The Canons

of the Apostles

Translated from Russian by Eugene Zaharov

from the Book of Canons by the Bishop Gregory Grabbe



General Introduction.

The 85 Apostolic Canons.


The Canonical Status of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Orthodox Church.



General Introduction.

(from several sources)

Historical Background.

With the spread of the Christian community throughout the entire area of the Mediterranean, the initial organization of the Church soon had to be extended. During this stage of growth, a hierarchy was developed and new conditions of life modeled after the teachings of Christ came into existence. It thus became necessary to define the status of the believer within the Christian community and society at large.

This organization was only rudimentary, but it clearly was there. It is quite evident that the Church in her primitive period had no precisely defined juridical organization, much less a technique or science of law. However, all the elements of a true juridical organization were there. Those persons invested with authority made rules and demanded strict adherence to them. Synods came out unsparingly against those who threatened the unity of the Church and the purity of her doctrine. They did not hesitate, furthermore, to impose severe sanctions upon those who opposed her discipline. It was the First Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea (325) which referred to canons as the disciplinary measures of the Church. The distinction, therefore, between kanones, the disciplinary measures and rules adopted by the Church, and nomoi, the legislative actions taken by the state, came about quite early.

The law which emerged from the earliest times developed in response to the needs of the ecclesiastical community. During both good and bad periods of the Church's history, her law has adapted itself constantly to the circumstances of he time, up to the present day. The collections of laws which the Church has promulgated in no way detract from her exalted status and sacred character. They reflect a certain imperfection — not in the institution of the Church — but in those individuals of whom it is composed. As an institution of divine origin composed of human beings, the Church is at the same time both a human and a divine institution. It might be said that it is at the crossroads of the finite and the infinite, the created and the uncreated, the human and the divine.

The Church is not to be identified with her rules. The Church indeed has rules, but she has much else besides. She has within her treasures of another order and another value besides her canons. She has her theology, her spirituality, her mysticism, her liturgy, her morality. And it is most important not to confuse the Gospel and the Pedalion (collection of canons), theology and legislation, morality and jurisprudence. Each is on a different level and to identify them completely would be to fall into a kind of heresy. The canons are at the service of the Church; their function is to guide her members on the way to salvation and to make following that way easier.

Content of the Canons.

There are canon laws of the "apostles," ecumenical councils, of provincial and local councils, and of individual church fathers which have been received by the entire Orthodox Church as normative for Christian doctrine and practice. As a word canon means literally rule or norm or measure of judging. In this sense the canon laws are not positive laws in the juridical sense and cannot be easily identified with laws as understood and operative in human jurisprudence.

The canons of the Church are distinguished first between those of a dogmatic or doctrinal nature and those of a practical, ethical, or structural character. They are then further distinguished between those which may be changed and altered and those which are unchangeable and may not be altered under any conditions.

The dogmatic canons are those council definitions which speak about an article of the Christian faith; for example, the nature and person of Jesus Christ. Although such canons may be explained and developed in new and different words, particularly as the Church Tradition grows and moves through time, their essential meaning remains eternal and unchanging.

Some canons of a moral and ethical character also belong to those which cannot be changed. These are the moral canons whose meaning is absolute and eternal and whose violation can in no way be justified. The canons which forbid the sale of Church sacraments are of this kind.

There are, in addition, canons of a quite practical nature which may be changed and which, in fact, have been changed in the course of the life of the Church. There are also those which may be changed but which remain in force since the Church has shown the desire to retain them. An example of the former type is the canon which requires the priests of the church to be ordained to office only after reaching thirty years of age. It might be said that although this type of canon remains normative and does set a certain ideal which theoretically may still be of value, the needs of the Church have led to its violation in actual life. The canon which requires that the bishops of the Church be unmarried is of the latter type.

It is not always clear which canons express essential marks of Christian life and which do not. There are often periods of controversy over certain canons as to their applicability in given times and conditions. These factors, however, should not lead the members of the Church to dismay or to the temptation either to enforce all canons blindly with identical force and value or to dismiss all the canons as meaningless and insignificant.

Collections of Canonical Laws.

The holy canons, which are the basis of the Church's canonical tradition, stem from three main sources: Ecumenical Synods (representing the universal Church), Local Synods (subsequently ratified by the Ecumenical Synods as representing the tradition of the universal Church), and the Fathers of the Church. All of these canons, which number about one thousand, are contained in several collections. The one most widely used today in the Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches is the Pedalion (the "Rudder"), which takes its name from the metaphor of the Church depicted as a ship. As the ship which is guided safely to its destination by means of a rudder, in like manner are the members of the Church guided on their voyage through life by means of the holy canons.

The Orthodox Church never had and to this day does not have a common codex of Church law which could compare to the codex of canon law of the Catholic Church. Each local Church has its own compendium which reflects the local characteristics. The source of all such compendia lie those collections of Church law compiled in Medieval Byzantium. These contain decisions of Church authorities which were reached in totally different historical epochs and in different Churches, as well as decrees of Byzantine emperors and a number of statutes which are of purely local character. The form in which these codices of local Church law presently exist cannot fully serve as practical guides and are in reality only of historical interest. Today's Church organization outgrew these codices. A significant part of their norms cannot be applied to present conditions and have been changed and even discarded in various autocephalous Churches. Along with these codices the autocephalous Churches publish and continue to publish their own canons either making up a part of local compilations or exist in separate forms. Naturally there is neither external nor internal agreement among all these norms which make up the Canon Law of each local Church.

In all these laws of the local Churches a number of decrees can be extracted which apply to the whole Orthodox Church. These are, in a narrow sense, canons based on decisions of Ecumenical Councils, local Councils, and Church Fathers which were accepted by the whole Church. These enactments were collected in a special compilation by the Russian Church called Kniga Pravil [Book of Rules]. Even though the Church always treated these with special respect they nonetheless were subject to changes, additions and deletions from the time of their promulgation (approx. from IX to X centuries) through later years. But only in extreme cases did the issue of new decrees included directions about the discarding of the corresponding previous canon. This presents one of the difficulties in the application of these canons which has no analogous example in any other form of jurisprudence. At the present time we can not always have the ability to determine which canons are effective and which are not. Thus it is possible to state with certainty that certain canons are no longer effective, for example all canons dealing with the reception into the Church of individuals from ancient heresies which no longer exist, such as Montanists, Novatians, Photinians, Arians, etc., and canons governing institutions which disappeared from the Church such as penitential discipline. It becomes more difficult to deal with canons no longer observed which govern the age of clerics, forbidding the translation of presbyters and bishops, the summoning of councils, courts, ecclesiastical penalties, etc. Inasmuch as they are no longer observed, can they be ignored or should Church life be changed to allow these canons to be effective once again?

This lack of complete internal and external unity does not reflect on the one hand, the most characteristic mark of canonical legislation. Such a mark is its incompleteness. In reality, it completely lacks those norms which by analogy with juridical legislation, can be referred to as "fundamental." The more complete canonical compilations not only Eastern but Western as well, have no canons which establish general and fundamental principles of Church organization. These compilations have any number of canons regulating the relationship of bishops among themselves, the interrelation of presbyters and deacons, but we would not be able to find canons defining the very principle of hierarchy. There is not a single rule calling for the Church to have all three orders of clerics. The basic organization of a Christian community headed by a bishop is not to be found. This is especially evident if one takes note that the canons quite thoroughly determine the Metropolitan's administration. The same incompleteness can be found with other canonical problems for example with Ecclesiastical juridical process, as well as Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Matrimony. In textbooks of Canon Law these lacunae are completed by teaching found in the New Testament and in the writings of the Fathers and Teachers of the Church. The Apostolic Canons and the commandments of Christ himself are given the characteristics of canonical norms although not a single Council ruled which of these must be considered as such. We are so accustomed to these gaps that they are not even noticed, but if some historian would attempt to describe the organization of the Church based exclusively on canonical norms he would fall into a number of serious errors. The same mistake is made by those who attempt to base canonical consciousness exclusively on the canons. This attempt is nothing more than an illusion. If canonical norms speak of this or that fact or manifestation of Church life, it can be judged to be correct based on these canonical norms. But, what can be said about something which the canonical norms did not even anticipate? If only that is canonical which corresponds to canons and what does not so correspond is uncanonical then, as we have seen, there is no indication in the canons about the most basic and fundamental areas of Church structures. Finally if all the canonical legislation is taken as a whole as the basis of canonical consciousness then it must be accepted that each local Church enjoys its own canonical consciousness. This not only reduces the dimension of the sphere of canonical consciousness but the possibility of any canonical assessment of any local Church disappears. This concept does not allow for a solution of canonical problems applicable to the whole Orthodox Church but does allow each Autocephalous Church to resolve these problems only for itself. This would undermine the oneness of Orthodox consciousness which unites all local Churches, even in the absence of mutual juridical relations, into the One Apostolic Church. That separatism and that isolation of local Churches which is presently quite evident, can be partly explained by this defect in canonical consciousness.

If the absence of unity and completeness of canonical norms is a hindrance for the acceptance of these norms as the foundation of canonical consciousness then, on the other hand, these features of canonical creativity should not be blamed on those deficiencies. Canonical legislation never had the task to establish basic norms and basic principles of Ecclesiastical organization. These were given once and for all in the dogmatical teaching about the Church which not only anticipates canonical creativity but becomes its basis and precondition. Canonical creativity in the Church has the task to further that which would enable the dogmatical teaching about the Church to find a more correct and complete realization in the given historical condition of the Church's organization, and to protect the Church's life from deviations and error. The content of the dogmatical teaching about the Church determines the content of canonical legislation. A different teaching about the Church would invariably result in different canons since they make up the active force in the life of the Church. Ecclesiastical decisions are in effect the canonical interpretations of the dogma about the Church during a particular moment in the history of its existence. The basic principles of the Church's teachings do not fall into the area of canon law but are a part of dogmatics. This gives canonical norms a special characteristic distinguishing them from juridical norms, and canon law is given those characteristics which make of it a particularly unique law.

The attempts to extrapolate canonical consciousness out of the existing historical forms of Church life or out of the canons themselves are wrong in that they ignore the foundations of Church life and accept it in an empirical and temporary aspect. The foundation of correct canonical consciousness cannot be that which is transient and temporary, that which depends upon the historical moment, but that which in her is not transient and not temporary, which does not depend on historical conditions and historical circumstances. This means that the foundation of canonical consciousness can be found only in the dogmatical teaching on the Church. Such a canonical consciousness is very close to dogmatical consciousness and only differs from it in its direction and purpose. It is the moving force of Church history which is intended to actualize the complete expression of the dogmatic teaching at any given moment, in its canonical expression. It remains without change among the changing forms of Church life and is unique for all times, and inasmuch as the dogmatical teaching remains changeless and unique it becomes universal for all Churches since all Orthodox Churches confess a single dogmatical teaching. It alone has the only correct and true criterion not only for the solution of individual canonical problems but for an evaluation of canonical forms and for a judgment of the character of the canons themselves.

The Canonical Tradition.

The growth and development of a local custom that acquires the force of law is what gives to the Church's canonical tradition its great flexibility. Local laws or regulations are the means by which the Church's universal canonical tradition adapts itself to changing circumstances. Although this is true, it must not be supposed that any local custom automatically establishes itself as part of the Church's canonical tradition. For that, certain conditions must be met. In the first place, it must be the conviction of the ecclesiastical community concerning a certain act repeated in the same way for a long time. Therefore, two main conditions are necessary for the acceptance of the custom as law: it must have enjoyed a long and steady practice, and the consensus of opinion must be that it has the force of law. In order for custom to be accepted as a source of the Church's canonical tradition, it must be in full harmony with the holy tradition and scripture, as well as doctrine.

The question of whether they are subject to change or whether they remain absolutely changeless, is of particular practical significance. This problem is not new and repeatedly came to the fore by life itself. The Council in Trullo resolved this on the side of the immutability of canons. On the other hand, canonical creativity was a fact throughout its existence and even decrees of Imperial authority in effect repealed purely Ecclesiastical enactments. How little the Imperial authority felt constrained can be seen in the opinions of jurists in the days of Manuel Comnenus, that his royal decrees superseded not only the Code of Justinian but collections of canons as well. It is true that these views did not find official endorsement and were completely forgotten with the fall of Byzantium, but the decision of the Trullan Council found broad acceptance. It is not uncommon today to find, if not in literature then in various Church circles, the conviction that equates the canons, as to their obligation and immutability, with dogmatic formulations. It is not really necessary to point out that such a view can be derived not only from theological misunderstanding but from ignorance. To insist upon the absolute immutability of canons is tantamount to the admission that not only our generation but preceding ones, have been excluded from the Church. It is sufficient to point to the ninth Apostolic Canon, which decrees the excommunication all laymen (as well as the eighth for clerics) who "do not remain for prayer and the Eucharist to the end." If all canons are immutable then they all are, and remain, in force. It is not likely that this view is agreeable to those who defend it. Furthermore, such a teaching does not take into account that state of ecclesiastical legislation described above.

