~  VI  ~

S. P. Scott, The Civil Law, XVI, Cincinnati, 1932 ).

The Emperor Justinian to Epiphanius, Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople.
  The priesthood and the Empire are the two greatest gifts which God, in His infinite clemency, has bestowed upon mortals; the former has reference to Divine matters, the latter presides over and directs human affairs, and both, proceeding from the same principle, adorn the life of mankind; hence nothing should be such a source of care to the emperors as the honor of the priests who constantly pray to God for their salvation. For if the priesthood is, everywhere free from blame, and the Empire full of confidence in God is administered equitably and judiciously, general good will result, and whatever is beneficial will be bestowed upon the human race. Therefore We have the greatest solicitude for the observance of the divine rules and the preservation of the honor of the priesthood, which, if they are maintained, will result in the greatest advantages that can be conferred upon us by God, as well as in the confirmation of those which We already enjoy, and whatever We have not yet obtained We shall hereafter acquire. For all things terminate happily where the beginning is proper and agreeable to God. We think that this will take place if the sacred rules of the Church which the just, praiseworthy, and adorable Apostles, the inspectors and ministers of the Word of God, and the Holy Fathers have explained and preserved for Us, are obeyed.
  Therefore, We order that the sacred canons shall be observed hereafter when anyone is presented to be consecrated a bishop, and that his life shall first be investigated as prescribed by the Holy Apostle, to ascertain if it is honorable, without blame, and irreproachable in every respect, and what his standing is among good citizens, and whether he performs his sacerdotal functions with propriety.
  (1) No one shall (in accordance with the rule already established) be ordained who has left an office or other civil employment, unless he is still young; or, where he has changed his condition by withdrawing from the monastery, he shall first be required to give the fourth of his property to his curia.
  (2) An uneducated person belonging to the laity cannot immediately be promoted to a bishopric, nor can he receive a fictitious ordination, where, for example, being illiterate, he is at first created a priest, and then, after a short time has elapsed, becomes a bishop.
  (3) Nor can. one who has married a wife, who in the beginning was not a virgin, be a candidate for a bishopric; but he should have as his consort a woman who was a virgin when he married her, and not a widow, or separated from her husband, or who had been the concubine of someone else.
  (4) Nor should he have either children or grandchildren, whether they were legitimate or odious in the sight of the law; for if anyone should act otherwise, he shall be expelled from the priesthood, and he who ordained him and violated this law shall lose his episcopate.
  (5) We do not permit the purchase of an office in the priesthood to be made with money, for We wish the right to conduct divine service to be obtained from the Lord, and not to be acquired by human agency.
  (6) He shall not attain to a bishopric who is unfamiliar with the dogmas of the Church.
  (7) He who aspires to be a bishop, and has previously embraced a monastic life, or has been a member of the priesthood for not less than six months, shall have neither wife, children, nor grandchildren. We absolutely require this of bishops, as We have already prescribed in the two preceding constitutions, without investigating whether they still have wives or have renounced them; but We, for the future, do not permit anyone who has a legal wife to be ordained; and this law We now renew, and if it should be violated, the person guilty of doing so shall be expelled from the priesthood, and at the same time the bishop who ordained him shall be dismissed. Therefore he who is to be consecrated a bishop, whether he belongs to the order of monks or is a member of the other clergy, must be able to produce proof of a good and honorable life, and enjoy an unblemished reputation; for this is the very foundation of the pontificate.
  (8) When the candidate has been selected and prepared for the episcopate, he must, before his consecration, be familiar with the ancient and accepted canons which Our faith acknowledges as just and inviolate, and the Catholic and Apostolic Church has established and transmitted to Us. When, after having frequently read them previous to his ordination, the official in charge of the same must interrogate him, and ascertain if he is capable of complying with the said rules and of doing what they prescribe. If he should state that he cannot observe these sacred precepts he shall, by no means, be consecrated, but if he promises that he will obey them as thoroughly as a man can do, then he shall be admonished and told that, if he does not do so he will be alienated from God, and will lose the honor conferred upon him, and that the civil laws do not leave any offence unpunished, for the reason that Our predecessors and Ourselves have, very properly, rendered the sacred canons valid as laws; and if he still adheres to his declaration, he shall then, in compliance with his professions, be consecrated a bishop.
