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The Council of Neocaesarea - A.D. 315

Edited from a variety of translations (mentioned in the preface) by H. R. Percival

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Page 2


Ancient Epitome of Canon I.

If a presbyter marries he shall be deposed from his order. If he commits adultery or whoredom he shall be expelled, and shall be put to penance.


A presbyter who marries is removed from the exercise of the priesthood but retains his honour and seat. But he that commits fornication or adultery is cast forth altogether and put to penance.

Van Espen.

These fathers [i.e. of Neocaesarea] shew how much graver seemed to them the sin of the presbyter who after ordination committed fornication or adultery, than his who took a wife. For the former they declare shall simply be deposed from his order or deprived of the dignity of the Priesthood, but the latter is to "be altogether cast out, and put to penance."...Therefore such a presbyter not only did they remove from the priestly functions, or the dignity of the priesthood, but perfectly or altogether cast him out of the Church.

This canon Gratian has inserted in the Corpus Juris Canonici. Decretum. Pars I., Dist. xxviii., c. ix. Gratian has followed Isidore in adding after the word "penance" the words "among the laity" (inter laicos) which do not occur in the Greek, (as is noted by the Roman Correctors) nor in the version of Dionysius Exiguus; these same correctors fall however themselves into a still graver error in supposing that criminous clerks in the early days of the Church were sent out to wander over the country, as Van Espen well points out.

On the whole subject of the marriage of the clergy in the Early Church see the Excursus devoted to that subject.

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