4th Ecumenical Council: Upholding the Council of Chalcedon

Council of Chalcedon

Embrace the Timeless Teachings of the Council of Chalcedon

Welcome to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’s online resource, dedicated to promoting the rich theological heritage of the Council of Chalcedon. Explore the wisdom of the early Church Fathers and historical data that affirms the central role of Chalcedon in shaping our faith.

The Council of Chalcedon: Upholding Christ’s Dual Nature

The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) was the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian Church, convened to address Christological controversies. Its primary achievement was the Chalcedonian Definition, which established that Jesus Christ is one person in two natures, fully human and divine, without confusion, change, division, or separation.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, a revered Church Father, eloquently defended Christ’s dual nature, stating, “For he is one and the same, being at once consubstantial with the Father as to his Godhead, and also consubstantial with us as to his manhood.”

The Importance of the Council of Chalcedon in Church History

The Council of Chalcedon was an essential milestone in developing Christian theology. It marked the culmination of a century-long debate about the nature of Jesus Christ, and its decisions remain central to the faith of millions of Christians today.

The council’s teachings were built upon the foundations laid by previous ecumenical councils, such as Nicaea (325 AD), Constantinople (381 AD), and Ephesus (431 AD), which had already affirmed the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the status of Mary as Theotokos.

Quotes from the Church Fathers on Christ’s Dual Nature

The Church Fathers played a vital role in defending the Chalcedonian Definition. St. Athanasius, for instance, wrote, “The Son of God became man so that we might become God.” This statement highlights the importance of Christ’s dual nature in our salvation.

Another influential Church Father, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, explained Christ’s dual nature, saying, “He was baptized as a man—but he remitted sins as God… He was tempted as man, but he conquered as God.”

St. Leo the Great, the Pope during the Council of Chalcedon, authored the Tome of Leo, a vital document that contributed to the Chalcedonian Definition. In it, he stated, “The properties of both natures and substances were preserved entire and came together into a single person.”

Condemning Heresies: The Council of Chalcedon’s Stance against Eutychianism and Monophysitism

The Council of Chalcedon was also crucial in condemning heretical teachings that threatened the integrity of Christian doctrine. By reaffirming the dual nature of Christ, the council rejected Eutychianism and Monophysitism, which argued that Jesus Christ had only one nature, a divine-human hybrid.

The Legacy of the Council of Chalcedon: Uniting the Christian World

The Council of Chalcedon remains an enduring symbol of unity for Christians worldwide, as the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and many Protestant denominations have embraced its teachings. By upholding the Council’s decisions, we adhere to the historic Christian faith and preserve the legacy of the early Church Fathers.

The Council’s Impact on Christian Worship and Liturgy

The Council of Chalcedon’s teachings has had a lasting impact on Christian worship and liturgy. The Chalcedonian Definition is often included in the recitation of the Nicene Creed during services, reaffirming the congregation’s commitment to the historic Christian faith. Additionally, the Council’s decisions have shaped our understanding of the Eucharist, emphasizing the importance of Christ’s dual nature in the sacrament.

The Chalcedonian Tradition: A Timeless Treasure

The Chalcedonian tradition is a timeless treasure that has withstood the test of time. As Christians, we are called to preserve and promote the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon. By doing so, we honor the legacy of the Church Fathers who have gone before us and contribute to the ongoing mission of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Join Us in Celebrating the Council of Chalcedon

We invite you to join us in celebrating the Council of Chalcedon and embracing its teachings. Explore our resources to deepen your understanding of the early Church Fathers, engage with fellow believers in discussions about Christ’s dual nature, and participate in worship services that honor the Chalcedonian tradition. Together, let us uphold the historic Christian faith and bear witness to the transformative power of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine.

The Dogmas

The Fourth Ecumenical Council, known as the Council of Chalcedon, occurred in 451 AD. The council produced a key doctrinal statement called the “Chalcedonian Definition” or “Chalcedonian Creed,” which addressed the nature of Jesus Christ. The council’s objective was to understand the relationship between Christ’s divinity and humanity clearly.

Here is the Chalcedonian Definition in its original form:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

In summary, the Chalcedonian Definition asserts that Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, divine and human, united without confusion, change, division, or separation. Each nature retains its own properties, and the two natures are united in one person and one subsistence.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council

Excerpt From The Rudder

Fourth Ecumenical Council.


The holy and Ecumenical Fourth Council was held in Chalcedon, an important city in Bithynia, during the reign of Emperor Marcianus and Pulcheria in the year 451 after Christ. The number of Fathers attending it was 630, the most notable of whom were Anatolius of Constantinople, Paschasinus and Lucinsius, bishops, together with Boniface and Basil presbyters, and with these were also Bishop Julian, Maximus the Bishop of Antioch, and Juvenal the Bishop of Jerusalem, acting as legates of the most holy Leo, Bishop of Rome. They condemned and consigned to anathema unfortunate Eutyches, an archimandrite, and his aid Dioscorus, who had become the Bishop of Alexandria after Cyril. For these men, having fallen into the error which was the opposite of that of Nestorius, shared also the latter’s fate, and went to perdition like him. For Nestorius had divided the one Christ into two persons and two substances, while these men boldly confused the two natures of Christ, the divine and the human, of which He is composed and in which He is known and adored, and conflated them into one single nature, the fools failing to understand that this recusant belief led to the conclusion that Christ was not of the same nature as the Father and of the same nature as human beings, but of some other and different nature. Hence this holy Council, following the Creed of the First Nicene Council and that of the Second Constantinopolitan Council and the letter of Cyril of Alexandria, which is the same as saying the definition laid down by the Third Council, held in Ephesus, but indeed also the letter of the most holy Leo of Rome, left unaltered the common Creed of the First Ec. Council, held in Nicaea, and of the Second one, held in Constantinople, and it anathematized those who might dare to add anything to or to subtract anything from it; and it made it its own definition of the Orthodox faith, which runs as follows (Act 5): “Pursuantly therefore to the divine Fathers we all consonantly join voices in teaching outright that we confess one and the same Son or Lord Jesus Christ, perfect the same in divinity, and perfect the same in humanity. Truly a God, and truly a human being the same (composed) of a soul and body and one who is at the same time of like essence with the Father as respecting divinity, and of like essence the same with us as respecting humanity, in all respects like us, apart from sinfulness. Though begotten before the ages out of the Father as respects divinity, yet in latter days born out of Mary the Virgin and Theotoke, as respects humanity, the same for us and for our salvation. One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten (composed) of two natures unconfusably, inconvertibly, indivisibly, inseparably identifiable, there being nowhere anything removed or annulled in the difference of the natures on account of the union, but rather on the contrary the peculiarity of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one substance. Not being divided or parted into two persons, but (forming) on the contrary one and the same Son and only-begotten God Logos, Lord Jesus Christ, precisely as the Prophets formerly had prophesied concerning him and as he himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did explicitly teach us, and the Symbol (i.e., Creed) of the Fathers has imparted the matter to us.” On the other hand, this Council annulled and invalidated the Latrocinium (or Robber Synod) which had previously been assembled in Ephesus A.D. 448, at which Dioscorus presided, and spoke in defense of Eutyches, but the legates from the Bishop of Rome were not listened to, while St. Flavian of Constantinople, after being kicked and beaten with many whips, died. In this Council (Act 8) blessed Theodoret said: “Anathema to Nestorius, and to whoever refuses to call Mary the Holy Theotoke and whoever divides the one and only-begotten Son.” In addition he also anathematized Eutyches, and every heresy, and after subscribing to all that had been decreed and adopted by the Council, he was justified and took the seat assigned to him in the Council, and undertook the representation of his province. Besides all these matters, the present Council also issued and promulgated the present thirty Canons, which are to be found in its Act 15, ratified and confirmed by name and definitely by c. II of the Sixth, and indefinitely by c. I of the Seventh; which Canons are necessary for the decorum and constitutional organization of the Church. As for the Minutes of the present Council, they are divided into three volumes. The first volume contains various letters and the transactions endorsed in Constantinople by Flavian, and those endorsed in Ephesus by the Latrocinium (or Robber Synod). The second volume comprises the sixteen Acts of this same Council which was held in Chalcedon. The third volume contains various letters of the Council and of the Emperors, and some other matters which were done after it was held and which related to it. (See Dositheus, from p. 331 to p. 397; and the second volume of the Conciliar Records.)


