Bishop Hosius said: This also, I think, follows, that, 392 if in any province whatever, bishops send petitions to one of their brothers and fellow-bishops, he that is in the largest city, that is, the metropolis, should himself send his deacon and the petitions, providing him also with letters commendatory, writing also of course in succession to our brethren and fellow-bishops, if any of them should be staying at that time in the places or cities in which the most pious Emperor is administering public affairs.
But if any of the bishops should have friends at the Court and should wish to make requests of them as to some proper object, let him not be forbidden to make such requests through his deacon and move these [friends] to give their kind assistance as his desire.
But those who come to Rome ought, as I said before, to deliver to our beloved brother and fellow-bishop, Julius, the petitions which they have to give, in order that he may first examine them, lest some of them should be improper, and so, giving them his own advocacy and care, shall send them to the Court.
This also seems to follow, that from whatever province bishops shall send petitions to that brother and fellow-bishop of ours who has his see in the metropolis, he [the metropolitan] should dispatch his deacon with the petitions, providing him with commendatory letters of like tenour to our brethren and fellow-bishops at that time resip. 424 dent in those regions and cities in which the fortunate and blessed Emperor is ruling the State.
If however a bishop who seeks to obtain some petition (a worthy one, that is) has friends in the palace, he is not forbidden to make his request through his deacon and to advise those who, he knows, can kindly intercede for him in his absence.
X. But let those who come to Rome, deliver, as before said, to our most holy brother and fellow-bishop, the bishop of the Roman church, the petitions which they bear, that he also may examine whether they are worthy and just, and let him give diligence and care that they be forwarded to the Court.
Bishop Alypius said: If they have incurred the discomforts of travel for the sake of orphans and widows or any in distress and having cases that are not unjust, they will have some good reason [for their journey]; but now since they chiefly make requests which cannot be granted without envy and reproach, it is not necessary for them to go to Court.
Here the Latin is not only a translation but an interpretation of the Greek text, for it distinctly says that every bishop shall send the petition he intends to present at court first to his Metropolitan, who shall send it in. This is not clearly in the Greek, and yet the Greek Commentators find it there.
The authority of the bishop alone is not sufficient to send a deacon to Court, there must be added the judgment of the Metropolitan who shall examine the petition, prove, sign, and commend it, not only to the Prince, but also to the bishop in whose diocese he may happen to be.
Zonaras, Balsamon, and Aristenus explained this canon somewhat differently, thus: “If a bishop desires to send his petitions addressed to the Emperor to the bishop of the town where the Emperor is staying, he shall first send them to the Metropolitan of that province (according to Aristenus, his own Metropolitan) and the latter shall send his own deacon with letters of recommendation to the bishop or bishops who may be at court.” This difference rests upon the various meanings of “to the brother and fellow-bishop” in the beginning of the canon. We understand by this his own Metropolitan, and treat the words: ὁ ἐν τῇ μείζονι κ.τ.λ., as a more exact definition of “fellow-bishop,” and the participle τυγχάνων as equivalent to τυγχάνει, and make the principal clause begin at αὐτὸς καὶ τὸν διάκονον. Beveridge translated the canon in the same way. Zonaras and others, on the contrary, understood by “fellow-bishop,” the bishop of the Emperors residence for the time being, and regarded the words ὁ ἐν τῇ μείζοη κ.τ λ. not as a clearer definition of what had gone before, but as the principal clause, in the sense of “then the Metropolitan shall,” etc. According to this interpretation, the words conveying the idea that the bishop must have recourse to the Metropolitan are entirely wanting in the canon.
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