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 CXXXIV
Canon CXXXIV. (Continuation of cxxxv. in the Greek.)
Here beginneth the letter directed from the whole African Council to Boniface, bishop of the City of Rome, by Faustinus the bishop, and Philip and Asellus the presbyters, legates of the Roman Church.
To the most blessed lord, and our honourable brother Boniface, Aurelius, Valentine of the primatial See of Numidia, and others present with us to the number of 217 from the whole council in Africa.
Since it has pleased the Lord that our humility should write concerning those things which with us our holy brethren, Faustinus a fellow-bishop and Philip and Asellus, fellow presbyters, have done, not to the bishop Zosimus of blessed memory, from whom they brought commands and letters to us, but to your holiness, who art constituted in his room by divine authority, we ought briefly to set forth what has been determined upon by mutual consent; not indeed those things which are contained in the prolix volumes of the acts, in which, while charity was preserved, yet we loitered not without some little labour of altercation, deliberating those things in the acts which now pertain to the cause. However the more gratefully would he have received this news as he would have seen a more peaceful ending of the matter, my lord and brother, had he been still in the body! Apiarius the presbyter, concerning whose ordination, excommunication, and appeal no small scandal arose not only at Sicca but also in the whole African Church, has been restored to communion upon his seeking pardon for all his sins. First our fellow bishop Urban of Sicca doubtless corrected whatever in him seemed to need correction. For there should have been kept in mind the peace and quiet of the Church not only in the present but also in the future, since so many evils of such a kind had gone before, that it was incumbent to take care that like or even graver evils should be prevented thereafter. It seemed good to us that the presbyter Apiarius should be removed from the church of Sicca, retaining only the honour of his grade, and that he should exercise the office of the presbyterate wherever else he wished and could, having received a letter to this effect. This we granted without difficulty at his own petition made in a letter. But truly before this case should be thus closed, among other things which we were treating of in daily discussions, the nature of the case demanded that we should ask our brothers, Faustinus our fellow bishop, and Philip and Asellus our fellow presbyters, to set forth what they had been enjoined to treat of with us that they might be inserted in the ecclesiastical acts. And they proceeded to make a verbal statement, but when we earnestly asked that they would present it rather in writing, then they produced the Commonitory. This was read to us and also set down in the acts, which they p. 507 are bringing with them to you. In this they were bidden to treat of four things with us, first concerning the appeal of bishops to the Pontiff of the Roman Church, second that bishops should not unbecomingly be sailing to court, thirdly concerning the treating the causes of presbyters and deacons by contiguous bishops, if they had been wrongly excommunicated by their own, and fourthly concerning the bishop Urban who should be excommunicated or even sent to Rome, unless he should have corrected what seemed to need correction. Of all which things concerning the first and third, that is that it is allowed to bishops to appeal to Rome and that the causes of clerics should be settled by the bishops of their own provinces, already last year we have taken pains to insinuate, in our letter to the same bishop Zosimus of venerable memory, that we were willing to observe these provisions for a little while without any injury to him, until the search for the statutes of the Council of Nice had been finished. And now we ask of your holiness that you would cause to be observed by us the acts and constitutions of our fathers at the Council of Nice, and that you cause to be exercised by you there, those things which they brought in the commonitory: that is to say, If a bishop shall have been accused, etc. [Here follows Canon vii. of Sardica.]
Item concerning presbyters and deacons. If any bishop has been quickly angered, etc. [Here follows Canon xvii. of Sardica.]
These are the things which have been inserted in the acts until the arrival of the most accurate copies of the Nicene Council, which things, 485 if they are contained there (as in the Commonitory, which our brethren directed to us from the Apostolic See alleged) and be even kept according to that order by you in Italy, in no way could we be compelled either to endure such treatment as we are unwilling to mention or could suffer what is unbearable: 486 but we believe, through the mercy of our Lord God, while your holiness presides over the Roman Church, we shall not have to suffer that pride (istum typhum passuri). And there will be kept toward us, what should be kept with brotherly love to us who are making no dispute. You will also perceive according to the wisdom and the justice which the most Highest has given thee, what should be observed, 487 if perchance the canons of the Council of Nice are other [than you suppose]. For although we have read very many copies, yet never have we read in the Latin copies that there were any such decrees as are contained in the commonitory before mentioned. So too, because we can find them in no Greek text here, we have desired that there should be brought to us from the Eastern Churches copies of the decrees, for it is said that there correct copies of the decrees are to be found. For which end we beg your reverence, that you would deign yourself also to write to the pontiffs of these parts, that is of the churches of Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, 488 and to any others also if it shall please your holiness, that thence there may come to us the same canons decreed by the Fathers in the city of Nice, and thus you would confer by the help of the Lord this most great benefit upon all the churches of the West. For who can doubt that the copies of the Nicene Council gathered in the Greek empire are most accurate, which although brought together from so diverse and from such noble Greek churches are found to agree when compared together? And until this be done, the provisions laid down to us in the Commonitory aforesaid, concerning the appeals of bishops to the pontiff of the Roman Church and concerning the causes of clerics which should be terminated by the bishops of their own provinces, we are willing to allow to be observed until the proof arrives and we trust your blessedness will help us in this according to the will of God. The rest of the matters treated and defined in our synod, since the aforesaid brethren, our fellow bishop Faustinus, and the presbyters Philip and Asellus are carrying the acts with them, if you deign to receive them, will make known to your holiness. And they signed. 489 Our Lord keep thee to us for many years, most blessed brother. Alypius, Augustine, Possidius, Marinus and the rest of the bishops (217) also signed.
p. 508 Ancient Epitome of Canon CXXXIV.
Urban, the bishop of Siccas, is either to be excommunicated or else summoned to Rome unless he corrects what should be corrected by him.
The text here is very uncertain. I follow Allies.507:486
It is evident that the Latin text here is corrupt in more places than one. There would seem to be no doubt that for Mignes reading quæ sibi, the Greek translators had quæ si ibi and accordingly rendered it ἅτινα ἐὰν ἐκεῖ, and so the text stands in Labbe and Cossart. The following sentence is also clearly in a somewhat altered form from its original.507:487
L. and C. insert here wrongly a nisi.507:488
This order of naming the sees is worthy of note.507:489
So in the Greek; the Latin reads Et alia manu.
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