The theological misunderstanding consists in that this opinion does not take into account that the absolutely immutable character of dogmas is not conditioned upon by their being enacted by Councils and accepted by the Church, but because they are an expression of absolute truth. Their formulation by Councils and their acceptance by the Church are but the solemn witness of their truth. They express not what is temporary but what is eternal, but incidentally, just as do the canons, they have to do with the temporary forms of Church life, even though these forms can be considered unchangeable within the limits of empirical existence.

Canonical scholarship cannot accept this point of view about the canons. On the one hand, one can find both in the Orthodox but especially in the Catholic canonical literature, another view which defines as immutable only those canons which are based on Divine law. All those norms, which emanate from the clearly expressed Divine will contained in Scripture and in Tradition have an immutable and an absolute character, all other norms are related to the area of human law and thus can be subject to change. Of course, the believer cannot knowingly encroach upon the absolute character of Divine commandments but it appears that the distinction between jus divinum and jus humanum is far from certain. In practice most of the arguments are brought about by the question of the character of that or another decree, is it attributable to Divine or to human law. The norms affirmed in the Gospel are indisputable from this point of view, but with respect to norms found in the Epistles, one cannot always be categorical. The Apostle Paul in certain cases clearly indicates the source of his rules, and in other cases there are no such clear indications. It is with great difficulty that one discovers the teaching about the immutable character of norms, based on Divine law in those cases when some of those norms have been subject to change in the life of the Church. Even Christ's commandments, if they be given a canonical meaning, assume a temporary character, i.e. they are considered obligatory for certain epochs and not obligatory for others (e.g. those dealing with the dissolution of marriage and the grounds for it). The Church structure of the Corinthian community described by Apostle Paul has existed for a few decades. Neither was the so-called Apostolic decretal — the decision of the Jerusalem Apostolic council considered of long duration. There is no need to give any more such examples, since we have seen more than once how the absolutization of the temporary leads to the relativization of the eternal.

It is only through the correct canonical consciousness that a correct relationship to canons is to be found. Not a single one of Christ's commandments carries a character of a positive norm. They are all eternal, immutable, all relate to the area of dogmatical teaching about the Church, on marriage, on baptism, etc. Christ did not establish any canonical structure for his Church, nor did he give any canonical norms. "...Who made me a judge or divider over you?"(Lk 12:14) From the time of the Apostles the force which generates law was without exception found in the Church. The right to "bind and loose," potestas clavium [the power of the keys] included within itself the right to establish canonical norms. Thus there can be no talk of a division of canons between those based on Divine law and others based on human law. They all flow out of the right, given to Church authority, to promulgate directives which would regulate the order of the Church. Of greater importance is that what these directives, which the Church can and must give, do not determine the foundation of the Church's organization as we have seen, but are meant to expose a more complete and more accurate realization of these foundations in each given historical epoch. They are temporary, but not just in a sense that a part of them is called to existence by a complex of purely external reasons, but in that they all are a part of that which in the Church is temporary. As temporary directives, the canons are mutable, even in the case when they directly refer to one or another statement of the Apostles or even of Christ. Of course, these statements in themselves are absolute and immutable but they do not belong to canons but only show that Church authority, issuing decisions, considered it essential to refer to the dogmatical foundation of its directives. The fiftieth Apostolic Canon demands the deposition of a presbyter or bishop who performs the Sacrament of Baptism with one immersion since Christ Himself commanded: "Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The Church can change this, its own, canonical decree, increasing or decreasing the punishment for the guilty party, but this will not subject the words of Christ to a change, inasmuch as it does not belong to a canonical norm but belongs to the dogmatical teaching on the Sacrament of Baptism, of which this decree is an interpretation.

Pastoral Significance of Canon Law

The canons ought also to be understood as pastoral guidelines. As such, they should serve as models upon which subsequent ecclesiastical legislation is based whenever possible. The canons of the Fathers, in particular, reflect the pastoral nature of their contents. The Fathers who wrote them did not think that they were writing legislative texts. In most cases, they were either responding to the questions put to them by individuals seeking their counsel, or else expressing their views on matters of grave concern to the Church. Because of their pastoral sensitivity and the high esteem in which they were held, these Fathers greatly influenced both their contemporaries and succeeding generations. As a result, the directives contained in the canons of the Fathers prior to the Sixth Ecumenical Synod were recognized by the second canon of that synod as equal in authority to the synodal canons themselves. In fact, several of the canons of St. Basil, repeated among the canons of the same Sixth Ecumenical Synod were recognized by the second canon of that synod as equal in authority to the synodal canons themselves.

The Fathers whose canons appear in our canonical collections exerted no less an influence upon the development and formation of the canons of other synods. Consequently, the pastoral nature evident in the canons of the Fathers is also easily discernible in the canons of the synods. It is because of this characteristic that the canons have been referred to as "fruits of the Spirit," whose purpose is to assist mankind in its quest for salvation. Certainly such a lofty purpose can only be appreciated when the canons are understood as pastoral guidelines and not as legislative texts. Viewed simply as legislative texts, the canons differ little from laws to be upheld rigidly and absolutely. Recognized, however, as the pastoral guidelines which in fact they are, the canons serve the purpose for which they were intended with compassion and flexibility. It is this latter understanding of the canons which makes comprehensible the exercise of "economy" as practiced in the Orthodox Church today.

Canonical Discipline.

Since the realm of conscience has been mentioned, a final word remains regarding the character of canonical discipline. Following a penitent's admission of guilt in the sacrament of Penance, the spiritual father determines whether acts of penance (epitimia) should be prescribed. These acts of penance may include fasting, prostration, prayer, acts of charity, or minor excommunication (temporary exclusion from holy Communion) among others. Acts of penance must not be confused with punishment in the sense of retribution for evil committed. They must not have any element of vindictive punishment about them. On the contrary, the purpose of the Church's canonical discipline is both pastoral and pedagogical. It seeks both to correct and reform the repentant sinner and to protect the community from the resulting sin. Consequently, by depriving the sinner of holy communion for a time, it seeks to impress upon the individual the gravity of his sin. At the same time, if the sin is publicly known, it seeks to demonstrate that certain acts are, beyond any doubt, inadmissible for everyone.

The Concept of "Economy."

Unlike secular law, or Mosaic law, the purpose of the Church's law is the spiritual perfection of her members. Mere application of the letter of the law is replaced by a sense for the spirit of the law, and adherence to its principles. This purpose is the determining factor when authority is granted to apply the law when circumstances warrant according to each individual case. The spirit of love, understood as commitment to the spiritual perfection of the individual, must always prevail in the application of the law. The abolition of the letter of the law by the spirit of the law has led to the institution of "economy," exercised in nonessential matters. Through "economy," which is always an exception to the general rule, the legal consequences following the violation of a law are lifted.

"Economy" is granted by the competent ecclesiastical authority and has not so much the character of urgency as it does the character of compassion for human frailty. The character of compassion is justified by the Church's ardent desire to prevent any adverse effects from the strict observance of the law in exceptional circumstances. The premise upon which an exception is granted is the general welfare of all concerned. This premise exists in all systems of law but it finds its fullest expression in the Church's law. As the law of grace, it is characterized primarily by the spiritual attributes of compassion, pastoral sensitivity, and forgiveness.

"Economy" is not something to be applied at random or arbitrarily. It is governed by defined guidelines which must be strictly adhered to by the competent ecclesiastical authority granting it. First and foremost, exception from a law which has been endowed with universal recognition and validity is not possible. It is only from a law that has not been endowed with such authority that a person can be released, if this is deemed spiritually beneficial.

The right to exercise "economy" is the sole prerogative of the legislator (council or holy synod of bishops). This right can in turn be delegated to individual bishops by the corporate authority of the synod. This delegation must, however, be within the limits prescribed by the canons and according to the express authorization of one's superior legislative authority. (See, for example, canon 2 of Ancyra: "It is likewise decreed that deacons who have sacrificed to pagan idols and afterwards resumed the conflict shall enjoy their other honors, but shall abstain from every sacred ministry, neither bringing forth the bread and the cup, nor making proclamations. Nevertheless, if any of the bishops shall observe in them distress of mind and meek humiliation, it shall be lawful to the bishops to grant more indulgence, or to take away what has been granted.")

As evidenced by the phrase: "it shall be lawful to the bishops to grant more indulgence, or to take away what has been granted," "economy" may be both a more lenient or a more strict observance of the rule. Consequently, "economy" is any deviation from the norm. The exercise of "economy" ceases if its cause no longer exists or if the basis for its application rested upon false or pretended grounds. Once "economy" has been applied, the normative practice is restored as before. Furthermore, temporary departure from the normative practice through "economy" does not set precedent.

The institution of "economy" has been actively invoked throughout the history of the Orthodox Church. This is perhaps due in part to liberal trends of thought in the cultural milieu within which the Orthodox Church flourished. Although authority in the exercise of "economy," especially in matters of great importance, rests with the synod of bishops of each local church, this authority, as indicated, can be delegated to individual bishops as well. The Ecumenical Synod, as supreme administrative, legislative and judicial body in the Church, administers ultimate authority in the exercise of "economy." It alone can alter or overrule the decision of any subordinate ecclesiastical authority. In the realm of conscience, however, it is the spiritual father who has been entrusted with the authority to exercise "economy" according to his good judgment. The determining factor in its application, however, must always be the spiritual welfare of the penitent.


The 85 Apostolic Canons.

1. Let a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops.

(Canon 4 of 1st Council; Canon 3 of 7th Council). Bishops are the successors to the grace received by the apostles. In their spiritual authority, they are equals among themselves and, therefore, not ordained by any one bishop but rather by the entire bishopric community. Since the participation of all bishops within an ecclesiastical community may be difficult, the required number is reduced to a minimum of two or three.

After the resurrection of our Savior from the dead and His assumpsion into heaven, the Apostles, who had been sent forth by Him, as He Himself had been sent forth by the Father, into all the world, and had received all authority to bind and to loose and all the gracious gifts of the All-holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they not only possessed the name of apostle by virtue of the facts themselves, but indeed even the name of bishop, or overseer, as sacred Epiphanius bears witness (Her. 27): "First were Peter and Paul, these two Apostles and Bishops." Likewise did all the rest, as the Fathers affirm. For this reason it was that they ordained, or decreed, that city bishops be ordained by three bishops or two. But also those who were preaching in the country and city, as sacred Clement says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians: "They appointed their firstfruits, trying them with the Spirit, as bishops and deacons of those who were going to believe in the future." Hence, too, Ignatius the God-bearer, in writing to the faithful in Tralles (a Greek city in Asia Minor), commands: "Respect your Bishop, too, like Christ, in accordance with what the blissful Apostles enjoined." Thus much is all we have to say concerning the word bishop. As for the Greek word corresponding to the English word ordain in the sense of appoint a person to an office, cheirotonia, it is etymologically derived from the Greek verb teino, meaning to stretch (forth the hands, for example); and it has two significations. For the word cheirotonia is used to name the simple action of choosing and designating one to hold a dignity of any kind, which was performed by tlie people by stretching forth their hands, according to that saying of Demosthenes: "Whomsoever you ordain a general" (in his ftrst Philippic). And especially in accordance with the custom in vogue in the Church in olden days, when the multitudes would crowd together unhindered and ordain, or, more plainly speaking, designate the chief priests, or bishops, by stretching forth their hands, as Zonaras says, though afterwards the council held in Laodicea forbade this in its fifth Canon, wherein it said: "That ordinations, or, in other words, designations, as signified by votes, must not be performed in the presence of listeners." Today, however, the word ordination (cheiiotonia) signifies the sacrament involving prayers and an invocation of the Holy Spirit in the course of which a bishop lays his hand upon the head of the ordinee, in accordance with that Apostolic saying: "Lay not hands upon anyone too quickly" And this fact is familiar to all. So this Canon prescribes that every chief priest, or prelate (whether he be a metropolitan, that is to say, or an archbishop or merely a bishop) is to be ordained by two bishops or three. Apparently the figure of speech is that which is called in English "hysteron proteron," but in Greek prothysteron, meaning the placing of what would naturally come first in a later position, and vice versa. For it would have been simpler and more usual to say without the figure of speech: "A bishop must be ordained by three other bishops or (at least) two." Thus the Apostolical Injunctions (which some have inaccurately translated into English as "Apostolical Constitutions") promulgate the same Canon without any figure of speech by saying: "We command that a bishop be ordained by three (other) bishops, or at any rate by at least two."