1. We pronounce it just and right that the Canons promulgated by the Holy Fathers, in each and every Council down to the present time, continue in full force and effect.

(c. II of the 6th; c. I of the 7th.)


The present Canon deems it just and right that all the Canons issued by the Holy Fathers from the beginning down to the present day, whether serving the purpose of a more exact formulation of the dogmas, or that of providing for ecclesiastical discipline, at each and every Ecumenical and regional Council or any local Synod, should continue in full force and effect, that is to say, should remain valid and enforceable.

Canon II of the Sixth and Canon I of the Seventh Ec. C., dealing with the same matters as the present Canon deals with, expressly decree that the Apostolical Canons, and the Canons of Councils and Synods held theretofore, and those of the Fathers of the Church should remain confirmed. See also what is said of Canons in general at the commencement of this Handbook in the Prolegomena (p. xvi).

2. If any Bishop ordain anyone for money, and make merchandise of the unvendible grace, and perform the ordination of a Bishop, Chorepiscopus, Presbyter, Deacon, or any one on the roll of the Clergy, with a view to gain; or nominate any Steward, Ecdicus, or Paramonarius, or anyone else that belongs to the canon, for money, with the object of making a shameful profit for himself: let him who is found guilty of having undertaken this stand in peril of his office; and let him who has been thus ordained have no benefit from such traffic in ordinations or nominations, but, on the contrary, let him be without any claim upon the dignity or job which he has thus obtained by means of money. If, in fact, anyone even appear as a middleman or factor or intermediary for such shameful and illicit deals, let him too, if he be a clergyman, forfeit his office, but if he be a layman or a monk, let him be anathematized.

(Ap. cc. XXIX, XXX; cc. XXII, XXIII of the 6th; cc. III, IV, V, XIX of the 7th; c. XCI of Basil; c. XII of Laodicea; the letters of Gennadius and of Tarasius.)


According to Zonaras, Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons are ordained by carrying out the rite called chirotonia (or chirotony); Anagnosts (or Readers, or Lectors), on the other hand, and Psalts (or Cantors or Choirmen), and Hegoumeni (or Priors) are ordained by carrying out the rite called chirothesia (or chirothesy) and sealing them; others are merely nominated, without a seal, such as Stewards (Oeconomi), and Defensors (Ecdici), and Churchwardens (Paramonarii, i.e., Prosmonarii). So the present Canon prescribes that if any bishop qualifies any of these or other clergymen for money, and out of greed sells the unvendible grace of the Spirit, he shall be deposed from the prelacy. In addition, the one so ordained is not to be allowed to profit by or derive any advantage from the ordination or nomination gained by this trafficking, but, on the contrary, he shall be expelled from the holy orders and office thus acquired. If anyone acts as middleman or intermediary in connection with these dealings of greed, in case he is a clergyman he is to be deposed, but if he is a monk or a layman, he is to be anathematized. Read also Ap. cc. XXIX and XXX.

3. It is come to the (knowledge of the) Council that some of those who had been listed in the roll of the Clergy hire other men’s estates for the sake of filthy lucre, and undertake to negotiate secular affairs, to the neglect of the Divine liturgy, and betake themselves to the families of secular men, whose estates they undertake to manage out of love of money. Therefore the holy and great Council decrees that no Bishop, Clergyman, or Monk shall henceforth be allowed to farm any estate or office, or to involve himself in secular cares, unless he be unavoidably called by laws to the guardianship of minors, or the Bishop permit him to take care of the affairs of the church, or of those of orphans or widows unprovided for, and of persons in especial need of ecclesiastical assistance, for the fear of God. If anyone presume to transgress hereafter any of the rules herein decreed, that per son shall be liable to ecclesiastical penalties (or penances).

(Ap. cc. VI, LXXXI, LXXXIII; c. VII of the 4th; c. XI of the lst-&-2nd; c. XVIII of Carthage; and c. X of the 7th.)


The present Canon decrees that inasmuch as it has come to the ears of the Council that some clergymen, for the sake of making a shameful profit, are wont to rent the real estate of others, and to undertake outside work as contractors, or, in other words, to involve themselves in secular affairs for pecuniary profit, while neglecting the services attached to holy orders, and, on the other hand, entering the homes of secular persons and assuming the management of their property on account of avarice. For this reason this holy Council has decreed that henceforth no bishop or clergyman or monk shall rent real estate or involve himself in the management of secular affairs, except only in case he should be called upon by the laws to become a guardian of minors (children are called minors from the time they are born until the fourteenth years of their age), or a curator, by which term is meant one who takes care of and attends to the needs of adolescents (persons are called adolescents from the fourteenth to the twenty-fifth years of their age), and unless the bishop of the city should urge him to take care of the affairs of the church, or orphans, and widows unprovided for, and other persons that are in especial need of ecclesiastical help and assistance, nor for the sake of any profit or gain, but only for the fear of God. If anyone, on the other hand, should dare at any time hereafter to transgress these rules, such person shall become liable to the ecclesiastical penalties. But what are these? They are those prescribed by the Apostolical Canons. Their forfeiture, that is to say, of the clericate. Read also Ap. c. VI.

4. Let them who sincerely and truly enter upon monastic life be accorded due honor. But inasmuch as some use the monk’s garb to disturb the affairs of the Church and civil government, by going round in the cities negligently disregarding their duties, and even undertaking to build themselves monasteries, it is decreed that no one shall anywhere build or establish any monastery or any oratory (i.e., prayerhouse] without the consent and approval of the Bishop of the city; and that Monks in every city and country be subject to the Bishop, and embrace quietude, and pay heed only to fasting and prayer, while continuing in the places patiently whereunto they have been assigned, without intruding upon or meddling in ecclesiastical affairs, nor leaving their own monasteries, unless at any time they be permitted to do so by the Bishop of the city on account of some exigency; and that no one shall receive a slave into the monasteries to become a monk, without his owner’s consent and approval. We have decreed that anyone transgressing this rule of ours shall be excluded from communion, in order that the name of God be not blasphemed. The Bishop of the city, however, is required to make proper provision for monasteries.

