Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Canon IX
It behoves the bishops in every province to acknowledge the bishop who presides in the metropolis, and who has to take thought for the whole province; because all men of business come together from every quarter to the metropolis. Wherefore it is decreed that he have precedence in rank, and that the other bishops do nothing extraordinary without him, (according to the ancient canon which prevailed from [the times of] our Fathers) or such things only as pertain to their own particular parishes and the districts subject to them. For each bishop has authority over his own parish, both to manage it with the piety which is incumbent on every one, and to make provision for the whole district which is dependent on his city; to ordain presbyters and deacons; and to settle everything with judgment. But let him undertake nothing further without the bishop of the metropolis; neither the latter without the consent of the others.
p. 113 Notes.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Bishops should be bound to the opinion of the metropolitan, and nothing should they do without his knowledge except only such things as have reference to the diocese of each, and let them ordain men free from blame.
From this canon we see that causes of more importance and greater moment are to be considered in the Provincial Synod which consisted of the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province.
By the “ancient canon” of which mention is here made, there can scarcely be a doubt is intended the xxxiv. of the Canons of the Apostles, since in it are read the same provisions (and almost in the same words) as here are set forth somewhat more at length; nor is there any other canon in which these provisions are found earlier in date than this synod, wherefore from this is deduced a strong argument for the integrity of the Canons of the Apostles.
The wording of this canon should be compared with the famous sentence so often quoted of St. Irenæus. “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam [i.e. of Rome] propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles, in quâ semper ab his, qui sunt undique, conservata est eaque est ab Apostolis traditio.”
Is it not likely that in the lost Greek original the words translated convenire ad were συντρέχειν ἐν? Vide on the meaning of convenire ad, F. W. Puller, The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome, pp. 32 et seqq.
Compare Apostolic Canon XXXIV.
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