2. Let a presbyter, deacon, and the rest of the clergy be ordained by one bishop.

(Canon 6 of the Council of Gangra; Canon 13 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 89 of St. Basil the Great). The ordination of a bishop is an act of the entire bishopric community. The ordination of a presbyter, deacon, or other clergy is entirely within the authority of an individual bishop and, therefore, the ordination is performed by him alone.

3. If any bishop or presbyter offers any things at the sacrificial altar other than that which the Lord ordained for the sacrifice, whether it be honey, or milk, or strong-made drink instead of wine, or birds, or any living things, or vegetables excepting new ears of wheat and bunches of grapes at the appropriate season, let him be deposed. Neither is it allowed to bring anything else to the altar at the time of the holy oblation, excepting oil for the lamps and incense.

(Canons 28, 57, and 99 of the 6th Council; Canon 46 of Council of Carthage). In early Christianity, believers brought various offerings to church. Some, especially converts from Judaism, brought offerings based on customs of their Old Testament church, including wild and domestic produce. A portion of the offerings were set aside as salary for the clergy and a portion were brought to the altar. The Canon clarifies that nothing is to be brought to the altar outside of things prescribed for service in the New Testament Church: bread (wheat), wine, incense, and oil for the lamps. In accordance with the next 4th Canon of the Holy Apostles, any other offerings of produce do not go to the altar but are divided among the clergy.

4. Let all other fruits be sent home as first fruits for the bishops and presbyters, but not offered at the altar. The bishops and presbyters should, of course, give a share of these things to the deacons and the rest of the clergy.

(Canon 3 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 7 and 8 of the Council of Gangra; Canon 8 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria). The Canon applies to first fruits brought as salary for the bishops and clergy. These offerings were collected by the deacons and given over to the Bishop who divided them among members of the clergy.

5. Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon put away his wife under pretense of religion. But, if he put her away, let him be excommunicated. If he persists, let him be deposed.

(Canon 51 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 4, 12, and 13 of the 6th Council; Canon 1 of St. Athanasius the Great). Banishment of a wife is forbidden for the clergy as this would appear to be condemnation of matrimony. However, abstaining from matrimony by bishops is an ancient tradition, deviation from which was noted and forbidden by the Canon 12 of the 6th Council.

The Orthodox Church has always recognized lawful marriage for members of the clergy. Marriage of the clergy was spoken of as a common occurrence since earliest Christian times. It is known that some of the apostles had wives. Only selection of bishops, since the 6th Council, is limited to the unmarried. The Canon requires punishment of those members of the clergy who, under the guise of religious reverence, divorce their wives. The first punishment for this offense is suspension, for a specified period of time, from the ranks of the clergy. If this punishment fails and the guilty member of the clergy remains divorced from his wife, the Canon then requires the more stern punishment of being deposed from the clergy.

The significance of being suspended from the clergy warrants explanation. Each bishop and presbyter serves not on the basis of inseparable individual power, but on behalf of the whole Church through which grace flows to the believers through the hierarchy. A presbyter receives this grace from the Church through his bishop and he cannot accomplish anything without the bishop's blessing. Suspension from clerical activity interrupts this flow of grace through the cleric much like the flow of electricity is interrupted by a broken wire. The effect [flow] of grace restarts only after removal of the suspension in due order.

A suspended cleric does not have the right to perform any action reserved for the clergy, including blessing the faithful. If, while on suspension, he communes the Holy Mysteries, he receives them not in his vestments and with the rest of the laity outside the altar. Being deposed from the clergy lowers the cleric to laity status and forever precludes him serving as a member of the clergy again.

6. Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon undertake worldly business. Otherwise, let him be deposed.

(Canons 81 and 83 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 3 and 7 of the 4th Council; Canon 10 of the 7th Council; Canon 11 of the 1st and 2nd). Being a member of the clergy is the highest order of service and requires of a person the focus of all his mental, spiritual, and physical strength. Therefore, this Canon forbids that a member of the clergy be distracted from his service by other concerns. The meaning of this Canon is more precisely defined by Canon 81 of the Holy Apostles which forbids a bishop or presbyter from involving himself in political and secular affairs and businesses but, instead, that he not relinquish himself from the affairs of the Church. For, according to Christ, no one can serve two masters.

7. If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon shall celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed.

(Canon 70 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 11 of the 6th Council; Canon 1 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 37 of the Council of Laodicea). The time for celebrating Easter was set by the 1st Ecumenical Council. This Canon identifies the astronomical point (the vernal equinox) for determining the celebration of Easter (after the vernal equinox). Moreover, the Canon forbids the celebration of Easter coincident with the celebration of Passover by the Jews, for the celebration by Christians must be separated and in no way joined with those who are alien to Christ. This Canon is not observed in the West where the celebration of Easter is based on the new (Gregorian) calendar and where Easter sometimes coincides with the Jewish celebration.

8. If any bishop, presbyter, deacon, or anyone else on the sacerdotal list does not partake of Holy Communion when the offering is made, let him declare the cause and, if it be a reasonable one, let him be excused. But if he does not declare it, let him be excommunicated as being a cause of offense to the people and occasioning a suspicion against the offerer as if he had not made the offering properly.

If in the early times of Christianity it was the custom for all present at the Liturgy to receive communion, then this particularly applied to members of the clergy who, today, must receive communion as often as possible. St. Basic the Great wrote: "It is good and very beneficial to receive the Body and Blood of Christ on a daily basis; we receive communion four time a week: on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday." This Canon also has in mind that joint participation in divine services and communion is witness to spiritual union. Any refusal from such communion, having with it a demonstrative nature, is an act of condemnation of the clergy participating in the divine service, for it causes the people to suspect that the offerer of the Gifts committed an error in the Liturgy. This Canon, therefore, warns the clergy not to commit acts which may appear to the people as condemnation of other members of the clergy and cause the same ill-will among the clergy.

9. All the faithful who come to Church and hear the Scriptures, but do not stay for the prayers and the Holy Communion, are to be excommunicated as causing disorder in the Church.

(Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch).

10. If any one shall pray, even in a private house, with an excommunicated person, let him also be excommunicated.

Bishop John of Smolensk in his explanation of this Canon points out that, "Excommunication from the Church, both on the basis of its rules and ancient customs, had three levels of severity: 1) denial of the Holy Mysteries without denial of Church prayers and spiritual communion with the faithful (Canon 11 of the 1st Council; Canons 5, 6, and 8 of the Council of Ancyra); 2) denial of the Holy Mysteries, Church prayers, and spiritual communion with the faithful (Canons 12 and 14 of the 1st Council; Canons 4 and 9 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 8, 9, and 10 of St. Gregory of Neocesaria); and, 3) complete excommunication or casting out from the Christian community and denial of all outward as well as spiritual contact (Canon 4 of St. Peter of Alexandria; Canons 84 and 85 of St. Basil the Great).

Excommunication from contact with the Church is testimony that a person, by his disobedience to the Church, separated from the Church. This excommunication applies not only to Church prayers but to overall spiritual-prayerful life. Combining prayer with excommunication would be a demonstration of disregard towards the decision of Church authority and to the words of Christ: "And if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:17). (Canons 11, 12, 45, and 46 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch).

11. If any clergyman shall join in prayer with a deposed clergyman as if he were still a clergyman, let him also be deposed.

It is not allowed to even have private prayer together with someone who has been excommunicated from the Church. For the same reasons as discussed in the previous Canon, no member of the clergy can participate in any Church service with someone that has been deposed from the clergy or in under suspension as a member of the clergy. (Canon 28 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 4 of the Council of Antioch).

12. If any one of the clergy or laity who has been excommunicated or who is not worthy of being received into the clergy, shall go away and be received in another city without commendatory letters, let both the receiver and the received be excommunicated.

The Canon forbids receiving a member of the clergy who has been excommunicated or suspended, or in ordaining a member of the laity, without certification from where he came that he has not been excommunicated and is a member of the Church with full rights. This protects the internal order of the Church and the faithful are protected from having to accept clerical service from those who do not have the right to perform devine services. Church life abroad has suffered from violations of this Canon by bishops and clergymen who separated from their church and sought shelter within other "jurisdictions." As is seen in this Canon, receiving a suspended or excommunicated cleric into another church does not help the cleric. Both he and the cleric unlawfully receiving him are subject to excommunication. The same is true concerning the ordination of someone who, for whatever reason, has been found unworthy of ordination by his own bishop. (Canons 11, 13, 32, and 33 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 13 of the 4th Council; Canons 6, 7, and 8 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 41 and 42 of the Council of Laodicea).

13. But if he be excommunicated already, let the time of his excommunication be lengthened.

This is a continuation of Canon 12 of the Holy Apostles which spoke of excommunication in general and of those in the laity who seek ordination in another diocese while being found unworthy of ordination by their own bishop. Canon 13 has in mind ordination of a clergyman who, after excommunication by his own bishop, seeks admission to the clergy in another diocese. Bishop Nicodemus accepts this Canon as applying to those who are only under temporary suspension (Canons 5 and 59 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 20 of the 4th Council). Such a suspension can only be removed by the bishop who imposed it (Canons 16 and 32 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 5 of the 1st Council; Canon 13 of the Council of Sardica). (Canons 12 and 33 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 17 of the 6th Council).

14. A bishop is not to be allowed to leave his own parish and pass over into another, although he may be pressed by many to do so, unless there be some proper cause to do so on the ground that he can confer some greater benefit upon the persons of that place in the word of godliness. And then, this must not be done of his own accord, but by the judgment of many bishops and at their earnest exhortation.

In principle, a bishop is selected to his see (or cathedra) for life. However, it is possible to be transferred by decision of a Sobor when this is for the benefit of the Church. A move to another cathedra is not permitted and is punishable under canonical penances when such a move is contemplated by a bishop on his own accord and not based on benefit to the Church. (Canon 15 of the 1st Council; Canon 5 of the 4th Council; Canons 13, 16, and 21 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 1, 2, and 17 of the Council of Sardica; Canon 59 of the Council of Carthage).

15. If any presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the list of the clergy shall leave his own parish and go into another, and having entirely forsaken his own shall make his abode in the other parish without the permission of his own bishop, we ordain that he shall no longer perform divine service; more especially if his own bishop having exhorted him to return he has refused to do so and persists in his disorderly conduct. But let him commune there as a layman.

(Canons 15 and 16 of the 1st Council; Canons 5, 10, 20, and 23 of the 4th Council; Canons 17 and 18 of the 6th Council; Canon 3 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 15 and 16 of the Council of Sardica; Canons 65 and 101 of the Council of Carthage).

16. If, however, the bishop with whom any such persons are staying, shall disregard the command that they are to cease from performing divine offices and shall receive them as clergymen, let him be excommunicated as a teacher of disorder.

The explanation to Canon 12 of the Holy Apostles is further refined in Canons 15 and 16. This Canon applies to those members of the clergy who relocate into a different diocese without canonical release and disregarding the appeal of their own bishop to return. In accordance with Canon 16, a bishop not accepting the suspension caused by their unlawful relocation and accepting them as members of the clergy must be excommunicated as a teacher of disorder. (Canon 15 of the 1st Council; Canon 17 of the 6th Council; Canon 3 of the Council of Antioch).

17. He who has been twice married after baptism, or who has had a concubine, cannot become a bishop, or a presbyter, or a deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.

Holy Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, clearly establish that divine duties may only be performed by those who have not been married more than once (Leviticus 21:7, 21:13; 1 Timothy 3;2-13; Titus 1:5-6). This requirement comes forth from a high level of understanding of the virtue of abstention, as standing above marriage; and from another perspective of second marriage as a sign of moral weakness. This Canon was always observed in both the Eastern Church and the Western Church. It has applied to all on the sacerdotal list, beginning with readers and subdeacons.

The Canon states "after baptism." This means the requirement applies to those who are already Christian. Zonaras explains: "We believe that the Godly vessel of Holy Baptism makes possible, and no sin committed by anyone prior to baptism can make impossible, for a newly baptized person to be eligible as a member of the clergy. In addition, we need to keep in mind that if someone was baptized having a wife, and keeps that wife after baptism, that that is the first marriage.

The Canon reminds us also that having had a concubine is an obstacle to becoming a member of the clergy. This means that a person cannot become a member of the clergy if he has been in an unlawful cohabitation with a woman (outside of wedlock or equally, in a so-called civil marriage). The next Canon 18 adds further guidance to the above restriction by requiring the spouse of a candidate for the clergy to be of purity as well. (Canon 18 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 3 of the 6th Council; Canon 12 of St. Basil the Great; Leviticus 21:7, 21:13; 1 Timothy 3:2-13; Titus 1:5-6).

