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NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils
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Canon IV.

(Greek.)

Bishop Gaudentius said:  If it seems good to you, it is necessary to add to this decision full of sincere charity which thou hast pronounced, that390390    At this point begins the Greek text as given in Bev. if any bishop be deposed by the sentence of these neighbouring bishops, and assert that he has fresh matter in defence, a new bishop be not settled in his see, unless the bishop of Rome judge and render a decision as to this.

(Latin.)

Bishop Gaudentius said:  It ought to be added, if it be your pleasure, to this sentence full of sanctity which thou hast 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.

Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.

If a bishop has been deposed and affirms that he has an excuse to urge, unless Rome has judged the case, no bishop shall be appointed in his room.  For he might treat the decree with scorn either through his nuncios or by his letters.

There are two distinct understandings of this canon.  The one view is that the “neighbours” of this canon are the same as the “neighbours” of the preceding canon (number iij.) and that the meaning of this canon therefore is—If the court of second instance, correlating of the bishops of the neighbouring province, has pronounced the accused guilty, he still has one more appeal to a third court, viz., Rome.  This is the view taken by the Greeks, Zonaras and Balsamon, by the Ballerini, Van Espen, Palma, Walter, Natalis Alexander and many others.

In direct opposition to this is the view that there is no third but only a second appeal mentioned by the canon.  The supporters of this interpretation are Peter de Marca, Tillemont, Dupin, Fleury, Remi Ceillier, Neander, Stolberg, Echhorn, Kober, and with these Hefele sides and states his reasons for doing so.

Hefele.

There must be added to the reasons of the connexion of this canon with the preceding, the course of events, etc.:

1.  That it certainly would be very curious if in the third canon mention was made of the appeal to Rome as following the judgment of the court of first instance; in the fourth, after that of the court of second instance; and again in the fifth, after the judgment of the court of first instance.

2.  That if the Synod had really intended to institute a court of third instance, it would have done so in clearer and more express terms, and not only have, as it were, smuggled in the whole point with the secondary question, as to “what was to be done with the bishop’s see.”

3.  Farther, that it is quite devoid of proof that the expression “neighbouring bishops” is identical with “Bishops in the neighbourhood of the said Province,” that, indeed this identification is throughout unwarrantable and wrong, and it is far more natural to understand by the neighbouring bishops, the comprovincials, therefore the court of first instance.

4.  That by this interpretation we obtain clearness, consistency, and harmony in all three canons.

5.  That the word πάλιν in the fourth canon presents no difficulty; for even one who has only been heard in the court of first instance may say he desires again to defend himself, because he has already made his first defence in the court of first instance.


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