea that the bishop must have recourse to the Metropolitan are entirely wanting in the canon."
The first part of this Canon is the last part of Canon IX. of the Latin. The last part is Canon X. of the Latin, but the personal part about Alypius is omitted from the Greek.
Bishop Hosius said: This also I think necessary. You should consider with all thoroughness and care, that if some rich man or professional advocate be desired for bishop, he be not ordained until he have fulfilled the ministry of reader, deacon, and presbyter, in order that, passing by promotion through the several grades, he may advance (if, that is, he be found worthy) to the height of the episcopate. And he shall remain in each order assuredly for no brief time, that so his faith, his reputable life, his steadfastness of character and considerateness of demeanour may be well-known, and that he, being deemed worthy of the divine sacerdotal office [sacerdotium, i.e., the episcopate] may enjoy the highest honour. For it is not fitting, nor does discipline or good conversation allow to proceed to this act rashly or lightly, so as to ordain a bishop or presbyter or deacon hastily; as thus he would rightly be accounted a novice, especially since also the most blessed Apostle, he who was the teacher of the Gentiles, is seen to have forbidden hasty ordinations; for the test of [even] the longest period will not unreasonably be required to exemplify the conversation and character of each [candidate].
All said that this was their pleasure and that it must be absolutely irreversible.
Bishop Hosius said: This also I think it necessary for you to consider most carefully, that if perchance some rich man or professional advocate or ex-official be desired for bishop, he be not ordained until he have fulfilled the ministry of a reader and the office of deacon and presbyter, and so ascend, if he have shown himself worthy, through the several grades to the height of the episcopate. For by these promotions which in any case take a considerable length of time can be tested his faith, his discretion, his gravity and modesty. And if he be found worthy, let him be honoured with the divine sacerdotal office [i.e. the episcopate]. For it is not fitting, nor does order or discipline allow, that one be rashly or lightly ordained bishop, presbyter or deacon, who is a novice, especially since also the blessed Apostle, the teacher of the Gentiles, is seen to have expressly forbidden it. But those [should be ordained] whose life has been tested and their merit approved by length of time.
All said that this was their pleasure.
Bishop Hosius said: This also we ought to decree, that when a bishop comes from one city to another city, or from one province to another province, to indulge boastfulness, ministering to his own praises rather than serving religious devotion, and wishes to prolong his stay [in a city], and the bishop of that city is not skilled in teaching, let him [the visiting bishop] not do despite to the bishop of the place and attempt by frequent discourses to disparage him and lessen his repute (for this device is wont to cause tumults), and strive by such arts to solicit and wrest to himself another's throne, not scrupling to abandon the church committed to him and to procure translation to another. A definite limit of time should therefore be set in such a case, especially since not to receive a bishop is accounted the part of rude and discourteous persons. You remember that in former times our fathers decreed that if a layman were staying in a city and should not come to divine worship for three [successive] Sundays [that is], for three [full] weeks, he should be repelled from communion. If then this has been decreed in the case of laymen, it is neither needful, nor fitting, nor yet even expedient that a bishop, unless he has some grave necessity or difficult business, should be very long absent from his own church and distress the people committed to him.
All the bishops said: We decide that this decree also is most proper.
Bishop Hosius said: This also you ought to determine. If a bishop comes from one city to another city, or from his own province to another province, and serving ambition rather than devotion, wishes to remain resident for a long time in a strange city, and then (as it perchance happens that the bishop of the place is not so practised or so learned as himself) he, the stranger, should begin to do him despite and deliver frequent discourses to disparage him and lessen his repute, not hesitating by this device to leave the church assigned him and transfer to that which is another's — do you then [in such a case] set a limit of time [for his stay in the city], because on the one hand to refuse to receive a bishop is discourteous, and on the other his too long stay is mischievous. Provision must be made against this. I remember that in a former council our brethren decreed that if any layman did not attend divine service in a city in which he was staying three Sundays, that is, for three weeks, he should be deprived of communion. If then this has been decreed in the case of laymen, it is far less lawful and fitting that a bishop, if there be no grave necessity detaining him, should be absent from his church longer than the time above written.
All said that such was their pleasure.
Bishop Hosius said: Since no case should be left unprovided for, let this also be decreed. Some of our brethren and fellow bishops are known to possess very little private property in the cities in which they are placed as bishops, but have great possessions in other places, with which they are, moreover, able to help the poor. I think then permission should be given them, if they are to visit their estates and attend to the gathering of the harvest, to pass three Sundays, that is, to stay for three weeks, on their estates, and to assist at divine worship and celebrate the liturgy in the nearest church in which a presbyter holds service, in order that they may not be seen to be absent from worship, and in order that they may not come too frequently to the city in which there is a bishop. In this way their private affairs will suffer no loss from their absence and they will be seen to be clear from the charge of ambition and arrogance.
All the bishops said: This decree also is approved by us.
Bishop Hosius said: Since no case should be left unprovided for [let this also be decreed]. There are some of our brother-bishops, who do not reside in the city in which they are appointed bishops, either because they have but little property there, while they are known to have considerable estates elsewhere, or, it may be, through affection for kith and kin and in complaisance to these. Let this much be permitted them, to go to their estates to superintend and dispose of their harvest, and [for this purpose] to remain over three Sundays, that is, for three weeks, if it be necessary, on their estates; or else, if there is a neighbouring city in which there is a presbyter, in order that they may not be seen to pass Sunday without church, let them go there, so that [in this way] neither will their private affairs suffer loss from their absence, nor will they, by frequent going to the city in which a bishop is resident, incur the suspicion of ambition and place-seeking. All said that this was approved by them.
Bishop Hosius said: Be this also the pleasure of all. If any deacon or presbyter or any of the clergy be excommunicated and take refuge with another bishop who knows him and who is aware that he has been removed from communion by his own bishop, [that other bishop] must not offend against his brother bishop by admitting him to communion. And if any dare to do this, let him know that he must present himself before an assembly of bishops and give account.
All the bishops said: This decision will assure peace at all times and preserve the concord of all.
Bishop Hosius said: Be this also the pleasure of all. If a deacon or presbyter or any of the clergy be refused communion by his own bishop and go to another bishop, and he with whom he has taken refuge shall know that he has been repelled by his own bishop, then must he not grant him communion. But if he shall do so, let him know that he must give account before an assembly of bishops.
All said: This decision will preserve peace and maintain concord.
Bishop Hosius said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which constantly urges me. If a bishop be found quick to anger (which ought not to sway such a man), and he, suddenly moved against a presbyter or deacon, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made that such a one be not condemned too hastily [or read ἀθῶον, if innocent] and deprived of communion.
All said: Let him that is cast out be authorized to take refuge with the bishop of the metropolis of the same province. And if the bishop of the metropolis is absent, let him hasten to the bishop that is nearest, and ask to have his case carefully examined. For a hearing ought not to be denied those who ask it.
And that bishop who cast out such a one, justly or unjustly, ought not to take it ill that examination of the case be made, and his decision confirmed or revised. But, until all the particulars have been examined with care and fidelity, he who is excluded from communion ought not to demand communion in advance of the decision of his case. And if any of the clergy who have met [to hear the case] clearly discern arrogance and pretentiousness in him, inasmuch as it is not fitting to suffer insolence or unjust censure, they ought to correct such an one with somewhat harsh and grievous language, that men may submit to and obey commands that are proper and right. For as the bishop ought to manifest sincere love and regard to his subordinates, so those who are subject to him ought in like manner to perform the duties of their ministry in sincerity towards their bishops.
Bishop Hosius said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which further moves me. If some bishop is perchance quick to anger (which ought not to be the case) and, moved hastily and violently against one of his presbyters or deacons, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made that an innocent man be not condemned or deprived of communion.
Therefore let him that is cast out be authorized to appeal to the neighbouring bishops and let his case be heard and examined into more diligently. For a hearing ought not to be denied one who asks it.
And let that bishop who cast him out, justly or unjustly, take it patiently that the matter is discussed, so that his sentence may either be approved by a number [of judges] or else revised. Nevertheless, until all the particulars shall be examined with care and fidelity, no one else ought to presume to admit to communion him who was excluded therefrom in advance of the decision of his case. If, however, those who meet to hear it observe arrogance and pride in [such] clergy, inasmuch as it surely is not fitting for a bishop to suffer wrong or insult, let them correct them with some severity of language, that they may obey a bishop whose commands are proper and right. For as he [the bishop] ought to manifest sincere love and charity to his clergy, so his ministers ought for their part to render unfeigned obedience to their bishop.
This is Canon 17 of the Latin version.
Canon 18 (Latin)
Bishop Januarius said: Let your holiness also decree this, that no bishop be allowed to try to gain for himself a minister in the church of a bishop of another city and ordain him to one of his own parishes.
All said: Such is our pleasure, inasmuch as discord is apt to spring from contentions in this matter, and therefore the sentence of us all forbids anyone to presume to do
Bishop Hosius said: And let us all decree this also, that if any bishop should ordain to any order the minister of another from another diocese without the consent of his own bishop, such an ordination should be accounted invalid and not confirmed. And if any take upon themselves to do this they ought to be admonished and corrected by our brethren and fellow bishops.
All said: Let this decree also stand unalterable.
Bishop Hosius said: This also we all decree, that if any [bishop] should ordain the minister of another from another diocese without the consent and will of his own bishop, his ordination be not ratified. And whoever shall have taken upon himself to do this ought to be admonished and corrected by our brethren and fellow bishops.
This is Canon XIX. in the Latin.
Bishop Aëtius said: You are not ignorant how important and how large is the metropolitan city of Thessalonica. Accordingly presbyters and deacons often come to it from other provinces and, not content with staying a short time, remain and make it their permanent place of residence, or are compelled with difficulty and after a very long delay to return to their own churches. A decree should be made bearing on this matter.
Bishop Hosius said: Let those decrees which have been made in the case of bishops, be observed as to these persons also.
Bishop Aëtius said: You are not ignorant how large and important is the city of Thessalonica. Presbyters and deacons often come to it from other regions, and are not content to remain a short time, but either make their residence there or at least are with difficulty compelled to return after a long interval to their own place.
