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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Canon XIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Canon XIII.

The election of those who are to be appointed to the priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.

Whoso is chosen by seculars is ineligible.


From this canon it is evident that in ancient times not only bishops but also priests were voted for by the multitude of the people.  This is here forbidden.


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.

[It is clear from this that by “the Priesthood” Aristenus understands the episcopate, and I think rightly.]

Van Espen.

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 Justinian’s “Novels” (Novellæ, cxxiij., c.j., and cxxxvij., c. ij.)

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s 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 Isidore’s version favours Gratian’s misunderstanding, and says that “no doubt that this version did much to exclude the people from the election of bishops.”



More accurately “a tumultuous and riotous mob” vide Liddell and Scott.

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