Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 12.previous | next
It has come to our knowledge that some persons, by resorting to the civil authorities, have obtained pragmatics whereby they have contrived to divide one province into two, contrary to the ecclesiastical Canons, and as a result there are two Metropolitans in one and the same province. The holy Council has therefore made it a rule that no Bishop shall hereafter be allowed to do such a thing. For, if anyone shall attempt to do so, he shall forfeit his own rank. As for all those cities which have already been honored with the name of Metropolis by letters of the Emperor, let them enjoy only the honor, and likewise the Bishop who is administering its church; it being left plain that the rights properly belonging to the real Metropolis are to be preserved to this Metropolis (alone).
(c. VIII of the First; Ap. c. XXXIV; ec. VI, VII of the First; cc. II, III of the 2nd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXVI, XXXIX of the 6th; c. VIII of the 3rd.)
Inasmuch as some ambitious bishops by applying to the Emperors have contrived to get Imperial edicts (for these are what are called “pragmatics” in the Canon here), whereby they have sought to have their bishoprics honored with the name of Metropolis, and have thus virtually divided the one province and metropolis into two, so that as a result of this two metropolitans came to be in one and the same metropolis (which is contrary to the Conciliar Canons, and especially to c. VIII of the 1st), and the bishops of that province were hence led to quarrel among themselves; therefore and on this account this holy Council has made it a rule that no bishop shall dare henceforth to do this. As for anyone that merely attempts to do such a thing, without succeeding in doing it, he shall be deposed from office. But as for all bishoprics and cities that hitherto succeeded in attaining, by means of imperial letters, to the honor of being allowed the name of Metropolis, let them have only the honor of this name, and the same as touching the Bishop to whom they appertain. The rights, however, and the authority to govern the affairs of the metropolis are to be preserved to the city which had originally and truly and from the beginning styled metropolis, and which is really the Metropolis, without allowing the new Metropolitan, who bears this title only as an honorary title, to usurp anything therefrom. The right of a true metropolis, it may be observed, consists principally in its being the one whose Metropolitan ordains the Bishop of the honorary metropolis, in accordance with c. VI of the First Ec. C., which says that one who has not been ordained with the consent and approval of the Metropolitan is not a bishop. Read also Ap. c. XXXIV.
 Something of this kind is narrated by St. Gregory the Theologian in his epitaph to St. Basil as having taken place in the metropolis of Cappadocia when the bishopric of Tyana was honored by being converted into a new Metropolis.
 In this manner after Chalcedon was honored by being converted into a Metropolis by Marcianus, and Nicaea by Valentinian, it was decreed that the rights and dignities belonging to the old cities which were really and truly metropolis should be preserved to them, as appears from what is said in Act 4 of the present Council. On this account, in spite of the fact both Byzantium and Aelia were also honored by being converted into Patriarchates, yet as respecting Aelia c. VII of the First specifies that to its metropolis Caesarea there shall be preserved the dignity rightfully belonging to it, as we have stated. As respecting Byzantium, Balsamon and Nicephorus Gregoras assert that in their times the Bishop of Constantinople was ordained Patriarch by the Bishop of Heracleia. But now he only receives his crozier from him, because before he became a Patriarch Byzantium used to be the episcopate of the Bishop of Heracleia.