The First Ecumenical Council, Canon 16.previous | next
Any Presbyters or Deacons, or other persons covered by the Canon, who take the risk, without having the fear of God before their eyes, or keeping aware of the ecclesiastical Canon, of departing from their own church, they must not be admitted at all in another church, but they must be stringently forced to return to their own parish, or, in case they insist, it is proper for them to be excluded from communion. If, on the other hand, anyone should surreptitiously snatch away one belonging to another and ordain him in his own church, without the consent of his Bishop, from whom the one covered by the Canon departed, let the ordination be invalid.
The Canon next preceding this one ordains for presbyters and deacons to be reinstated in the church in which they were ordained, while the present Canon punishes them with suspension if they refuse to return, by decreeing that any presbyters or deacons, or others enumerated in the Canon along with such persons, and listed among the clergy, without fearing God or knowing the Canon of the Church (i.e., Ap. c. XV), rashly depart from that church in which they were ordained, they must not be admitted to another (without letters commendatory and dimissory, that is to say), but, on the contrary, must be forced to return to their own church; if, however, they insist on having their own way, they are to be denied communion, not with the Mysteries, not with the laymen and faithful in the church (for in this case the present Canon would be contrary to Ap. c. XV, which does not exclude such offenders from communion with laymen in the church), but with their fellow presbyters and deacons in the same order. That is to say, in other words, they are not to be allowed to officiate along with those in holy orders, but are to remain idle, or interdicted. But if any Bishop should dare to grab a strange clergyman fraudulently and ordain him (to a higher rank perhaps) in his own church, without the Bishop of that clergyman being willing to allow this, from whom he departed, such an ordination is to be void and invalid. Read also Ap. c. XV.
 Clergymen are called “canonics” and said to be “covered by the Canon,” with an implication that their life and their mind and their discourse are all governed and directed in accordance with the sacred Canons, including under this designation Apostolical, Conciliar, and Patristic Canons (see also Footnote 1 to Ap. c. II). In addition the name “canonic” is also given to monks, as may be seen in many of the Canons themselves, and most especially to nuns, on the same assumption are named canonic, that is to say, that laymen and laywomen live for the most part according to laws of their own, or, otherwise speaking, uncanonically, and conduct themselves publicly and privately in an indifferent manner (i.e., without particular pains to obey the Canons).
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