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Seventh Ecumenical Council

07 Seventh Ecumenical Council The Second Council of Nice 787ad

Canon I.

  That the sacred Canons are in all things to be observed.

  The pattern for those who have received the sacerdotal dignity is found
  in the testimonies and instructions laid down in the canonical
  constitutions, which we receiving with a glad mind, sing unto the Lord
  God in the words of the God-inspired David, saying:  "I have had as
  great delight in the way of thy testimonies as in all manner of
  riches."  "Thou hast commanded righteousness as thy testimonies for
  ever."  "Grant me understanding and I shall live."  Now if the word of
  prophesy bids us keep the testimonies of God forever and to live by
  them, it is evident that they must abide unshaken and without change.
  Therefore Moses, the prophet of God, speaketh after this manner:  "To
  them nothing is to be added, and from them nothing is to be taken
  away."  And the divine Apostle glorying in them cries out, "which
  things the angels desire to look into," and, "if an angel preach to you
  anything besides that which ye have received, let him be anathema."
  Seeing these things are so, being thus well-testified unto us, we
  rejoice over them as he that hath found great spoil, and press to our
  bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of
  the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth
  by the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or by the
  Six Ecumenical Councils, or by Councils locally assembled for
  promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or by our
  holy Fathers.  For all these, being illumined by the same Spirit,
  defined such things as were expedient.  Accordingly those whom they
  placed under anathema, we likewise anathematize; those whom they
  deposed, we also depose; those whom they excommunicated, we also
  excommunicate; and those whom they delivered over to punishment, we
  subject to the same penalty.  And now "let your conversation be without
  covetousness," crieth out Paul the divine Apostle, who was caught up
  into the third heaven and heard unspeakable words.

Canon II.

  That he who is to be ordained a Bishop must be steadfastly resolved to
  observe the canons, otherwise he shall not be ordained.

  When we recite the psalter, we promise God:  "I will meditate upon thy
  statutes, and will not forget thy words."  It is a salutary thing for
  all Christians to observe this, but it is especially incumbent upon
  those who have received the sacerdotal dignity.  Therefore we decree,
  that every one who is raised to the rank of the episcopate shall know
  the psalter by heart, so that from it he may admonish and instruct all
  the clergy who are subject to him.  And diligent examination shall be
  made by the metropolitan whether he be zealously inclined to read
  diligently, and not merely now and then, the sacred canons, the holy
  Gospel, and the book of the divine Apostle, and all other divine
  Scripture; and whether he lives according to God's commandments, and
  also teaches the same to his people.  For the special treasure (ousia)
  of our high priesthood is the oracles which have been divinely
  delivered to us, that is the true science of the Divine Scriptures, as
  says Dionysius the Great.  And if his mind be not set, and even glad,
  so to do and teach, let him not be ordained.  For says God by the
  prophet, "Thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that
  thou shalt be no priest to me."

Canon III.

  That it does not pertain to princes to choose a Bishop.

  Let every election of a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, made by princes
  stand null, according to the canon which says:  If any bishop making
  use of the secular powers shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over
  any church, he shall be deposed, and also excommunicated, together with
  all who remain in communion with him.  For he who is raised to the
  episcopate must be chosen by bishops, as was decreed by the holy
  fathers of Nice in the canon which says:  It is most fitting that a
  bishop be ordained by all the bishops in the province; but if this is
  difficult to arrange, either on account of urgent necessity, or because
  of the length of the journey, three bishops at least having met
  together and given their votes, those also who are absent having
  signified their assent by letters, the ordination shall take place.
  The confirmation of what is thus done, shall in each province be given
  by the metropolitan thereof.

Canon IV.

  That Bishops are to abstain from all receiving of gifts.

  The Church's herald, Paul the divine Apostle, laying down a rule
  (kanona) not only for the presbyters of Ephesus but for the whole
  company of the priesthood, speaks thus explicitly, saying, "I have
  coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel.  I have shewed you all
  things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak;" for he
  accounted it more blessed to give.  Therefore we being taught by him do
  decree, that under no circumstances, shall a Bishop for the sake of
  filthy lucre invent feigned excuses for sins, and exact gold or silver
  or other gifts from the bishops, clergy, or monks who are subject to
  him.  For says the Apostle, "The unrighteous shall not possess the
  kingdom of God," and, "The children ought not to lay up for the
  parents, but the parents for the children."  If then any is found, who
  for the sake of exacting gold or any other gift, or who from personal
  feeling, has suspended from the ministry, or even excommunicated, any
  of the clergy subject to his jurisdiction, or who has closed any of the
  venerable temples, so that the service of God may not be celebrated in
  it, pouring out his madness even upon things insensible, and thus
  shewing himself to be without understanding, he shall be subjected to
  the same punishment he devised for others, and his trouble shall return
  on his own head, as a transgressor of God's commandment and of the
  apostolic precepts.  For Peter the supreme head (he keruphaia akrotes)
  of the Apostles commands, "Feed the flock of God which is among you,
  taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for
  filthy lucre but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over the
  clergy (ton kleron [A.V. God's heritage]); but being ensamples to the
  flock.  And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a
  crown of glory that fadeth not away."

