Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Seventh Ecumenical Council. The Second Council of Nice.: Canon IV
That Bishops are to abstain from all receiving of gifts.
The Churchs herald, Paul the divine Apostle, laying down a rule (κανόνα) not only for the presbyters of Ephesus but for the whole company of the priesthood, speaks thus explicitly, saying, “I have coveted no mans silver or gold, or apparel. I have shewed p. 558 you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak;” for he accounted it more blessed to give. Therefore we being taught by him do decree, that under no circumstances, shall a Bishop for the sake of filthy lucre invent feigned excuses for sins, and exact gold or silver or other gifts from the bishops, clergy, or monks who are subject to him. For says the Apostle, “The unrighteous shall not possess the kingdom of God,” and, “The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” If then any is found, who for the sake of exacting gold or any other gift, or who from personal feeling, has suspended from the ministry, or even excommunicated, any of the clergy subject to his jurisdiction, or who has closed any of the venerable temples, so that the service of God may not be celebrated in it, pouring out his madness even upon things insensible, and thus shewing himself to be without understanding, he shall be subjected to the same punishment he devised for others, and his trouble shall return on his own head, as a transgressor of Gods commandment and of the apostolic precepts. For Peter the supreme head (ἡ κερυφαία ἀκρότης) of the Apostles commands, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over the clergy (τῶν κλήρων [A.V. Gods heritage]); but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
We decree that no bishop shall extort gold or silver, or anything else from bishops, clerics, or monks subject to his jurisdiction. And if anyone through the power of gold or of any other thing or through his own whims, shall be found to have prevented any one of the clergy who are subject to him, from the celebration of the holy offices, or shall have shut up a venerable temple so that the sacred worship of God could not be performed in it, he shall be subject to the lex talionis. For Peter the Apostle says: Feed the flock of God, not of necessity but willingly, and according to God; not for filthy lucres sake, but with a prompt mind; not exercising lordship over the clergy, but being an example to the flock.
Note the present canon, which punishes those bishops by the lex talionis, who for filthy lucres sake, or out of private affection, separate any from themselves, or close temples. Wherefore he who cuts off others thus, let him be cut off. But he who shuts off a temple shall be punished even more than by cutting off. But lest any one should say, by the argument á contrario, that a bishop should not be punished who neither for the sake of filthy lucre nor out of private spite, but lawfully cuts some off, or closes temples, I answer that this argument only holds good of the cutting off. For a bishop who for any reason, whether just or unjust, shuts up a temple, should be punished, so it seems to me, as I have said above.
It would seem that at that time among the Greeks the use of local interdict (interdicti localis) was not known. But very many theologians wish to find a vestige of this interdict in the IVth century, in St. Basils epistle cclxx. (otherwise ccxliv.), where the holy doctor teaches that the person who carries off by force a virgin, and those who are cognizant of this wickedness ought to be smitten with excommunication, and that the village or its inhabitants, to which the ravisher shall escape and where he shall be kept in safety, shall be shut out from the prayers.
This canon, or rather the first part of it, is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratians Decretum, Pars II., Causa XVI., Q. I., Canon lxiv.; all the latter part is represented by the words “et infra.”
Next: Canon V
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