Quinisext Council, Canon 21.previous | next
Those who become responsible for canonical crimes, and on this account are subject to complete and permanent deposition from office, and are thrust into the status of laymen, if with a view to returning they voluntarily forgo the sin on account of which they lapsed from grace, and render themselves utter strangers thereto, let them be tonsured in Clerical guise. But if they fail to do this of their own accord and as a matter of choice, let them grow back the hair of their heads, on the ground that they have preferred the return into the world to the heavenly life.
(Ap. c XXV; c, IX of the 1st; e. IV of the 6th; c. IX of Neocaesarea; cc. III, XVII, XXXII, L, LXX of Basil.)
Those in holy orders who have been completely and permanently deposed from office, and have assumed the guise of a layman, and have to stand with the laymen, on account of canonical crimes, such as fornication, say, or adultery, or other such sins, commands the present Canon, if they themselves voluntarily and spontaneously repent, and actually effect complete abstinence from the sin on account of which they lost the grace of holy orders, let them tonsure the hair of their head, or, in other words, let them have a so-called papalethra (or “patch”) at the point of the head, which was a guise and token of clerics. But if they fail to repent willingly and spontaneously, they must let the hair of their head grow back like worldlings, in order that the lay guise may so shame them as to bring them sooner or later to a sense of their viciousness and cause them to repent. Read also Ap. c. XXV.
 The papalethra, which is also called a garrara, according to Peter of Antioch in his letter to Caerularius, is a more or less circular tonsure of the hair at the point of the head, similar to a wreath. It is not a custom confined to the Latins, but one that was adopted by the entire Church, both the Eastern and the Western, as is corroborated both by the present Canon and by the Holy Fathers: for St. Jerome in writing to St. Augustine says, “I wish I had your halo”; likewise St. Augustine wrote to Bishop Proculianus, “by our halo.” It is wont to be affected, not in honor of the Apostle Peter, as the Westerners say, but originally and properly, in order to serve as an outward sign of the guise of clerics, by which the latter differed from those who were not clerics, according to the present Canon. Consequently, and in a more allegorical way, it served as a type of the crown of thorns of the Lord, according to the interpretation given by St. Germain in his dissertation on mystical contemplation. Be that as it may, the clerics of us Easterners, unskillfully cut the hair of the head above and a little below, crosswise, that is to say, and leaving the crown untonsured in the center, and wholly untouched, thus today inexpertly and inartistically contrive this papalethra; whereas the Westerners, because they affect this for adornment, make it by shaving the hair from the head above and below, and cutting off the central part entirely and making it unlike the halo of the saints. For this reason Maximus Margunius, in his thirty-fifth note on the Canons of Antioch, called the papalethra of the Latins a “whorish garland.” See Dositheus in the Dodecabiblus, p. 778. As for the fact that our own clerics ought to wear this halo at the point of the head, let them learn it from this Canon. For it is not right to do away with eternal devices which our Fathers devised. Two things, however, in the present Canon are noteworthy: one is that those in holy orders who were being deposed on account of canonical crimes first put off the guise of the Clergy, and thus dropped into the status of laymen (for it would have been unbecoming for them to have stood with laymen with the guise of the Clergy). That is why Balsamon, in interpreting c. XLIV of Basil, says that those who have been deposed change guise, and on this point Ap. c. XXV and c. III of Basil can be reconciled with each other, as well as all other Canons that say for the deposed to be dropped into the status of laymen. Accordingly, others say that if the deposed themselves afterwards come to hate the sin willingly and spontaneously, and keep away from it altogether, and repent, they may regain the guise of the Clergy which they lost. If this is true, it is plain that such men used to be elevated to the status of those in holy orders and enjoyed the honor attaching to the rights of sitting and standing with them. And on this point again cc. I and II of Ancyra, cc. IX and X of Neocaesarea, cc. III and XXVI of the present Council, and c. XXVII of Basil can all be reconciled, which say that those who are degraded from holy orders may enjoy the honor attaching to the rights of sitting and standing with those in holy orders, arid in general only the outward honor of holy orders, concerning which see the Footnote to c. XXVI of the present Council.
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