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NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils
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Canon XX.

(Greek.)

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] hath 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.402402    Here begins the Canon xxj., according to the Greek text of Bev.

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 hath 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.

(Latin.)

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 hath 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.

Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon XX. [the last part of which in Beveridge, Synod., is numbered xxj.]

If any bishop tries out of pride to do away with what has been decreed admirably, and in a manner pleasing to God, he shall lose his episcopate.  A bishop who shall see a bishop on his way to the camp, if he shall know that he goes there for any of the before-mentioned causes, let him not trouble him, but if otherwise let him pronounce excommunication against him.

This is Canon XI. of the Latin.

Van Espen.

After the words [“honour and dignity”] according to Balsamon and Zonaras, as also Gentian Hervetus, there follows the approbation of the synod in these words:  “All answered, This opinion is becoming and well-pleasing to us,” which indicate this to be the end of the canon; and therefore the Greeks make of this two distinct canons.

Dionysius and Isidore make but one canon,…and this appears to be more congruous on account of the subject-matter of the first part, and will be manifest by connecting the two parts together.

Van Espen follows Zonaras and Balsamon in understanding “Bishops in Canali,” as such as were set on the public roads and public highways, or rather “in cities which are on the public highways, or ‘Canals,’ by which they that pass go without labour, as in a canal or aqueduct the water flows, for aqueduct and canal are the same thing in the Roman tongue.”


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