Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 18.previous | next
The crime of conspiracy, or of faction (i.e., of factious partisanship), already prohibited by secular laws, ought still more to be forbidden to obtain in the Church of God. If, therefore, there be found any Clergymen, or Monastics, to be conspiring or to be engaged in factiousness of any kind, or hatching plots against Bishops or Fellow Clergymen they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XXXIV of the 6th; cc. X, LXII of Carthage; c. VI of Gangra; c. V of Antioch; and cc. III, XIV, XV of the lst-&-2nd.
A conspiracy is a combination of men leagued together and with one another by oaths; a faction, on the other hand, is a combination of men leagued together and with one another by agreement and resolution not to give up the undertakings to which they have bound or committed themselves against another person until they have carried them out to completion. Those Jews entered into a conspiracy who conspired against St. Paul, as historically recorded by sacred Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 23:21) wherein the latter says: “more than forty men who have bound themselves with an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him” (sc. St. Paul). So, therefore, what the present Canon means is that though the crime of conspiracy and that of faction are prohibited even by the secular, or civil, laws themselves of Greek as well as of Orthodox emperors, who indeed adopted the most of their laws from the Greeks, this thing ought still more to be forbidden to occur in the Church of God. So if some clergymen or monks be found to be engaged in conspiracy or faction, or in plotting any other callous and cunning machinations or intrigues (for that is what is denoted by the Greek word corresponding to the verb “hatch,” in accordance with the Scriptural passage saying “their heart hath become as crusty as cheese,” instead of saying “hath become as callous or hard as cheese”) against their bishops or fellow clergymen, let them be deposed from office. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. C. XXXI.
 In his Collection of Canons, Title 82, John of Antioch says “Fellow Monastics,” instead of “Fellow Clergymen.”
 As this is historically stated by Vulpian.
 Photius, in Title IX, ch. 37, says that the civil law punishes conspiracies and factions. Book LX of the Basilica, Title XXXVI, states that anyone that enters into a conspiracy against the state is guilty of the crime of high treason (or what is called in Greek cathosiosis, i.e., a violation of the holy immunity of the sovereign). As for what constitutes high treason (or cathosiosis), see the Footnote to Ap. c. LXXII. Note that Balsamon, with reference to the present Canon, says: “Do not assert that a conspiracy is punished on account of any evil already done, and not on account of any good; for every conspiracy, whether for good or for evil, is punishable.”
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