Bishops are elected by metropolitans and other bishops. If anyone in this manner shall not have been promoted to the Episcopate, but shall have been chosen by the multitude, he is not to be admitted nor elected.
The word in the Greek to which “multitude” corresponds (ὄχλος) properly signifies a tumult. 176
What the fathers intend to forbid are tumultuous elections, that is, that no attention is to be paid to riotous demonstrations on the part of the people, when with acclamations they are demanding the ordination of anyone, with an appearance of sedition. Such a state of affairs St. Augustine admirably describes in his Epistola ad Albinam (Epist. cxxvi., Tom. II, col. 548, Ed. Gaume).
And it is manifest that by this canon the people were not excluded from all share in the election of bishops and priests from what St. Gregory Nazianzen says, in Epistola ad Cæsarienses, with regard to the election of St. Basil. From this what could be more evident than that after this canon was put out the people in the East still had their part in the election of a bishop? This also is clear from Justinians “Novels” (Novellæ, cxxiij., c.j., and cxxxvij., c. ij.)
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratians Decretum, Pars I., Dist. lxiii., can. vj,, but in proof of the proposition that laymen were hereby forbidden to have any share in elections. Van Espen notes that Isidores version favours Gratians misunderstanding, and says that “no doubt that this version did much to exclude the people from the election of bishops.”
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