  (9) We decree that a candidate shall not purchase his consecration with money, or by the donation of any other property, but shall obtain it gratuitously and without remuneration, and, as it were, bestowed by God. For if he should employ the means previously mentioned by Us, he shall be considered to have purchased the episcopate either with money or with other property; and he is hereby notified that he will not be permitted to receive it, and he who consecrated him shall be deprived of his office, forfeit his episcopate, and be expelled from the priesthood, and thus both parties will be punished, for one will not obtain what he expected, and the other will lose what he already has. The money or other property which has been paid in for the consecration shall be given to the church, whether the bishop received it, and for this reason was removed from office, or whether someone else belonging to the clergy did so; for We impose the same penalty upon each, namely, We dismiss him from the priesthood, and transfer the money or other property given to obtain the consecration to the church which sustained the injury. Where anyone who is a stranger, and not an ecclesiastic, receives money or any other property, to procure consecration, and especially if he holds any civil employment, he shall be punished by God Himself, for divine penalties will be imposed upon him; and he shall also be compelled to give to the church double the amount of all that he received, and, in addition, he shall lose his office, and be condemned to perpetual exile. He, also, who purchased the bishopric with money or other property, is hereby notified that if having previously been a deacon or a priest, he has been elevated to the priesthood by favor, he shall not only forfeit the episcopate, but shall be deprived of the office of priest or deacon. He shall also be excluded from every other ecclesiastical order for the re*ason that his desires exceeded the bounds of decency. He who officiates at the consecration must, at the time of the ceremony, and in the presence of the faithful people, acquaint the candidate with what has already been stated, and, after having done so, shall consecrate him, so that he, having heard these things in public, may not only experience the fear of God, but also anticipate a criminal accusation if he should prove unworthy.
  (10) Where anyone who is considered eligible to the episcopate is about to be consecrated, and it is alleged that he knows that he has committed some unlawful act, he shall not receive consecration before the charge is investigated and it is apparent that it is entirely unfounded. If, after an accusation of this kind, he who is to perform the ceremony does not institute a judicial inquiry but proceeds without it, he is hereby notified that whatever he does will be void, and that he who thus acts unlawfully will forfeit his priestly office; and anyone who confers consecration without proof shall be deposed from the office of bishop, for he is an offender against God, who seeks by all means to preserve the purity of his ministering priests. If, however, he who opposes the consecration is ascertained to be a slanderer, either before or after the examination, or if he does not proceed with it, he shall be forever excluded from holy communion by the bishop, in order that his deceit may not go unpunished. For as We require him who is to be consecrated to have a good reputation, so We punish a false accusation when someone brings it without reason. Where, however, no one makes an accusation, or having done so, does not produce satisfactory evidence, and after the examination has taken place the accusation is shown not to be true (as We have previously stated), then he who appears to be in every respect irreproachable shall be admitted to consecration. He who is consecrated in this manner and is familiar with all the principal sacred precepts, as well as exemplary in thought, in speech, in bodily conduct, and in wisdom, cannot fail to lead a proper life.
  We also decree that no bishop shall presume to be absent from his church for a longer time than a year, unless by order of the Emperor, for in this case he would be blameless. We direct the Most Holy Patriarch to compel the bishops in their jurisdiction to remain attached to their churches and not separate themselves from them by making long journeys, nor dwell in foreign countries, nor neglect their congregation by being away for a longer term than a year, which We grant them by way of favor. When any of them remains absent from his own bishopric for more than a year, without the authority of an Imperial order (as We have previously stated), then if he who has left his church is a metropolitan, the patriarch shall notify him to return by means of a proper summons, always observing the rules of the Canon Law. If, however, he should continue to be disobedient, he shall be expelled from the holy order of bishops, and another shall be introduced in his place who is worthy of the reverence, veneration, and honor of the office. Where the offender is not a metropolitan, but some other bishop who has violated the law, this duty shall be performed by the metropolitan; and none of such persons shall advance the pretext that he has been absent on account of some litigation or any other private matter; or that he has wandered about here and there on business connected with the church, or has remained in one place, or has visited several on this account. In the eyes of the multitude, to whom the presence of a bishop is necessary, no valid reason exists to authorize ministers to travel; nor does any benefit result to their churches; nor is any assistance afforded to them; nor, under the circumstances, do they reflect any credit upon their sacred calling by being absent. For when it becomes necessary, and any litigation gives causes for any step of this kind to be taken, this can be done by the ecclesiastics of inferior rank or the stewards, and petitions can be presented to the government for the purpose of obtaining what is desired. Hence We order that if any necessity should arise in a matter in which the interests of the Church are involved, those persons charged with the conduct of ecclesiastical affairs (who are called apocrisiarii) or others of the clergy appointed for that purpose, or the stewards themselves, can notify Us or Our ministers, and receive proper attention ; and hence there will be no occasion for bishops to absent themselves, for they will injure their churches by their absence, and through the great expense incurred by them as well as by their sojourn in foreign countries, thus not only good will not result, but the holy churches will sustain great loss.