18. He who married a widow, or a divorced woman, or a harlot, or a servant-maid, or an actress, cannot become a bishop, or a presbyter, or a deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.

(Canons 3 and 26 of the 6th Council; Canon 8 of Council of Neocesaria; Canon 27 of St. Basil the Great). (Leviticus 21:14; 1 Corinthians 6:16). The family life of a presbyter needs the serve as an example for his flock (1 Timothy 3:2-8; Titus 1:6-9).

19. He who has married two sisters or a niece cannot become a clergyman.

(Canons 26 and 54 of the 6th Council; Canon 2 of the Council of Neocesaria; Canons 23, 77, and 87 of St. Basil the Great; Canon 5 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria). This Apostolic Canon applies to those who entered into such a marriage before Baptism and remained in such an unlawful cohabitation for a time after Baptism. But those who did not remain in such an unlawful cohabitation after Baptism, may be accepted into the clergy in accordance with Canon 5 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria since Holy Baptism cleanses away the sins committed during pagan life. (Leviticus 18:7-14; 20:11-21; Matthew 14:4).

20. If a clergyman becomes surety for anyone, let him be deposed.

This Canon applies to surety given by a cleric for materialistic dealings. Canon 30 of the 4th Council allows surety for defense of clerics who may have been wrongfully accused as a rightful and philanthropic act. This is why Balsamon clarifies in his explanation of this Canon that it does not forbid a cleric from giving surety, and a cleric will not be punished for doing so, provided it is to help a less fortunate person or for some other pious motive. (Canons 3 and 30 of the 4th Council).

21. A eunuch, if he was made so by the violence of men, or was deprived of his virile parts under persecution, or if he was born so, if in other respects he is worthy, he may be made a bishop.

(Canons 22, 23, and 24 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 1 of the 1st Council; Canon 8 of Council of the 1st and 2nd. Those parallel Canons apply to the next three Canons as well).

22. He who has mutilated himself cannot become a clergyman, for he is a self-murderer and an enemy to the workmanship of God.

23. If any man being a clergyman shall mutilate himself, let him be deposed, for he is a self-murderer.

24. If a layman shall mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, for he is practicing against his own life.

25. If a bishop, presbyter, or deacon be found guilty of fornication, perjury, or theft, let him be deposed, but let him not be excommunicated; for the Scripture says, "thou shall not punish a man twice for the same offense" (Nahum 1:9). In like manner the other clergy shall be subject to the same proceeding.

By the decision of St. Gregory of Nyssa (Canon 4), fornication includes the satisfaction of any lewd or lustful desire with someone, but without insulting that someone. However, in this case, it applies to any lewd or lustful act with someone without exception. (Canon 4 of the 6th Council; Canons 1, 9, and 10 of the Council of Neocesaria; Canons 3, 32, 51, and 70 of St. Basil the Great).

26. Of those who have been admitted to the clergy unmarried, we ordain that the readers and singers only may marry, if they wish.

(Canons 3, 6, and 13 of the 6th Council; Canon 10 of the Council of Ancyra; Canon 20 of the Council of Carthage).

27. If a bishop, presbyter, or deacon shall strike any of the faithful who have sinned or any of the unbelievers who have done wrong, with the intention of frightening them, we command that he be deposed. For our Lord has by no means taught us to do so, but, on the contrary, when he was smitten he smote not again, when he was reviled he reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not (1 Peter 2:23).

This Canon is based on the direction of Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). (Canon 9 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd).

28. If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, having been justly deposed upon open accusations, shall dare to meddle with any of the divine offices which had been entrusted to him, let him be altogether cut off from the Church.

(Canons 4 and 15 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 38 and 76 of the Council of Carthage).

29. If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon shall obtain possession of that dignity by money, let both him and the person who ordained him be deposed, and also altogether cut off from all communion, as Simon Magus was by me Peter (1 Peter 2:23).

Priesthood is a gift from God. Circumventing established order and accepting priesthood in return for money demonstrates that the person sought priesthood not for the service of God, but for his own selfish ends just as did Simon Magus (Acts of the Apostles 8:18-24). From this, every similar act has been named "simony." Such an act is a heavy sin for both the one seeking priesthood and the one granting it not for the good of the Church but for his own selfish interest. It is a very heavy sin against the very essence of priesthood which was established by God as a sacrificial service. This is why it carries a penalty for both the one who unlawfully received ordination and the one who performed it for a bribe. The weight of this sin is punctuated by a more severe penalty than normal: being deposed and being completely excommunicated. However, the penalty for the one receiving ordination with the help of simony is really just compete excommunication as the ordination is not recognized as lawful since the grace of God cannot be transferred through a sin. (Canon 2 of the 4th Council; Canons 22 and 23 of the 6th Council; Canons 4, 5, and 19 of the 7th Council; Canon 90 of St. Basil the Great; Canonical Epistle of St. Gennadius; Canonical Epistle of St. Tarasius).

30. If any bishop obtain possession of a church by the aid of the temporal powers, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all who communicate with him as well.

This Canon prescribes the same penalty as in Canon 29 for those who gain authority as a bishop through the aid of worldly authorities. In explaining this Canon, Bishop Nicodemus writes: "If the Church condemned the unlawful influence of worldly authority in those times when the rulers were Christian, then it must especially have condemned that influence when the rulers were pagan". There was even greater reason for condemning such acts in the former Soviet Union where selection of the patriarch and bishops was accomplished under pressure from the anti-religious, atheistic authority. (Canon 3 of the 7th Council).

31. If any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a separate congregation and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition as he is a tyrant. In like manner, let the rest of the clergy be deposed that join him and let the laymen be excommunicated. Let this, however, be done after a first, second, and third admonition from the bishop.

Every uprising against lawful authority is a display of lust for power. Voluntary severance of a presbyter from the authority of his bishop is therefore determined by this Canon to be a usurpation of authority. Both the presbyter and the laity who follow him are committing a heavy sin, completely disregarding the order established by God and forgetting that participation and grace-filled life in the Church is accomplished through the bishop. Having separated from the bishop, they are separating themselves from the Church. It follows that the natural consequence of such an act is for the cleric to be deposed and for his followers to be excommunicated. (Canon 6 of the 2nd Council; Canon 31 of the 6th Council; Canon 6 of the Council of Gangra; Canon 5 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 10 and 11 of the Council of Carthage; Canons 12, 13, and 14 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd).

32. If any presbyter or deacon has been excommunicated by a bishop, he may not be received into communion again by any other than by the bishop who excommunicated him, unless it happens that the bishop who excommunicated him should decease.

This Canon applies to presbyters or deacons who are excommunicated for a set period of time from performing divine services for some transgression. No one other than the bishop who applied the excommunication may remove this penalty. However, since this penalty is applied by a bishop within the office of his diocese, it may be removed by his successor within the same diocese should the bishop pass away prior to the expiration of the penalty, but not by any other bishop. (Canon 5 of the 1st Council).

33. No foreign bishop, presbyter, or deacon may be received without commendatory letters and, when they are produced, let the persons still be examined. And if they are preachers of godliness, let them be received. Otherwise, after supplying them with what they need, let them not be received into communion, for many things are done surreptitiously.

(Canons 12 and 13 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 11 and 13 of the 4th Council; Canons 7 and 8 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 41 and 42 of the Council of Laodicea; Canons 32 and 119 of the Council of Carthage).

34. The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account to him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent. But each may do those things only which concerns his own parish and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him, who is the first, do anything without the consent of all, for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.

This Canon is foundational for the regional organization of Churches and the governing of them by the first among the bishops, i.e., the metropolitan, without whose consent the bishops of each diocese should not commit any action outside their normal see. On the other hand, the first among them is also not self-governing and should consult the sobor of all bishops within his region for a decision on all the most important matters. (Canons 4, 5, and 6 of the 1st Council; Canon 2 of the 2nd Council; Canon 8 of the 3rd Council; Canon 28 of the 4th Council; Canon 9 of the Council of Antioch).

Just as, when the head is unwell and fails to function properly, the other members of the body also are ill disposed or even utterly useless, so and in like manner it may be said that the one acting as head in the Church does not honor her fitly, all the rest of the body of the Church will be out of order and unable to function. It is for this reason that the present Canon ordains that all bishops of every province ought to know who is the chief among them, i.e., the metropolitan; and ought to regard him as their head, and not to do anything unnecessary without consulting him, as respecting, that is to say, anything that does not pertain to the parishes of their bishoprics, but, extending beyond these limits, have to do with the common condition of the whole province, as, for instance, do questions concerning the dogmas, matters involving adjustments and corrections of common mistakes, the installation and ordination of prelates, and other similar things. Instead, they are to meet with the metropolitan and confer with him in regard to such common matters, and decide in common on what appears to them the best thing to be done. Each of the bishops should do by himself, without consulting his metropolitan, only those things that are confined to the limits and boundaries of his bishopric and to the territories that are subject thereto. But just as bishops should do nothing of common interest without consulting the metropolitan, so and in like manner a metropolitan ought not to do anything of such common interest alone and by himself without consulting all his bishops. For in this wray there will be concord and love, both between bishops and metropolitans and between clergymen and laymen. The outcome of this concord and love will be that God the Father will be glorified through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who acquainted men with the name of His Father and laid down the law requiring love, when He said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another" (John 13:35). And He will be glorified in His Holy Spirit, which through Its grace has united us in one spiritual association. That is the same as saying that as a result of this concord the Holy Trinity — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — will be glorified, in accordance with the voice of the Gospel which says: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

Almost identically the same things are seen to be ordained also in c. 9 of Antioch. That is why c. 6 of the First Ecumenical Council commands that the ancient customs are to hold, those, that is to say, which had been prevalent in accordance with this Ap. c.; so that the patriarch of Alexandria had control of affairs in Egypt and Libya and Pentapolis, since such was also the custom in connection with the patriarch of Rome too. Likewise the patriarch of Antioch had control of his own provinces; and, in general, the same privileges were preserved to every Church and Metropolis, so that every metropolitan should have control over the provinces subject to him. Canon 7 of the same Council ordains that the patriarch of Aelia, i.e., of Jerusalem, is to have the observance of the ancient honor and the dignity of his own Metropolis, Canon 3 of the 2nd commands that the patriarch of Constantinople is to have the highest honor. Canon 8 of the 3rd, too, demands that the rights belonging to each province be free from constraint and impurity again even as in the beginning, according to the old custom, and especially as respects those of Cyprus. In addition, c. 39 of the 6th confirms the same c. 8 of the 3rd.


35. Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits, in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so, without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.

(Canon 15 of the 1st Council; Canon 2 of the 2nd Council; Canon 8 of the 3rd Council; Canon 5 of the 4th Council; Canon 17 of the 6th Council; Canon 13 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 13 and 22 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 3 and 15 of the Council of Sardica; Canons 59 and 65 of the Council of Carthage).

36. If any person, having been ordained bishop, does not undertake the ministry and the care of the people committed to him, let him be excommunicated until he does undertake it. In like manner treat such a presbyter or deacon. But if he has gone and has not been received, not of his own will but from the perverseness of the people, let him continue as bishop and let the clergy of the city be excommunicated because they have not corrected the disobedient people.

This Canon points out the duty that bishops, presbyters, and deacons have to accept the appointments given them by the Church. Together with this, it defines the responsibility that presbyters have for the mood of the flock. If the flock does not receive its appointed bishop, it is lacking in a Christian attitude, for which this Canon assigns accountability to the shepherds for "not teaching such a rebellious people." (Canon 16 of the 1st Council; Canon 37 of the 6th Council; Canon 18 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 17 and 18 of the Council of Antioch).

37. Let there be a meeting of the bishops twice a year, and let them examine amongst themselves the decrees concerning religion and settle the ecclesiastical controversies, which may have arisen. One meeting is to be held in the fourth week of Pentecost [the fourth week after Easter] and the other on the 12th day of October.

Later, councils of the bishops were scheduled at other times for various reasons (Canon 5 of the 1st Council; Canon 8 of the 6th Council). Canon 37 of the Holy Apostles, Canon 5 of the 1st Council, Canon 2 of the 2nd Council, and Canon 19 of the 4th Council direct that the councils be held twice a year. However, Canon 8 of the 6th Council points out that invasions by barbarians and various other obstacles may make this impractical. In accordance with Canon 8 of the 6th Council, a less frequent call for the Councils may be justified. In the subsequent experience of the Church, a practice evolved to hold smaller local Councils when even an annual general Council was not possible. Such smaller Councils were empowered by the general Councils to periodically gather the local bishops of a region to decide issues which were beyond the scope of a single diocese. In Russian terminology, such smaller councils were called Synods. In Greek terminology, the term Synod applies to the permanent collective body of all ruling bishops as well as the Council of bishops of a given region. (Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 5 of the 1st Council; Canon 2 of the 2nd Council; Canon 19 of the 4th Council; Canon 8 of the 6th Council; Canon 6 of the 7th Council; Canon 20 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 40 of the Council of Laodecia; Canons 25 and 84 of the Council of Carthage).

