Quinisext Council, Canon 27.previous | next
Let no one on the Clerical List don inappropriate clothing, either when living in the city or when walking the road; but, on the contrary, let him wear costumes that have already been assigned to the use of those who are enrolled in the Clergy. If anyone should commit such a violation, let him be excommunicated for one week.
(c. XVI of the 7th; cc. XII, XXI of Gangra.)
Clergymen and all who are in Holy Orders ought to be modest and decent even in respect of their outward guise. For God looks into the heart, it is true, but human beings look at the external condition of the body, according to what has been written: “A human being will look at a face, but God at a heart” (Sam. 12:7). Hence from what they can see on the outside they draw inferences as to what is in the heart. That is why the present Canon commands that no clergymen shall wear clothes that are not becoming to his profession; that is, for instance, costly and silk garments, or military uniforms, neither when he is staying in the city nor when he is walking on the road: on the contrary, he must wear the garments that are habitual to clerics — decent, that is to say, and frugal. Should anyone do the contrary, let him be excommunicated for one week.
It is further to be noted that c. XVI of the 7th imposes penances on those in holy orders who wear splendid garments and fail to correct matters; likewise on those who anoint themselves with perfumes. Though it is true that c. XII of Gangra anathematizes those who criticize persons wearing silk garments with reverence, it does not conflict with the present Canon: 1) because this is speaking specifically of clerics wearing them, whereas that speaks of both clergymen and laymen in general who are wearing them; 2) because this Canon is speaking of those who are wearing garments of an uncustomary kind; 3, and lastly) because the same Council is correcting what it asserted in its said c. II by what it asserts in its c. XXI, which says: “We praise frugal and cheap garments, but we detest garments that are ornamented and soft.” And if that Council disparages soft garments in regard to worldlings, it disparages them far more when they are worn by clerics. So that not only is that Council not opposed in principle to the present one, but indeed it is in agreement with it and more strict in regard to this matter. But the Lord also says: “Beware of those who want to walk about in costumes” (Luke 20:46). And if the Apostle Peter forbids women, who are by nature a race of beings that love adornment, to wear luxurious garments (1 Peter 3:3); and if Paul forbids the same things to the same creatures (1 Tim. 2:9), do they not still more firmly forbid these things to clergymen? St. Basil the Great, too, wants us to have clothing that is decorous; and in his Homily 11 on the Six Days of Creation he says that if you see anyone clothed in a robe adorned with flowers or flowery figures, and dressed up with silk threads, scorn him outright. And St. Chrysostom, too, in his Homily 12 on the First Epistle to Timothy says: “Seest thou a human being wearing silk garments? Laugh him to scorn.” Isidorus Pelousiotes (in his seventy-fourth letter) when commenting on the question, What was the tunic of Christ that was woven from above and unsewed? says: “But who is ignorant of the paltriness of that dress which the poor among the Galileans used to wear, and that indeed with them it used to be a garment woven by some art and with some skill as close as corsets.” And at the end he says: “If, then, you desire these garments, imitate the paltry dress of Jesus. For luxuriousness here becomes stupidity there, and not a bright illumination.”
 From this Canon it can be proved that as regards all priests that are deposed from holy orders on account of their manifest crimes, or who have been obstructed by a spiritual father as a matter of advice on account of their hidden sins, or even by themselves when stricken by remorse if they abdicate the rights of holy orders, none of them, I say, can either bless or sanctify or perform any other sacred office, either secretly or openly. But if this is true, it follows as a matter of logic that such men can neither chant sanctifications nor administer the communion to anyone, nor comforting assurances, nor baptisms, nor unctions of holy oil, nor other such services, since all these sacred rites and acts inevitably involve the impartation of a blessing and sanctification, which sanctification is something that they do not possess, according to the contents of this Canon. But neither can such men accept accountings and become spiritual confessors. For, according to Symeon of Thessalonica (Reply 11), the one accepting accountings must also bless, and say a prayer designed to grant a pardon, and must perform a liturgical service, and administer the communion to those who are confessing their sins, and must intercede in behalf of penitents, and, briefly speaking, the Confessor needs to have an active part in the exploitation of holy orders, according to Kitros (and see the Footnote to Ap. c. XXXIX). As for the assertion that the above are unqualified to perform these things, there are many proofs that such is the case. 1) Because if a priest who has unwittingly fallen into an unlawful marriage, which is the same as saying, has committed an involuntary sin (for, according to Nemesius, a sin is involuntary if it is committed as a result of force or as a result of ignorance), cannot either bless or sanctify or perform any other sacerdotal operation, according to this Canon, still less can one do these things who has been deposed on account of a voluntary sin that renders him liable to deposition from holy orders, or who has resigned. 2) If c. III of the present Council, mentioning this same Canon of St. Basil, decrees that those suspended for a while must not pronounce a blessing or conduct a sanctification, still less can those who have been deposed or who have resigned pronounce a blessing or conduct a sanctification, seeing that their condemnation to deposition is permanent, according to c. III of Basil, and they can no longer return to the holy orders out of which they have fallen. 3) In view of the fact that c. VIII of Nicholas prohibits one who has resigned from holy orders of his own accord either to pronounce in advance the words “Blessed is God,” or to pronounce in subsequence the words “Christ is the true one,” or to partake of the Eucharist within the Bema, or even to waft incense with the censer, but, on the contrary, must be confined to the status of laymen — and, be it iterated, if it prohibits them even from plying the censer, much more so does it evidently prohibit them from pronouncing a blessing, and from conducting a sanctification, and from performing the above sacred offices we have named. Even though c. IX of Neoeaesarea does say that a priest who has committed a carnal sin before ordination and has confessed it himself shall not offer, or, in other words, officiate, but may remain entitled to all other privileges — if, I say, that Canon does say this, on which Canon alone those rely who want to have those who resign from holy orders on account of their sins to be entitled to pronounce blessings and to conduct sanctifications and to perform the above sacred offices, we interpret it in accordance with its true intent, which is also consonant with the rest of the Canons. So when the Canon says for such a priest not to officiate, together with officiation the higher and more catholic operation of holy orders, it is to be noted that the lower and more particular sacred acts of holy orders were included by it. As for the other prerogatives which it says are to remain unaffected, they are: a) the right to wear the guise of the cleric, and not to be relegated to the status of laymen — which rights are forfeited by those who have been deposed for canonical crimes, according to c. XXI of the 6th; b) the right to sit in company with the priests, according to the present Canon of this Ecumenical Council, c. I of Ancyra, and c. XXVII of Basil; c) the right to stand in company with the priests, according to c. III of the present 6th; d) the right to enjoy the outward honor, according to c. I of Antioch, or, in other words, the honor to participate in conventions held outside of the churches, or, according to Balsamon, the honor to participate in activities conducted outside of the Bema, or rather to say the honor attaching to the outward guise of the presbyters, which they wear; e) the right to retain the name of priest, according to Balsamon. Zonaras and Balsamon, however, say further, in interpreting the same c. IX of Neocaesarea, that such priests are even to be allowed to commune within the Holy Bema (though the Canon of Basil merely allows priests who have not committed the sin to completion to commune in company with presbyters and deacons when they have been suspended for only a while). So these privileges and these honors are the rest of the prerogatives in regard to which the Canon says that they are to be retained by presbyters who have confessed their sin; but not also any active operation, or blessing, or any other sacerdotal act. For nowhere do the above Canons bestow upon those who have been degraded from holy orders the right to perform any and every sacerdotal function, but only the right to sit and to stand with their fellow functionaries, and, generally speaking, the outward honor, and nothing more. Hence how can it be said that this one Canon alone of Neocaesarea is in conflict with and contrary to six other Canons and two Ecumenical Canons, namely, cc. III and XXVI of the present Council, cc. I and II of Ancyra, c. I of Antioch, and c. XX of Basil? But, at any rate, there can be no antinomy and strife between erudite men of the Spirit on account of the absurdity. So the one Canon ought to be understood in accordance with the six Canons. But as for the view that the expression “let him offer” used in c. IX of Neocaesarea includes every sacerdotal function and service, and that the expression “the rest” used therein denotes sitting and honor, even Balsamon took it thus in interpreting the present Canon of the 6th, but as for the “sacred Canon” which it mentions, he thought that this referred to c. IX of Neocaesarea, and that the present Canon of the 6th is consistent with that one. These things having been thus stated, I marvel whence the present-day custom has arisen of letting priests degraded from holy orders pronounce blessings and conduct sanctifications, at a time when neither the Canons say this nor do the exegetes themselves. But even though it is true that Novel 79 of Leo the Wise says for presbyters, deacons, and subdeacons married and on this account deposed from office are not to get the mundane guise, or to be condemned to be denied the right to perform other service in the church that it is not illicit (or, in other words, that is not unlawful and contrary to the Canons) for them to undertake, yet the fact remains that it says that this service is something else — that is to say, suited to servants, and to ecclesiastics (and see the Footnote to c. XV of the 6th), and not blessing and sanctification, and the sacred acts of holy orders which it is illicit for such persons to undertake and contrary to the Canons. I realize that when these facts are stated, they appear severe and grievous to priests who have been deposed or have resigned on account of some sin of theirs. But once we have taken in hand to interpret the Canons, we are determined to tell whatever is pleasing and right of all that is in the Canons, and those who possess fear of God and a good conscience owe it to themselves to take cognizance of the truth and to correct themselves accordingly. These things are what spiritual fathers ought to tell those in holy orders who have not been duly taken to task and censured; and they should do this not by way of reprimand but by way of advice, leaving everything to their conscience, so that if they wish to do so of their own accord, they may either resign from the duties of holy orders or not resign.
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