Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 7.previous | next
We have decreed in regard to those who have once been enrolled in the Clergy or who have become Monks shall not join the army nor obtain any secular position of dignity. Let those be anathematized who dare to do this and Jail to repent, so as to return to that which they had previously chosen on God’s account.
(Ap. cc. LXXXI, LXXXIII; cc. III, VI of the 4th; c. XI of the lst-&-2nd; c. XVIII of Carthage; and c. X of the 7th.)
The present Canon prescribes that clergymen and monks must not become soldiers, nor assume secular dignities. Those who do these things and fail to return again to their former occupation in life, which they chose on God’s account, are to be anathematized. But why is it that Ap. c. LXXXIII only deposes these men from office, whereas this Canon anathematizes them? Either the former Canon is referring to those, according to Zonaras and the other interpreters, who engage in such things while wearing the habit of the clergy; whereas the present Canon is speaking of those who discard even the clergyman’s or monk’s habit before engaging in such things. Or perhaps the present Canon is referring to those who, after once daring to do such things, refuse afterwards to repent and to return to their former life (which the Ap. c. does not say), and for this reason it has made them liable to severer punishment on the ground that they are unrepentant. See also Ap. c. VI and c. XVI of the present Fourth.
 “Novel 123 of Justinian also decrees in agreement with the present Canon. For it says for no one to leave his clericate and become a secular, because he will be deprived of the dignity or military position which had been given to him, and will be turned over to the senators of his own city. Novels 7 and 8 of Leo, on the other hand, command that clergymen and monks who change their habit and become laymen, are to be reinstated in the habit of the clergy or monks again even against their will.” (From Armenopoulos, Section 3, Heading 2, of his Epitome of the Canons.)
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