Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Canons of the Synods of Sardica, Carthage, Constantinople, and Carthage Under St. Cyprian, Which Canons Were Received by the Council in Trullo and Ratified by II. Nice.: Canon LVI
Canon LVI. (Greek lx.)
That bishops who were ordained for dioceses shall not choose for themselves dioceses [in the Greek provinces].
Honoratus and Urban, the bishops, said: We have heard that it has been decreed that dioceses should not be deemed fit to receive bishops, unless with the consent of their founder: but in our province since some have been ordained bishops in the diocese, by the consent of that bishop by whose power they were established, have even seized dioceses for themselves, this should be corrected by the judgment of your charity, and prohibited for the future. Epigonius, the bishop, said: To every bishop should be reserved what is right, so that from the mass of dioceses no part should be snatched away, so as to have its own bishop, without consent from the proper authority. For it shall suffice, if the consent be given, that the diocese thus set apart have its own bishop p. 470 only, and let him 457 not seize other dioceses, for only the one cut off from the many merited the honour of receiving a bishop. Aurelius, the bishop, said: I do not doubt that it is pleasing to the charity of you all, that he who was ordained for a diocese by the consent of the bishop who held the mother see, should retain only the people for whom he was ordained. Since therefore I think that everything has been treated of, if all things are agreeable to your mind, pray confirm them all by your suffrage. All the bishops said: We all are well pleased, and we have confirmed them with our subscription. And they signed their names.
I, Aurelius, bishop of the Church of Carthage, have consented to this decree, and have subscribed what has been read. So too did all the other bishops in like fashion sign.
Ancient Epitome of Canon LVI.
If any diocese has received consent to have a bishop of its own from him who has the right, that one shall not invade the rest of the dioceses.
This is the last part of Canon vij. of the Synod of Carthage, August 28, a.d. 397.
It had scarce been worth while to give so much of this canon in English if I had not thought it proper, in order to confirm the sense of the word diocese, mentioned in note on Can. 53, viz., a town or village, where there is a church subject to the bishop of the city.
Between this canon and the following, there is a reference to a former council at Carthage forbidding bishops to sail, without a formal letter from the Primate; and this said to be done when Cæsarius and Atticus were consuls, anno æræ vulg. 397, and there is mention of an embassy of two bishops from a council of Carthage to the Emperors, to procure the privilege of sanctuary to all impeached for any crime, if they fled to the Church. This is said to be done when Honorius and Eutychianus were consuls, anno æræ vulg. 398. And further, here is an account of a bishop sent legate to Anastasius, Bishop of the Apostolical see, and Venerius of Milan, to supply the African Church with men fit to be ordained. For Aurelius complains that many Churches have not so much as one man, not so much as an illiterate one, in deacons orders, much less had they a competent number of men for the superior dignities. He speaks of the importunate clamours of many people, that were themselves almost killed, I suppose, by some common pestilence.
In this council it was decreed that bishops should not travel by sea without formed letters.
During the consulate of those illustrious men, Cæsar and Atticus, on the sixth before the Calends of July, at Carthage, it seemed good that no bishop should travel by water without “formed letters” from the Primate. The authentic acts will be found by him who seeks them.
In this council, bishops whose names are set down hereafter were sent as legates to the Emperor.
After the consulate of the most glorious Emperor Honorius Augustus for the fourth time, and of the renowned Eutychian, on the fifth of the calends of May, at Carthage in the secretarium of the restored basilica. In this council Epigonius and Vincent, the bishops, received a legation, in order that they might obtain a law from the most glorious princes in behalf of those taking refuge in the Church, whatever might be the crime of which they were accused, that no one should dare to force them away.
In this council a legation was sent to the Bishops of Rome and Milan with regard to children baptized by heretics, and to the Emperor with regard to having such idols as still remained taken away, and also with regard to many other matters.
After the consulate of the renowned Flabius Stilico, on the sixteenth of the calends of July, at Carthage in the secretarium of the restored basilica.
When Aurelius, the Bishop, together with his fellow-bishops had taken their seats, p. 471 the deacons standing by, Aurelius, the Bishop, said: Your charity, most holy brethren, knows fully as well as I do the necessities of the churches of God throughout Africa. And since the Lord has vouchsafed that from a part of your holy company this present assembly should be convened, it seems to me that these necessities which in the discharge of our solicitude we have discovered, we ought to consider together. And afterwards, that there should be chosen a bishop from our number who may, with the help of the Lord and your prayers, assume the burden of these necessities, and zealously accomplish whatever ought to be done in the premises, going to the parts of Italy across seas, that he may acquaint our holy brethren and fellow-bishops, the venerable and holy brother Anastasius, bishop of the Apostolic see, and also our holy brother Venerius the Bishop of Milan, with our necessity and grief, and helplessness. For there has been withheld from these sees the knowledge of what was necessary to provide against the common peril, especially that the need of clergy is so great that many churches are in such destitution as that not so much as a single deacon or even an unlettered clerk is to be found. I say nothing of the superior orders and offices, because if, as I have said, the ministry of a deacon is not easily to be had, it is certainly much more difficult to find one of the superior orders. [And let them also tell these bishops] that we can no longer bear to hear the daily lamentations of the different peoples almost ready to die, and unless we do our best to help them, the grievous and inexcusable cause of the destruction of innumerable souls will be laid at our door before God.
The common reading “vindicent” is almost certainly wrong, and is not even mentioned by Bruns.
Next: Canon LVII
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