  A bishop cannot visit this Most Fortunate City without first receiving letters addressed by the archbishop to the government, and which, according to the canons of the Church, disclose a good reason for his presence. If an archbishop wishes to travel, he must obtain letters from the patriarch, stating that his absence is necessary, and the Emperor should order him to be presented, for an ecclesiastic must not rashly, and without the knowledge of the archbishops or patriarchs go upon journeys, as this is prohibited by the divine rule; and having arrived, he shall not, at his own instance, presume to present himself to the government, but must first apply to the patriarch, or to those charged with the administration of the diocese, and explain to them the reasons which have induced him to come, and, after having done this, he can enjoy the sight of the Emperor. After he has been presented, the said bishop can either by means of those who were styled referendarii of the Most Holy Principal Church, or by the agency of the apocrisiarii in charge of the holy patriarchate, make application to the government and be insured a speedy reply; so that if his demands are just, they will be complied with, or if they are not, he may return quickly to the place from whence he came.
  After having, in conformity with the sacred canons, disposed of the preceding matters relating to bishops, We now decree, in compliance with the same canons, that no one can be ordained an ecclesiastic until after a careful examination, and that the candidate must be of good character, and by all means conversant with letters, and proficient in the doctrines of the Church. For We are unwilling for persons who are ignorant of letters to be ordained under any circumstances, that is to say, as clerks, priests, deacons, readers of the service, or of ecclesiastical or canonical books. Anyone, however, who is meritorious and blameless, and against whom no complaint or opposition has arisen, and who has given neither money nor other property, shall be eligible. We are unwilling that any officials charged with the administration of the affairs of a curia should be ordained, unless in accordance with the laws which We have already promulgated with reference to this matter, and which We now confirm. Persons who are ordained shall be instructed in the sacred precepts in the presence of the entire people, for the same reasons for which We have directed this to be done in the case of bishops.
  We do not permit anyone to be ordained who is either a deacon or a priest who has either had a second wife or has one now, or is married to a woman who has left her husband, or is living with a concubine, but only where he married a wife who was chaste and a virgin. For, when ordinations take place, We delight in nothing so much as to know that the candidates are living a chaste life; and that they are not living with their wives, and have not been married : more than once to a woman who is chaste, which, according to the sacred canons, is considered as the principal and true foundation of durable virtue. But if any priest, deacon, or sub-deacon should afterwards marry, or keep a concubine either openly or secretly, he shall immediately be expelled from his order and become a layman. If a reader should, for any reason, marry a second time, and this was caused by inexorable necessity, he can never attain to a higher rank in the clergy, nor enjoy a position of greater dignity, but he shall always remain in the same rank, and shall not contract a third marriage, for two are sufficient. If, however, anyone should do this, and after having contracted a second marriage, be promoted, he shall thereafter become a private person and a layman, and be absolutely deprived of his sacred office. For it is proper, above all things, for Us to live chastely, and if those who become members of the priesthood are such when they are ordained, it will be easy for them to attain to the episcopate, and many of their number will be found eligible to the highest rank of the priesthood.
  We desire that everything which We have decreed concerning ecclesiastics shall be observed with reference to deaconesses, and they shall not violate these provisions. In order for them to be ordained, they must be neither too old nor too young, and not liable to temptation, but they should be of middle age, and, in accordance with the sacred canons, about fifty years old, and, having arrived at that age, they shall be eligible to ordination, whether they are virgins, or have previously been married to one man; for We do not permit women who have contracted a second marriage, or who (as We have already stated), have led a vicious life, to be ordained, but they must be free from all suspicion in order to be admitted into the holy service of the Church, to be present in baptism, and assist in the celebration of the mysterious and sacred rites which form part of their duties. When, however, it is necessary for a woman under the age of fifty to be ordained a deaconess, ordination can be conferred upon her in some convent where she must reside; for she can by no means be permitted to mingle with men, or to live where she chooses, but by her withdrawal from society she must give evidence of her retirement and the simplicity of her life. Moreover, We are not willing that deaconesses who have once been ordained — whether they be either widows or virgins — to live with any of their relatives, or with such persons as they may select, for, under such circumstances, they will be liable to criticism, but they can either reside alone or with their fathers and mothers, children, or brothers, who are persons that if anyone should suspect them of criminality, he will be regarded as either foolish or impious. If any disparaging statement should be made with reference to any woman who desires to be admitted to the order of deaconesses, to the effect that she has lived with someone under an assumed name, and this should give rise to evil suspicions, the woman shall, by no means, be ordained a deaconess. And if she should be ordained, and then commit an act of this kind and cohabit with anyone under another name, she shall be expelled from the diaconate, and both the parties shall suffer the penalties prescribed by this law and others for persons of corrupt morals. All women who are ordained deaconesses must, at the time of their ordination, be instructed in the duties of their office, and have the precepts of the sacred canons communicated to them in the presence of the other deaconesses, in order that they may fear God and have confidence in their holy order; and they are hereby notified that if they should regret having received ordination, or, having abandoned their sacred office, they should marry, or choose any other kind of life, they will render themselves liable to capital punishment and the confiscation of their property by the holy churches or monastaries to which they are attached. Any persons who may be so bold as to marry or corrupt them shall, themselves, be liable to the penalty of death, and their property shall be confiscated by the Treasury. For if, by the ancient laws, capital punishment was inflicted upon virgins who permitted themselves to be corrupted, how much more reason is there for Us to impose the same penalty upon those who are dedicated to God; and why should We not wish that modesty, which is the greatest ornament of the sex, should be preserved, and be diligently practiced by deaconesses, in accordance with what is becoming to Nature and due to the priesthood?