All said: Those limits of time which have been decreed in the case of bishops ought to be observed as to these persons also.
At the suggestion moreover of our brother Olympius, we are pleased to decree this also: That if a bishop suffer violence and is unjustly cast out either on account of his discipline or for his confession of [the faith of] the Catholic Church or for his defense of the truth, and, fleeing from danger, although innocent and devout [or, innocent and being under charge of high treason], comes to another city, let him not be forbidden to stay there until he is restored or until deliverance can be found from the violence and injustice that have been done him. For it would be harsh indeed and most oppressive that one who has suffered unjust expulsion should not be harboured by us; as such a man ought to be received with the greatest consideration and cordiality.*
All said: This also is our pleasure.
At the suggestion of our brother Olympius, we are pleased to decree this also: That if any suffer violence and is unjustly cast out on account of his discipline and his Catholic confession or for his defense of the truth, and, fleeing from dangers, although innocent and devout, comes to another city, let him not be forbidden to stay there until he can return or his wrong has been redressed. For it is harsh and unfeeling that he who is suffering persecution should not be received; indeed, great cordiality and abundant consideration should be shown him.
All the synod said: All that has been decreed the Catholic Church spread abroad throughout all the world will preserve and maintain.
And all the bishops of the various provinces who had assembled subscribed thus:
I, N., bishop of the city of N. and the province of N., so believe as above is written.
This is Canon XXI. of the Latin and the last.
Canon 18 (Greek)
Bishop Gaudentius said: You know, brother Aëtius, that since you were made bishop, peace has continued to rule [in your diocese]. In order that no remnants of discord concerning ecclesiastics remain, it seems good that those who were ordained by Musæus and by Eutychianus, provided no fault be found in them, should all be received.
Canon 19 (Greek)
Bishop Hosius said: This is the sentence of my mediocrity [i.e., unworthiness]— that, since we ought to be gentle and patient and to be constant in compassion towards all, those who were once advanced to clerical office in the Church by certain of our brethren, if they are not willing to return to the churches to which they were nominated [or, espoused], should for the future not be received, and that neither Eutychianus should continue to vindicate to himself the name of bishop, nor yet that Musæus be accounted a bishop; but that if they should seek for lay communion, it should not be denied them.
All said: Such is our pleasure.
It is clear that the reason why these two canons do not exist in the Latin text is that they did not apply to the Latin Church and only contained a special rule for Thessalonica.
Bishop Gaudentius said: These things wholesomely, duly, and fitly decreed, in the estimation of us the bishops [τῶν ἱερέων] such as are pleasing both to God and to man will not be able to obtain due force and validity, unless fear [of a penalty] be added to the decrees proclaimed. For we ourselves know that through the shamelessness of a few, the divine and right reverend title of bishop [of the τῆς ἱερωσύνης] has often come into condemnation. If therefore any one, moved by arrogance and ambition rather than seeking to please God, should have the hardihood to pursue a different course of action, contrary to the decree of all, let him know beforehand that he must give account and defend himself on this charge, and lose the honour and dignity of the episcopate.
All answered: This sentence is proper and right, and such is our pleasure.
And this decree will be most widely known and best carried into effect, if each of those bishops among us who have sees on the thoroughfares or highway, on seeing a bishop [pass by] shall inquire into the cause of his passage and his place of destination. And if at his departure he shall find that he is going to the Court, he will direct his inquiries with reference to the objects [of a resort to the Court] above mentioned. And if he come by invitation let no obstacle be put in the way of his departure. But if he is trying to go to the Court out of ostentation, as has afore been said by your charity, or to urge the petitions of certain persons, let neither his letters be signed nor let such an one be received to communion.
All said: Be this also decreed.
Bishop Gaudentius said: These things which you have wholesomely and suitably provided [in your decrees] pleasing in [or, to] the estimation of all both [or, and] to God and to men, can obtain force and validity only in case fear [of a penalty] be added to this your action. For we ourselves know that through the shamelessness of a few the sacred and venerable sacerdotal [— episcopal] name has been many times and oft brought to blame. If therefore anyone attempts to oppose the judgment of all and seeks to serve ambition rather than please God, he must be given to know that he will have to render an account and lose office and rank.
This can be carried into effect only provided each of us whose see is on the highway shall, if he sees a bishop pass, inquire into the cause of his journey, ascertain his destination, and if he finds that he is on his way to the Court, satisfy himself as to what is contained above [i.e., as to his objects at Court], lest perhaps he has come by invitation, that permission may be given him to proceed. If, however, as your holiness mentioned above, he is going to Court to urge petitions and applications for office, let neither his letters be signed nor let him be received to communion.
All said that this was proper and right and that this regulation was approved by them.
This is Canon XI. of the Latin.
Canon 12 (Latin)
Bishop Hosius said: But some discretion is needed here, brethren dearly beloved, in case some should come to those cities which are on the highway still ignorant of what has been decreed in the council. The bishop of such a city ought therefore to admonish him [a bishop so arriving], and instruct him to send his deacon from that place. Upon this admonition he must, however, himself return to his diocese.
This proposition of Hosius in the Roman Codex is joined as an appendix to the preceding canon. The Greeks omit it altogether, very likely either because it seemed to be a proposition of Hosius's rather than a synodal canon, for no adoption by the synod is recorded: or else because, even if it were a decree, it was only of temporary character, that is to say, until the canons had been sufficiently promulgated, and therefore some on the ground of ignorance might be exempt from the threatened penalties.
The Second Council of Lyon was the fourteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, convoked on 31 March 1272 and convened in Lyon, Kingdom of Arles (in modern France), in 1274. Pope Gregory X presided over the council, called to act on a pledge by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII to reunite the Eastern church with the West. The council was attended by about 300 bishops, 60 abbots and more than a thousand prelates or their procurators, among whom were the representatives of the universities. Due to the great number of attendees, those who had come to Lyon without being specifically summoned were given "leave to depart with the blessing of God" and of the Pope. Among others who attended the council were James I of Aragon, the ambassador of the Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos with members of the Greek clergy and the ambassadors of Abaqa Khan of the Ilkhanate. Thomas Aquinas had been summoned to the council, but died en route at Fossanova Abbey. Bonaventure was present at the first four sessions, but died at Lyon on 15 July 1274. As at the First Council of Lyon, Thomas Cantilupe was an English attender and a papal chaplain.
In addition to Aragon, which James represented in person, representatives of the kings of Germany, England, Scotland, France, the Spains and Sicily were present, with procurators also representing the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Bohemia, the "realm of Dacia" and the duchy of Poland. In the procedures to be observed in the council, for the first time the nations appeared as represented elements in an ecclesiastical council, as they had already become represented in the governing of medieval universities. This innovation marks a stepping-stone towards the acknowledgment of coherent ideas of nationhood, which were in the process of creating the European nation-states.
The main topics discussed at the council were the conquest of the Holy Land and the union of the Eastern and Western Churches. The first session took place on 7 May 1274 and was followed by five additional sessions on 18 May 1274, 4 or 7 June 1274, 6 July 1274, 16 July 1274, and 17 July 1274. By the end of the council, 31 constitutions were promulgated. In the second session, the fathers approved the decree Zelus fidei, which contained no juridical statutes but rather summed up constitutions about the perils of the Holy Land, the means for paying for a proposed crusade, the excommunication of pirates and corsairs and those who protected them or traded with them, a declaration of peace among Christians, a grant of an indulgence for those willing to go on crusade, restoration of communion with the Greeks, and the definition of the order and procedure to be observed in the council. The Greeks conceded on the issue of the Filioque (two words added to the Nicene Creed), and union was proclaimed, but the union was later repudiated by Andronicus II, heir to Michael VIII. The council also recognized Rudolf I as Holy Roman Emperor, ending the interregnum.
Second Council of Constantinople – 553 A.D.
Council Fathers - 553 A.D. Introduction
The emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius decided to summon this council after the latter withdrew his “Judgment” condemning the “Three Chapters” of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret and Ibas. This “Judgment” had been issued on 11 April 548 but the bishops of the west and especially of Africa unanimously opposed it. The council was summoned by Justinian to Constantinople, although Vigilius would have preferred to convene it in Sicily or Italy so that western bishops might be present. It assembled on 5 May 553 in the great hall attached to Hagia Sophia cathedral.
Since the Roman pontiff refused to take part in the council, because Justinian had summoned bishops in equal numbers from each of the five patriarchal sees, so that there would be many more eastern than western bishops present, Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, presided. The decrees of the council were signed by 160 bishops, of whom 8 were Africans.
On 14 May 553 Pope Vigilius issued his “Constitution”, which was signed by 16 bishops (9 from Italy, 2 from Africa, 2 from Illyricum and 3 from Asia Minor). This rejected sixty propositions of Theodore of Mopsuestia, but spared his personal memory and refused to condemn either Theodoret or Ibas since, on the testimony of the council of Chalcedon, all suspicion of heresy against them had been removed. Nevertheless, the council in its 8th session on 2 June 553 again condemned the “Three Chapters”, for the same reasons as Justinian had done so, in a judgment which concludes with 14 anathemas.
After carefully considering the matter for six months, Vigilius ,weighing up the persecutions of Justinian against his clergy and having sent a letter to Eutychius of Constantinople, approved the council, thus changing his mind “after the example of Augustine”. Furthermore he anathematized Theodore and condemned his writings and those of Theodoret and Ibas. On 23 February 554, in a second “Constitution”, he tried to reconcile the recent condemnation with what had been decreed at the council of Chalcedon.
The council did not debate ecclesiastical discipline nor did it issue disciplinary canons. Our edition does not include the text of the anathemas against Origen since recent studies have shown that these anathemas cannot be attributed to this council.
For the 14 anathemas (pp. 114-122) the translation is from the Greek text, since this is the more authoritative version.