(Regarding this first part of this Canon, cf. c. XXIV of the 4th; c. XXI of the 7th; and c. I of the lst-&-2nd. Regarding the second part, Ap. c. LXXXII; cc. XL, XLII of Basil; cc. LXXIII, XC of Carthage; c. LXXXV of the 6th and c. III of Gangra.)


The following things are prescribed by the present Canon. Those who truly and without any hypocrisy adopt the monastic life deserve to be duly honored. But since some employ the monastic habit as a pretext and lure to get themselves honored, and bring about confusion in ecclesiastical and civil affairs by wanting to meddle therein and by carelessly going about the cities, and make it their endeavor to build monasteries of their own, therefore it has seemed reasonable that no monk, either in a village, or in a city, or in the wilderness, or in a desert, or in any other place shall be allowed to build and establish a monastery or an oratory, without the consent and approval of the bishop of the region in question. Monks living in any city or village shall be subject to the authority of the bishop of the region in question, and shall observe quietness of life and engage in only fasting and praying, and shall remain in those monasteries wherein they were shorn, without leaving them (see c. XXI of the 7th) and involving themselves in ecclesiastical and civil affairs, unless as a matter of need and necessity they be appointed to do so by the bishop, after he has judged them to be fitted for such an undertaking. It has seemed reasonable in addition that no slave be admitted into a monastery to be shorn as a monk without the consent of his owner, lest other men seeing the monks engaged in worldly affairs, and the masters grieved about their slaves, be led to blaspheme the order of the monks, and hence through them the name of God be blasphemed. Anyone that violates this Canon or transgresses it shall be excommunicated. Yet, just as monks ought to confine their activities to the works that belong to monks, so ought also bishops to have diligence and foresight in providing for their monasteries, by protecting the monks and bestowing alms in exigencies either out of their own pocket or out of the poor money of the church, in accordance with Ap. c.XLI and c.XXV of Antioch, for two reasons: 1) in order that the monks may remain quiet and free from temptation; and 2) in order that he may himself derive therefrom something in the way of benefit to his soul.

Canon XVII of the 7th Ee. C. likewise commands that the bishop shall prohibit monks from leaving their monasteries, and from undertaking to build oratories without having the expenses requisite to finish and furnish them. In addition thereto, c. I of the lst-&-2nd refuses permission to anyone to build a monastery without the consent of the bishop, or after building one to become its owner and lord. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. LXXXII, and c. XXIV of the present Council.

5. As regards Bishops or Clergymen who go from city to city, it has seemed fitting that the Canons laid down by the Holy Fathers should remain in effect and be enforced.

(Ap. cc. XIV, XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; c. XVII of the 6th; cc. III, XVI, XXI of Antioch; cc. I, II, XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica; and cc. LVII, LXIII, and XC of Carthage.)


This Canon prescribes that those Canons shall remain valid which were issued by the Holy Fathers to prohibit bishops as well as clergymen from going from one city or province to another city or province. Read them also in Ap. cc. XIV and XV.

6. It is decreed that no one shall be ordained at large either a Presbyter or a Deacon, nor anything else at all in the ecclesiastical ranks unless he be particularly assigned to the church of some city, or to a martyry, or to a monastery. As for those ordained at large the holy Council has determined that any such chirothesy shall be null and void, and that such ordinees shall not be allowed to officiate anywhere, to the dishonor of the ordainer.

(c. XIII of Neocaesarea.)


Wishing to prevent easily those in holy orders from going or being transferred from one locality to another in violation of the Canons, the cause and root of this evil being that they are ordained at large and indefinitely, the holy Council decrees in its present Canon that henceforth neither a priest nor a deacon nor any other ecclesiastic shall be ordained in such a manner, but must in any case be assigned to a church of a city or village, or to a monastery, or to the church of some martyr, to be mentioned by the prelate in the course of reciting the ordination prayer, by saying “The divine grace ordaineth so-and-so a Presbyter or Deacon of such or such a church, or monastery, by name — in identically the same manner, that is to say, in which the name of the province is pronounced aloud in the ordination of every bishop. As for all those who have been ordained indefinitely, the holy Council has ruled that the ordination be invalid, and that those so ordained shall not be allowed to officiate in any region; in order that the prelate performing the ordination contrary to the Canons be dishonored in consequence of this lack of the right to officiate, and be led to sobriety as a result of this dishonor, and be discouraged from doing so again. But please bewail the fact, O reader, that in spite of the present Canon during the ordination of a deacon or presbyter today the name of a particular church or of a monastery is not specially mentioned, as required by the terms of this Canon, though this prescription appears to be an element of the ordination along with the other components thereof, notwithstanding that the violators of this rule fail to take this into account at all.

7. We have decreed in regard to those who have once been enrolled in the Clergy or who have become Monks shall not join the army nor obtain any secular position of dignity. Let those be anathematized who dare to do this and Jail to repent, so as to return to that which they had previously chosen on God’s account.

(Ap. cc. LXXXI, LXXXIII; cc. III, VI of the 4th; c. XI of the lst-&-2nd; c. XVIII of Carthage; and c. X of the 7th.)


The present Canon prescribes that clergymen and monks must not become soldiers, nor assume secular dignities. Those who do these things and fail to return again to their former occupation in life, which they chose on God’s account, are to be anathematized. But why is it that Ap. c. LXXXIII only deposes these men from office, whereas this Canon anathematizes them? Either the former Canon is referring to those, according to Zonaras and the other interpreters, who engage in such things while wearing the habit of the clergy; whereas the present Canon is speaking of those who discard even the clergyman’s or monk’s habit before engaging in such things. Or perhaps the present Canon is referring to those who, after once daring to do such things, refuse afterwards to repent and to return to their former life (which the Ap. c. does not say), and for this reason it has made them liable to severer punishment on the ground that they are unrepentant. See also Ap. c. VI and c. XVI of the present Fourth.

8. As for the Clergymen attached to poor houses or monasteries or martyries, let them remain under the authority of the bishop of the city in question, and not disrespectfully desert their own Bishop, in accordance with the teaching imparted by the holy Fathers. As regards those who dare to defy any such formal ruling, in any manner whatever, and who refuse to submit to their own Bishop, in case they are clergymen let them be liable to the penalties prescribed by the Canons, but if they are monks or laymen, let them be excluded from communion.