38. Let the bishop have the care of all the goods of the Church, and let him administer them as under the inspection of God. But he must not alienate any of them or give the things that belong to God to his own relations. If they be poor, let him relieve them as poor, but let him not sell the goods of the Church under that pretence.

This Canon establishes the important principle, supported by many other Canons, that all Church property within a diocese is under the control of the bishop. The form of control may and has varied over time, but the underlying principle has remained unchanged that the responsibility for all Church property and the decisions with respect to its disposition lies with the bishop, not with the laity. This property is created through the donations of the laity. Because of this, the laity often feels as though it has both responsibility and ownership over such property. However, everything donated to the Church is referred to as "belonging to God" by this Canon and, therefore, it must be under the authority of the bishop. Together with this, however, there is a series of Canons aimed at protecting the Church from possible abuse by the bishops. (Canon 41 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 26 of the 4th Council; Canon 35 of the 6th Council; Canons 11 and 12 of the 7th Council; Canon 15 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 7 and 8 of the Council of Gangra; Canons 24 and 25 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 35 and 42 of the Council of Carthage; Canon 7 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd; Canon 10 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria; Canon 2 of St. Cyril of Alexandria).

39. Let not the presbyters or deacons do anything without the sanction of the bishop, for it is he who is entrusted with the people of the Lord, and of whom will be required the account of their souls.

As a result of this Canon being between two Canons which address the control of Church property, Balsamon and, later, Bishop Nicodemus, feel this Canon applies to material matters and not to spiritual ones. If this is so then, independent of this, the Canon establishes the general subordination of clerics to their bishop who carries accountability before God for the souls of their flock. (Canons 38, 40, and 41 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 12 of the 7th Council; Canon 57 of the Council of Laodicea; Canons 6, 7, and 42 of the Council of Carthage).

40. Let the private goods of the bishop, if he have any, and those of the Lord be clearly distinguished, that the bishop may have the power of leaving his own goods, when he dies, to whom he will and how he will, and that the bishop's own property may not be lost under pretence of it being the property of the Church. For it may be that he has a wife, or children, or relations, or servants, and it is just before God and man that neither should the Church suffer any loss through ignorance of the bishop's own property, nor the bishop or his relations be injured under pretext of the Church, nor that those who belong to him should be involved in contests and cast reproaches upon his death.

(Canons 38 and 41 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 22 of the 4th Council; Canon 35 of the 6th Council; Canon 24 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 31, 35, and 92 of the Council of Carthage).

41. We ordain that the bishop have authority over the goods of the Church, for if he is to be entrusted with the precious souls of men, much more are temporal possessions to be entrusted to him. He is therefore to administer them all of his own authority, and supply those who need, through the presbyters and deacons, in the fear of God, and with all reverence. He may also, if need be, take what is required for his own necessary wants, and for the brethren to whom he has to show hospitality, so that he may not be in any want. For the law of God has ordained, that they who wait at the altar should be maintained at the altar’s expense. Neither does any soldier bear arms against an enemy at his own cost.

(Canons 38 and 39 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 26 of the 4th Council; Canon 12 of the 7th Council; Canons 24 and 25 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 10 and 11 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria; Canon 2 of St. Cyril of Alexandria).

42. If a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon is addicted to dice or drinking, let him either give it over or be deposed.

(Canon 43 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 9 and 50 of the 6th Council; Canon 22 of the 7th Council; Canons 24 and 55 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 49 of the Council of Carthage).

43. If a subdeacon, or reader, or singer commits the same things, let him either give it over or be excommunicated. So also laymen.

(Canon 43 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 9 and 50 of the 6th Council; Canon 22 of the 7th Council; Canons 24 and 55 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 49 of the Council of Carthage).

44. Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who takes usury from those who borrow of him, give up doing so or be deposed.

The Old Testament points out that one of the characteristics of a righteous person is that he "does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent" (Psalms 14:5). Usury in all of its forms is forbidden within the Five Books of Moses (Genesis 14:5; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19). Our Savior teaches unselfish lending (Matthew 5:42; Luke 6:34-35). If usury is recognized as a heavy sin for all and within Canon 17 of the 1st Council it is called "covetousness and lust of gain," then naturally, it is particularly judged strictly when performed by a member of the clergy. Canon 44 of the Holy Apostles and Canon 17 of the 1st Council subject one who is guilty to being deposed from the clergy. (Canon 10 of the 4th Council; Canon 4 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 5 of the Council of Carthage; Canon 6 of St. Gregory of Nyssa; Canon 14 of St. Basil the Great).

45. Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who has only prayed with heretics be excommunicated, but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed.

St. Basil the Great in his 1st Canon states that in the early days of the Church, heretics were called those who had completely separated and had even become alienated from the faith. A heresy, in his judgment, is an obvious difference in the very faith in God. Canon 10 of the Holy Apostles forbids joint prayer with those who have been excommunicated from the Church as a result of some heavy sin. Even more so, a person is separated from the Church for not accepting its dogmatic teaching and for contradicting it. Therefore, a bishop or cleric who joins in prayer with a heretic is subject to excommunication, that is, being forbidden to perform clerical duties. Even greater penalty of being deposed, that is, loss of clerical office, is applied to a bishop or clergy who allows a heretic to perform clerical duties or, in other words, who accepts the actions of a heretic clergy as having the force of an Orthodox Mystery. Modern-day examples of violating this Canon would be allowing the marriage of a parishioner by a Catholic or Protestant minister or allowing communion to be received from a non-Orthodox minister. This is further clarified within Canon 46 of the Holy Apostles. (Canons 10, 11, and 46 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 2 and 4 of the 3rd Council; Canons 6, 9, 32, 33, 34, and 37 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 9 of St. Timothy of Alexandria).

46. We ordain that a bishop or presbyter who has admitted the baptism or sacrifice of heretics be deposed. For what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath a believer with an infidel?

This Apostolic Canon refers to heretics during Apostolic times who opposed the primary dogma of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of the incarnation of the Son of God. Other types of heretics are covered within other Canons such as: Canon 19 of the 1st Council; Canons 7 and 8 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 95 of the 6th Council; and, Canon 47 of St. Basil the Great.

This Canon also applies to modern-day ecumenists who accept baptism from all heretics, even from extreme protestants. Such teaching has now also found its way into Catholic ecumenism. Bishop Nicodemus Milash, in his explanation of this Canon, writes: "By the teaching of the Church, every heretic is outside the Church, and outside the Church there cannot be true Christian baptism, true Eucharistic sacrifice, or any true Holy Mysteries. This Apostolic Canon expresses this teaching and calls to witness the Holy Scriptures."

In the same vein, Bishop John Smolensky comments on this Canon and considers the convervsion and acceptance into the Church of different types of heretics. He writes that, in general, the Apostolic Canons point out one important basis for casting out heretical priesthood: that, within a heresy there is no and cannot be a true priesthood, but there is only false-priesthood (psevdoloreis). This is so because with the excommunication of a different-believing cleric, also comes a severing of the one and true Apostolic succession of priestly hierarchy and the succession of the grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit that come with the mystery of priesthood. It follows that heretical priests, themselves not having grace, cannot bestow grace upon others and, themselves not having lawful right for priesthood, cannot make true and saving any priestly acts which they perform (Canon 1 of St. Basil the Great and Canon 32 of the Council of Laodicea). Based on this principle, Church accepts heretics who convert from their errors through appropriate actions needed for their salvation as discussed within other Canons.

(Canons 47 and 68 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 7 of the 2nd Council, Canon 95 of the 6th Council; Canons 7 and 8 of the Council of Laodicea; Canons 1 and 47 of St. Basil the Great).

47. Let a bishop or presbyter who shall baptize again one who has rightly received baptism, or who shall not baptize one who has been polluted by the ungodly, be deposed as despising the cross and death of the Lord and not making a distinction between the true priests and the false.

No one can become a member of the Church without a true baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity. Canon 47 of the Holy Apostles points out that bishops and presbyters need to be attentive in this regard. Baptism must be performed in a prescribed manner (Canons 49 and 50 of the Holy Apostles). Yet, an orthodox baptism must not be performed a second time. Inattentiveness to these requirements is a heavy sin and subjects one to a serious penalty "as one despising the cross and death of the Lord and not making a distinction between the true priests and the false." (Canons 46, 49, and 50 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 84 of the 6th Council; Canon 32 of the Council of Laodicea; Canons 59 and 83 of the Council of Carthage; Canons 1 and 47 of St. Basil the Great).

48. If any layman put away his wife and marry another, or marry one who has been divorced by another man, let him be excommunicated.

49. If any bishop or presbyter, contrary to the ordinance of the Lord, does not baptize into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but into three unoriginated beings, or three sons, or three comforters, let him be deposed.

This and the following canons are important in directing how the mystery of baptism is to be performed. The severity of punishment, should this Canon not be followed, results from the damage to the person resulting from an incorrect and unlawful baptism. (Canons 46, 47, 50, and 68 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 7 of the 2nd Council; Canon 95 of the 6th Council; Canon 59 of the Council of Carthage; Canons 1 and 91 of St. Basil the Great).

50. If any bishop or presbyter does not perform the one initiation with three immersions, but with giving one immersion only into the death of the Lord, let him be deposed. For the Lord said not, Baptize into my death, but, "Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

The same references apply as for Canon 49.

51. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or any one of the sacerdotal list abstains from marriage, or flesh, or wine, not by way of religious restraint, but as abhorring them, forgetting that God made all things very good, and that he made man male and female, and blaspheming the work of creation, let him be corrected, or else be deposed and cast out of the Church. In like manner treat a layman.

The Church has always supported abstinence and prescribes it during days of fasting. This Canon, on the other hand, is aimed at early heretics who had a disdain to marriage or certain foods as being somehow unclean. (Canon 53 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 13 of the 6th Council; Canon 14 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 1, 2, 4, 14, and 21 of the Council of Gangra).

52. If any bishop or presbyter does not receive him who turns away from his sin, but rejects him, let him be deposed for he grieves Christ who said, "There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth."

(Canon 8 of the 1st Council; Canons 43 and 102 of the 6th Council; Canon 74 of St. Basil the Great).

53. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon does not on festival days partake of flesh and wine from an abhorrence of them and not out of religious restraint, let him be deposed as being seared in his own conscience and being the cause of offense to many.

(Canon 51 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 14 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 2 and 21 of the Council of Gangra).

54. If any of the clergy be found eating in a tavern, let him be excommunicated, unless he has been constrained by necessity, on a journey, to lodge in an inn.

This Canon makes a distinction between a tavern and an inn. A tavern, in the expression of Bishop Nicodemus, is "implied to be an inn of the lowest type where wine is the main commodity and where drunkeness occur and all obscenities are allowed." An inn, in his words, is "within the speech of the fathers and teachers of the Church as a decent place." In comparing to current understanding, a "tavern" may include bars and night clubs while an "inn" may include hotels, motels, and decent restaurants. (Canon 9 of the 6th Council; Canon 22 of the 7th Council; Canon 24 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 49 of the Council of Carthage).

55. If any of the clergy insult the bishop, let him be deposed, for "thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people" (Acts 23:5).

"A Bishop, as a successor to the Apostles, through the laying on of hands and the calling upon the Holy Spirit, received authority from God through succession to bind and to resolve, is the living image of God on earth and, through the power of the Holy Spirit in priestly actions, is the abundant source of all the mysteries of the Universal Church through which salvation is obtained" (definition by the Council of Jerusalem in 1672, repeated in the 10th Article of the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1723). Zonarius, in his explanation of the 13 Canons of the Council of the 1st and 2nd, states that a Bishop, in a spiritual sense, is a father to presbyters. All priestly actions are performed by presbyters through the authority of the Bishop. In this manner, episcopal grace is evoked through priests. This is the reason for such stern punishment when a cleric insults the Bishop. (Canon 39 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 8 of the 4th Council; Canon 34 of the 6th Council).

56. If any of the clergy insult a presbyter or deacon, let him be excommunicated.

The hierarchical organization of the Church requires respect of the higher levels of the clergy by the lower levels just as all the clergy must respect the Bishop. Members of the lower levels include subdeacons, readers, and singers. (Canon 18 of the 1st Council; Canon 7 of the 6th Council; Canon 20 of the Council of Laodicea).

57. If any of the clergy mock the lame, or the deaf, or the blind, or him who is infirm in his legs, let him be excommunicated. In like manner treat any of the laity.

