p. 456 Canon XXVIII. (Greek xxxi.)
Presbyters, deacons, or clerics, who shall think good to carry appeals in their causes across the water shall not at all be admitted to communion. 430
It also seemed good that presbyters, deacons, and others of the inferior clergy in the causes which they had, if they were dissatisfied with the judgments of their bishops, let the neighbouring bishops with the consent of their own bishop hear them, and let the bishops who have been called in judge between them: but if they think they have cause of appeal from these, they shall not betake themselves to judgments from beyond seas, but to the primates of their own provinces, or else to an universal council, as has also been decreed concerning bishops. But whoso shall think good to carry an appeal across the water shall be received to communion by no one within the boundaries of Africa.
Clerics who have been condemned, if they take exception to the judgment, shall not appeal beyond seas, but to the neighbouring bishops, and to their own; if they do otherwise let them be excommunicated in Africa.
This canon is the same as Canon xvij. of the Synod of Carthage of 418, but it has some words with regard to appeals which that canon does not contain, viz.: “Aut ad universale conciliam, sicut et de episcopis sæpe constitutum est.” This clause, affirming that bishops have often been forbidden to appeal across the water from the decisions of the African bishops, has caused great perplexity as no such decrees are extant. The Ballerini, to avoid this difficulty, and possibly for other reasons, suggest an entirely different meaning to the passage, and suppose that it means that “bishops have often been allowed to appeal to the Universal Council and now this privilege is extended to priests.” 431 But this would seem to be a rather unnatural interpretation and Van Espen in his Commentary shews good reason for adopting the more evident view.
Clearly the See of Rome is here aimed at, as if Carthage were the place designed by Providence to put a stop to the growth of power in Christian Rome, as well as heathen. It is strange, that this canon should be received by the Church of Rome in former ages.
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