The First Ecumenical Council, Canon 5.previous | next
As regards those who have been denied communion, whether they be members of the clergy or belong to a lay order, by the bishops in each particular province, let the opinion prevail which expressed in the Canon prescribing that those rejected by some are not to be received by others. But let an investigation be made as to whether or not they have been unchurched on account of small-mindedness or quarrelsomeness or any other such disgustfulness of the Bishop. In order, therefore, that a proper investigation may be made, it has seemed well that synods be held every year twice a year in each province and in a common discussion held by all the Bishops of the province assembled together for this purpose let such questions be thrashed out. And thus those who have admittedly clashed with the Bishop would seem to be reasonably excluded from communion until such time as by common consent of the bishops it may seem better to let a more philanthropic vote be given in their behalf. As for these synods, let one of them be held before Lent, in order that, with the elimination of all small-mindedness, the gift may be offered to God in all its purity; and let the second one be held sometime in autumn.
(Ap. cc. XII, XIII, XXXII, XXXVII; c. XIX of the 4th; c. VIII of the 6th; cc. VI, XX of Antioch; cc. X, XX of Sardican; cc. XXVI, XXXVII, CIV, CXVI, and CXLI of Carthage.)
The present Canon decrees the following things: In regard to clergymen and laymen who have been excommunicated by the bishops of any particular province, let the opinion prevail and remain in force and effect which has already been expressed in legislation, just as that old Canon (i.e., Ap. c. XXXII or even XII) decrees, to wit, that persons excommunicated by the bishops of one province must not be admitted to communion by other bishops. Yet let an investigation be made as to the possibility that the ones excommunicated have been excommunicated because of some small-mindedness or quarrelsomeness or some other grudge on the part of the bishop. Hence, in order that this matter and other such questions may be properly investigated, it has appeared reasonable to hold local synods twice a year in each province, and to assemble all the bishops together in a common meeting for the express purpose of considering them. And thus, after such an investigation has been made, as touching those who have been sinning against the bishop and who have been rightly and justly excommunicated, by him, let them remain excommunicated, in accordance with grounds of congruity and justice, also by all the rest of the bishops, until it appear reasonable to the common assembly of the bishops to render a more philanthropic (or more humane) decision regarding those who have been excommunicated. For if the one who excommunicated them, let us assume, is so hardened even after some time as to refuse to liberate them from the excommunication, or if he should die in the meantime, permission is given to the synod to release them from it after it deems that a sufficient length of time has been passed in penance. These synods are to be held one sometime before Lent, in order to take advantage of the fact that at this time every small-mindedness and mistake that either the prelate has made in dealing with the clergy and the laity, or, conversely, that the clergy and the laity have shown towards the prelate, is dissolved, in order to allow a pure and unblemished gift of fasting to be offered to God. Let the second synod be held in the time of autumn. Read also Ap. cc. XXXII and XXXVII.
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