The decree of the present Canon is as follows. That as for any clergymen or persons in holy orders who are in churches belonging to poorhouses, orphan asylums, homes for the aged, hospitals, or monasteries, or to churches of martyrs, they must remain always subject to the bishop of the city in question, in accordance with the tradition received from the Holy Fathers, and not abscond from the authority of their own bishop disrespectfully. All those who dare to violate the present Canon in any way, and who refuse to submit to their own bishop, in case they are in holy orders or are clergymen, they are to be liable to the penalties prescribed by the Canons, and deemed reasonable by this same bishop of the region in question; but if they are monks or laymen, they are to be excommunicated. But why does the Canon, after mentioning further above only clergymen and monks, say also laymen further below? In order to expose those laymen on whose boldness and protection the clergymen and monks rely in showing disrespectfulness to the prelate and refusing to submit to his authority.

9. If any Clergyman has a dispute with another, let him not leave his own Bishop and resort to secular courts, but let him first submit his case to his own Bishop, or let it be tried by referees chosen by both parties and approved by the Bishop. Let anyone who acts contrary hereto be liable to Canonical penalties. If, on the other hand, a Clergyman has a dispute with his own Bishop, or with some other Bishop, let it be tried by the Synod of the province. But if any Bishop or Clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him.

(Ap. c. LXXIV; c. VI of the 1st; cc. XVII, XXI of the 4th; cc. XIV, XV of Antioch; cc. VIII, XII, XIV, XV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXXVI, LXXXVII, XCVI, CV, CXV, CXVIII, CXXXIV, CXXXVII, CXXXVIII, CXXXIX.)


When one clergyman has a dispute with another clergyman, the present Canon prescribes that he must not leave his own bishop and present his case to secular courts, but, on the contrary, he must first present it to his bishop, or else, with the permission and consent of his bishop, he may have his case tried by referees (or chosen judges), with whom both parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, are well pleased. As for any clergyman that does otherwise, let him be subjected by the bishops to canonical penalties. But when a clergyman has a dispute with his own bishop, let the case be tried before the Synod of the province. When, again, a bishop or a clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan, let him go to the Exarch of the diocese, or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let the case be tried by him.

Canon XVIII of Carthage prescribes that if presbyters and deacons are accused, the presbyter shall choose six, and the deacon three, bishops from neighboring districts, and let their own bishop try their case in conjunction with these others; and that two months’ time shall be allowed them too, and that the persons of their accusers be examined in the same way as in the case of a trial by the bishop alone. But as for the other clergymen, they are to be tried by the local bishop alone. But a single bishop cannot decide the case of any bishop or presbyter or deacon, according to c. CXVIII of the same Ec. C. of Carthage. Canon LXXXVII of the same C. says that if clergymen charged with any crime fail to prove themselves innocent within a year, they shall no longer have the right to present a defense. Canon CXV of the same C. says that if a clergyman quarreling with anyone asks the Emperor for a civil trial court, and refuses to accept the bishop’s decision, he shall be deposed from office. Justinian Novel 123 (found in Book III of the Basilica, Title I, ch. 35) further decrees that anyone who has any matter of dispute to be tried in court with a clergyman, or a monk, or a deaconess, or a nun, or any ascetic woman, he shall first take his case to the bishop to whom the litigants in question are subject; and if the bishop decide the case to the satisfaction of both parties, the ruler (i.e., the civil magistrate) is obliged to carry out the sentence pronounced by the bishop. And in the same Novel, ch. 36, it is declared that if the matter is an ecclesiastical one, the civil magistrates are to have nothing to do with it at all, but only the bishops, in accordance with the Canons, are to decide it. But in the same Novel, ch. 8, it is decreed that “if the accused one is a bishop, his Metropolitan shall examine into the facts of his case; if, on the other hand, the accused one himself is a Metropolitan, the Archbishop to whom he is subject shall examine into the facts of his case; but if the one accused is a presbyter, or a deacon, or a clergyman, or an abbot, or a monk, his bishop shall consider his case, and, according to the gravity of each one’s offense, shall impose the proper Canonical penances (or penalties).” Read also Ap. c. LXXIV and c. VI of the First.

10. Let no clergyman be entitled to be on the roll of the churches of two different churches at the same time, i.e., of that in which he was originally ordained, and of that to which he has resorted on the plea that it appeals to him more than the other because of its being a larger church, when in reality he is actuated by vainglory. As for those who do so, let them be reinstated in their own church, wherein they were originally ordained, and let them officiate there only. If, on the other hand, anyone has been already translated from one church to another, let him have nothing to do with the affairs of the former church, as regards the martyry connected to it, or the poorhouses, or the inns, administered by it. As for those who dare to do anything hereby prohibited, after the definition of this great and ecumenical Council, this holy Council has decided that he shall forfeit his own rank.

(Ap. c. XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, XX of the 4th; cc. XVII, XVIII of the 6th; c. XV of the 7th; c. III of Antioch; cc. LXIII, XCVIII of Carthage; cc. XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica.)


The present Canon decrees that it is not permissible for a clergyman to be enrolled at the same time in the churches of two different cities (or even of one and the same city, according to c. XV of the 7th), namely, in the one in which he was ordained in the beginning, and in another to which he went thereafter on the pretext of its being a larger church, on account of vainglory and greed. As for all those who do this hereafter, they are to be compelled to return to their former church, where they were ordained, and are to perform the functions of the clergy there only. But if anyone has succeeded already in having himself translated, or transferred, from one church to another, and remains thus translated, let him no longer receive any apportionment from the affairs of the former church, by which is meant inns, poorhouses, and martyric temples. Whoever should dare after this Canon of the great Council to do any of these things, he is to be deposed from office. Novel 16 (found in Title III of Book III of the Basilica) prescribes that if the clergyman of any church should die, another one is not immediately to take his place, but that if there are more clergymen in other churches among those already ordained, let one of them be taken to fill the place left vacant by the clergyman in question, until the clergymen of each particular church reach the number prescribed in the beginning. See also Ap. c. XV.

11. As for all those who are indigent and in need of assistance, upon proof, we have made it a rule that they are to travel only with pacific ecclesiastical letters, and not with recommendatory letters; for recommendatory letters are to be granted only to persons who are under suspicion.

(Ap. cc. XII, XXXIII; c. XIII of the 4th; c. XVII of the 6th; cc. VII, VIII, and XI of Antioch; cc. XLI, XLII of Laodicea; cc. VII, VIII of Sardica; cc. XXXI, XCVII, and CXVI of Carthage.)


All those who are indigent and in need of help, the present Canon decrees, are first to be investigated as to whether they are truly in need of aid, and, this being ascertained, after examination, to be a fact, they are to receive from the bishops little letters called “pacific” letters on account of the fact that they used to afford peace to those who were suffering from wrath and the unjust decision of civil magistrates and dynasts (such letters were also called letters dimissory); but they are not to receive also letters recommendatory. For letters recommendatory are to be given for the most part to those persons whose reputation, or repute, had previously been besmirched, and who are recommended and declared innocent in the recommendatory letters. Read the Interpretation of and the Footnote to Ap. c. XIV.

12. 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.

13. Strange Clergymen and Anagnosts are not to be allowed to conduct services anywhere in a different city without having letters recommendatory from their own Bishop.