Sentence against the “Three Chapters”
Our great God and saviour Jesus Christ, as we are told in the parable in the gospel, gives talents to each one according to his ability, and at the proper time asks for an account of what has been done by each one. If the person to whom only one talent has been given is condemned because he has not worked and increased it, but has only preserved it without diminishment, how much more serious and more frightening must be the condemnation to which the person is subjected who not only fails to look after himself but scandalizes others and is a cause of offence to them ? It is clear to all believers that when a problem about the faith comes up it is not only the heretical person who is condemned but also the person who is in a position to correct the heresy of others and fails to do so. To those of us to whom the task has been given of governing the church of the Lord, there comes a fear of the condemnation which threatens those who neglect to do the Lord’s work. We hurry to take care of the good seed of faith protecting it from the weeds of heresy which have been planted by the enemy. We observed that the pupils of Nestorius were trying to bring their heresy into the church of God by means of the heretical Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia and his books as also by the writings of the heretical Theodoret and the disgraceful letter which is alleged to have been sent by Ibas to Mari the Persian. Our observations prompted us to correct what was happening. We assembled in this imperial city, summoned here by the will of God and the command of the most religious emperor.
The most religious Vigilius happened to be present in this imperial city and took part in all the criticisms against the three chapters. He had frequently condemned them by word of mouth and in his writings. Later he gave a written agreement to take part in our council and to study with us the three chapters so that we could all issue an appropriate definition of the true faith. The most pious emperor, prompted by what was acceptable to us, encouraged a meeting between Vigilius and ourselves because it is proper that the priesthood should impose a common conclusion to matters of common concern. Consequently we asked his reverence to carry out his written undertakings. It did not seem right that the scandal over these three chapters should continue and that the church of God should be further disturbed. In order to persuade him, we reminded him of the great example left us by the apostles and of the traditions of the fathers. Even though the grace of the holy Spirit was abundant in each of the apostles, so that none of them required the advice of another in order to do his work, nevertheless they were loathe to come to a decision on the issue of the circumcision of gentiles until they had met together to test their various opinions against the witness of the holy scriptures.
In this way they unanimously reached the conclusion which they wrote to the gentiles: It has seemed good to the holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.
The holy fathers, who have gathered at intervals in the four holy councils, have followed the examples of antiquity. They dealt with heresies and current problems by debate in common, since it was established as certain that when the disputed question is set out by each side in communal discussions, the light of truth drives out the shadows of lying.
The truth cannot be made clear in any other way when there are debates about questions of faith, since everyone requires the assistance of his neighbour. As Solomon says in his proverbs: A brother who helps a brother shall be exalted like a strong city; he shall be as strong as a well-established kingdom. Again in Ecclesiastes he says: Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their toil. And the Lord himself says: Amen I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Vigilius was frequently invited by us all, and most distinguished judges were sent to him by the most pious emperor. Eventually he promised to give judgment personally on the three chapters. When we heard this promise, we remembered the warning of the Apostle that each of us shall give an account of himself to God. We were afraid of the condemnation which threatens those who scandalize one of the least important, and of the much more serious one which threatens those who scandalize so very christian an emperor, the people and all the churches. We also remembered what was said by God to Paul: Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not be silent; for I am with you, and nobody shall be able to harm you. When we met together, therefore, we first of all briefly made a confession of the faith which our lord Jesus Christ true God, handed down to his holy apostles and by means of them to the holy churches, the same faith which those who afterwards were holy fathers and doctors handed down to the people entrusted to them. We confessed that we believe, protect and preach to the holy churches that confession of faith which was set out at greater length by the 318 holy fathers who met in council at Nicaea and handed down the holy doctrine or creed. The 150 who met in council at Constantinople also set out the same faith and made a confession of it and explained it. The 200 holy fathers who met in the first council of Ephesus agreed to the same faith. We follow also the definitions of the 630 who met in council at Chalcedon, regarding the same faith which they both followed and preached. We confessed that we held to be condemned and anathematized all those who had been previously condemned and anathematized by the catholic church and by the aforesaid four councils. When we had made this confession in this way, we made a start on the examination of the three chapters. First, we considered Theodore of Mopsuestia. When all the blasphemies in his works were exposed, we were astonished at God’s patience, that the tongue and mind which had formed such blasphemies were not straightaway burned up by divine fire. We would not even have allowed the official reader of these blasphemies to continue, such was our fear of the anger of God at even a rehearsal of them (since each blasphemy was worse than the one before in the extent of its heresy and shook to their foundation the minds of their listeners), if it had not been the case that those who revelled in these blasphemies seemed to us to require the humiliation which their exposure would bring upon them. All of us, angered by the blasphemies against God, burst into attacks and anathemas against Theodore, during and after the reading, as if he had been living and present there. We said: Lord, be favourable to us; not even the demons themselves have dared to speak such things against you.
O his intolerable tongue! O the wickedness of the man ! O the proud hand he raised against his creator! This disgraceful man, who had made a promise to understand the scriptures, did not remember the words of the prophet Hosea: Woe to them, for they have strayed from me! They have become notorious because of their impiety towards me. They spoke evil things about me, and after they had considered them, they spoke even worse things against me. They will fall into a trap because of the depravity of their tongues. Their contempt will be turned inwards on themselves, because they have broken my covenant and acted impiously against my law. The impious Theodore deserves to come under these curses. He dismissed the prophecies about Christ and he vilified, as far as he could, the great mystery of the arrangements that have been made for our salvation. In many ways he tried to demonstrate that the divine word was nothing but fables composed for the amusement of the gentiles. He ridiculed the other condemnations of the impious made by the prophets, especially the one in which holy Habakkuk says of those who teach false doctrines: Woe to him who makes his neighbours drink of the cup of his wrath, and makes them drunk, to gaze on their caverns. This refers to their teachings which are full of darkness and quite separate from the light.
Why ought we to add anything more? Anyone who wishes can consult the volumes of the heretical Theodore or the heretical chapters from his heretical books which have been included in our acts. Anyone can see his unbelievable folly and the disgraceful utterances made by him. We fear to continue and to rehearse again those shameful things. The writings of the holy fathers against him were also read out to us. We heard what had been written against his folly which was more than all the other heretics, and the historical records and imperial laws which set out his heresy from its beginning. Despite all this, those who defended his heresy, delighting in the insults offered by him to his creator, declared that it was improper to anathematize him after his death. Although we were aware of the ecclesiastical tradition concerning heretics, that they are anathematized even after death, we deemed it necessary to go into this matter as well and it can be found in the acts how several heretics were anathematized after they were dead. In many ways it has become clear to us that those who put forward this argument have no concern for God’s judgments, nor for the pronouncements of the apostles, nor for the traditions of the fathers. We would willingly question them concerning what they would say about the Lord, who said of himself: He who believes in him is not condemned, he who does not believe in him is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And about that claim of the Apostle: Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. As we said earlier, I repeat once more: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed.
Since the Lord declares that the person is judged already, and the Apostle curses even the angels if they instruct in anything different from what we have preached, how is it possible even for the most presumptuous to assert that these condemnations apply only to those who are still alive? Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.
It was in the spirit of this text that Cyril of holy memory, in the books which he wrote against Theodore, declared as follows: “Whether or not they are alive, we ought to keep clear of those who are in the grip of such dreadful errors. It is necessary always to avoid what is harmful, and not to be worried about public opinion but rather to consider what is pleasing to God”. The same Cyril of holy memory, writing to bishop John of Antioch and to the synod which met there about Theodore who was condemned with Nestorius, says, “It was necessary that a brilliant festival should be kept since all those who had expressed opinions in accordance with Nestorius had been rejected, whoever they were. Action was taken against all those who believed, or had at any time believed, in these mistaken views. This is exactly what we and your holiness pronounced: ‘We anathematize those who assert that there exist two sons and two Christs. He who is preached by you and us is, as was said, the single Christ, both Son and Lord, the only-begotten as man, as learned Paul says'”. Moreover in his letter to the priests and fathers of monks, Alexander, Martinian, John, Paregorious and Maximus, and to those who were living as solitaries along with them, he says: “The holy synod of Ephesus, meeting in accordance with the will of God, has pronounced sentence against the heresy of Nestorius and has condemned according to justice and with accuracy both Nestorius himself and all those who might later, in inane fashion, adopt the same opinions as he held, and those who had previously adhered to the same opinions and who were bold enough to put them in writing, placing upon them all an equal condemnation. It was quite logical that when a condemnation was issued against one person for such stupidity in what he said, then that condemnation should apply not only to that person alone but also, so to speak, against all those who spread the heresies and untruths. They express these falsehoods against the true dogmas of the church, offering worship to two sons, trying to divide what cannot be divided, and introducing to both heaven and earth the offence of the worship of man. But the sacred band of heavenly spirits worship along with us only one lord Jesus Christ”. Moreover, several letters of Augustine of sacred memory, who was particularly outstanding among the African bishops, were read in which he indicates that it is correct to condemn heretics even after their death. Other most reverend bishops of Africa have also observed this church custom; moreover the holy church of Rome has issued anathemas against certain bishops even after they were dead, although they had not been accused on matters of faith while they were alive; the acts of our deliberations bear witness to both these cases. Since the followers of Theodore and his heresy, who are plainly opposed to the truth, have tried to adduce some sections of the writings of Cyril and Proclus of holy memory, as though these were in favour of Theodore, it is appropriate to apply to these attempts the observation of the prophet when he writes: The ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. These followers have willfully misunderstood what the holy fathers wrote, even though it was true and appropriate; they have quoted these writings, dissembling excuses for their own iniquities. It seems that the fathers did not lift the anathema against Theodore but rather used the language of concession in order to lead away from their mistake those who offered some defence of Nestorius and his heresy; their aim was to lead them to perfection and to instruct them that not only was Nestorius, the disciple of heresy, condemned but also his teacher Theodore. The fathers indicate their intention in this matter despite the conciliatory forms used: Theodore was to be anathematized. This has been very clearly shown to be the case by us in our acts from the works of Cyril and Proclus of blessed memory in respect of the condemnation of Theodore and his heresy. This conciliatory attitude is also to be found in the holy scriptures. The apostle Paul employed this tactic at the start of his ministry when he was dealing with those who had been Jews; he circumcised Timothy so that by this conciliation and concession he might lead them to perfection. Afterwards, however, he ruled against circumcision, writing on the subject to the Galatians: Now I Paul say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. We found that the defenders of Theodore have done exactly what the heretics were accustomed to do. They have tried to lift the anathema on the said heretical Theodore by omitting some of the things which the holy fathers had written, by including certain confusing falsehoods of their own, and by quoting a letter of Cyril of blessed memory, as if all this were the evidence of the fathers. The passages which they quoted made the truth absolutely clear once the omitted sections were put back in their proper place. The falsehoods were quite apparent when the true writings were collated. In this matter those who issued these empty statements are those who, in the words of scripture, rely on lies, they make empty pleas; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity, they weave the spider’s web.
