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Our brother bishop Rheginus, the beloved of God, and his fellow beloved of God bishops, Zeno and Evagrius, of the Province of Cyprus, have reported to us an innovation which has been introduced contrary to the ecclesiastical constitutions and the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and which touches the liberties of all. Wherefore, since injuries affecting all require the more attention, as they cause the greater damage, and particularly when they are transgressions of an ancient custom; and since those excellent men, who have petitioned the Synod, have told us in writing and by word of mouth that the Bishop of Antioch has in this way held ordinations in Cyprus; therefore the Rulers of the holy churches in Cyprus shall enjoy, without dispute or injury, according to the Canons of the blessed Fathers and ancient custom, the right of performing for themselves the ordination of their excellent Bishops. The same rule shall be observed in the other dioceses and provinces everywhere, so that none of the God beloved Bishops shall assume control of any province which has not heretofore, from the very beginning, been under his own hand or that of his predecessors. But if any one has violently taken and subjected [a Province], he shall give it up; lest the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed; or the vanities of worldly honour be brought in under pretext of sacred office; or we lose, without knowing it, little by little, the liberty which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men, hath given us by his own Blood.
Wherefore, this holy and ecumenical Synod has decreed that in every province the rights which heretofore, from the beginning, have belonged to it, shall be preserved to it, according to the old prevailing custom, unchanged and uninjured: every Metropolitan having permission to take, for his own security, a copy of these acts. And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what is here determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously decrees that it shall be of no effect.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
Let the rights of each province be preserved pure and inviolate. No attempt to introduce any form contrary to these shall be of any avail.
The caption is the one given in the ordinary Greek texts. The canon is found word for word in the VII Session of the Council, with the heading, “A decree of the same holy Synod.” (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 802.)
I have followed in reading “the Canons of the Holy Apostles” the reading in Balsamon and Zonaras, and that of Elias Ehingerus Augustanus (so says Beveridge) in his edition of the Greek canons, a.d. 1614. But the Bodleian ms., and John of Antioch in his collection of the Canons, and the Codex edited by Christopher Justellus read “of the Holy Fathers” instead of “of the Holy Apostles.” Beveridge is of opinion that this is the truer reading, for while no doubt the Ephesine Fathers had in mind the Apostolic Canons, yet they seem to have more particularly referred in this place to the canons of Nice. And this seems to be intimated in the libellum of the Bishops of Cyprus, who gave rise to this very decree, in which the condemned practice is said to be “contrary to the Apostolic Canons and to the definitions of the most holy Council of Nice.”
This canon Photius does not recognize, for in the Preface to his Nomocanon he distinctly writes that there were but seven canons adopted by the Ephesine Synod, and in the first chapter of the first title he cites the preceding canon as the seventh, that is the last. John of Antioch likewise says that there are but seven canons of Ephesus, but reckons this present canon as the seventh, from which Beveridge concludes that he rejects the Canon concerning Charisius (vii).
Concerning the present canon, of rather decree, the Bishop of Antioch, who had given occasion to the six former canons, gave also occasion for the enacting of this, by arrogating to himself the right of ordaining in the Island of Cyprus, in violation of former usage. After the bishops of that island, who are mentioned in the canon, had presented their statements (libellum) to the Synod, the present decree was set forth, in which warning was given that no innovation should be tolerated in Ecclesiastical administration, whether in Cyprus or elsewhere; but that in all Dioceses and Provinces their ancient rights and privileges should be preserved.
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