Canon V.

  That they who cast contumely upon clerics because they have been
  ordained in the church without bringing a gift with them, are to be
  published with a fine.

  It is a sin unto death when men incorrigibly continue in their sin, but
  they sin more deeply, who proudly lifting themselves up oppose piety
  and sincerity, accounting mammon of more worth than obedience to God,
  and caring nothing for his canonical precepts.  The Lord God is not
  found among such, unless, perchance, having been humbled by their own
  fall, they return to a sober mind.  It behoves them the rather to turn
  to God with a contrite heart and to pray for forgiveness and pardon of
  so grave a sin, and no longer to boast in an unholy gift.  For the Lord
  is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart.  With regard,
  therefore, to those who pride themselves that because of their
  benefactions of gold they were ordained in the Church, and resting
  confidently in this evil custom (so alien from God and inconsistent
  with the whole priesthood), with a proud look and open mouth vilify
  with abusive words those who on account of the strictness of their life
  were chosen by the Holy Ghost and have been ordained without any gift
  of money, we decree in the first place that they take the lowest place
  in their order; but if they do not amend let them be subjected to a
  fine.  But if it appear that any one has done this [i.e., given money],
  at any time as a price for ordination, let him be dealt with according
  to the Apostolic Canon which says:  "If a bishop has obtained
  possession of his dignity by means of money (the same rule applies also
  to a presbyter or deacon) let him be deposed and also the one who
  ordained him, and let him also be altogether cut off from communion,
  even as Simon Magus was by me Peter."  To the same effect is the second
  canon of our holy fathers of Chalcedon, which says:  If any bishop
  gives ordination in return for money, and puts up for sale that which
  cannot be sold, and ordains for money a bishop or chorepiscopus, or
  presbyter, or deacon, or any other of those who are reckoned among the
  clergy; or who for money shall appoint anyone to the office of
  oeconomus, advocate, or paramonarius; or, in a word, who hath done
  anything else contrary to the canon, for the sake of filthy lucre--he
  who hath undertaken to do anything of this sort, having been convicted,
  shall be in danger of losing his degree.  And he who has been ordained
  shall derive no advantage from the ordination or promotion thus
  negotiated; but let him remain a stranger to the dignity and
  responsibility which he attained by means of money.  And if any one
  shall appear to have acted as a go-between in so shameful and godless a
  traffic, he also, if he be a cleric, shall be removed from his degree;
  if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.

Canon VI.

  Concerning the holding of a local Synod at the time appointed.

  Since there is a canon which says, twice a year in each province, the
  canonical enquiries shall be made in the gatherings of the bishops; but
  because of the inconveniences which those who thus came together had to
  undergo in travelling, the holy fathers of the Sixth Council decreed
  that once each year, without regard to place or excuse which might be
  urged, a council should be held and the things which are amiss
  corrected.  This canon we now renew.  And if any prince be found
  hindering this being carried out, let him be excommunicated.  But if
  any of the metropolitans shall take no care that this be done, he being
  free from constraint or fear or other reasonable excuse, let him be
  subjected to the canonical penalties.  While the council is engaged in
  considering the canons or matters which have regard to the Gospel, it
  behoves the assembled Bishops, with all attention and grave thought to
  guard the divine and life-giving commandments of God, for in keeping of
  them there is great reward; because our lamp is the commandment, and
  our light is the law, and trial and discipline are the way of life, and
  the commandment of the Lord shining afar giveth light to the eyes.  It
  is not permitted to a metropolitan to demand any of those things which
  the bishops bring with them, whether it be a horse or any other gift.
  If he be convicted of doing anything of this sort, he shall restore

Canon VII.

  That to churches consecrated without any deposit of the reliques of the
  Saints, the defect should be made good.