After we had investigated in this way Theodore and his heresy, we took the trouble to quote and include in our acts a few of Theodoret’s heretical writings against true faith, against the twelve chapters of holy Cyril and against the first synod of Ephesus. We also included some of Theodoret’s writings on the side of the heretical Theodore and Nestorius so that it would be made clear, to the satisfaction of anyone reading our acts, that these opinions had been properly rejected and anathematized.
Thirdly, the letter which is alleged to have been written by Ibas to Mari the Persian was brought under scrutiny and we discovered that it too ought to be officially read out. When the letter was read out, its heretical character was immediately apparent to everyone. Until this time there had been some dispute as to whether the aforesaid three chapters ought to be condemned and anathematized. Since the supporters of the heretics Theodore and Nestorius were conspiring to strengthen in another way the case of these men and their heresy, and were alleging that this heretical letter, which approves and defends Theodore and Nestorius, had been accepted by the holy council of Chalcedon, it was therefore necessary for us to demonstrate that that holy synod was unaffected by the heresy which is present in that letter, and that clearly those who make such allegations are doing so not with the assistance of the holy council but so as to give some support to their own heresy by associating it with the name of Chalcedon. It was demonstrated in our acts that Ibas was previously accused of the same heresy which is contained in this letter. This accusation was levelled first by Proclus of holy memory, bishop of Constantinople, and afterwards by Theodosius of blessed memory and Flavian, the bishop there after Proclus, both of whom gave the task of examining the whole matter to Photius, bishop of Tyre, and to Eustathius, bishop of the city of Beirut. When Ibas was later found to be blameworthy, he was deposed from the episcopate. This being the state of affairs, how could anyone be so bold as to allege that that heretical letter was accepted by the holy council of Chalcedon or that the holy council of Chalcedon agreed with it in its entirety? So as to prevent those who misrepresent the holy council of Chalcedon in this way from having any further opportunity to do so we instructed that there should be a formal reading of the official pronouncements of the holy synods, namely the first of Ephesus and that of Chalcedon, on the subject of the letters of Cyril of holy memory and of Leo of blessed memory, formerly pope of older Rome. We gathered from these authorities that nothing which has been written by anyone ought to be accepted unless it has been shown conclusively that it is in accord with the true faith of the holy fathers. Therefore we broke off from our deliberations so as to reiterate in a formal declaration the definition of faith which was promulgated by the holy council of Chalcedon. We compared what was written in the letter with this official statement. When this comparison was made, it was quite apparent that the contents of the letter were quite contradictory to those of the definition of faith. The definition was in accord with the unique, permanent faith set out by the 318 holy fathers, and by the 150, and by those who gathered for the first council at Ephesus. The heretical letter, on the other hand, included the blasphemies of the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and even gave support to them and describes them as doctors, while it condemns the holy fathers as heretics. We make it quite clear to everyone that we do not intend to omit what the fathers had to say in the first and second investigations, which are adduced by the supporters of Theodore and Nestorius in support of their case. Rather these statements and all the others were formally read out and what they contained was submitted to official scrutiny, and we found that they had not allowed the said Ibas to be accepted until they had obliged him to anathematize Nestorius and his heretical doctrines which were affirmed in that letter. This was the view not only of the two bishops whose interventions some have tried to misapply but also of the other religious bishops of that holy council. They also acted thus in the case of Theodoret and insisted that he anathematize those opinions about which he was accused. If they would permit the acceptance of Ibas only if he condemned the heresy which was to be found in his letter, and on condition that he subscribed to a definition of faith set out by the council, how can an attempt be made to allege that this heretical letter was accepted by the same holy council? We are rightly told: What partnership has righteousness with iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What participation has the temple of God with idols?
Now that we have given the details of what our council has achieved, we repeat our formal confession that we accept the four holy synods, that is, of Nicaea, of Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, and of Chalcedon. Our teaching is and has been all that they have defined concerning the one faith. We consider those who do not respect these things as foreign to the catholic church. Furthermore, we condemn and anathematize, along with all other heretics who have been condemned and anathematized by the same four holy councils and by the holy, catholic and apostolic church, Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia, and his heretical writings, and also what Theodoret heretically wrote against the true faith, against the twelve chapters of holy Cyril and against the first synod of Ephesus, and we condemn also what he wrote defending Theodore and Nestorius. Additionally, we anathematize the heretical letter which Ibas is alleged to have written to Mari the Persian. This letter denies that God the Word was made incarnate of the ever virgin Mary, the holy mother of God, and that he was made man. It also condemns as a heretic Cyril of holy memory, who taught the truth, and suggests that he held the same opinions as Apollinarius. The letter condemns the first synod of Ephesus for deposing Nestorius without proper process and investigation. It calls the twelve chapters of holy Cyril heretical and contrary to the orthodox faith, while it supports Theodore and Nestorius and their heretical teachings and writings. Consequently we anathematize the aforesaid three chapters, that is, the heretical Theodore of Mopsuestia along with his detestable writings, and the heretical writings of Theodoret, and the heretical letter which Ibas is alleged to have written. We anathematize the supporters of these works and those who write or have written in defence of them, or who are bold enough to claim that they are orthodox, or who have defended or tried to defend their heresy in the names of holy fathers or of the holy council of Chalcedon.
These matters having been treated with thorough-going exactness, we bear in mind what was promised about the holy church and him who said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (by these we understand the death-dealing tongues of heretics); we also bear in mind what was prophesied about the church by Hosea when he said, I shall betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord; and we count along with the devil, the father of lies, the uncontrolled tongues of heretics and their heretical writings, together with the heretics themselves who have persisted in their heresy even to death. So we declare to them: Behold all you who kindle a fire, who set brands alight! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the brands which you have kindled! Since we are under command to encourage the people with orthodox teaching and to speak to the heart of Jerusalem, that is the church of God, we very properly hurry to sow in righteousness and to reap the fruit of life. In doing this we are lighting for ourselves the lamp of knowledge from the scriptures and the teachings of the fathers. It has therefore seemed necessary to us to sum up in certain statements both our declarations of the truth and our condemnations of heretics and their heretical teachings.
Anathemas against the “Three Chapters”
If anyone will not confess that the Father, Son and holy Spirit have one nature or substance, that they have one power and authority, that there is a consubstantial Trinity, one Deity to be adored in three subsistences or persons: let him be anathema. There is only one God and Father, from whom all things come, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one holy Spirit, in whom all things are. If anyone will not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, that which is before all ages from the Father, outside time and without a body, and secondly that nativity of these latter days when the Word of God came down from the heavens and was made flesh of holy and glorious Mary, mother of God and ever-virgin, and was born from her: let him be anathema. If anyone declares that the [Word] of God who works miracles is not identical with the Christ who suffered, or alleges that God the Word was with the Christ who was born of woman, or was in him in the way that one might be in another, but that our lord Jesus Christ was not one and the same, the Word of God incarnate and made man, and that the miracles and the sufferings which he voluntarily underwent in the flesh were not of the same person: let him be anathema. If anyone declares that it was only in respect of grace, or of principle of action, or of dignity or in respect of equality of honour, or in respect of authority, or of some relation, or of some affection or power that there was a unity made between the Word of God and the man, or if anyone alleges that it is in respect of good will, as if God the Word was pleased with the man, because he was well and properly disposed to God, as Theodore claims in his madness; or if anyone says that this union is only a sort of synonymity, as the Nestorians allege, who call the Word of God Jesus and Christ, and even designate the human separately by the names “Christ” and “Son”, discussing quite obviously two different persons, and only pretending to speak of one person and one Christ when the reference is to his title, honour, dignity or adoration; finally if anyone does not accept the teaching of the holy fathers that the union occurred of the Word of God with human flesh which is possessed by a rational and intellectual soul, and that this union is by synthesis or by person, and that therefore there is only one person, namely the lord Jesus Christ, one member of the holy Trinity: let him be anathema. The notion of “union” can be understood in many different ways. The supporters of the wickedness of Apollinarius and Eutyches have asserted that the union is produced by a confusing of the uniting elements, as they advocate the disappearance of the elements that unite. Those who follow Theodore and Nestorius, rejoicing in the division, have brought in a union which is only by affection. The holy church of God, rejecting the wickedness of both sorts of heresy, states her belief in a union between the Word of God and human flesh which is by synthesis, that is by a union of subsistence. In the mystery of Christ the union of synthesis not only conserves without confusing the elements that come together but also allows no division. If anyone understands by the single subsistence of our lord Jesus Christ that it covers the meaning of many subsistences, and by this argument tries to introduce into the mystery of Christ two subsistences or two persons, and having brought in two persons then talks of one person only in respect of dignity, honour or adoration, as both Theodore and Nestorius have written in their madness; if anyone falsely represents the holy synod of Chalcedon, making out that it accepted this heretical view by its terminology of “one subsistence”, and if he does not acknowledge that the Word of God is united with human flesh by subsistence, and that on account of this there is only one subsistence or one person, and that the holy synod of Chalcedon thus made a formal statement of belief in the single subsistence of our lord Jesus Christ: let him be anathema. There has been no addition of person or subsistence to the holy Trinity even after one of its members, God the Word, becoming human flesh. If anyone declares that it can be only inexactly and not truly said that the holy and glorious ever-virgin Mary is the mother of God, or says that she is so only in some relative way, considering that she bore a mere man and that God the Word was not made into human flesh in her, holding rather that the nativity of a man from her was referred, as they say, to God the Word as he was with the man who came into being; if anyone misrepresents the holy synod of Chalcedon, alleging that it claimed that the virgin was the mother of God only according to that heretical understanding which the blasphemous Theodore put forward; or if anyone says that she is the mother of a man or the Christ-bearer, that is the mother of Christ, suggesting that Christ is not God; and does not formally confess that she is properly and truly the mother of God, because he who before all ages was born of the Father, God the Word, has been made into human flesh in these latter days and has been born to her, and it was in this religious understanding that the holy synod of Chalcedon formally stated its belief that she was the mother of God: let him be anathema. If anyone, when speaking about the two natures, does not confess a belief in our one lord Jesus Christ, understood in both