Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Decretals.: Part III
(That no bishop should presume in anything pertaining to anothers parish, and of the transference of bishops.)
Let no one, again, trespass upon the boundaries of another, nor presume to judge or excommunicate one belonging to anothers parish; because such judgment or ordination, or excommunication or condemnation, shall neither be ratified nor have any virtue; since no one shall be bound by the decision of another judge than his own, neither shall he be condemned by such. Whence also the Lord speaks to this effect: “Pass not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set.” 2737 Moreover, let no primate or metropolitan invade the church or parish of a diocesan (diœcesani), or presume to excommunicate or judge any one belonging to his parish, or do anything without his counsel or judgment; but let him observe this law, which has been laid down by the apostles 2738 and fathers, and our predecessors, and has been ratified by us: to wit, that if any metropolitan bishop, except in that which pertains to his own proper parish alone, shall attempt to do anything without the counsel and good-will of all the comprovincial bishops, he will do it at the risk of his position, and what he does in this manner shall be held null and void; but whatever it may be necessary to do or to arrange with regard to the cases of the body of provincial bishops, and the necessities of their churches and clergy and laity, this should be done by consent of all the pontiffs of the same province, and that too without any pride of lordship, but with the most humble and harmonious action, even as the Lord says: “I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” 2739 And in another passage He says: “And whosoever of you is the greater, shall be your servant,” 2740 and so forth. And in like manner the bishops of the same province themselves should do all things in counsel with him, except so much as pertains to their own proper parishes, in accordance with the statutes of the holy fathers (who, although they have preceded us by a certain interval of time, have yet drawn the light of truth and faith from one and the same fountain of purity, and have sought the prosperity of the Church of God and the common advantage of all Christians by the same enlightening and guiding Spirit), that p. 616 with one mind, and one mouth, and one accord, the Holy Trinity may be glorified for ever. No primate, no metropolitan, nor any of the other bishops, is at liberty to enter the seat of another, or to occupy a possession which does not pertain to him, and which forms part of the parish of another bishop, at the direction of any one, unless he is invited by him to whose jurisdiction it is acknowledged to belong; nor can he set about any arrangement or ordinance, or judgment there, if he wishes to keep the honour of his station. But if he presume to do otherwise, he shall be condemned; and not only he, but those who co-operate and agree with him: for just as the power of making appointments (ordinatio) is interdicted in such circumstances, so also is the power of judging or of disposing of other matters. For if a man has no power to appoint, how shall he judge? Without doubt, he shall in no wise judge or have power to judge: for just as another mans wife cannot intermarry with anyone (adulterari), nor be judged or disposed of by any one but by her own husband so long as he liveth; so neither can it in anywise be allowed that the wife of a bishop, by whom undoubtedly is meant his church or parish, should be judged or disposed of by another without his (the bishops) judgment and good-will so long as he liveth, or enjoy anothers embrace, that is, his ordaining. Wherefore the apostle says: “The wife is bound by the law so long as her husband liveth; but if he be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” 2741 In like manner also, the spouse of a bishop (for the church is called his spouse and wife) is bound to him while he liveth; but when he is dead she is loosed, and may be wedded to whomsoever she will, only in the Lord, that is, according to order. For if, while he is alive, she marry another, she shall be judged to be an adulteress. And in the same manner, he too, if he marry another of his own will, shall be held to be an adulterer, and shall be deprived of the privilege of communion. If, however, he is persecuted in his own church, he must flee to another, and attach himself to it, as the Lord says: “If they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another.” 2742 If, however, the change be made for the sake of the good of the church, he may not do this of himself, but only on the invitation of the brethren, and with the sanction of this holy seat, and not for ambitions sake, but for the public good.
Prov. xxii. 28.615:2738
Canons 35 and 36. [Vol. vii. p. 503.]615:2739
Matt. xx. 28.615:2740
Mark x. 44.616:2741
Rom. vii. 2.616:2742
Matt. x. 23.
Next: Part IV
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at