(Ap. cc. XII, XV.)


The present Canon prescribes that strange clergymen and anagnosts are not to be allowed to perform any function of their clericate unless they are provided with letters recommendatory attesting both their ordination and their orthodoxy and the guiltlessness of their past life; though as laymen that may commune there. Read also the interpretations of Ap. cc. XII and XV, together with the series of parallel Canons; for the space afforded by the present Canon would not suffice even to admit of their enumeration.

14. Inasmuch as Anagnosts and Psalts in some provinces have been permitted to marry, the holy Council has made it a rule that none of them shall be allowed to take a wife that is of a different faith. As for those who have already had children as a result of such a marriage, if they have already had their offspring baptized by heretics, let them bring them into the communion of the catholic Church. But if they have not baptized them, let them no longer have any right to baptize them with heretics, nor, indeed, even to contract a marriage with a heretic, or a Jew, or a Greek, unless they first promise and undertake to convert the person joined to the Orthodox Christian to the Orthodox faith. If, on the other hand, anyone transgresses this rule of the holy Council, let him be liable to a Canonical penalty.

(Ap. c. XXVI; cc. VI and LXXII of the 6th; cc. X and XXXI of Laodicea; cc. XIX, XXIX, XXXIII of Carthage.)


Notwithstanding that Ap. c. XXVI commands that Anagnosts and Psalts may marry after being installed by chirothesy, it appears from what the present Canon says that this was not permitted everywhere (and especially in Africa, according to its c. XIX). So this holy Council makes it a rule that in those regions where this is allowed that no Anagnost or Psalt shall take a woman of a different faith to wife. All those, on the other hand, who have already begotten children by such an unlawful marriage must bring them into the catholic Church. Accordingly, if they have baptized a child with the baptism of heretics, in case that heretical baptism with which the child has been baptized does not differ from the Orthodox baptism so far as concerns the matter and form, but, on the contrary, is acceptable to the Orthodox Church, they shall have the child anointed only with myron (or chrism), as Zonaras says (though it would be more correct and safer for them to be baptized, seeing that the baptism of all heretics !s in the nature of a pollution, and not a baptism; read also the Interpretations of Ap. cc. XLVI, XLVII, and LXVIII). But if that baptism was not acceptable the child is to be rebaptized. But if, on the other hand, they have not yet baptized the children, they are not to baptize them any longer with the heretical baptism, nor are they to join them in marriage with a heretic, that is to say, either with a Jew or with a Greek, with one, in other words, who is an infidel and idolater. But if the heretic should promise to become an Orthodox Christian, let him first become one in accordance with his promise, and then let the marriage be performed. If anyone transgresses these rules, let him be liable to the penalties prescribed by the Canons, that is to say, by the foresaid Apostolic Canons.


In a similar manner c. XXXI of Laodicea commands Christians not to give their children (in marriage) to heretics, but rather to take any from them provided that they promise to become Christians. In addition, c. X of Laodicea, i.e., of the same Council, prohibits ecclesiastics from joining their children in marriage with heretics. This same rule is also laid down by c. XXIX of Carthage; while c. LXXII of the 6th even goes so far as to annul and invalidate any marriage contracted, not only by a clergyman, but also by any Orthodox Christian man or woman in general with heretics. But as for those who from the first and originally were heretics, and the one of them was later baptized by them, and they do not want to be separated, let them not be divorced, according to the same Canon and according to St. Paul, though St. Paul prohibits marriage with infidels, by saying: “Be ye not unequally yoked with infidels” (II Cor. 6:14). Read also Ap. c. XXVI.

15. Let no woman be ordained a deaconess before the age of forty, and even then after a strict test. But if she, after receiving the gift of chirothesy and remaining for some time in the ministry, proceeds to give herself in marriage, thus insulting the grace of God, let any such actress be anathematized together with the man who has joined himself with her in marriage.

(c. XIX of the 1st; cc. XIV and XI of the 6th; c. XLIV of Basil.)


Owing to the ease with which women are deceived and the ease with which they are ruined, the present Canon commands that no woman shall be ordained a deaconess if she is less than forty years old. Yet even if she is forty years old, again, it forbids her to be ordained at random and perfunctorily; on the contrary, it requires the ordination to be performed only after a strict investigation of her life and past habits. In case, however, even after being thus ordained and serving as a deaconess for some time, she afterwards scorns the grace of God and marries, any such woman is to be anathematized together with the man who has married her. Armenopoulos, moreover, says (Book VI, Title III) that those who have induced deaconesses and nuns to become prostitutes are to have their noses cut off along with those of the women whom they have led into prostitution. See also the Interpretation of c. XIX of the First Ec. C. and the third Footnote thereto.

16. If any virgin has dedicated herself to the Lord God, or any men likewise have become monks, let them not be permitted to engage in marriage. If, however, they be found to be doing this, let them be denied communion, and be excluded therefrom. But we have made it a rule that the local Bishop is to have control of kindliness in regard to the treatment of them.

(c. VII of the 4th; c. XLIV of the 6th; c. XIX of Carthage; and cc. VI, XVIII, XIX, XX, and LX of Basil.)


In times of old some women wearing lay garb would dedicate themselves to God, as becomes plain from what is said about this in c. XLV of the 6th, and they would agree while in full possession of their reasoning powers to remain virgins; and after being further tried and found true to their promise, they would be numbered among the other virgins (for, according to c. XVIII of Basil, any such woman used to be called a virgin. Moreover, they assumed the black habit, according to c. XLV of the 6th). Hence it is that the present Canon decrees that these virgins, and equally so monks in particular, who either as an inference justified by their keeping silent about it are inclined to celibacy, or when asked about it actually agree to remain virgins, in accordance with c. XIX of Basil, are not permitted to marry and to violate the agreements and stipulations which they have made with God. For, if the agreements which men make with one another are confirmed by the name of God being taken in the midst thereof, as St. Gregory the Theologian says, how great indeed is the danger of their being found to be violators of those agreements which they have made with God directly! And if, according to Basil the Great (Ascetic Ordinance 21) a monk, as having reaped fruit and having dedicated his body to God, no longer has control over what has been dedicated to God nor any right to have it for the use and convenience of his relatives, how much more he is unable to have it for the purpose of carnal intercourse! If, nevertheless, there be found some to have done this, let them be excommunicated. But let the local bishop have the power to treat them with philanthropy or kindness, and either to mitigate their punishment or to shorten the time of their penance. This does not mean that the marriage tie may remain indissoluble, but, on the contrary, it is implied that the parties to the marriage are to be divorced from each other. For, in point of fact, it is a case of fornication, or rather to say of adultery, and not a marriage that occurred, according to St. Basil the Great in his c. VI and his VIII; see alsto c. VII of the present Council.

17. As touching rural parishes, or country parishes, in any province, they shall remain in the undisputed possession of the bishops now holding them, and especially if they have held them in their possession and have managed them without coercion for thirty years or more. But if during a period of thirty years there has arisen or should arise some dispute concerning them, those claiming to have been unjustly treated shall be permitted to complain to the Synod of the province. But if anyone has been unjustly treated by his own Metropolitan, let him complain to the Exarch of the diocese, or let him have his case tried before the throne of Constantinople, according as he may choose. If, on the other hand, any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.