his divinity and his humanity, so as by this to signify a difference of natures of which an ineffable union has been made without confusion, in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into the nature of human flesh, nor was the nature of human flesh changed into that of the Word (each remained what it was by nature, even after the union, as this had been made in respect of subsistence); and if anyone understands the two natures in the mystery of Christ in the sense of a division into parts, or if he expresses his belief in the plural natures in the same lord Jesus Christ, God the Word made flesh, but does not consider the difference of those natures, of which he is composed, to be only in the onlooker’s mind, a difference which is not compromised by the union (for he is one from both and the two exist through the one) but uses the plurality to suggest that each nature is possessed separately and has a subsistence of its own: let him be anathema. If anyone confesses a belief that a union has been made out of the two natures divinity and humanity, or speaks about the one nature of God the Word made flesh, but does not understand these things according to what the fathers have taught, namely that from the divine and human natures a union was made according to subsistence, and that one Christ was formed, and from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or substance made of the deity and human flesh of Christ: let him be anathema. In saying that it was in respect of subsistence that the only-begotten God the Word was united, we are not alleging that there was a confusion made of each of the natures into one another, but rather that each of the two remained what it was, and in this way we understand that the Word was united to human flesh. So there is only one Christ, God and man, the same being consubstantial with the Father in respect of his divinity, and also consubstantial with us in respect of our humanity. Both those who divide or split up the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ and those who introduce into that mystery some confusion are equally rejected and anathematized by the church of God. If anyone says that Christ is to be worshipped in his two natures, and by that wishes to introduce two adorations, a separate one for God the Word and another for the man; or if anyone, so as to remove the human flesh or to mix up the divinity and the humanity, monstrously invents one nature or substance brought together from the two, and so worships Christ, but not by a single adoration God the Word in human flesh along with his human flesh, as has been the tradition of the church from the beginning: let him be anathema. If anyone does not confess his belief that our lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified in his human flesh, is truly God and the Lord of glory and one of the members of the holy Trinity: let him be anathema. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinarius Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their heretical books, and also all other heretics who have already been condemned and anathematized by the holy, catholic and apostolic church and by the four holy synods which have already been mentioned, and also all those who have thought or now think in the same way as the aforesaid heretics and who persist in their error even to death: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the heretical Theodore of Mopsuestia, who said that God the Word is one, while quite another is Christ, who was troubled by the passions of the soul and the desires of human flesh, was gradually separated from that which is inferior, and became better by his progress in good works, and could not be faulted in his way of life, and as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, and through this baptism received the grace of the holy Spirit and came to deserve sonship and to be adored, in the way that one adores a statue of the emperor, as if he were God the Word, and that he became after his resurrection immutable in his thoughts and entirely without sin. Furthermore this heretical Theodore claimed that the union of God the Word to Christ is rather like that which, according to the teaching of the Apostle, is between a man and his wife: The two shall become one. Among innumerable other blasphemies he dared to allege that, when after his resurrection the Lord breathed on his disciples and said, Receive the holy Spirit, he was not truly giving them the holy Spirit, but he breathed on them only as a sign. Similarly he claimed that Thomas’s profession of faith made when, after his resurrection, he touched the hands and side of the Lord, namely My Lord and my God, was not said about Christ, but that Thomas was in this way extolling God for raising up Christ and expressing his astonishment at the miracle of the resurrection. This Theodore makes a comparison which is even worse than this when, writing about the acts of the Apostles, he says that Christ was like Plato, Manichaeus, Epicurus and Marcion, alleging that just as each of these men arrived at his own teaching and then had his disciples called after him Platonists, Manichaeans, Epicureans and Marcionites, so Christ found his teaching and then had disciples who were called Christians. If anyone offers a defence for this more heretical Theodore, and his heretical books in which he throws up the aforesaid blasphemies and many other additional blasphemies against our great God and saviour Jesus Christ, and if anyone fails to anathematize him and his heretical books as well as all those who offer acceptance or defence to him, or who allege that his interpretation is correct, or who write on his behalf or on that of his heretical teachings, or who are or have been of the same way of thinking and persist until death in this error: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the heretical writings of Theodoret which were composed against the true faith, against the first holy synod of Ephesus and against holy Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also defends what Theodoret wrote to support the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and others who think in the same way as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius and accept them or their heresy and if anyone, because of them, shall accuse of being heretical the doctors of the church who have stated their belief in the union according to subsistence of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these heretical books and those who have thought or now think in this way, and all those who have written against the true faith or against holy Cyril and his twelve chapters, and who persist in such heresy until they die: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the letter which Ibas is said to have written to Mari the Persian, which denies that God the Word, who became incarnate of Mary the holy mother of God and ever virgin, became man, but alleges that he was only a man born to her, whom it describes as a temple, as if God the Word was one and the man someone quite different; which condemns holy Cyril as if he were a heretic, when he gives the true teaching of Christians, and accuses holy Cyril of writing opinions like those of the heretical Apollinarius ;which rebukes the first holy synod of Ephesus, alleging that it condemned Nestorius without going into the matter by a formal examination; which claims that the twelve chapters of holy Cyril are heretical and opposed to the true faith; and which defends Theodore and Nestorius and their heretical teachings and books. If anyone defends the said letter and does not anathematize it and all those who offer a defence for it and allege that it or a part of it is correct, or if anyone defends those who have written or shall write in support of it or the heresies contained in it, or supports those who are bold enough to defend it or its heresies in the name of the holy fathers of the holy synod of Chalcedon, and persists in these errors until his death: let him be anathema. Such then are the assertions we confess. We have received them from
holy Scripture, from the teaching of the holy fathers, and from the definitions about the one and the same faith made by the aforesaid four holy synods. Moreover, condemnation has been passed by us against the heretics and their impiety, and also against those who have justified or shall justify the so-called “Three Chapters”, and against those who have persisted or will persist in their own error. If anyone should attempt to hand on, or to teach by word or writing, anything contrary to what we have regulated, then if he is a bishop or somebody appointed to the clergy, in so far as he is acting contrary to what befits priests and the ecclesiastical status, let him be stripped of the rank of priest or cleric, and if he is a monk or lay person, let him be anathema.
Introduction and translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner
Council of Chalcedon – 451 A.D.
Council Fathers - 451 A.D. Introduction
It was the emperor Marcian who, after the “robber” council of Ephesus (449), commanded this council to meet. Pope Leo I was opposed to it. His view was that all the bishops should repent of their ways and individually sign his earlier dogmatic letter to Flavian, patriarch of Constantinople, and so avoid a new round of argument and debate. Moreover, the provinces of the West were being laid waste by Attila’s invasions. But before the pope’s view became known, the emperor Marcian had, by an edict of 17 May 451, convoked the council for 1 September 451. Although the pope was displeased, he sent legates: Paschasinus bishop of Lilybaeum, Bishop Lucentius, the priests Boniface and Basil, and Bishop Julian of Cos. No doubt Leo thought that the council would cause people to leave the church and go into schism. So he wanted it to be postponed for a time, and he implored the emperor that the faith handed down from ancient times should not become the subject of debate. The only business should be the restoration of the exiled bishops to their former positions.
The council was convoked at Nicaea but later transferred to Chalcedon, so as to be close to Constantinople and the emperor. It began on 8 October 451. The legates Paschasinus, Bishop Lucentius and the priest Boniface presided, while Julian of Cos sat among the bishops. By their side were the imperial commissars and those serving on the Senate, whose responsibility was simply to keep order in the council’s deliberations.
The lists we have of those present are unsatisfactory. According to Leo there were 600 bishops at the council, whereas according to a letter to him there were 500.
The “Definition of the faith” was passed at the council’s fifth session, and was solemnly promulgated at the sixth session in the presence of the emperor and the imperial authorities. The formula accepted in the decree is: Christ is one in two natures. This is in agreement with Leo’s letter to Flavian of Constantinople, and Leo’s letter is expressly mentioned in the Definition of the faith .
The council also issued 27 disciplinary canons (it is unclear at which session).
What is usually called canon 28 (on the honour to be accorded the see of Constantinople) is in fact a resolution passed by the council at the 16th session. It was rejected by the Roman legates.
In the ancient Greek collections, canons 29 and 30 are also attributed to the council:
canon 29 is an extract from the minutes of the 19th session; and canon 30 is an extract from the minutes of the 4th session.Because of canon 28, which the Roman legates had opposed, the emperor Marcian and Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople, sought approval for the council from the pope. This is clear from a letter of Anatolius which tries to defend the canon, and especially from a letter of Marcian which explicitly requests confirmation. Because heretics were misinterpreting his withholding approval, the pope ratified the doctrinal decrees on 21 March 453, but rejected canon 28 since it ran counter to the canons of Nicaea and to the privileges of particular churches.The imperial promulgation was made by Emperor Marcian in 4 edicts of February 452.Apart from Pope Leo’s letter to Flavian, which is in Latin, the English translation is from the Greek text, since this is the more authoritative version. The letter of Pope Leo to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople, about Eutyches
Surprised as we were at the late arrival of your charity’s letter, we read it and examined the account of what the bishops had done. We now see what scandal against the integrity of the faith had reared its head among you. What had previously been kept secret now became clearly revealed to us. Eutyches, who was considered a man of honour because he had the title of priest, is shown to be very rash and extremely ignorant. What the prophet said can be applied to him: He did not want to understand and do good: he plotted evil in his bed. What can be worse than to have an irreligious mind and to pay no heed to those who are wiser and more learned? The people who fall into this folly are those in whom knowledge of the truth is blocked by a kind of dimness. They do not refer to
the sayings of the prophets, nor to the letters of the apostles, nor even to the authoritative words of the gospels, but to themselves. By not being pupils of the truth, they turn out to be masters of error. A man who has not the most elementary understanding even of the creed itself can have learnt nothing from the sacred texts of the New and Old Testaments. This old man has not yet taken to heart what is pronounced by every baptismal candidate the world over!