58. If any bishop or presbyter neglects the clergy or the people, and does not instruct them in the way of godliness, let him be excommunicated, and if he persists in his negligence and idleness, let him be deposed.

(Canon 19 of the 6th Council; Canon 137 of the Council of Carthage).

59. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon does not supply the needs of any of the clergy who is in want, let him be excommunicated. If he persists, let him be deposed as one who has killed his brother.

This Canon applies to the distribution of gifts brought to the Church for the purpose of supporting the clergy (Canon 4 of the Holy Apostles).

60. If any one reads publicly in the church the falsely inscribed books of impious men, as if they were holy Scripture, to the destruction of the people and clergy, let him be deposed.

During the first centuries of Christianity, there existed numerous false books that were being spread by heretics. For example, there existed apocryphal gospels. An example for this day and age are the various "revised versions" of the Holy Scriptures which are produced by Hebrews and heretics and are a distortion of the genuine text.

61. If any accusation of fornication, adultery, or any other forbidden action be brought against a believer and he be convicted, let him not be promoted to the clergy.

An explanation of this reason for precluding ordination may be found in Canons 17, 18, and 19 of the Holy Apostles and in other clarifying Canons.

62. If any of the clergy, through fear of men whether Jew, heathen, or heretic, shall deny the name of Christ, let him be cast out. If he deny the name of clergyman, let him be deposed. If he repent, let him be received as a layman.

(Canon 10 of the 1st Council; Canons 1, 2, 3, and 12 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 10 and 14 of St. Peter of Alexandria (St. Peter the Martyr); Canon 1 of St. Athanasius the Great; Canon 2 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria).

63. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or any one of the sacerdotal list shall eat flesh with the blood of the life thereof, or anything killed by beasts, or that which died of itself, let him be deposed. For the law has forbidden this. If he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.

Prohibition in partaking of the blood of animals was carried over from the Old Testament, "for the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). Bishop Nicodemus, following Bishop John Smolensky, explains: "Blood to some extent is like the receptacle for the spirit — the closest instrument for its actions, the main acting force of life for animals." He points out that in the Old Testament there was also a ceremonial reason since the Law of Moses said that God commanded the Jews to use blood in the altar to cleanse their souls, "and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls" (Leviticus 17:11). In this light, blood represented something holy and appeared like a prototype to the Holy Blood of the Lamb of God, spilled by Him on the cross for the salvation of mankind (Hebrews 10:4; 1 John 1:7). The instructions of this Canon are repeated in Canon 67 of the 6th Council and Canon 2 of the Council of Gangra. Canon 67 of the 6th Council forbids the partaking of "by any art for food the blood of any animal." To this we may add so-called blood sausage.

64. If any of the clergy be found fasting on the Lord's day or on the Sabbath, excepting the one only (Holy Saturday), let him be deposed. If a layman, let him be excommunicated.

The degree of fasting on Sundays and Saturdays is determined by the Church service regulations which usually allow wine, oil, and the partaking of food after Liturgy, without continuing the fast until three-fourths of the day.

Ancient agnostics, on the basis of their teachings regarding matter as an absolute evil, fasted on Saturdays as an expression of sadness about the existence of the material world. They fasted on Sundays to show their contempt for the Christian faith in the resurrection. This Canon was adopted in condemnation of their heretical beliefs. We need to keep in mind, that within Church regulations, fasting means the use of dry foods when it is forbidden to eat until evening and then only strictly lenten foods are allowed, without fish. Such a fast is followed in strict monasteries. Within modern understanding of "fast," strictness is not so important as the point of this Canon that on Saturdays and Sundays during fasts, we need to lessen the severity of the fast somewhat. The Canon points out the one exception on Holy Saturday when the strict fast of Passion Week is preserved. (Canons 51 and 53 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 55 of the 6th Council; Canon 18 of the Council of Gangra; Canons 29 and 50 of the Council of Laodicea).

65. If any clergyman or layman shall enter into a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray, let the former be deposed and let the latter be excommunicated.

The explanation to Canon 45 of the Holy Apostles already discussed some of the reasons for prohibiting joint prayer with heretics. This Canon serves as an addition to Canon 45, pointing out the sinfulness of not only joint prayer with those not belonging to the Church, but also in prayer within their houses of worship and, in particular, within Jewish synagogues. It is particularly inappropriate for any participation in prayers with Jews as a result of the relationship of Judaism to Christianity. Many Canons, especially those of the 6th Council and the Council of Laodicea, strictly condemn every form of religious contact with Jews. Within the Canon, it is not quite clearly stated what punishment applies to the clergy and what punishment to the laymen. Balsamon supposes that each member of clergy in this case is deposed and that each layman is excommunicated. (Canons 70 and 71 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 11 of the 6th Council; Canon 1 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 29, 37, and 38 of the Council of Laodicea).

66. If any clergyman shall strike anyone in a contest and kill him with one blow, let him be deposed for his violence. If a layman do so, let him be excommunicated.

As Bishop John Smolensky fairly notes, "this Canon apparently speaks to involuntary murder since it supposes murder during an argurment and, besides, murder from one blow is possible during the heat of an argument, even without premeditation. Nonetheless, one committing such a murder is subject to being deposed." (Canon 27 of the Holy Apostles; Canons 22 and 23 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 8, 11, 54, 55, 56, and 57 of St. Basil the Great; Canon 5 of St. Gregory of Nyssa).

67. If anyone shall force and keep a virgin not espoused, let him be excommunicated. And he may not take any other, but must retain her whom he has chosen, though she be a poor person.

The words "not espoused," that is, a free virgin, should be noted within this Canon. The one forcing the virgin must marry her and submit to penance for adultery. Forcing a virgin who is already engaged to another, by the Canons is equal to adultery with a married woman as is seen within Canon 98 of the 6th Council. Engagement is the beginning of a wedding and demands the faithfulness of the engaged to each other and, therefore, in both the Old and New Testaments, the Law sees the betrothed virgin almost as the wife of the husband-to-be (Deuteronomy 22:23). Within the Gospel, the Holy Virgin being only betrothed to Joseph, is called his "wife" (Matthew 1:18-20). (Canon 27 of the 4th Council; Canon 98 of the 6th Council; Canon 11 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 22 and 30 of St. Basil the Great).

68. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon shall receive from anyone a second ordination, let both the ordained and the one who ordained him be deposed unless indeed it be proved that he had his ordination from heretics, for those who have been baptized or ordained by such persons cannot be either of the faithful or of the clergy.

In his explanation of this Canon, Matthew Vlastarh examines the reasons why someone might seek a second ordination. He writes: "One attempting to accept a second ordination does so either because he hopes to receive significant grace from a second ordination, or because having left the priesthood, wants to be ordained all over again, which is unlawfull" (Chapter 10, paragraph 4). It is known there are occasions when some already have several heretical ordinations and seek a new ordination from an Orthodox bishop with the hope that, at least, one of the ordinations will be real. The Canon excuses one already having ordination from heretics as not seeking a second ordination since neither the baptism nor the heretical ordination are recognized by the Orthodox Church. The reception of some heretics without a new baptism is discussed within other Canons, particularly within Canon 1 of St. Basil the Great and within parallel areas. (Canons 46 and 47 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 19 of the 1st Council; Canon 4 of the 2nd Council; Canon 5 of the 3rd Council; Canons 8 and 32 of the Council of Laodicea; Canons 59, 68, and 79 of the Council of Carthage).

69. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or reader, or singer does not fast the holy Quadragesimal fast of Easter, or the fourth day, or the day of Preparation, let him be deposed, unless he be hindered by some bodily infirmity. If he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Canons 29, 56, and 89 of the 6th Council; Canons 18 and 19 of the Council of Gangra; Canons 49, 50, 51, and 52 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 1 of St. Dionysius the Alexandrian; Canon 15 of St. Peter of Alexandria (St. Peter the Martyr); Canons 8 and 10 of St. Timothy of Alexandria).

70. If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or any one of the list of clergy keeps fast or festival with the Jews, or receives from them any of the gifts of their feasts, as unleavened bread or any such things, let him be deposed. If he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Canons 7 and 71 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 11 of the 6th Council; Canon 1 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 29, 37, and 38 of the Council of Laodicea).

71. If any Christian brings oil into a temple of the heathen or into a synagogue of the Jews at their feast, or lights their lamps, let him be excommunicated.

(Canons 7 and 70 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 11 of the 6th Council; Canons 7 and 24 of the Council of Ancyra; Canon 1 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 29, 37, 38, and 39 of the Council of Laodicea).

72. If any clergyman or layman takes away wax or oil from the holy Church, let him be excommunicated and let him restore what he took together with and a fifth part more.

This and the following Canons protect the inviolability of Church property for use only in Church Services. Stolen wax or oil may be returned with one-fifth part more. More strictly judged is the misappropriation of items used for Services. No such items, for example such as vessels, used in Church services may be transferred for use at home. Such an action is considered by Canon 73 of the Holy Apostles to be unlawful. (Canon 73 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 10 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd; Canon 8 of St. Gregory of Nyssa; Canon 2 of St. Cyril of Alexandria).

73. Let no one convert to his own use any vessel of gold or silver, or any veil which has been sanctified, for it is contrary to law. If anyone be detected doing so, let him be excommunicated.

(Canon 72 of the Holy Apostles).

74. If any bishop has been accused of anything by men worthy of credit, he must be summoned by the bishops and if he appears and confesses, or is convicted, a suitable punishment must be inflicted upon him. But if when he is summoned he does not attend, let him be summoned a second time, two bishops being sent to him, for that purpose. If even then he will not attend, let him be summoned a third time, two bishops being again sent to him. But if even then he shall disregard the summons and not come, let the synod pronounce such sentence against him as appears right, that he may not seem to profit by avoiding judgment.

(Canon 75 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 6 of the 2nd Council; Canon 21 of the 4th Council; Canons 12, 14, 15, and 20 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 3 and 5 of the Council of Sardica; Canons 8, 12, 15, 28, 143, and 144 of the Council of Carthage; Canon 9 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria).

This Canon establishes that: 1) Judical process over a Bishop start only if there is accusation by persons worthy of credit (Canon 6 of the 2nd Council); 2) the accused is called to trial up to three times and the trial is conducted only by Bishops (Canon 5 of the 1st Council); and, 3) if the accused does not appear for trial then the decision is carried out in his absence. Through subsequent Canons, it has been determined that the summons to trial is executed by the Metropolitan and then only once (Canon 20 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 40 of the Council of Laodicea). Other rules of the process are contained within later Canons.

A valuable comment to this Canon is made by Professor Zaozersky: "It is noteworthy, that within Canons 74 and 75, as with Apostle Paul and his commandments concerning trial over presbyters, specified formalities are ascribed only for trial over Bishops and, without a doubt, this expresses only the thought that the accused Bishop must be given by the court for his defense those same exact resources that are afforded to presbyters — those same resources that are given to laymen. As a sinner or only one drawing suspicion, they are equal in their standing before the court — only being accused. This is a general law of every judicial system, both within the Church and in civil life" ("Church Court in the First Centuries of Christianity," Kostroma, 1878, page 42).

75. A heretic is not to be received as witness against a bishop, neither only one believer, for "in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established" (Matthew 18:16).

(Canon 2 of the 1st Council; Canon 6 of the 2nd Council; Canon 146 of the Council of Carthage; Canon 9 of St. Theophilus of Alexandria).

76. A bishop must not out of favor to a brother, or a son, or any other relation, ordain whom he will to the episcopal dignity, for it is not right to make heirs of the bishopric, giving the things of God to human affections. Neither is it fitting to subject the Church of God to heirs. But if anyone shall do so, let the ordination be void and the bishop himself be punished with excommunication.

(Canons 1 and 30 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 4 of the 1st Council; Canon 3 of the 7th Council; Canon 23 of the Council of Antioch).

77. If any one be deprived of an eye, or be lame of a leg, but in other respects be worthy of a bishopric, he may be ordained, for the defect of the body does not defile a man, but the pollution of the soul.

78. But if a man be deaf or blind, he may not be made a bishop, not indeed as if he were thus defiled, but that the affairs of the Church may not be hindered.

79. If anyone has a devil, let him not be made a clergyman, neither let him pray with the faithful. But if he be freed, let him be received into communion, and if he is worthy he may be ordained.

(Canon 60 of the 6th Council; Canons 2, 3, and 4 of St. Timothy of Alexandria).

80. It is not allowed that a man who has come over from an heathen life and been baptized or who has been converted from an evil course of living, should be immediately made a bishop, for it is not right that he who has not been tried himself should be a teacher of others. Unless indeed this be done upon a special manifestation of Divine grace in his favor.