  Paul the divine Apostle says:  "The sins of some are open beforehand,
  and some they follow after."  These are their primary sins, and other
  sins follow these.  Accordingly upon the heels of the heresy of the
  traducers of the Christians, there followed close other ungodliness.
  For as they took out of the churches the presence of the venerable
  images, so likewise they cast aside other customs which we must now
  revive and maintain in accordance with the written and unwritten law.
  We decree therefore that relics shall be placed with the accustomed
  service in as many of the sacred temples as have been consecrated
  without the relics of the Martyrs.  And if any bishop from this time
  forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be
  deposed, as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions.

Canon VIII.

  That Hebrews ought not to be received unless they have been converted
  in sincerity of heart.

  Since certain, erring in the superstitions of the Hebrews, have thought
  to mock at Christ our God, and feigning to be converted to the religion
  of Christ do deny him, and in private and secretly keep the Sabbath and
  observe other Jewish customs, we decree that such persons be not
  received to communion, nor to prayers, nor into the Church; but let
  them be openly Hebrews according to their religion, and let them not
  bring their children to baptism, nor purchase or possess a slave.  But
  if any of them, out of a sincere heart and in faith, is converted and
  makes profession with his whole heart, setting at naught their customs
  and observances, and so that others may be convinced and converted,
  such an one is to be received and baptized, and his children likewise;
  and let them be taught to take care to hold aloof from the ordinances
  of the Hebrews.  But if they will not do this, let them in no wise be

Canon IX.

  That none of the books containing the heresy of the traducers of the
  Christians are to be hid.

  All the childish devices and mad ravings which have been falsely
  written against the venerable images, must be delivered up to the
  Episcopium of Constantinople, that they may be locked away with other
  heretical books.  And if anyone is found hiding such books, if he be a
  bishop or presbyter or deacon, let him be deposed; but if he be a monk
  or layman, let him be anathema.

Canon X.

  That no cleric ought to leave his diocese and go into another without
  the knowledge of the Bishop.

  Since certain of the clergy, misinterpreting the canonical
  constitutions, leave their own diocese and run into other dioceses,
  especially into this God-protected royal city, and take up their abode
  with princes, celebrating liturgies in their oratories, it is not
  permitted to receive such persons into any house or church without the
  license of their own Bishop and also that of the Bishop of
  Constantinople.  And if any clerk shall do this without such license,
  and shall so continue, let him be deposed.  With regard to those who
  have done this with the knowledge of the aforesaid Bishops, it is not
  lawful for them to undertake mundane and secular responsibilities,
  since this is forbidden by the sacred canons.  And if anyone is
  discovered holding the office of those who are called Meizoteroi; let
  him either lay it down, or be deposed from the priesthood.  Let him
  rather be the instructor of the children and others of the household,
  reading to them the Divine Scriptures, for to this end he received the

Canon XI.

  That OEconomi ought to be in the Episcopal palaces and in the

  Since we are under obligation to guard all the divine canons, we ought
  by all means to maintain in its integrity that one which says oeconomi
  are to be in each church.  If the metropolitan appoints in his Church
  an oeconomus, he does well; but if he does not, it is permitted to the
  Bishop of Constantinople by his own (idias) authority to choose an
  oeconomus for the Church of the Metropolitan.  A like authority belongs
  to the metropolitans, if the Bishops who are subject to them do not
  wish to appoint oeconomi in their churches.  The same rule is also to
  be observed with respect to monasteries.

Canon XII.

  That a Bishop or Hegumenos ought not to alienate any part of the
  suburban estate of the church.

  If bishop or hegumenos is found alienating any part of the farm lands
  of the bishoprick or monastery into the hands of secular princes, or
  surrendering them to any other person, such act is null according to
  the canon of the holy Apostles, which says:  "Let the bishop take care
  of all the Church's goods, and let him administer the same according as
  in the sight of God."  It is not lawful for him to appropriate any part
  himself, or to confer upon his relations the things which belong to
  God.  If they are poor let them be helped among the poor; but let them
  not be used as a pretext for smuggling away the Church's property.  And
  if it be urged that the land is only a loss and yields no profit, the
  place is not on that account to be given to the secular rulers, who are
  in the neighbourhood; but let it be given to clergymen or husbandmen.
  And if they have resorted to dishonest craft, so that the ruler has
  bought the land from the husbandman or cleric, such transaction shall
  likewise be null, and the land shall be restored to the bishoprick or
  monastery.  And the bishop or hegumenos doing this shall be turned out,
  the bishop from his bishoprick and the hegumenos from his monastery, as
  those who wasted what they did not gather.

Canon XIII.

  That they are worthy of special condemnation who turn the monasteries
  into public houses.