He had no idea how he ought to think about the incarnation of the Word of God; and he had no desire to acquire the light of understanding by working through the length and breadth of the holy scriptures. So at least he should have listened carefully and accepted the common and undivided creed by which the whole body of the faithful confess that they believe in
God the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the holy Spirit and the virgin Mary. These three statements wreck the tricks of nearly every heretic. When God is believed to be both almighty and Father, the Son is clearly proved to be co-eternal with him, in no way different from the Father, since he was born God from God, almighty from the Almighty, co-eternal from the Eternal, not later in time, not lower in power, not unlike in glory, not distinct in being. The same eternal, only-begotten of the eternal begetter was born of the holy Spirit and the virgin Mary. His birth in time in no way subtracts from or adds to that divine and eternal birth of his: but its whole purpose is to restore humanity, who had been deceived, so that it might defeat death and, by its power, destroy the devil who held the power of death. Overcoming the originator of sin and death would be beyond us, had not he whom sin could not defile, nor could death hold down, taken up our nature and made it his own. He was conceived from the holy Spirit inside the womb of the virgin mother. Her virginity was as untouched in giving him birth as it was in conceiving him.
But if it was beyond Eutyches to derive sound understanding from this, the purest source of the christian faith, because the brightness of manifest truth had been darkened by his own peculiar blindness, then he should have subjected himself to the teaching of the gospels. When Matthew says, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, Eutyches should have looked up the further development in the apostolic preaching. When he read in the letter to the Romans, Paul, the servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for God’s gospel, which he had formerly promised through his prophets in the holy writings which refer to his Son, who was made for him of David’s seed according to the flesh, he should have paid deep and devout attention to the prophetic texts. And when he discovered God making the promise to Abraham that in your seed shall all nations be blessed, he should have followed the apostle, in order to eliminate any doubt about the identity of this seed, when he says, The promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed . He does not say “to his seeds”–as if referring to a multiplicity–but to a single one, “and to thy seed ” which is Christ. His inward ear should also have heard Isaiah preaching Behold, a virgin will receive in the womb and will bear a son, and they will call his name Emmanuel, which is translated “God is with us”. With faith he should have read the same prophet’s words, A child is born to us, a son is given to us. His power is on his shoulders. They will call his name “Angel of great counsel, mighty God, prince of peace, father of the world to come”. Then he would not deceive people by saying that the Word was made flesh in the sense that he emerged from the virgin’s womb having a human form but not having the reality of his mother’s body.
Or was it perhaps that he thought that our lord Jesus Christ did not have our nature because the angel who was sent to the blessed Mary said, The holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most High will overshadow you, and so that which will be born holy out of you will be called Son of God, as if it was because the conception by the virgin was worked by God that the flesh of the one conceived did not share the nature of her who conceived it? But uniquely wondrous and wondrously unique as that act of generation was, it is not to be understood as though the proper character of its kind was taken away by the sheer novelty of its creation. It was the holy Spirit that made the virgin pregnant, but the reality of the body derived from body. As Wisdom built a house for herself, the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us: that is, in that flesh which he derived from human kind and which he animated with the spirit of a rational life.
So the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person. Lowliness was taken up by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity. To pay off the debt of our state, invulnerable nature was united to a nature that could suffer; so that in a way that corresponded to the remedies we needed, one and the same mediator between God and humanity the man Christ Jesus, could both on the one hand die and on the other be incapable of death. Thus was true God born in the undiminished and perfect nature of a true man, complete in what is his and complete in what is ours. By “ours” we mean what the Creator established in us from the beginning and what he took upon himself to restore. There was in the Saviour no trace of the things which the Deceiver brought upon us, and to which deceived humanity gave admittance. His subjection to human weaknesses in common with us did not mean that he shared our sins. He took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine. For that self-emptying whereby the Invisible rendered himself visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things chose to join the ranks of mortals, spelled no failure of power: it was an act of merciful favour. So the one who retained the form of God when he made humanity, was made man in the form of a servant. Each nature kept its proper character without loss; and just as the form of God does not take away the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not detract from the form of God.
It was the devil’s boast that humanity had been deceived by his trickery and so had lost the gifts God had given it; and that it had been stripped of the endowment of immortality and so was subject to the harsh sentence of death. He also boasted that, sunk as he was in evil, he himself derived some consolation from having a partner in crime; and that God had been forced by the principle of justice to alter his verdict on humanity, which he had created in such an honourable state. All this called for the realisation of a secret plan whereby the unalterable God, whose will is indistinguishable from his goodness, might bring the original realisation of his kindness towards us to completion by means of a more hidden mystery, and whereby humanity, which had been led into a state of sin by the craftiness of the devil, might be prevented from perishing contrary to the purpose of God.
So without leaving his Father’s glory behind, the Son of God comes down from his heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world, born in an unprecedented order by an unprecedented kind of birth. In an unprecedented order, because one who is invisible at his own level was made visible at ours. The ungraspable willed to be grasped. Whilst remaining pre-existent, he begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless majesty and took on a servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as he is, to be subject to the laws of death. By an unprecedented kind of birth, because it was inviolable virginity which supplied the material flesh without experiencing sexual desire. What was taken from the mother of the Lord was the nature without the guilt. And the fact that the birth was miraculous does not imply that in the lord Jesus Christ, born from the virgin’s womb, the nature is different from ours. The same one is true God and true man.
There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received. The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind. We must say this again and again: one and the same is truly Son of God and truly son of man. God, by the fact that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; man, by the fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God, by the fact that all things were made through him, and nothing was made without him, man, by the fact that he was made of a woman, made under the law. The birth of flesh reveals human nature; birth from a virgin is a proof of divine power. A lowly cradle manifests the infancy of the child; angels’ voices announce the greatness of the most High. Herod evilly strives to kill one who was like a human being at the earliest stage the Magi rejoice to adore on bended knee one who is the Lord of all. And when he came to be baptised by his precursor John, the Father’s voice spoke thunder from heaven, to ensure that he did not go unnoticed because the divinity was concealed by the veil of flesh: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Accordingly, the same one whom the devil craftily tempts as a man, the angels dutifully wait on as God. Hunger, thirst, weariness, sleep are patently human. But to satisfy five thousand people with five loaves; to dispense living water to the Samaritan woman, a drink of which will stop her being thirsty ever again; to walk on the surface of the sea with feet that do not sink; to rebuke the storm and level the mounting waves; there can be no doubt these are divine.
So, if I may pass over many instances, it does not belong to the same nature to weep out of deep-felt pity for a dead friend, and to call him back to life again at the word of command, once the mound had been removed from the four-dayold grave; or to hang on the cross and, with day changed into night, to make the elements tremble; or to be pierced by nails and to open the gates of paradise for the believing thief. Likewise, it does not belong to the same nature to say I and the Father are one, and to say The Father is greater than I. For although there is in the Lord Jesus Christ a single person who is of God and of man, the insults shared by both have their source in one thing, and the glory that is shared in another. For it is from us that he gets a humanity which is less than the Father; it is from the Father that he gets a divinity which is equal to the Father.
So it is on account of this oneness of the person, which must be understood in both natures, that we both read that the son of man came down from heaven, when the Son of God took flesh from the virgin from whom he was born, and again that the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, since he suffered these things not in the divinity itself whereby the Only-begotten is co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father, but in the weakness of the human nature. That is why in the creed, too, we all confess that the only-begotten Son of God was crucified and was buried, following what the apostle said, If they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of majesty. And when our Lord and Saviour himself was questioning his disciples and instructing their faith, he says, Who do people say 1, the son of man, am? And when they had displayed a variety of other people’s opinions, he says, Who do you say I am ? –in other words, I who am the son of man and whom you behold in the form of a servant and in real flesh: Who do you say I am? Whereupon the blessed Peter, inspired by God and making a confession that would benefit all future peoples, says, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. He thoroughly deserved to be declared “blessed” by the Lord. He derived the stability of both his goodness and his name from the original Rock, for when the Father revealed it to him, he confessed that the same one is both the Son of God and also the Christ. Accepting one of these truths without the other was no help to salvation; and to have believed that the Lord Jesus Christ was either only God and not man, or solely man and not God, was equally dangerous.
After the Lord’s resurrection–which was certainly the resurrection of a real body, since the one brought back to life is none other than the one who had been crucified and had died–the whole point of the forty-day delay was to make our faith completely sound and to cleanse it of all darkness. Hence he talked to his disciples and lived and ate with them, and let himself be touched attentively and carefully by those who were in the grip of doubt; he would go in among his disciples when the doors were locked, and impart the holy Spirit by breathing on them, and open up the secrets of the holy scriptures after enlightening their understanding; again, he would point out the wound in his side, the holes made by the nails, and all the signs of the suffering he had just recently undergone, saying, Look at my hands and feet–it is I. Feel and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. All this was so that it would be recognised that the proper character of the divine and of the human nature went on existing inseparable in him; and so that we would realise that the Word is not the same thing as the flesh, but in such a way that we would confess belief in the one Son of God as being both Word and flesh.
This Eutyches must be judged to be extremely destitute of this mystery of the faith. Neither the humility of the mortal life nor the glory of the resurrection has made him recognise our nature in the only-begotten of God. Nor has even the statement of the blessed apostle and evangelist John put fear into him: Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is from God, and every spirit which puts Jesus asunder is not from God, and this is Antichrist. But what does putting Jesus as under consist in if not in separating his human nature from him, and in voiding, through the most barefaced fictions, the one mystery by which we have been saved? Once in the dark about the nature of Christ’s body, it follows that the same blindness leads him into raving folly about his suffering too. If he does not think that the Lord’s cross was unreal and if he has no doubt that the suffering undergone for the world’s salvation was real, then let him acknowledge the flesh of the one whose death he believes in. And let him not deny that a man whom he knows to have been subject to suffering had our kind of body, for to deny the reality of the flesh is also to deny the bodily suffering. So if he accepts the christian faith and does not turn a deaf ear to the preaching of the gospel, let him consider what nature it was that hung, pierced with nails, on the wood of the cross. With the side of the crucified one laid open by the soldier’s spear, let him identify the source from which blood and water flowed, to bathe the church of God with both font and cup.
