Quinisext Council, Canon 85.previous | next
“By the mouth of two or three witnesses must every word be verified” (Deut. 17:6 and 19:15; cf. Matt. 18:16), we are taught by Scripture. In the case therefore of those slaves who are being freed by their masters, we prescribe that they shall enjoy this honor pursuant to the testimony of three witnesses. Those having present knowledge shall offer verification to the freedom which they are bestowing of their own accord.
Since according to the civil laws the freedom of slaves was a thing which had no honor attached to it, therefore and on this account whenever any testimony was being offered concerning it, five or even more witnesses had to be presented, in order to insure the proof of it. In annulling this, the present Canon decrees that only three witnesses are sufficient to verify the liberation of such a slave: since the Holy Writ says that every word must be established, or, more explicitly speaking, must be verified by the mouth of two or three witnesses. See also Ap. c. LXXXII.
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