(Canon 2 of the 1st Council; Canon 2 of the 7th Council; Canon 12 of the Council of Neocasaria; Canons 3 and 12 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 17 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd; Canon 4 of St. Cyril of Alexandria).

81. We have said that a bishop or presbyter must not give himself to the management of public affairs, but devote himself to ecclesiastical business. Let him then be persuaded to do so, or let him be deposed, for no man can serve two masters, according to the Lord's declaration.

(See the explanation to Canon 6 of the Holy Apostles).

82. We do not allow any servants to be promoted to the clergy without the consent of their masters, to the troubling of their houses. But if any servant should appear worthy of receiving an order, as our Onesimus appeared, and his masters agree and liberate him, and send him out of their house, he may be ordained.

(Since forced servitude no longer exists, this Canon requires no commentary).

83. If a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, shall serve in the army, and wish to retain both the Roman magistracy and the priestly office, let him be deposed, for the things of Caesar belong to Caesar, and those of God to God" (Matthew 22:21).

(Canon 7 of the 4th Council; Canon 10 of the 7th Council; Canon 11 of the Council of the 1st and 2nd). Since members of the clergy are forbidden to occupy themselves with civilian service (Canons 6 and 81 of the Holy Apostles), if follows that military service is forbidden as well, particularly since it may involve the taking of human life. In addition, Zonarius remarks that military service takes into account noncombatant duties as well. Carrying of weapons by the clergy is forbidden by Canon 7 of the 4th Council and noncombatant duties are precluded by the prohibition against civilian service (Canon 81 of the Holy Apostles).

84. Whosoever shall insult the King or a ruler, contrary to what is right, let him suffer punishment. If he be a clergyman, let him be deposed. If a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Romans 13:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

85. Let the following books be counted venerable and sacred by all of you, both clergy and Laity. Of the Old Testament, five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; of Joshua the Son of Nun, one; of the Judges, one; of Ruth, one; of the Kings, four; of the Chronicles of the book of the days, two; of Ezra, two; of Esther, one; [some texts read "of Judith, one;"] of the Maccabees, three; of Job, one; of the Psalter, one; of Solomon, three, viz.: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; of the Prophets, twelve; of Isaiah, one; of Jeremiah, one; of Ezekiel, one; of Daniel, one. But besides these you are recommended to teach your young persons the Wisdom of the very learned Sirach. Our own books, that is, those of the New Testament, are: the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter; three of John; one of James, and one of Jude. Two Epistles of Clement, and the Constitutions of me Clement, addressed to you Bishops, in eight books, which are not to be published to all on account of the mystical things in them. And the Acts of us the Apostles.

With respect to Apostolic direction written by Clement, time and the Providence of God have revealed the need for a new Canon which is Canon 2 of the 6th Council.

The identification of sacred books and books to be read in Church is also contained within the following Canons: Canon 60 of the Council of Laodicea; Canon 33 of the Council of Carthage; Canonical Epistles of St. Athanasius the Great; Canons of St. Gregory the Theologian; and Canons of St. Amphilochius.

This Canon does not identify all of the books of the Holy Scriptures that are identified within Canon 2 of St. Athanasius the Great and Canon 60 of the Council of Laodicea. With respect to those mentioned within Canon 85 of the Holy Apostles, the works of Clement must be recognized as rejected by Canon 2 of the 6th Council because they contained "some conflicting thoughts, to the detriment of the Church, introducing something false and foreign to piety, and staining for us the splendid beauty of Gods teaching." (St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Amphilochius regarding the books of the Holy Scriptures).



The Canonical Status

of the Patriarch of Constantinople

in the Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky)

The Russian canonical school of the 19th and 20th centuries studied the question of the Patriarch of Constantinople’s canonical status in the Orthodox Church with care and diligence. For the most part books and monographs on the subject were well-disposed, explaining the Patriarch of Constantinople’s exceptionally high position in the Church both during the Byzantine and Turkish periods as a result of particular historical circumstances. During the Byzantine era the Patriarch of Constantinople, as the hierarch of the imperial capital and bishop of New Rome, received not only the primacy of honor but secular privileges of authority as well. During the Turkish period he became the Ethnarch of all the Orthodox subjects in the East, exercising both secular and ecclesiastical authority. However, almost all Russian canonists attributed only the canonical primacy of honor to the Patriarch of Constantinople and in no event any primacy of power over all the Orthodox East.

An attempt by the Russian canonist and historian T. Barsov, to unite the historical and canonical basis in a "symphony" as a justification of the Patriarch of Constantinople’s primacy over all other Eastern patriarchs called forth an opposite reaction from the well-known canonist A. P. Pavlov who, while recognizing the historical reasons for the Patriarch’s enhanced status, categorically rejected the idea of his canonical power over the whole Orthodox Church.

Furthermore Pavlov, in analyzing Barsov’s assertions that precisely "in the question about the Patriarch of Constantinople the substance of the ecclesiastical structure in the East is resolved, i.e. the gradual expansion of the Patriarch of Constantinople’s prerogatives and his exceptional elevation with respect to other patriarchs, as well as the primacy of his see in the Christian Church of the East, as the oldest representative of the Orthodox Church," calls such an idea as nothing less than a "theory of Eastern Papism"

Professor Pavlov bases himself on a strict canonical foundation with respect to Constantinople:

"A characteristic mark of canonical legislation which elevated the Bishop of Constantinople to the patriarchate, shows that he is always placed in comparison with the Bishop of Rome, the most senior hierarch in the Christian world, and his see, being that of the empire’s new capital, is recognized as the second one after Rome."

It was only in the beginning of the 20th century that the question of the formal and canonical status of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Orthodox Church became more acute and viable in connection with the new theory of Patriarch Meletios Metaxasis of Constantinople who raised the question of the submission of the entire Orthodox diaspora found beyond the borders of the autocephalous churches to the Patriarch of Constantinople, basing this new theory upon the canons of the Universal Church. One of the last Russian canonists, S.V. Troitsky, respectfully but firmly and with the full knowledge of the subject, came out in opposition to this novel theory.

Although Constantinople, in accordance with Emperor Constantine’s designs, was to be a Christian city and the center and foundation of the newly established Christian empire, nonetheless as Professor Bolotov writes: "The Church of Constantinople could not pride itself for being either of an ancient lineage or of an Apostolic foundation." Consequently, writes Bolotov, in purely ecclesiastical terms, Constantinople had no such privileges, as were the rights of other Eastern churches. The preeminence of Constantinople was based solely upon its political status as the new capital of the Roman Empire. According to St. Gregory the Theologian there were few Orthodox in Constantinople in the 4th Century and it was predominantly Arian.

Professor A. V. Kartashev, himself being in the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, characterized the status of New Rome (Constantinople) during its foundation as follows:

"It cannot be said that the Orthodox reputation of Constantinople’s hierarchs was so splendid from the time of its appearance in history as the capital, since Eusebius, the leader of the Arians immediately subjected Byzantium, along with the palace, under his influence. Rome and Alexandria struggled for half a century with Constantinople’s Arianism and its emperors. Rome and Alexandria saw themselves as guardians of universal Orthodoxy against the impious thrusts of Constantinople and against its insignificant bishop who was subject to the Metropolitan of Heraclea. It had neither a past nor any achievements before the Church or Orthodoxy. Only annoying pretensions to become some kind of an unwelcome head of the Church and a tool of imperial power. In 381, under the protection of Theodosius the Great, at the Second Ecumenical Council, the reigning city, having not as yet cleansed itself from the stain of Arianism, was proclaimed to be, in the ecclesiastical sense, second in honor after ancient Rome."

It was during the reign of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great that those sees which were in the major cities of the dioceses received special privileges over other Metropolitans and the hierarchs of those sees were called archbishops, exarchs and finally, patriarchs. The First Ecumenical Council (Canon 6) acknowledged the higher administrative powers of the three main cities of the empire: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, subjecting whole dioceses to the territories. The same Council granted the Bishop of Jerusalem (Aelia), as the cradle of Christianity "the honor which flows from his position while the dignity proper to the Metropolitan of the city is safeguarded."

It was the Second Ecumenical Council (Canon 3) which equated the Patriarch of Constantinople with Rome and other Apostolic Sees. The literal meaning of that canon granted the prerogative of honor to the Patriarch of Constantinople, putting him in the second place after the Bishop of Rome. The Council granted a special place of honor to the Bishop of New Rome but no power: the Bishop of the new capital continued formally to be subject to the Metropolitan of Heraclea.

Canon 3 of the Second Ecumenical Council reads: "As the bishop of Constantinople, let him have the prerogatives of honor after the bishop of Rome, seeing that this city is the New Rome."

We can see in Canon Three of the Second Ecumenical Council only that the Patriarch of Constantinople, as the bishop of New Rome, must have the prerogatives of honor after the Bishop of Rome. However, this canon says nothing about the supremacy of Rome or Constantinople or about the administrative or judicial rights with respect to those patriarchs.

Nonetheless, the Bishop of Constantinople acted in such a way that the literal interpretation of the canon soon became impossible, since the bishops of the capital began to exert their factual authority far beyond the environs of Constantinople.

According to Pavlov these prerogatives of honor for "both hierarchs (Jerusalem and Constantinople) little by little evolved into the prerogatives of power over ordinary Metropolitans: by way of custom for Jerusalem and by imperial legislation for Constantinople." Thus the laws of Emperors Honorius and Theodosius granted the bishop of the new capital the rights of final decision with respect to disputes between bishops of neighboring territories — Illyricum, as well as over the dioceses of Asia, Pontus and Fracia, which was confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon (Canons 9 and 17) which granted the right of appeal either to the diocesan exarch or to the bishop of the capital city.

Canon 28 of Chalcedon speaks of the acknowledgment of inequality of honor of two named hierarchs (that of Rome having the first place and Constantinople the second), however, according to Pavlov, it equated them in terms the rights of power, i.e. it granted three dioceses to Constantinople with the right to ordain the metropolitans for those dioceses as well as to consecrate bishops for members of different nationalities (barbarians) of those dioceses. This canon became the cornerstone in the matter of the elevation and prominence of the see of Constantinople.

As the third level in Church, matters of its dioceses including judicial authority (canons 9 and 17 of Chalcedon) the Patriarch of Constantinople in principle and according to canons stood on an absolutely the same level with his other brother-patriarchs. However Canons 9 and 17 opened an alternative for the Patriarch of Constantinople, i.e. as a rather far-reaching possibility to interfere in the affairs of other patriarchs as well as an extension of his authority over them.

Thus the Council of Chalcedon established the patriarchs as a third administrative and judicial level within the Church: equal in authority but of different ranks of honor: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Canon 36 of the Council in Trullo ranks the patriarchs in the same sequence with respect to honor but completely equal in power.

The last word in canonical legislation about the place of the Patriarch of Constantinople can be Canon 1 of the Council of Constantinople of 879. This council, says Pavlov, expresses the basic canonical principle that the clergy and leity of one Autocephalous Church (Roman or Constantinople), no matter where they live, are the subjects of o authority their own Auttocephalous Churches. It means that one Autocephalous Church cannot interfere in life and authority of another Church in accordance with the 8th canon of the Third Ecumenical Council.

In theory and according to canons, all five patriarchs were recognized as equal in authority among themselves. But this was not so in practice. Already in the 4th century the Bishop of Rome begins to proclaim his pretensions of supreme authority over the whole Church, basing this on the imagined primacy of Apostle Peter over the other Apostles. In his turn, the Bishop of Constantinople, thanks to the political significance of his city, received certain prerogatives over the three Eastern patriarchs. Because of his close proximity to the seat of imperial power, the Patriarch of Constantinople accrued a position of an intermediary between the emperor and other patriarchs who, upon arrival in Constantinople, could approach the emperor only through the intercession of the capital’s patriarch.

As a sign of these prerogatives and in distinction from other patriarchs, the bishop of the new capital already in the beginning of the sixth century, assumed the title of "Ecumenical" to which Pope Gregory the Great objected. In time, after the Muslims captured Jerusalem (637), Antioch (538) and Alexandria (641), the Patriarch of Constantinople remained in fact the sole spiritual head in the Christian East and this to a certain extend equated the "ecumenical" Patriarch with the Pope of Rome.

The Patriarch of Constantinople retained his position of primacy among the Eastern patriarchs which came about as the result of New Rome’s political significance. This was done with the help of the "Household Synod" (synodos endimus) which assumed all the authority of the previous Ecumenical councils. This synod, under the chairmanship of the Patriarch, consisted of bishops and metropolitans who happened to be at the capital in connection with matters of their own churches, and such hierarchs would not infrequently remain there for a number of years enabling the Patriarch to assemble a synod at any time with a sufficient number of bishops.

Thus, according to Ostroumov, Constantinople becomes the central point of Church life in the East and the Patriarch of the capital, with his "Household Synod," acquires a governing position in Church matters and exerts strong influence upon the other patriarchs and thus becoming the de facto highest level of appeal with respect to them.

During the time of Patriarch Photius an attempt was made to elevate the Patriarch of Constantinople over all the other patriarchs by way of secular legislation by means of an epanagoge of Emperor Basil of Macedon. In this document the Patriarch of Constantinople is distinguished from other Eastern patriarchs in that he is recognized as the first among them with the right to resolve any disputes in the other patriarchates. However these epanagoges in general, remained only on paper and did not acquire the force of law.

Nonetheless attempts were made to justify and affirm canonically the prominent status which the Patriarch of Constantinople occupied in fact thanks to the advantageous, for him, historical circumstances. Thus the position of primacy among other patriarchates, not excluding the Roman bishop, was based on the theory of New Rome or "the scepter’s transfer" but the privilege of his authority were extrapolated form a novel interpretation of Canons 9, 17 and 28 of Chalcedon. All this, when combined with the epanagoge, resulted in the creation of the theory of Eastern Papism.

On the basis of canon 3 of the Second Ecumenical Council the Byzantine canonists created a precise theory of the transfer of all the highest rights from the Roman bishop to Constantinople and the preposition "after" (meta) in the canon was interpreted in the chronological sense, i.e. the Bishop of Constantinople doesn’t occupy the second rank after Rome but the first rank, only that he received it later in time.

As a result, by combining the theory of "the scepter’s transfer" and its primacy in the East, it appeared that the Patriarch of Constantinople is the legitimate and sole bearer of all the privileges and the primacy of the Roman pope and could thus receive appeals not only against the Eastern patriarchs but against the Roman pope himself. Thus, writes Ostroumov, thanks to the perverse interpretation of the canons of Chalcedon and the linkage with the theory of "the scepter’s transfer" the idea of the "pope in the East" or "the theory of Eastern Papism" was born.

The theory of the "Byzantine pope" however, stood in opposition to the theory of the "five senses." According to this theory as proposed by Peter of Antioch, "There are five patriarchs established in the world by Divine grace: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Just as in the human body, governed by one head, five senses are active, so it is in the Church, the Body of Christ, governed by one Head, Christ Himself, five Patriarchs are established to govern various nations."

It is interesting to note that in this comparison of the patriarchs with human senses, there is already a concept that all patriarchs are equal in authority and are not subordinate one to another but together are subjected to the one Head of the Church, Christ, thus they are completely equal in authority among themselves. According to the canonist Balsamon, "...thus the first Patriarch is not above the second, nor the second over the third: but as five senses are part of the one head and are not divided, so are the heads of the Universal Church have equal honor in all cases"

However with the falling away of Rome from the Universal Church, the primacy of honor went over to the Patriarch of Constantinople, thus the theory of the five senses, excluding the theory of Eastern Papism, does not exclude the fact that the primacy of honor belongs to the Patriarch of Constantinople in relation to the other patriarchs and that he holds the authority of chairmanship but not in the sense of the Roman monarchical authority but simply in the sense of the Savior’s Evangelical teaching: he who wishes to be first, will be the servant of all.

The Patriarch of Constantinople retained his high status as Bishop of the capital even after the fall of Byzantium and the occupation of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. Mehmet II, Byzantium’s conqueror, recognized the then Patriarch Gennadios as head of all the Christian subjects in the Turkish Empire.

Later, the patriarchs, during the Turkish yoke, not only preserved their authority within the Church but in the Berat of the Turkish sultans, as ethnarchs received secular authority over all Orthodox including the other Eastern patriarchs. Inasmuch as the dividing lines between Church and secular competence were not firm in Byzantium and were nearly nonexistent in the Turkish monarchy, this expansion of the Patriarch of Constantinople’s authority was reflected in purely ecclesiastical mutual relationships in all of the Orthodox East.

Prof. Troitsky summarizes the historical reasons which served to elevate the Patriarch of Constantinople over the other Eastern patriarchs:

    1. The elevation of Constantinople as the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
    2. The action of the Byzantine emperors, granting the Patriarch of Constantinople administrative and judicial rights within the whole empire.
    3. The presence of the "Household Synod" in Constantinople in which other patriarchs also participated and whose decisions were implemented by imperial authority.
    4. The action of the Turkish sultan, making the Patriarch of Constantinople "millet-bashi" not only as the spiritual but the secular head of all the Orthodox subjects not excluding the other Eastern patriarchs as well.
    5. The Patriarch of Constantinople’s title as "Ecumenical," which evolved by way of custom, but which of itself does not grant the Patriarch of Constantinople any kind of jurisdiction beyond the borders of his patriarchate, but merely a temporary expansion of that patriarchate in the epoch of the extension of the Byzantine Empire.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Church of Constantinople once again made an attempt to resurrect the idea of its authority over the whole Orthodox world, developing this trend on the basis of a newly conceived theory about the mandatory and exclusive subordination of the whole of Orthodox diaspora throughout the world to the Church of Constantinople.

In 1922 Patriarch Meletios Metaxasis of Constantinople (1871-1935) raised the question of the subordination of the whole of the diaspora in Europe and America to his authority. This included the subordination of the Russian Eparchy in America. He opened a new eparchy in Europe. There began an intrusion into the ecclesiastical matters of the Orthodox churches in Poland, Estonia, Finland and others.

Prof. Troitsky writes that according to this theory, the jurisdiction of all autocephalous churches ends at the borders of the States in which the given Church is located. Only the Ecumenical Patriarch, on the supposed basis of Canons 9, 17 and 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, can extend his jurisdiction over the whole diaspora, i.e. over the Orthodox eparchies and parishes scattered throughout the world but which are outside the State borders of autocephalous Churches. Thus this theory deprived the remaining Churches of the rights and responsibilities for missionary endeavors given to them by the Lord Himself.

The Russian canonist, S. Troitsky protested in print against these pretensions of the Patriarchs of Constantinople and in defense of freedom of the autocephalous Churches and the attempts to "interject a smoky arrogance of the world into the Church of Christ."

However, the Orthodox Church in North America (now the Orthodox Church in America) in 7/22 May 1922, was the first of all the Churches to reject Patriarch Meletios’ demands for submission.

The Council of Bishops, having heard the Order of the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios of 1 March 1922 about his jurisdiction over all the existing Orthodox Churches in Europe and America excluding the autocephalous ones, and that this Order extends to the Russian Eparchy in North America RESOLVED:

Inasmuch as the Russian Eparchy in North America remains a part of her initiator, the Russian Orthodox Church, to affirm: "that the Russian Orthodox Eparchy in North America remains an organic part of the Autocephalous Church of Russia, and thus the Order of the Ecumenical Patriarch does not apply to our Eparchy."

Soon however, the Russian Orthodox Church itself almost became a victim of meddling by the Patriarchs of Constantinople in its internal life. At that time, i.e. in the twenties of our century, when the Russian Orthodox Church found itself subject to cruel persecution by atheistic State authorities, Patriarch Meletios of Constantinople, deviating from the majority of the world’s Church leaders, did not support the imprisoned Patriarch Tikhon and expressed support for the bolshevik-inspired Renovationist schism.

His successor Patriarch Gregorios VII, through his Moscow representative Archimandrite Basil (Dimopoulo), expressed his desire that Patriarch Tikhon divest himself of the government of the Church and that the Patriarchate in the Russian Church be abolished.

In his response of 6 June 1924 Patriarch Tikhon wrote to Patriarch Gregorios of Constantinople:

"In no small measure we were shocked and surprised that the Head of the Church of Constantinople, without any prior consultation with us, the legitimate representative and Head of the Russian Orthodox Church, would interfere in the internal life and affairs of the Autocephalous Russian Church. The Holy Councils recognized the primacy of honor alone as the prerogative of the Patriarch of Constantinople and did not, nor do not recognize any primacy of authority."

In connection with the novel theory of Patriarch Meletios (Metaxasis) about the subordination of the Orthodox diaspora, not only that of the Greeks but all the Orthodox wherever they may be, there is presently a question about the correct interpretation of Canons 9 and 28 of Chalcedon. This is not only of academic and scholarly interest but it has a practical significance "inasmuch as the erroneous interpretation of these canons leads to the erroneous understanding of the structure of the Orthodox Church and it can lead to a disruption of the canonical mutual relationships between the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches."

As proof that the Patriarch of Constantinople never had nor does have authority over the whole diaspora on the basis of Canons, Professor S. Troitsky brings out interpretations and commentaries on Canons 9 and 28 of Chalcedon as found in the Pedalion (the Greek Rudder), the official compilation of canons, and he arrives at the following conclusions:

    1. The Patriarch of Constantinople does not have judicial authority outside the borders of his patriarchate in the territories of other Orthodox Churches. (Interpretation of Canon 9 of Chalcedon)
    2. The administrative jurisdiction of that Patriarch never extended over the whole Orthodox diaspora, but only on the diaspora of a few adjourning barbarian territories. (Interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon)

Furthermore, Troitsky points out, not a single canon speaks about the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Such canons do not exist since the Bishop of Rome is considered to be the first. Furthermore "the foundation of the high rank of the Patriarch of Constantinople must be found in the concurrence of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches which are guided by the teaching of the primacy of the Church’s Founder, Jesus Christ, and that the Churches see no need to change the old order until such time as it is demanded for the benefit of the whole Church."

Finally, according to Troitsky, the right of the Bishop of Constantinople to the title "Ecumenical" and "of Constantinople" rests upon the same general consent of the Autocephalous Churches since today no basis for such titles can be found in the Canons.

How new Churches were established in non-Christian or barbarian lands is explained by Bishop Ioann of Smolensk in his commentary on Canon Two of the Second Ecumenical Council: "Pastors of the ancient Churches were active in the establishment of Churches among pagan people, which sent them preachers, ordained presbyters and bishops for them and undertook the responsibility for their administration. In general, whichever Church baptized the indigent people, at first the hierarchy and the form of administration was received from that Church. The newly-established Churches could not all of a sudden receive the ability for self-administration. But with the passage of time, they became independent"

From this, Professor Troitsky concludes:

    1. All the Orthodox Churches have the same right and responsibility to send their bishops and clergy for missionary work everywhere outside the boundaries of other Autocephalous Churches. It can be said that this is not only the responsibility of the Church but it is Divine law, since the source of this is the commandment of the Founder of the Universal Church, Christ given to the founders of local Churches, the Apostles: "Go teach all nations" (Mt 28:19), and to impede that right of whatever Church means to forbid the successors of the Apostles to continue their work "by the shielding of secular arrogance under the guise of Church activity."
    2. In disputes arising from the jurisdiction of two or more Churches, existing on the same territory of the diaspora the decisive principle must not be the significance or seniority of one or another Church in relation to others but simply the right of long-standing.

In 1996 in connection with the intrusion of the Patriarch of Constantinople upon the immemorial territory of the Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church considered it their duty to remind Constantinople that "Each Local Orthodox Church is self-administering and does not depend upon the Patriarch of Constantinople in matters of jurisdiction," and that:

"We would not have recalled all these sad events of the past and about the activities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople if similar acts had not been done at the present time. It is to our profound regret that the events taking place around the Orthodox Church in Estonia demonstrate that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has not learned the lessons of its tragic past and continues to exploit the opportunities for the expansion of its influence upon the canonical territories of other Churches, bringing about painful shocks to Church unity." (Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1 March 1996)

Today when throughout the world the separation of Church and State is a given fact, the only thing remaining for the Church are her Canons. Troitsky says:

"In a normal situation of any Autocephalous Church, i.e. with the preservation of its Orthodox dogmatical teaching and canonical structure, the Canons do not allow interference on the part of any other Church in her administration, including the Church of Constantinople and specifically the Canons do not foresee any appeals in connection with administrative and judicial matters of its [the local Church’s] supreme authorities."

"The interference of one Church in the life of another can take place at the request of the supreme authority of the latter Autocephalous Church as well as in case of need when one of the Autocephalous Churches deviates from Orthodox dogmatical teaching, or it does not have a sufficient number of bishops for its canonical independence,"

The late Professor Protopresbyter John Meyendorff makes the following suggestion on how to view the future canonical status of the Patriarch of Constantinople:

"The Orthodox Church, without a doubt, is in need of a world center for unity but not for authority over Churches. We will hope that the coming Orthodox "Great Council" will find boldness and the ability — with the help of the Holy Spirit — to move away from the long-obsolete system which was worked out in the Byzantine Empire and which still nominally determines the organization of world Orthodoxy. It must move in the direction of a realistic and permanent path assuring that of which the Church is in need: freedom, oneness and love."

Archbishop Gregory Afonsky