Let him heed what the blessed apostle Peter preaches, that sanctification by the Spirit is effected by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood; and let him not skip over the same apostle’s words, knowing that you have been redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your fathers, not with corruptible gold and silver but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without stain or spot. Nor should he withstand the testimony of blessed John the apostle: and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from every sin; and again, This is the victory which conquers the world, our faith. Who is there who conquers the world save one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God ? It is he, Jesus Christ who has come through water and blood, not in water only, but in water and blood. And because the Spirit is truth, it is the Spirit who testifies. For there are three who give testimony–Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. In other words, the Spirit of sanctification and the blood of redemption and the water of baptism. These three are one and remain indivisible. None of them is separable from its link with the others. The reason is that it is by this faith that the catholic church lives and grows, by believing that neither the humanity is without true divinity nor the divinity without true humanity.
When you cross-examined Eutyches and he replied, “I confess that our Lord was of two natures before the union, but I confess one nature after the union”, I am amazed that such an absurd and corrupt declaration of faith was not very severely censured by the judges; and that an extremely foolish statement was disregarded, as if nothing whatever offensive had been heard. It is just as wicked to say that the only-begotten Son of God was of two natures before the incarnation as it is abominable to claim that there was a single nature in him after the Word was made flesh. Eutyches must not suppose that what he said was either correct or tolerable just because no clear statement of yours refuted it. So we remind you, dearest brother, of your charity’s responsibility to see to it that if through God’s merciful inspiration the case is ever settled, the rash and ignorant fellow is also purged of what is blighting his mind. As the minutes have made clear, he made a good start at abandoning his opinion when, under pressure from your statement, he professed to say what he had not previously said, and to find satisfaction in the faith to which he had previously been a stranger. But when he had refused to be party to the anathematising of his wicked doctrine, your fraternity would have realised that he was persisting in his false belief and that he deserved a verdict of condemnation. If he is honestly and suitably sorry about this, and acknowledges even at this late stage how rightly episcopal authority was set in motion, or if, to make full amends, he condemns every wrong thought he had by word of mouth and by his actual signature, then no amount of mercy towards one who has reformed is excessive. Our Lord, the true and good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep, and who came not to destroy but to save the souls of men and women, wants us to be imitators of his goodness, so that whilst justice represses sinners, mercy does not reject the converted. The defence of the true faith is never so productive as when false opinion is condemned even by its adherents.
In place of ourself, we have arranged for our brothers, Bishop Julius and the priest Renatus of the church of St Clement, and also my son, the deacon Hilary, to ensure a good and faithful conclusion to the whole case. To their company we have added our notary Dulcitius, of proven loyalty to us. We trust that with God’s help he who has fallen into error might condemn the wickedness of his own mind and find salvation.
God keep you safe, dearest brother.
Definition of the faith
The sacred and great and universal synod by God’s grace and by decree of your most religious and Christ-loving emperors Valentinian Augustus and Marcian Augustus assembled in Chalcedon, metropolis of the province of Bithynia, in the shrine of the saintly and triumphant martyr Euphemia, issues the following decrees.
In establishing his disciples in the knowledge of the faith, our lord and saviour Christ said: “My peace I give you, my peace I leave to you”‘, so that no one should disagree with his neighbour regarding religious doctrines but that the proclamation of the truth would be uniformly presented. But the evil one never stops trying to smother the seeds of religion with his own tares and is for ever inventing some novelty or other against the truth; so the Master, exercising his usual care for the human race, roused this religious and most faithful emperor to zealous action, and summoned to himself the leaders of the priesthood from everywhere, so that through the working of the grace of Christ, the master of all of us, every injurious falsehood might be staved off from the sheep of Christ and they might be fattened on fresh growths of the truth.
This is in fact what we have done. We have driven off erroneous doctrines by our collective resolution and we have renewed the unerring creed of the fathers. We have proclaimed to all the creed of the 318; and we have made our own those fathers who accepted this agreed statement of religion — the 150 who later met in great Constantinople and themselves set their seal to the same creed.
Therefore, whilst we also stand by
the decisions and all the formulas relating to the creed from the sacred synod which took place formerly at Ephesus, whose leaders of most holy memory were Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria we decree that
pre-eminence belongs to the exposition of the right and spotless creed of the 318 saintly and blessed fathers who were assembled at Nicaea when Constantine of pious memory was emperor: and that those decrees also remain in force which were issued in Constantinople by the 150 holy fathers in order to destroy the heresies then rife and to confirm this same catholic and apostolic creed. The creed of the 318 fathers at Nicaea. And the same of the 150 saintly fathers assembled in Constantinople. This wise and saving creed, the gift of divine grace, was sufficient for a perfect understanding and establishment of religion. For its teaching about the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit is complete, and it sets out the Lord’s becoming human to those who faithfully accept it.
But there are those who are trying to ruin the proclamation of the truth, and through their private heresies they have spawned novel formulas:
some by daring to corrupt the mystery of the Lord’s economy on our behalf, and refusing to apply the word “God-bearer” to the Virgin; and others by introducing a confusion and mixture, and mindlessly imagining that there is a single nature of the flesh and the divinity, and fantastically supposing that in the confusion the divine nature of the Only-begotten is passible. Therefore this sacred and great and universal synod, now in session, in its desire to exclude all their tricks against the truth, and teaching what has been unshakeable in the proclamation from the beginning,
decrees that the creed of the 318 fathers is, above all else, to remain inviolate. And because of those who oppose the holy Spirit, it ratifies the teaching about the being of the holy Spirit handed down by the 150 saintly fathers who met some time later in the imperial city — the teaching they made known to all, not introducing anything left out by their predecessors, but clarifying their ideas about the holy Spirit by the use of scriptural testimonies against those who were trying to do away with his sovereignty. And because of those who are attempting to corrupt the mystery of the economy and are shamelessly and foolishly asserting that he who was born of the holy virgin Mary was a mere man, it has accepted
the synodical letters of the blessed Cyril, [already accepted by the Council of Ephesus]pastor of the church in Alexandria, to Nestorius and to the Orientals, as being well-suited to refuting Nestorius’s mad folly and to providing an interpretation for those who in their religious zeal might desire understanding of the saving creed.To these it has suitably added, against false believers and for the establishment of orthodox doctrines the letter of the primate of greatest and older Rome,the most blessed and most saintly Archbishop Leo, written to the sainted Archbishop Flavian to put down Eutyches’s evil-mindedness, because it is in agreement with great Peter’s confession and represents a support we have in common.It is opposed to those who attempt to tear apart the mystery of the economy into a duality of sons; and it expels from the assembly of the priests those who dare to say that the divinity of the Only-begotten is passible, and it stands opposed to those who imagine a mixture or confusion between the two natures of Christ; and it expels those who have the mad idea that the servant-form he took from us is of a heavenly or some other kind of being; and it anathematises those who concoct two natures of the Lord before the union but imagine a single one after the union. So, following the saintly fathers, we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us.
Since we have formulated these things with all possible accuracy and attention, the sacred and universal synod decreed that no one is permitted to produce, or even to write down or compose, any other creed or to think or teach otherwise. As for those who dare either to compose another creed or even to promulgate or teach or hand down another creed for those who wish to convert to a recognition of the truth from Hellenism or from Judaism, or from any kind of heresy at all: if they be bishops or clerics, the bishops are to be deposed from the episcopacy and the clerics from the clergy; if they be monks or layfolk, they are to be anathematised.
We have deemed it right that the canons hitherto issued by the saintly fathers at each and every synod should remain in force.
If any bishop performs an ordination for money and puts the unsaleable grace on sale, and ordains for money a bishop, a chorepiscopus, a presbyter or a deacon or some other of those numbered among the clergy; or appoints a manager, a legal officer or a warden for money, or any other ecclesiastic at all for personal sordid gain; led him who has attempted this and been convicted stand to lose his personal rank; and let the person ordained profit nothing from the ordination or appointment he has bought; but let him be removed from the dignity or responsibility which he got for money. And if anyone appears to have acted even as a go-between in such disgraceful and unlawful dealings, let him too, if he is a cleric, be demoted from his personal rank, and if he is a lay person or a monk, let him be anathematised.
It has come to the notice of the sacred synod that some of those enrolled in the clergy are, for sordid gain, acting as hired managers of other people’s property, and are involving themselves in worldly business, neglecting the service of God, frequenting the houses of worldly persons and taking over the handling of property out of avarice. So the sacred and great synod has decreed that in future no one, whether a bishop, a cleric or a monk, should either manage property or involve himself as an administrator of worldly business, unless he is legally and unavoidably summoned to take care of minors, or the local bishop appoints him to attend, out of fear of the Lord, to ecclesiastical business or to orphans and unprovided widows and persons in special need of ecclesiastical support. If in future anyone attempts to transgress these decrees, he must be subject to ecclesiastical penalties.
Those who truly and sincerely live the monastic life should be accorded appropriate recognition. But since there are some who don the monastic habit and meddle with the churches and in civil matters, and circulate indiscriminately in the cities and even are involved in founding monasteries for themselves, it has been decided that no one is to build or found a monastery or oratory anywhere against the will of the local bishop; and that monks of each city and region are to be subject to the bishop, are to foster peace and quiet, and attend solely to fasting and prayer, staying set apart in their places. They are not to abandon their own monasteries and interfere, or take part, in ecclesiastical or secular business unless they are perhaps assigned to do so by the local bishop because of some urgent necessity. No slave is to be taken into the monasteries to become a monk against the will of his own master. We have decreed that anyone who transgresses this decision of ours is to be excommunicated, lest God’s name be blasphemed. However, it is for the local bishop to exercise the care and attention that the monasteries need.
In the matter of bishops or clerics who move from city to city, it has been decided that the canons issued by the holy fathers concerning them should retain their proper force.
No one, whether presbyter or deacon or anyone at all who belongs to the ecclesiastical order, is to be ordained without title, unless the one ordained is specially assigned to a city or village church or to a martyr’s shrine or a monastery. The sacred synod has decreed that the ordination of those ordained without title is null, and that they cannot operate anywhere, because of the presumption of the one who ordained them.