(Ap. c. LXXIV; c. VI of the 1st; cc. IX, XXI of the 4th; cc. XIV, XV of Antioch; cc. VIII, XII, XIV, XV, XVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXXVI, LXXXVII, XCVI, CV, CXV, CXVIII, CXXVIII, CXXIX, CXXX, CXXXVII, CXXXVIII, and CXXXIX; cc. XXV and XXXVIII of the 6th.)


Rural parishes are small parishes which are situated in outlying and distant parts of the country, and being inhabited by few human beings they used to be called monoecia (which word meant, in Greek, “lone habitations”). Country parishes, on the other hand, are parishes which were near cultivated fields and villages, and had a greater number of inhabitants. So it is these parishes in every province that the present Canon commands to remain inalienable and indetachable from the bishops to whom they belong, and especially if they have belonged to them and been under their authority for as many as thirty years in good faith and without coercion, that is to say, without their being forced to submit to it and without their being grabbed up on an unjust or unfair pretext. But if during the course of the thirty years there had arisen any dispute concerning them, or if after the enactment of the present Canon there should arise any dispute concerning them, those who claim to have been unjustly treated in regard thereto are given permission to have their dispute considered by the Synod of the province. If, again, anyone should claim to have been unjustly treated in regard thereto by his Metropolitan, let him refer his case to the Exarch and chief head of the diocese (whose function, however, was abolished or fell into desuetude after this Fourth Ec. C. was held, as we said in Footnote to c. IX of the present C.), or to the Bishop of Constantinople, as previously stated. If, on the other hand, there has heretofore been built any city by imperial authority, or if any be so built hereafter, then the neighboring bishop shall not try to subject it to his own authority and claim it as a parish of his own, since the order of the parishes of that church have to follow the civil laws and ordinances which may be decreed by the emperor in regard to the newly-built city, not vice versa.

Note that, after dividing this Canon into two sections, the Sixth Ec. C. incorporated in its own c. XXV that part of this present canon which ends with the words “complain to the Synod of the province,” while it incorporates the words following these to the end in its own c. XXXVIII. Note also that c.CXXIX of Carthage prescribes that if any bishop succeeds in converting any region of heretics to Orthodoxy and holding it for three years straight, without its being reclaimed by the one who ought to have reclaimed it, it shall no longer be subject to being reclaimed by him. The same Council’s c. CXXVIII declares that heretics converted to the catholic unity shall be subject to that throne to which the catholic union of Orthodox Christians situated therein had been subject of old. In addition, c. CXXX says that in case anyone deems any laity belonging to another to be wrongly held by him and appropriates it as his own, not by virtue of letters of the bishop possessing it, or at the request of the Council or Synod, but by despotism and assault, he shall lose that laity, even though it really were his, and even though he assert that he had letters from the chief head. Read also the Interpretations of Ap. c. LXXIV, of c. VI of the First Ec. C., and c. IX of the present Fourth Ec. C.

18. 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.

19. It has come to our ears that the canonically prescribed Synods of Bishops are not held in the provinces, and as a result of this fact many ecclesiastical matters in need of correction are neglected. The holy Council, therefore, has made it a rule, in accordance with the Canons of the Holy Fathers, for the Bishops to meet twice a year in convention somewhere in each province, wherever the Bishop of the Metropolis designates, and for all matters to be corrected that may come up. As for those Bishops, on the other hand, who fail to attend the meeting, but who, instead of doing so, remain at home in their respective cities, and lead their lives therein in good health and free from every indispensable and necessary occupation, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way.

(Ap. c. XXXVII; c. V. of the 1st; c. VIII of the 6th; c. VI of the 7th; c. XX of Antioch; cc. XXVI, LXXXI, LXXXIV, LXXXV, and CIV of Carthage.)


In view of the fact that the two Synods which were canonically arranged to take place twice in every year were not being held, and as a result of this many ecclesiastical affairs in need of adjustment were being neglected, the present Canon on this account decrees that the bishops shall meet twice a year in each province wherever the Metropolitan may deem fit, and adjust whatever affairs may arise from time to time for correction. As for any bishops, on the other hand, who, in spite of their being in good health and free from any necessary care, fail to attend the meeting, they are to be given a brotherly reprimand. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXVII.

20. As we have already decreed, it is not permissible for clergymen officiating in a church to be given a church in another city; but, on the contrary, they must rest content with the one in which they were originally deemed worthy to conduct divine services: except those who have gone over to another church as a result of their having been forced to flee from their own country. If any Bishop nevertheless admits a clergyman belonging to another Bishop, after promulgation of this rule, it has been decided that both of them, i.e., the Clergyman so admitted and the Bishop admitting him, are to be excluded from communion until such time as the Clergyman who has left his own city see fit to return to his own church.

(Ap. c. XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, X, XXIII of the 4th; cc. XVII, XVIII of the 6th; c. XV of the 7th; c. III of Antioch; cc. LXIII, XCVIII of Carthage; cc. XV, XVI, and XIX of Sardica.)


Clergymen (as has been stated in c. VIII) who are conducting services in one church are not permitted to be transferred to another in another city, but, on the contrary, they are obliged to stay in the one in which they happened originally to be appointed to officiate; except only those who have been compelled to flee from their motherland or home city by any necessity, or who have suffered an incursion of barbarians, and on that account have been transferred to another church (and who themselves must return to their own church whenever the incursion of barbarians has passed, according to c. XVIII of the 6th). Any bishop, after the present Canon has been put forth, who accepts a clergyman of another bishop, as well as the clergyman he accepted, shall be excommunicated from communion with his fellow bishops and fellow clergymen, until such time as the strange clergyman decides to go back to his own church. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XV.

21. Clergymen or laymen accusing Bishops or Clergymen are not to be allowed to file charges against them promiscuously and without investigation until their own reputation has been examined into.

(Ap. c. LXXIV; c. VI of the 2nd; cc. VIII, XXVII, CXXXVII, CXXXVIII, and CXXXIX of Carthage.)


The present Canon prescribes that those clergymen or laymen who accuse bishops or clergymen in regard to any matter that is not of a financial or private nature, but of an ecclesiastical and criminal nature, are not to be allowed to bring charges against them simply as a matter of course and without any previous investigation unless their own reputation has first been looked into to make sure that they are not persons that have been aspersed and accused. See, in this connection, also Ap. c. LXXIV and c. VI of the 2nd Ec. C.

22. Clergymen, after the death of their own Bishop, shall not be allowed to seize his effects, as is prohibited even by the Canons of old, on pain of being shorn of their own offices.

(Ap c. XL; c. XXIV of Antioch; c. XXXV of the 6th; cc. XXX and LXXXIX of Carthage.)


Upon the death of their bishop, says the present Canon, clergymen must not seize their effects — a thing which even the Canons of old forbade them to do (as, e.g., Ap. c. LX and c. XXIV of Antioch). Those who do this are to incur the penalty of losing their own rank and office. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XL.

23. It has come to the ears of the holy Council that certain Clergymen and Monastics, without being handed any permission by their own bishop, and in fact, sometimes even after he has excluded them from communion, have resorted to the imperial city of Constantinople, and stay there a long time, causing disturbances and meddling the ecclesiastical situation, and engender upheavals in the households of some persons. Hence the holy Council has decreed that they first be reminded, through the Defensor of the most holy Church of Constantinople, to take their departure from the imperial city. But if they impudently persist in doing the same things, they are to be expelled from the city even against their will through the same Defensor, and are to betake themselves to their own regions.

(Ap. c. XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, X, XX of the 4th; cc. XVII, XCVIII of the 6th; c. XV of the 7th; c. III of Antioch; cc. LXIII, XCVIII of Carthage; cc. XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica.)


Since this Council has learned that some clergymen and monks, notwithstanding that they have not any ecclesiastical authority in their hands, because their own bishop has not judged them worthy of such permission, and even at times in spite of the fact that they have been excommunicated by him, go to Constantinople and stay in that city for a long time, disturb the conditions of the Church and cause disorder in the homes either of Christians who receive them or of fellow clergymen who have imitated them; this Council therefore by means of its present Canon decrees that they first be notified through the Defensor of the church to depart from Constantinople peaceably. But if they impudently persist in doing the same things in spite of this admonition, they are to be driven out against their will by means of the same Defensor and are to hie themselves back home. As for what a defensor is, see the Footnote to c. II of the present Council. See also Ap. c. XV.

24. As for Monasteries which have once been consecrated with the consent of the Bishop, they are to remain Monasteries perpetually, and the property owned by them is to be kept safe, and no more be permitted to serve as mundane haunts of vice. Those who permit this to occur are liable to the penances provided by the Canons.

(c. IV of the 4th; c. XLIX of the 6th; cc. XII, XIX of the 7th; c. I of the lst-&-2nd; c. II of Cyril.)


The present Canon prescribes that all monasteries that have once been established and consecrated with the consent and permission and approval of the Bishop having jurisdiction of that particular region in which they are situated (as we have previously asserted in connection with c. IV of the present Council, q.v.), they are to remain monasteries forever, and henceforth no more to be converted into common and mundane haunts of vice or the like. All real and personal property belonging to them must likewise be kept inalienable and undiminished. All persons who, though not themselves converting them into mundane resorts, nor removing any of their property, give permission to others to do so, are to be held responsible for their acts and liable to the penalties provided by the Canons. But what are these penalties? They are the ones mentioned by the 7th Ec. C. in its c. XIII, wherein it deposes the clergymen from office, and excommunicates those laymen and monks who have seized monasteries and bishoprics, and have converted them into common resorts and refuse to return them in order to let them become sacred again just as they were formerly.

Canon XLIX of the 6th not only commands that monasteries are not to be permitted to become common and mundane habitations, but also that they are not to be turned over to seculars by anyone, in order, that is to say, that they may be protected and managed. Canon XII of the 7th also prohibits any abbot from alienating the monasteries’ own works and effects. Canon XIX of the same Council will not allow a monk to take back things which he has given to his monastery if he departs of his own accord. And c. II of Cyril specifies that jewels and other valuable articles and real estate are to remain inalienable from the churches to which they belong.

25. Whereas some Metropolitans, as we have been informed, neglect the flocks committed to their care, and postpone the ordinations of Bishops, the holy Council has decreed that they must perform ordinations within three months, unless some unavoidable necessity require the time to be lengthened. If they fail to carry out this rule, they shall be liable to ecclesiastical penances; and the means profits of the widow church shall be preserved to be retained by the Steward (or Oeconomus) of the same church.

(Ap. c. LVIII; c. XIX of the 6th; c. XVI of the lst-&-2nd; cc. XI, XII of Sardica; cc. LXXIX, LXXXII, LXXXVI, CXXXI, CXXXI, CXXXII of Carthage, and c. X of Peter.)


The present Canon prescribes that Metropolitans must not neglect their flocks, and postpone the ordination of the bishops subject to them; but, on the contrary, after the death of the bishop who has passed away, they must ordain another bishop for the vacant bishopric within three months, unless there be some unavoidable necessity forcing them to prolong the time of postponement (for perhaps that particular bishopric may have been captured by barbarians, or some other woe may have befallen it, and for this reason no one can go there). Any Metropolitan that is remiss in this respect, becomes liable to canonical penances. The income, however, from the affairs of that bishopric must be kept by the steward safe and intact until he surrenders it to the bishop-to-be. See also Ap. cc. LVIII and XL.

26. Since in some churches, as we have been informed, the Bishops are administering the ecclesiastical affairs with the services of a Steward, it has seemed most reasonable and right that each and every church that has a Bishop should also have a Steward selected from its own Clergy to manage the ecclesiastical affairs of that particular church in accordance with the views and ideas of its own Bishop, so as to provide against the administration of the church being unwitnessed, so as to prevent the property of the same church from being wasted as a result of such stewardless administration and to prevent any obloquy from attaching itself to holy orders.

(Ap. cc. XXXVIII, XL; cc. XI, XII of the 7th; cc. XXIV, XXV of Antioch; c. VII of the lst-&-2nd; cc. XXXIV, XLI of Carthage; c. VII of Gangra; c. XV of Ancyra; c. LXX of Theophilus; and c. II of Cyril.)


Since, says the present Canon, we have been told that in some provinces bishops are administering the affairs of the church by themselves without the help of a steward and just as they please, for this reason it has appeared reasonable that the bishop of every church should have a steward, selected, not from his own intimate servants or relatives, but from his clergymen, to manage the affairs of the church in accordance with wishes based upon the best judgment of the same bishop, so that there should be no witness wanting to prove where, and how, and when the income of the church is spent, and to prevent the prelate from arousing any suspicion among the laity and giving it cause to accuse him of wasting the funds of the church. As for any prelate that fails to live up to this Canon, he shall be liable to the penalties provided by the divine Canons. But just as a prelate ought to have a steward to manage the affairs of the church, so ought an abbot to have a steward to manage the affairs of his monastery. Read also Ap. cc. XXXVII and XLI.

27. The holy Council has made it a rule regarding those who take women by force under pretense of marriage, and their accomplices and abettors, that if they should be Clergymen, they shall forfeit their own rank, but if they are laymen, they shall be anathematized.

(c. XCII of the 6th; c. XI of Ancyra; cc. XXII, XXX, XXXVIII, XLII, and LIII of Basil.)


The present Canon, dealing with the forcible seizure of women in a harsher way than the other Canons do, penances those who seize women forcibly with a view to taking them to wife. For it deposes from office not only those clergymen who seize them by force, but also those who helped them to do so, and those who incited them to such a seizure by words of advice or encouragement; or if they be laymen, it anathematizes them, and in a manner which is quite just. For the one who seizes them can offer as a pretext the allegation that he is impelled by the urge of his absurd and improper love of women, but his accomplices and abettors are not impelled to this absurd and improper act by any such incentive, save the viciousness of their head and their bad judgment.

28. Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her. And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid, and likewise the Bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands; that is to say, that each Metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the Bishops of the province, shall ordain the Bishops of the province, just as is prescribed by the divine Canons. But the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the Archbishop of Constantinople, after the elections have first been conducted in accordance with custom, and have been reported to him. (Ap c. XXXIV; c. III of the 2nd and c. XXXVI of the 6th.)


Since at this Fourth Council c. III of the Second Council was read, which decrees that the Bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy priorities of honor with the Bishop of Rome, seeing that it is New Rome, therefore the fathers of this Council too, by means of their present Canon, renew and confirm the said Canon, and they decree and vote the same things as regards the priorities of the same city of Constantinople which is also known as New Rome. For, they say, just as the Fathers bestowed privileges upon the throne of Old Rome on account of the fact that it was the capital of an empire, and were fully justified in doing so, owing, that is to say, to his being first in point of order among the rest of the Patriarchs. In exactly the same way and motivated by exactly the same object and aim, the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved bishops of the second Council have bestowed exactly the same and equal privileges of honor also upon the most holy throne of New Rome — of Constantinople, that is to say — deeming it quite reasonable that this city, in view of the fact that it has been honored by being made the seat of an empire and of a senate, in a similar manner as has also (old) Rome, ought to enjoy the same and equal privileges in a similar manner as has also (old) Rome, and to be magnified herself also in exactly the same way as the latter is in connection with ecclesiastical matters, with the sole difference that old Rome is to be first in order, while new Rome is to be second in order. In addition to these things we decree and vote that only the Metropolitans (but not also the Bishops, that is to say, that are subject to the Metropolitans; for each of these is ordained by his own Metropolitan together with the bishops of the province, just as the divine Canons prescribe, especially c. VI of the First) shall be ordained by the aforesaid most holy throne of Constantinople. Not only are the Metropolitans of the said dioceses to be ordained by him, but indeed also the bishops located in barbarian regions that border on the said dioceses, as, for instance, those called Alani are adjacent to and flank the diocese of Pontus, while the Russians border on that of Thrace. Nevertheless, the said Metropolitans are not to be ordained by the Bishop of Constantinople just as he pleases and decides, but he must take the votes of the Synod under him into consideration as reported to him in accordance with established custom, and then ordain those men on whom the voters have agreed, either unanimously or as a majority.

29. For a Bishop to bear the rank of Presbyter is sacrilege. If, however, any just reason determines their removal from practice as Bishops, then neither ought they to occupy the position of Presbyter. But if for any cause than some crime they have been deprived of the dignity and office, they shall be restored to the dignity and office of the Episcopate.


In Act 4 of the present Fourth Council it is written (on p. 150 of the second volume of the Collection of the Councils) that Photius, the Bishop of Tyre, called the attention of Emperor Marcianus to the fact that Eustathius, the Bishop of Beyrut (or, as others say, Eusebius of Tyre, though the preceding indentification is more likely to be the true one) detached from Tyre various bishoprics, to wit, Biblus, Botrys, Tripolis, Orthosias, Areas, and Antarandus, and, deposing the bishops whom he had ordained, degraded them to the rank of presbyter. The Senate of the rulers accordingly brought this matter to the attention of the Council; by way of reply, on the part of the legates of the Pope as well as the Bishop of Constantinople and the entire Council, the present Canon was issued, wherein they declare that it is sacrilege for anyone to degrade a bishop to the rank and position of a presbyter; for if he is deposed on account of any crimes and is excluded from the functions and offices of the prelacy, such a person cannot be even a priest. If, on the other hand, without having any impediment in the way of crime he has been expelled from the prelacy, he is to be allowed to regain his office and dignity on the ground that he has lost it unjustly, and it is but his just due that he should be restored to his rightful position and be a bishop again. Zonaras, in fact, declares that it is worse than sacrilege for a bishop to be unjustly reduced to the rank of presbyter; for, says he, it is not something sacred that is being treated sacrilegiously and stolen, but something more than sacred, because, says he, through the invocation of the prelate churches and temples and other sacred objects are consecrated and hallowed and sanctified by virtue of the visitation of the Holy Spirit, and it must be admitted at all events that that which sanctifies is greater than that which is sanctified. As for why this Canon prohibits this, whereas c. XX of the 6th reduces to the position of presbyter any bishop that goes teaching beyond his boundaries without the consent and approval of the bishop holding sway over the region in question, see the solution of this puzzling question in Ap. c. XXXV.

30. Whereas the most reverent Bishops of Egypt postponed subscribing to the epistle of the most holy Archibishop Leo for the present, not because they opposed the catholic faith, but on the allegation that it is a custom in the diocese of Egypt to do nothing of this sort without the consent and formal approval of their Archbishop, and therefore request to be excused until the one who is to be the Bishop for the great city of the Alexandrians has been ordained: it has appeared to us reasonable and consonant with the spirit of philanthropy that they be excused and allowed to remain upon the like habit in the Imperial City till an Archbishop has been ordained for the great city of the Alexandrians. Let them therefore give security that they will not leave this city till the city of the Alexandrians has been accomodated with a bishop.


It has been written in Act 4 of the present Council that after the deposition of Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, ten (or, as others say, thirteen) bishops of the same Patriarch of Alexandria anathematized Eutyches and Dioscorus himself, and their dogmas; but they could not be prevailed upon to subscribe to the letter of St. Leo, the Pope of Rome, which he had sent to the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Flavian (and which, as we have said, was called a pillar of Orthodoxy because it contained all the Orthodox belief of the faith), not because he was opposed to the Orthodox dogma which it contained, but because they asserted that it was a custom in the diocese (or see) of Alexandria’s Patriarch for his bishops not to make any move without first consulting him and obtaining his consent and approval. Yet the prelates in the Council would not believe these things even after they had heard them asserted by the Alexandrians, but, on the contrary, they even suspected the latter to be heterodox heretics and sought to depose them. But the ruler and the Senate, having conceived something more humane as regarded these men, advised the Council not to depose them, but to give them time within which to remain as they were, undeposed, that is to say, in the Imperial City until another Archbishop of Alexandria could be ordained (for, as we have said, the Archbishop of Alexandria Dioscorus had previously been deposed). Yielding to the advice of the rulers, the Council decreed that they should remain as they were and demanded security that they would not leave the city of Constantinople until the Archbishop of Alexandria had been ordained. The one who became ordained Archbishop of Alexandria as the successor of Diocorus was Apolinarius (though this name is commonly spelled Apollinaris in English), and the latter was succeeded by Proterius (see p. 241 of the second volume of the Collection of the Councils. See also Ap. cc. XX and XXXIV.

Cummings, D. with Agapios, Orthodox Eastern Church, and Nicodemus. The Rudder. Trans. D. Cummings. Chicago, IL: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957. Print.

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