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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Canon III

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Canon III.

Those who have fled and been apprehended, or have been betrayed by their servants; or those who have been otherwise despoiled of their goods, or have endured tortures, or have been imprisoned and abused, declaring themselves to be Christians; or who have been forced to receive something which their persecutors violently thrust into their hands, or meat [offered to idols], continually professing that they were Christians; and who, by their whole apparel, and demeanour, and humility of life, always give evidence of grief at what has happened; these persons, inasmuch as they are free from sin, are not to be repelled from the communion; and if, through an extreme strictness or ignorance of some things, they have been repelled, let them forthwith be re-admitted.  This shall hold good alike of clergy and laity.  It has also been considered whether laymen who have fallen under the same compulsion may be admitted to orders, and we have decreed that, since they have in no respect been guilty, they may be ordained; provided their past course of life be found to have been upright.


Ancient Epitome of Canon III.

Those who have been subjected to torments and have suffered violence, and have eaten food offered to idols after being tyrannized over, shall not be deprived of communion.  And laymen who have endured the same sufferings, since they have in no way transgressed, if they wish to be ordained, they may be, if otherwise they be blameless.

In the translation the word “abused” is given as the equivalent of περισχισθέντας , which Zonaras translated, “if their clothes have been torn from their bodies,” and this is quite accurate if the reading is correct, but Routh has found in the Bodleian several mss. which had περισχεθέντας.  Hefele adopts this reading and translates “declaring themselves to be Christians but who have subsequently been vanquished, whether their oppressors have by force put incense into their hands or have compelled them, etc.”  Hammond translates “and have been harassed by their persecutors forcibly putting something into their hands or who have been compelled, etc.”  The phrase is obscure at best with either reading.

This canon is in the Corpus Juris Canonici united to the two previous canons, Decretum, Pars I., Dist. l., c. xxxii.

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