We decree that those who have once joined the ranks of the clergy or have become monks are not to depart on military service or for secular office. Those who dare do this, and do not repent and return to what, in God, they previously chose, are to be anathematised.
Clerics in charge of almshouses and monasteries and martyrs’ shrines are, in accordance with the tradition of the holy fathers, to remain under the jurisdiction of the bishop in each city. They are not to be self-willed and rebellious towards their own bishop. Those who dare to break a rule of this kind in any way whatever, and are not obedient to their own bishop, are, if they are clerics, to be subject to the canonical penalties; and if they are monks or layfolk they are to be made excommunicate.
If any cleric has a case to bring against a cleric, let him not leave his own bishop and take himself off to the secular courts, but let him first air the problem before his own bishop, or at least, with the permission of the bishop himself, before those whom both parties are willing to see act as arbiters of their lawsuit. If anyone acts in a contrary fashion, let him be subject to canonical penalties. If a cleric has a case to bring either against his own or against another bishop, let him bring the case to the synod of the province. If a bishop or a cleric is in dispute with the metropolitan of the same province, let him engage either the exarch of the diocese or the see of imperial Constantinople, and let him bring his case before him.
A cleric is not allowed to be appointed to churches in two cities at the same time: to the one where he was originally ordained, and to another more important one to which he has betaken himself out of desire to increase a baseless reputation. Those who do this are to be sent back to their own church in which they were ordained at the beginning, and only there are they to serve. But if some have already been transferred from one church to another, they are not to take part in any of the affairs of their former church, or of the martyrs’ shrines or almshouses or hospices that come under it. The sacred synod has decreed that those who, subsequent to this decree of this great and universal synod, dare to do anything that is now forbidden are to lose their personal rank.
We have decreed that, subject to examination, all paupers and needy persons are to travel with ecclesiastical letters or letters of peace only, and not of commendation, since it befits only reputable persons to be provided with letters of commendation.
It has come to our notice that, contrary to the ecclesiastical regulations, some have made approaches to the civil authorities and have divided one province into two by official mandate, with the result that there are two metropolitans in the same province. The sacred synod therefore decrees that in future no bishop should dare do such a thing, since he who attempts it stands to lose his proper station. Such places as have already been honoured by imperial writ with the title of metropolis must treat it simply as honorary, and that goes also for the bishop who is in charge of the church there, without prejudice of course to the proper rights of the real metropolis.
Foreign clerics and readers without letters of commendation from their own bishop are absolutely forbidden to serve in another city.
Since in certain provinces readers and cantors have been allowed to marry, the sacred synod decrees that none of them is permitted to marry a wife of heterodox views. If those thus married have already had children, and if they have already had the children baptised among heretics, they are to bring them into the communion of the catholic church. If they have not been baptised, they may no longer have them baptised among heretics; nor indeed marry them to a heretic or a Jew or a Greek, unless of course the person who is to be married to the orthodox party promises to convert to the orthodox faith. If anyone transgresses this decree of the sacred synod, let him be subject to canonical penalty.
No woman under forty years of age is to be ordained a deacon, and then only after close scrutiny. If after receiving ordination and spending some time in the ministry she despises God’s grace and gets married, such a person is to be anathematised along with her spouse.
It is not permitted for a virgin who has dedicated herself to the Lord God, or similarly for a monk, to contract marriage. If it is discovered that they have done so, let them be made excommunicate. However, we have decreed that the local bishop should have discretion to deal humanely with them.
Rural or country parishes belonging to a church are to stay firmly tied to the bishops who have possession of them, and especially if they have continually and peacefully administered them over a thirty-year period. If, however, within the thirty years any dispute about them has arisen, or should arise, those who are claiming to be wronged are permitted to bring the case before the provincial synod. If there are any who are wronged by their own metropolitan, let their case be judged either by the exarch of the diocese or by the see of Constantinople, as has already been said. If any city has been newly erected, or is erected hereafter, by imperial decree, let the arrangement of ecclesiastical parishes conform to the civil and public regulations.
The crime of conspiracy or secret association is entirely prohibited even by the laws of the land; so all the more properly is this forbidden in the church of God. So if any clerics or monks are found to be either forming a conspiracy or a secret society or hatching plots against bishops or fellow clergy, let them lose their personal rank completely.
We have heard that in the provinces the synods of bishops prescribed by canon law are not taking place, and that as a result many ecclesiastical matters that need putting right are being neglected. So the sacred synod decrees that in accordance with the canons of the fathers, the bishops in each province are to foregather twice a year at a place approved by the bishop of the metropolis and put any matters arising to rights. Bishops failing to attend who enjoy good health and are free from all unavoidable and necessary engagements, but stay at home in their own cities, are to be fraternally rebuked.
As we have already decreed, clerics who are serving a church are not permitted to join a church in another city, but are to be content with the one in which they were originally authorised to minister, apart from those who have been displaced from their own country and been forced to move to another church. If subsequent to this decision any bishop receives a cleric who belongs to another bishop, it is decreed that both the received and the receiver are to be excommunicate until such time as the cleric who has moved returns to his own church.
Clerics or layfolk who bring allegations against bishops or clerics are not to be admitted to make their charges without more ado and before any examination, but their reputation must first be investigated.
It is not permitted for clerics, following the death of their own bishop, to seize the things that belong to him, as has been forbidden even by earlier canons. Those who do this risk losing their personal rank.
It has come to the notice of the sacred synod that certain clerics and monks who have no employment from their own bishop and have sometimes even been excommunicated by him, are frequenting imperial Constantinople and spending long periods there causing disturbances, upsetting the ecclesiastical establishment and ruining people’s homes. So the sacred synod decrees that such people are first to be warned by the public attorney of the most holy Constantinopolitan church to get out of the imperial city; and if they shamelessly persist in the same kinds of behaviour, they are to be expelled by the same public attorney even against their will, and are to betake themselves to their own places.
Monasteries once consecrated in accordance with the will of the bishop are to remain monasteries in perpetuity, and the effects which belong to them are reserved to the monastery, and they must not be turned into secular hostelries. Those who allow this to happen are to be subject to the canonical penalties.
According to our information, certain metropolitans are neglecting the flocks entrusted to them and are delaying the ordination of bishops, so the sacred synod has decided that the ordination of bishops should take place within three months, unless the period of delay has been caused to be extended by some unavoidable necessity. If a metropolitan fails to do this, he is to be subject to ecclesiastical penalties. The income of the widowed church is to be kept safe by the administrator of the said church.
According to our information, in some churches the bishops handle church business without administrators; so it has been decided that every church which has a bishop is also to have an administrator, drawn from its own clergy, to administer ecclesiastical matters according to the mind of the bishop concerned so that the church’s administration may not go unaudited, and that consequently the church’s property is not dispersed and the episcopate not exposed to serious criticism. If he does not comply with this, he is to be subject to the divine canons.
The sacred synod decrees that those who carry off girls under pretext of cohabitation, or who are accomplices or co-operate with those who carry them off, are to lose their personal rank if they are clerics, and are to be anathematised if they are monks or layfolk.
28 [in fact a resolution passed by the council at the 16th session but rejected by the Pope]
Following in every way the decrees of the holy fathers and recognising the canon which has recently been read out–the canon of the 150 most devout bishops who assembled in the time of the great Theodosius of pious memory, then emperor, in imperial Constantinople, new Rome — we issue the same decree and resolution concerning the prerogatives of the most holy church of the same Constantinople, new Rome. The fathers rightly accorded prerogatives to the see of older Rome, since that is an imperial city; and moved by the same purpose the 150 most devout bishops apportioned equal prerogatives to the most holy see of new Rome, reasonably judging that the city which is honoured by the imperial power and senate and enjoying privileges equalling older imperial Rome, should also be elevated to her level in ecclesiastical affairs and take second place after her. The metropolitans of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, but only these, as well as the bishops of these dioceses who work among non-Greeks, are to be ordained by the aforesaid most holy see of the most holy church in Constantinople. That is, each metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses along with the bishops of the province ordain the bishops of the province, as has been declared in the divine canons; but the metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the archbishop of Constantinople, once agreement has been reached by vote in the usual way and has been reported to him.
29 [an extract from the minutes of the 19th session]
The most eminent and illustrious officials asked: What does the sacred synod advise in the case of the bishops ordained by the most reverend Bishop Photius and removed by the most reverend Bishop Eustathius and consigned to be priests after losing the episcopacy? The most reverend Bishops Paschasinus and Lucentius and the priest Bonifatius, representatives of the apostolic see of Rome, replied: It is sacrilege to reduce a bishop to the rank of priest. But if whatever cause there is for removing those persons from the exercise of episcopacy is just, they ought not to occupy the position even of a priest. And if they have been removed from office and are without fault, they shall be restored to the episcopal dignity. The most reverend archbishop of Constantinople, Anatolius, replied: If those who are said to have descended from the episcopal dignity to the rank of priest have been condemned on what are reasonable grounds, they are clearly not worthy to hold even the office of a priest. But if they have been demoted to the lower rank without reasonable cause, then as long as they are seen to be innocent, they have every right to resume the dignity and priesthood of the episcopacy .
30 [an extract from the minutes of the 4th session]
The most eminent and illustrious officials and the exalted assembly declared: Since the most reverend bishops of Egypt have up to now put off subscribing to the letter of the most holy Archbishop Leo, not because they are in opposition to the catholic faith, but because they claim that it is customary in the Egyptian diocese not to do such things in contravention of the will and ordinance of their archbishop, and because they consider they should be given until the ordination of the future bishop of the great city of Alexandria, we think it reasonable and humane that, retaining their present rank in the imperial city, they should be granted a moratorium until such time as an archbishop of the great city of Alexandria is ordained. Most reverend Bishop Paschasinus, representative of the apostolic see, said: If your authority demands it, and you order that some measure of kindness be shown them, let them give guarantees that they will not leave this city before Alexandria receives its bishop. The most eminent and illustrious officials and the exalted assembly replied: Let the resolution of the most holy Bishop Paschasinus be upheld. So let the most reverend bishops of the Egyptians maintain their present rank and, either providing guarantees if they can, or pledging themselves on solemn oath, let them await the ordination of the future bishop of the great city of Alexandria.
Introduction and translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner