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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Second Ecumenical Council:  The First Council of Constantinople.: Canon II

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Canon II.

The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs.  And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited.  And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the p. 177 synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice.  But the Churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers.


Ancient Epitome of Canon II.

No traveller shall introduce confusion into the Churches either by ordaining or by enthroning.  Nevertheless in Churches which are among the heathen the tradition of the Fathers shall be preserved.

In the above Ancient Epitome it will be noticed that not only is ordination mentioned but also the “inthronization” of bishops.  Few ceremonies are of greater antiquity in the Christian Church than the solemn placing of the newly chosen bishop in the episcopal chair of his diocese.  It is mentioned in the Apostolical Constitutions, and in the Greek Pontificals.  Also in the Arabic version of the Nicene Canons.  (No. lxxi.).  A sermon was usually delivered by the newly consecrated bishop, called the “sermo enthronisticus.”  He also sent to neighbouring bishops συλλαβαὶ ἐνθρονιστικαὶ, and the fees the new bishops paid were called τὰ ἐνθρονιστικὰ.


(Note on Socrates, H. E., v., 8).

This rule seems to have been made chiefly on account of Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, Gregory Nazianzen, and Peter of Alexandria.  For Meletius leaving the Eastern diocese had come to Constantinople to ordain Gregory bishop there.  And Gregory having abandoned the bishoprick of Sasima, which was in the Pontic diocese, had removed to Constantinople.  While Peter of Alexandria had sent to Constantinople seven Egyptian bishops to ordain Maximus the Cynic.  For the purpose therefore of repressing these [disorders], the fathers of the Synod of Constantinople made this canon.


Take notice from the present canon that formerly all the Metropolitans of provinces were themselves the heads of their own provinces, and were ordained by their own synods.  But all this was changed by Canon xxviij of the Synod of Chalcedon, which directs that the Metropolitans of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, and certain others which are mentioned in this Canon should be ordained by the Patriarch of Constantinople and should be subject to him.  But if you find other churches which are autocephalous as the Church of Bulgaria, of Cyprus, of Iberia, you need not be astonished.  For the Emperor Justinian gave this honour to the Archbishop of Bulgaria.…The third Synod gave this honour to the Archbishop of Cyprus, and by the law of the same synod (Canon viii.), and by the Sixth Synod in its xxxixth Canon, the judgment of the Synod of Antioch is annulled and this honour granted to the bishop of Iberia.


(Mém. ix., 489).

The Council seems likewise to reject, whether designedly or inadvertently, what had been ordained by the Council of Sardica in favour of Rome.  But as assuredly it did not affect to prevent either Ecumenical Councils, or even general Councils of the East, from judging of matters brought before them, so I do not know if one may conclude absolutely that they intended to forbid appeals to Rome.  It regulates proceedings between Dioceses, but not what might concern superior tribunals.


(Hist. Eccl. in loc.).

This Canon, which gives to the councils of particular places full authority in Ecclesiastical matters, seems to take away the power of appealing to the Pope granted by the Council of Sardica, and to restore the ancient right.


An exception to the rule against interference in other patriarchates was made with regard to those Churches newly founded amongst barbarous nations (not belonging to the Roman Empire), as these were of course obliged to receive their first bishops from strange patriarchates, and remained afterwards too few in number to form patriarchates of their own and were therefore governed as belonging to other patriarchates, as, for instance, Abyssinia by the patriarchate of Alexandria.

Next: Canon III

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