  During the calamity which was brought to pass in the Churches, because
  of our sins, some of the sacred houses, for example, bishops' palaces
  and monasteries, were seized by certain men and became public inns.  If
  those who now hold them choose to give them back, so that they may be
  restored to their original use, well and good; but if not, and these
  persons are on the sacerdotal list, we command that they be deposed; if
  they be monks or laymen, that they be excommunicated, as those who have
  been condemned from the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and
  assigned their place where the worm dieth not and the fire is not
  quenched, because they set themselves against the voice of the Lord,
  which says:  "Make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

Canon XIV.

  That no one without ordination ought to read in the ambo during the

  That there is a certain order established in the priesthood is very
  evident to all, and to guard diligently the promotions of the
  priesthood is well pleasing to God.  Since therefore we see certain
  youths who have received the clerical tonsure, but who have not yet
  received ordination from the bishop, reading in the ambo during the
  Synaxis, and in doing this violating the canons, we forbid this to be
  done (from henceforth,) and let this prohibition be observed also
  amongst the monks.  It is permitted to each hegumenos in his own
  monastery to ordain a reader, if he himself had received the laying on
  of hands by a bishop to the dignity of hegumenos, and is known to be a
  presbyter.  Chorepiscopi may likewise, according to ancient custom and
  with the bishop's authorization, appoint readers.

Canon XV.

  That a clerk ought not to be set over two churches.

  From henceforth no clergyman shall be appointed over two churches, for
  this savours of merchandise and filthy lucre, and is altogether alien
  from ecclesiastical custom.  We have heard by the very voice of the
  Lord that, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the
  one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the
  other."  Each one, therefore, as says the Apostle, in the calling
  wherein he was called, in the same he ought to abide, and in one only
  church to give attendance.  For in the affairs of the Church, what is
  gained through filthy lucre is altogether separate from God.  To meet
  the necessities of this life, there are various occupations, by means
  of which, if one so desire, let him procure the things needful for the
  body.  For says the Apostle, "These hands have ministered unto my
  necessities, and to them that were with me."  Occupations of this sort
  may be obtained in the God-protected city.  But in the country places
  outside, because of the small number of people, let a dispensation be

Canon XVI.

  That it does not become one in holy orders to be clad in costly

  All buffoonery and decking of the body ill becomes the priestly rank.
  Therefore those bishops and clerics who array themselves in gay and
  showy clothing ought to correct themselves, and if they do not amend
  they ought to be subjected to punishment.  So likewise they who anoint
  themselves with perfumes.  When the root of bitterness sprang up, there
  was poured into the Catholic Church the pollution of the heresy of the
  traducers of the Christians.  And such as were defiled by it, not only
  detested the pictured images, but also set at naught all decorum, being
  exceedingly mad against those who lived gravely and religiously; so
  that in them was fulfilled that which is written, "The service of God
  is abominable to the sinner."  If therefore, any are found deriding
  those who are clad in poor and grave raiment, let them be corrected by
  punishment.  For from early times every man in holy orders wore modest
  and grave clothing; and verily whatever is worn, not so much because of
  necessity, as for the sake of outward show, savours of dandyism, as
  says Basil the Great.  Nor did anyone array himself in raiment
  embroidered with silk, nor put many coloured ornaments on the border of
  his garments; for they had heard from the lips of God that "They that
  wear soft clothing are in kings' houses."

Canon XVII.

  That he shall not be allowed to begin the building of an oratory, who
  has not the means wherewith to finish it.

  Certain monks having left their monasteries because they desired to
  rule, and, unwilling to obey, are undertaking to build oratories, but
  have not the means to finish them.  Now whoever shall undertake to do
  anything of this sort, let him be forbidden by the bishop of the
  place.  But if he have the means wherewith to finish, let what he has
  designed be carried on to completion.  The same rule is to be observed
  with regard to laymen and clerics.

Canon XVIII.

  That women ought not to live in bishops' houses, nor in monasteries of

  "Be ye without offence to those who are without," says the divine
  Apostle.  Now for women to live in Bishops' houses or in monasteries is
  ground for grave offence.  Whoever therefore is known to have a female
  slave or freewoman in the episcopal palace or in a monastery for the
  discharge of some service, let him be rebuked.  And if he still
  continue to retain her, let him be deposed.  If it happens that women
  are on the suburban estates, and the bishop or hegumenos desires to go
  thither, so long as the bishop or hegumenos is present, let no woman at
  that time continue her work, but let her betake herself to some other
  place until the bishop [or hegumenos [542] ] has departed, so that
  there be no occasion of complaint.

Canon XIX.

  That the vows of those in holy orders and of monks, and of nuns are to
  be made without the exaction of gifts.

  The abomination of filthy lucre has made such inroads among the rulers
  of the churches, that certain of those who call themselves religious
  men and women, forgetting the commandments of the Lord have been
  altogether led astray, and for the sake of money have received those
  presenting themselves for the sacerdotal order and the monastic life.
  And hence the first step of those so received being unlawful, the whole
  proceeding is rendered null, as says Basil the Great.  For it is not
  possible that God should be served by means of mammon. [543]   If
  therefore, anyone is found doing anything of this kind, if he be a
  bishop or hegumenos, or one of the priesthood, either let him cease to
  do so any longer or else let him be deposed, according to the second
  canon of the Holy Council of Chalcedon.  If the offender be an abbess,
  let her be sent away from her monastery, and placed in another in a
  subordinate position.  In like manner is a hegumenos to be dealt with,
  who has not the ordination of a presbyter.  With regard to what has
  been given by parents as a dowry for their children, or which persons
  themselves have contributed out of their own property, with the
  declaration that such gifts were made to God, we have decreed, that
  whether the persons in whose behalf the gifts were made, continue to
  live in the monastery or not, the gifts are to remain with the
  monastery in accordance with their first determination; unless indeed
  there be ground for complaint against the superior.

Canon XX.

  That from henceforth, no double monastery shall be erected; and
  concerning the double monasteries already in existence.

  We decree that from henceforth, no double monastery shall be erected;
  because this has become an offence and cause of complaint to many.  In
  the case of those persons who with the members of their family propose
  to leave the world and follow the monastic life, let the men go into a
  monastery for men, and the women into a monastery for women; for this
  is well-pleasing to God.  The double monasteries which are already in
  existence, shall observe the rule of our holy Father Basil, and shall
  be ordered by his precepts, monks and nuns shall not dwell together in
  the same monastery, for in thus living together adultery finds its
  occasion.  No monk shall have access to a nunnery; nor shall a nun be
  permitted to enter a monastery for the sake of conversing with anyone
  therein.  No monk shall sleep in a monastery for women, nor eat alone
  with a nun. [544]   When food is brought by men to the canonesses, let
  the abbess accompanied by some one of the aged nuns, receive it outside
  the gates of the women's monastery.  When a monk desires to see one of
  his kinswomen, who may be in the nunnery, let him converse with her in
  the presence of the abbess, and that in a very few words, and then let
  him speedily take his departure.

Canon XXI.

  That monks are not to leave their monasteries and go into others.

  A monk or nun ought not to leave the monastery to which he or she is
  attached, and betake themselves to others.  But if one do this, he
  ought to be received as a guest.  It is not however proper that he be
  made a member of the monastery, without the consent of his hegumenos.

Canon XXII.

  That when it happens that monks have to eat with women they ought to
  observe giving of thanks, and abstemiousness, and discretion.

  To surrender all things to God, and not to serve our own wills, is
  great gain.  For says the divine Apostle, "whether ye eat or drink, do
  all to the glory of God."  And Christ our God has bidden us in his
  Gospels, to cut off the beginning of sins; for not only is adultery
  rebuked by him, but even the movement of the mind towards the act of
  adultery when he says, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her,
  hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."  We who have
  been thus taught ought therefore to purify our minds.  Now although all
  things are lawful, all things are not expedient, as we have been taught
  by the mouth of the Apostle.  It is needful that all men should eat in
  order that they may live.  And for those to whom life consists of
  marrying, and bringing forth children, and of the condition of the lay
  state, there is nothing unbecoming in men and women eating together,
  only let them give thanks to the giver of the food; but if there be the
  entertainments of the theatre, that is, Satanic songs accompanied with
  the meretricious inflections of harps, there come upon them, through
  these things, the curse of the prophet, who thus speaks:  "Woe to them
  who drink wine with harp and psaltery, but they regard not the works of
  the Lord, and consider not the works of his hands."  Whenever persons
  of this sort are found among Christians, let them amend their ways; but
  if they will not do so, let there overtake them the penalties which
  have been enacted in the canons by our predecessors.  With regard to
  those whose life is free from care and apart from men, that is, those
  who have resolved before the Lord God to carry the solitary yoke, they
  should sit down alone and in silence.  Moreover it is also altogether
  unlawful for those who have chosen the priestly life to eat in private
  with women, unless it be with God-fearing and discreet men and women,
  so that even their feast may be turned to spiritual edification.  The
  same rule is to be observed with relatives.  Again, if it happen that a
  monk or priest while on a journey does not have with him what is
  absolutely necessary for him, and, because of his pressing needs,
  thinks well to turn aside into an inn or into someone's house, this he
  is permitted to do, seeing that need compels.

(Gleaned from: