The so called First-Second Council - 861.

Canon 1. The building of monasteries, which is something so seemly and honorable, and rightly excogitated by our blissful and devout fathers of old, is seen to be done wrongly today. For some men, bestowing the name of monastery on their own property and domain, and promising God to sanctify this, have recorded themselves as owners of the consecrated lands and buildings, and have contrived to devise a way in which to devote them to a divine purpose in name only. For they do not blush to assume the same authority over them after the consecration as they could have exercised before this without overstepping their rights. And so much commercialized has the thing become that many of the lands and buildings consecrated are being sold openly by the consecrators themselves, inspiring beholders with amazement and indignation. And not only have they no regret for what they have done in appropriating to themselves authority over what was dedicated to God once, but they even fearlessly confer it upon others. For these reasons, then, the holy Council has decreed that no one shall have a right to build a monastery without the consent and approval of the bishop. With his knowledge and permission, after he has executed the necessary prayer, as was enjoined legislatively by the God-beloved fathers of olden times, they may build a monastery together with all its accessories, recording everything belonging thereto in a breve and depositing the latter in the archives of the bishopric; the consecrator having no right whatever to make himself an abbot, or anyone else in his stead, without the consent of the bishop. For if one is no longer able to exercise ownership over what he has given away to some other human being, how can one be conceded the right to appropriate the ownership of what he has sanctified and dedicated to God?
(cc. IV, XXIV of the 4th; c. XLIX of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XVII, XIX of the 7th; c. II of Cyril.)

Canon 2. In view of the fact that some men pretend to take up the life of solitude, not in order to become purely servants of God, but in order that in addition to and by virtue of the grave appearance of the habit they may acquire the glory and mien of reverence, and find hence a way of enjoying in abundance the pleasures connected therewith, and, only sacrificing their hair, they spend their time in their own homes, without fulfilling any service or status whatever of monks, the holy Council has decreed that no one at all shall assume the monachal habit without the presence of the person to whom he owes allegiance and who is to act as his superior or abbot and to provide for the salvation of his soul, by which is meant a God-beloved man at the head of a monastery and capable of saving a soul that has but recently offered itself to Christ. If anyone be caught tonsuring a person without the presence of the abbot who is to have charge of him, he shall be deposed from office on the ground that he is disobeying the Canons and offending against monachal decorum, while the one who has been illogically and irregularly tonsured shall be consigned to whatever allegiance and monastery the local bishop may see fit. For indiscreet and precarious tonsures have both dishonored the monachal habit and caused the name of Christ to be blasphemed.

Canon 3. Even this is wrong when it is done, but what is much worse, when overlooked and neglected, has been judged to need correction, in order that anyone “who is the head of a monastery shall not fail to seek with great diligence to recover monks ranged under him that have run away, or upon finding them shall not fail to take them back, and to regain them by subjecting the diseased part to proper and suitable medical treatment of the offense, and striving to strengthen it. The holy Council has decreed that one failing to do so shall be subject to excommunication. For if a man who has undertaken the protection of irrational animals and woefully neglects his flock is not left unpunished, if any man who has been entrusted with the pastoral rulership of the cattle of Christ suavely and indolently betrays their salvation, he will surely collect punishment for his daring action. But if any monk refuses to come back when called upon to do so, he shall be excommunicated by the bishop.
(c. IV of the 4th; cc. XIII, XIX, XXI of the 7th; c. LXXXVIII of Carthage.)

Canon 4. The Evil One has striven in many ways to render the respectable habit of the monks an object of reproach, and he has found ready assistance in this to result from the opportunity afforded by the heresy which has seized control of things. For the men who are living monastically abandon their own monas­teries under the stress of heresy, some going to other monasteries and some falling into the resorts of worldly men. But this is deplorable when what was then being done for piety’s sake made them appear to deserve felicitation, but has now degenerated into an illogical custom which makes them appear ridiculous. For in spite of the fact that piety has spread into every corner and the Church has got rid of scandals, yet some men who have deserted their own monasteries, and like an unrestrainable stream are pouring and flowing into other channels, now are filling the monasteries with great indecorum, and introducing disorder into these with their riotous entrance, and are distracting and disorganizing the decorous element of submissiveness. But by way of halting the restless and unrestrainable rush the holy Council has decreed that if any monk runs away from his own monastery to another or riotously enters a worldly resort, both he himself and the one receiving him shall be excom­municated until the absconder has returned to the monastery which he has wrongly fallen out of. But if, in any particular case, the bishop should wish to send away to another monastery some of the monks of proven reverence and decorousness of life for the purpose of stocking the other monastery, or should wish to transfer them even to a mundane house for the purpose of compassing the salvation of the inmates thereof by establishing the monks therein, or should see fit to place them elsewhere, this course shall not render either the monks or the ones receiving them subject to any penalty.
(c. IV of the 4th; cc. XIX, XXI of the 7th, c. LXXXVIII of Carthage.).

Canon 5. We find that indiscreet and unapproved renunciations are ravaging monachal decorum to a great extent. For some men impetuously flinging themselves into the solitary mode of life, and owing to the roughness and painfulness of asceticism giving it scant affection, wretchedly relapse again into flesh-loving and pleasurable life. The holy Council has therefore decreed that no one shall lay claim to the monachal habit until after the expiration of the term of three years allowed them to prove their worthiness they turn out to be adequate and fit to take up such a mode of life in earnest; and it has bidden this to prevail by all means as the rule; unless, nevertheless, it should so happen anywhere that some grave disease has overtaken the person, making it necessary to shorten the period of his trial; or unless, nevertheless, there should be anywhere a man so reverent as to lead a monachal life even in a worldly habit — for in the case of such a man even a six months’ period of trial is sufficient for a thorough test. If anyone does anything contrary to these words, the abbot, on the one hand, shall pay the penalty by forfeiting his abbotship for his irregularity and be compelled to conduct himself as an obedientiary; the monk, on the other hand, shall be consigned to another monastery which observes monachal strictness.

Canon 6. Monks ought not to have anything of their own. Everything of theirs ought to be assigned to the monastery. For blissful Luke says concerning those who believe in Christ and conform to the monks’ way of life: “Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but, on the contrary, they held everything in common” (Acts 4:32). Wherefore unto those wishing to lead the monastic life permission is given to dispose of their property to whatever persons they may wish, so long, that is to say, as the property may be legally transferred to them. For after their entering upon the monastic life the monastery has the ownership of all they bring with them, and they have nothing of their own to worry about other than what they have been allowed to dispose of beforehand. If anyone be caught appropriating or claiming any possession that has not been made over and conveyed to the monastery, and revealed to be enslaved to the passion of love of property, that possession shall be seized by the abbot or bishop, and shall be sold in the presence of many persons, and the proceeds therefrom shall be distributed to the poor and indigent. As for anyone who shall meditate holding back any such possession, after the fashion of Ananias of old, the holy Council has decreed that he shall be chastened with a suitable discipline. It is to be understood, moreover, that whatever rules the holy Council has made in regard to men who are leading the monastic life of monks, the same rules apply also to women who are leading the monastic life of nuns.

Canon 7. We see many of the bishoprics falling down and in danger of being relegated to utter destruction, because, we venture to say, the heads of these establishments consume their thought and attention in projecting new monasteries, and exploiting these projects, and in contriving to convert the income thereof to their own use they busy themselves with the development of those. The holy Council has therefore decreed that not one of the bishops shall be permitted to build a new monastery of his own to the detriment of his own bishopric. If anyone be caught daring to do this, he shall be punished with the proper penalty, while the building he has erected shall be assigned to the estate of the bishopric as its own property, on the ground that he has not even so much as had a right to originate a monastery. For nothing that has been unlawfully and irregularly in vogue can be taken as the prejudice of what is canonically consistent.
(Ap. c. XXXVIII; c. XXVI of the 4th; cc. XI, XII of the 7th; cc. XXIV, XXV of Antioch; c. XV of Ancyra; c. 7th of Gangra; cc. XXXIV, XLI of Carthage; c. X of Theophilus; c. II of Cyril.)

Canon 8. The divine and sacred Canon of the Apostles judges those who castrate themselves as self-murderers; accordingly, if they are priests, it deposes them from office, and if they are not, it excludes them from advancement to holy orders. Hence it makes it plain that if one who castrates himself is a self-murderer, he who castrates another man is certainly a murderer. One might even deem such a person quite guilty of insulting creation itself. Wherefore the holy Council has been led to decree that if any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, be proved guilty of castrating anyone, either with his own hand or by giving orders to anyone else to do so, he shall be subjected to the penalty of deposition from office; but if the offender is a layman, he shall be excommunicated: unless it should so happen that owing to the incidence of some affliction he should be forced to operate upon the sufferer by removing his testicles. For precisely as the first Canon of the Council held in Nicaea does not punish those who have been operated upon for a disease, for having the disease, so neither do we condemn priests who order diseased men to be castrated, nor do we blame laymen either, when they perform the operation with their own hands. For we consider this to be a treatment of the disease, but not a malicious design against the creature or an insult to creation.
(Ap. cc. XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV; c. I of the First.)

Canon 9. In view of the fact that an Apostolic and divine Canon subjects to deposition priests that attempt to strike believers who have sinned or unbelievers who have wronged someone, those who are devising a way to satisfy their own animus and garbling the Apostolic Ordinances have taken it to mean priests striking persons with their own hands, when as a matter of fact neither does the Canon imply any such thing, nor does right reason permit this to be assumed. For it would be truly vain and exceedingly precarious to depose a priest from office for striking someone three or four times with his own hands, but to leave unpunished one who, permission being given, beats someone by order of another mercilessly and to death, instead of augmenting the punishment. Wherefore seeing that the Canon simply chastises the act of striking, we too join in condemning this. For a priest of God ought indeed to reprimand a disorderly person with instructions and admonitions, and at times even with ecclesiastical censures, but not with whips and blows to assault men’s bodies. If, however, there should be some men who are utterly insubordinate and refuse to yield to correction because of censures, no one is prohibited from correcting these persons by haling them before the local magistrates. In fact, c. V of the Council in Antioch has canonically decreed that persons causing disturbances and revolts to the Church shall be converted and brought to their senses again by recourse to the civil authority.
(Ap. c. XVII; c. V of Antioch; cc. LVII, LXII, LXXVI, LXXXIII, XCIX, CVI, CVII of Carthage.)

Canon 10. Those who appear to be victims of their own passions not only do not shudder at the thought of the punishment provided by the sacred Canons, but have actually dared to laugh them to scorn. For they distort themselves, and in conformity with their venomous nature they forge their will awry; in order that thanks to the magnanimity of their venom, according to St. Gregory the Theologian, not only may the evil be kept from affecting their responsibility, but may even be thought something divine. For this holds true in the case of the Apostolic Canon which says that no one shall appropriate any golden or silver vessel that has been sanctified, or any piece of cloth, to his own use. For that would be unlawful. If anyone be caught doing so, let him be disciplined with excommunication. Taking this Canon to be in effect an advocacy of their own unlawful deeds, they allege that one must not deem those men worthy of deposition who employ the venerable tablecloth of the Holy Table to make a tunic for themselves or reshape it into any other vestment. Not only so, but not even those who employ the holy chalice. Oh, what impiety! or the venerable paten; or things akin to these, because they expend them for needs of their own, or defile them outright. For the Canon says that those who become guilty of this are to be punished with excommunication, but has made no one liable to deposition for such an act. But who would tolerate the magnitude of any such perversion and impiety? For notwithstanding that the Canon inflicts excommunication upon those who merely use what is sanctified, but do not appropriate it to the extent of purloining it entirely, they, on the other hand, exempt from deposition those who plunder and sacrilege the equipment of the Holies of Holies, and as for those who pollute the venerable patens or sacred cups by putting them into use for the serving of food, so far at any rate as they rely upon their own judgment, they rank them as undeposed, notwithstanding that the contamination has become apparent to all, and it is plain that those who do such things not only incur liability to deposition from office, but even become subject to charges of committing the worst kind of ungodliness. Wherefore the holy Council has decreed that (those who purloin for their own profit, or who misuse for some unsacred purpose, in general any one of the sacred and holy vessels or utensils in the sacrificial altar, or of the vestments, or the holy chalice, or the paten, or the tongs, or the venerable tablecloth, and the so-called “air”),i are to be compelled to undergo total and complete deposition. For one charge is that of having profaned, and the other charge is that of having plundered the holies. As touching those, however, who convert to an unsacred use for themselves, or bestow upon another person, consecrated vessels or vestments outside of the sacrificial altar, the Canon excommunicates them and we join in excommunicating them. But as for those who utterly purloin them and take them away we make them liable to condemnation as sacrilegists.
(Ap. c. LXXII, LXXIII; c. VIII of Nyssa.)

Canon 11. The divine and sacred Canons impose the penalty of deposition on presbyters or deacons who undertake secular offices or worldly cares, or the so-called curatories in the households of civil magistrates. We too confirm this, and as concerning the rest of those who are included among the Clergy we decree that in case any one of them is being employed in secular offices, or undertakes or accepts so-called curatories in the households of civil magistrates or in the suburbs, that person shall be ousted from his own Clergy. For, according to the most veracious utterance pronounced by Christ Himself, our true God, “no one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13).
(Ap. cc. VI, LXXXI, LXXXIII; cc. III, VII of the 4th; c. X of the 7th; c. XVIII of Carthage.)

Canon 12. Besides the fact that the holy and Ecumenical Sixth Council has made liable to deposition from office clerics who are officiating or baptizing within a home in prayer-houses without the consent and approval of the bishop, we too join hands with that Council in condemning them likewise. For inasmuch as the holy Church is expounding the faith straightforwardly and soundly, and is professing and defending the true word, and is both maintaining and teaching outright the decorum regulating conduct in actual life,i it is dissonant and undevout to relegate those living together with uneducatedness to their own roles, to vitiate her good order, and to permeate her with troubles and scandals galore. Wherefore the present sacred Council in cooperation with God, and in agreement with the Ecumenical and holy Sixth Council, has decreed that those who are officiating within a private home in prayerhouses are declericated, that is to say, the declerication being awarded them by the local bishop. But if any other persons than these, without the bishop’s lending his good will, should fall into those roles and dare to touch the liturgy, they are to be deposed from office, whereas those on the other hand who partook of their communion are to undergo excommunication.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; c. LIX of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XIV, XV of the lst-and-2nd; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, LXII of Carthage; c. V of Antioch; c. LVIII of Laodicea.)

Canon 13. The All-evil One having planted the seed of heretical tares in the Church of Christ, and seeing these being cut down to the roots with the sword of the Spirit, took a different course of trickery by attempting to divide the body of Christ by means of the madness of the schismatics. But, checking even this plot of his, the holy Council has decreed that henceforth if any Presbyter or Deacon, on the alleged ground that his own bishop has been condemned for certain crimes, before a conciliar or synodal hearing and investigation has been made, should dare to secede from his communion, and fail to mention his name in the sacred prayers of the liturgical services in accordance with the custom handed down in the Church, he shall be subject to prompt deposition from office and shall be stripped of every prelatic honor. For anyone who has been established in the rank of Presbyter and forestalls the Metropolitan’s judgment, and, judging matters before a trial has been held, insofar as lies in his power, condemns his own father and Bishop, he is not even worthy of the honor or name of Presbyter. Those, on the other hand, who go along with him, in case any of them should be among those in holy orders, they too shall forfeit their own rights to honor, or, in case they should be monks or laymen, let them be utterly excommunicated from the Church until such time as they spew upon and openly renounce all connection with the schismatics and decide to return to their own Bishop.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIV, XV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LX of Carthage.)

Canon 14. If any Bishop, on the allegation that charges of crime lie against his own Metropolitan, shall secede or apostatize from him before a conciliar or synodal verdict has been issued against him, and shall abstain from communion with him, and fail to mention his name, in accordance with consuetude, in the course of the divine mystagogy (i.e., litrugical celebration of the Eucharistic mystery), the holy Council has decreed that he shall be deposed from office, if merely by seceding from his own Metropolitan he shall create a schism. For everyone ought to know his own bounds, and neither ought a presbyter treat his own bishop scornfully or contemptuously, nor ought a bishop to treat his own Metropolitan so.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.)

Canon 15. The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metro­politans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this trans­gression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting those persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christ­ians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XIV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.)

Canon 16. It is also necessary to decree something in regard to the quarrels and disturb­ances that are taking place in God’s Church. Under no circumstances shall any Bishop be appointed over a church whose president is still alive and is in good standing of honor, unless he himself shall voluntarily resign. For the cause of one who is going to be ousted from the church must first be canonically examined and brought to a conclusion, and then thereafter when he has been duly deposed from office, another man may be promoted to the episcopacy in his stead. But if any Bishop in good standing of honor neither cares to resign nor to pastor his own laity, but, having deserted his own bishopric, has been staying for more than six months in some other region, without being so much as detained by an Imperial rescript, nor even being in service in connection with the liturgies of his own Patriarch, nor, furthermore, being restrained by any severe illness or disease utterly incapacitating him motion to and from his duties — any such Bishop, therefore, who is not prevented by any of the said excuses from performing his duties, nevertheless holds himself aloof from his own episcopate and for a period of over six months sojourns in some other locality, shall be deprived altogether of the honor and office of bishop. For because of his woefully neglecting the flock which has been entrusted to him, and tarrying in some other region for a period of more than six months, the holy Council has decreed that he shall be deprived altogether of the prelacy whereby he was appointed to act as a pastor, and that someone else shall be chosen to fill his place in the episcopacy.
(Ap. c. LVIII; cc. XIX, LXXX of the 6th; c. XI of Sardica; cc. LXXIX, LXXXII, LXXXVI, CXXXI, CXXXII, CXXXIII of Carthage; c. X of Peter; c. XVI of Nyssa; c. I of Cyril.)

Canon 17. Since we have been occupied with matters of ecclesiastical good order, it behooves us to decree also this, that henceforth none of the laymen or monks shall be allowed to ascend to the height of the episcopacy precipitately and multitudinously as in a stampede, but, on the contrary, by being duly examined with reference to the various ecclesiastical degrees or grades, let them thus attain to ordination to the episcopacy. For even if hitherto and up till now some laymen and some monks, owing to need or want demanding it, have been enabled to attain to the honor of the episcopate immediately and without further ado, and they have distinguished themselves for virtuousness and have exalted their churches, yet the fact is that what is of rare occurrence cannot be made a law of the Church; we therefore decree that this shall no longer be done hereafter and henceforth, but that the ordinee must pass through the priestly degrees in a logical manner by fulfilling the required length of service of each order before proceeding to the next higher rank.
(Ap. c. LXXX: c. II of the 1st: c. III of Laodicea; c. X of Sardica; c. XII of Neocaesarea; c. IV of Cyril).