  Those who have once become deacons or priests can, under no circumstances, relinquish their sacred duties. We decree that this rule shall not only be applicable to priests and deacons, but also, where any sub-deacon or reader renounces his former condition and embraces another life, he is notified that if he does anything of this kind (as has already been stated by Us), he shall either be assigned to his curia along with his property, or, if he is without resources, shall be devoted to this service.
  It is proper that the ordinations of ecclesiastics should not be multiplied, and what has been done up to this time must be corrected. We, however, permit it to exist temporarily, but for the future it must not be repeated in such a way as to cause injury to the holy churches. Therefore, as it is necessary to establish certain regulations with regard to the Principal Church of this Our Royal City, and others subject to it, We have included these provisions in this special law. With reference to all churches situated outside the city We decree that, if anyone should found or build a church, and specify the number of ecclesiastics to be attached thereto, as well as the sum to be expended for its maintenance, no one can be ordained in that church in excess of the number originally established. When, however, this has not been done, the Principal Church shall provide for it, as well as for other churches under its control; and, in this instance, the number of the clergy shall not be increased, nor shall the Principal Church be burdened with the expense of bestowing any privileges or benefits upon it (for this is neither pious nor becoming to priests), but those charged with the financial situation shall give what it is possible out of what God has bestowed, or observe the ancient custom without making any innovations whatever. The patriarchs and archbishops should see that the ecclesiastics estimate the resources of each church, and only confer ordinations in proportion to the revenues of the same; and the archbishops, warned by the Holy Patriarchs, shall pursue the same course, and compel the bishops of their dioceses to preserve the fixed number of clergy, and to avoid not granting ordinations beyond what the revenues will justify, for We know how many holy churches have become impoverished by reason of ordinations of this kind, and the payment of other expenses. And as We have with difficulty relieved some of these churches of their burdens, and others are still oppressed by theirs without being able to discharge their obligations, the Holy Patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops must in the future take measures against the recurrence of such an evil; so that We, having learned of what they have done, may approve of those who have used every effort to cause this Our law to be obeyed.
  The holy patriarchs of every diocese, the metropolitans and the remaining reverend bishops and clergy, shall observe inviolate and in conformity with the sacred canons the rules which We have above established, and shall, for the future, observe the worship of God and the discipline of the church unimpaired, under the penalty of being rejected by God, and excluded from the sacred order of the priesthood as being unworthy of it. We, however, grant permission to everyone, no matter what may be his office or to what order he may belong, when he becomes aware of any of these breaches of discipline, to notify Us, or the government; so that We, who have established the said rules, in accordance with the sacred apostolic canons of the Church, may inflict the proper penalty upon those who are guilty. Whatever has heretofore been decreed by Us with reference to the property of bishops shall be observed.
  (1) The patriarch of each diocese shall publish this law to all the churches under his control, and communicate it to the archbishops. The latter, in their turn, shall publish it throughout their jurisdiction, and communicate it to the bishops, each one of whom shall publish it in his own church; so that no person in Our Empire may be ignorant of what has been done by Us for the honor and glory of God and Our Savior Jesus Christ. In addition to this, Your Holiness will see that this law shall be always known to, and obeyed by the holy archbishops subject to your jurisdiction.
  (2) Written copies of this law have been despatched to Ephrenius, Archbishop of Alexandria; to the Archbishop of Theopolis; to Peter, Bishop of Jerusalem; to John, Most Glorious Praetorian Prefect, twice Consul and Patrician; to Dominick, Most Glorious Praetorian Prefect of Illyria, to whom what follows is addressed. "Your Highness being notified of this law will hasten to observe it, along with your successors, and if any accusation should be filed for a breach of the same, and especially for a violation of what has been forbidden with reference to the ordination of decurions or other officials, you must prevent its continuance, and notify Us, in order that a proper penalty may be imposed upon the guilty parties. Your Highness will communicate this, Our Constitution, to the illustrious Governors of provinces, in order that they may be on their guard, and not permit any violation of the same to be committed; for if they, being aware of the offence, do not at once inform your government, or that of the Empire of the fact, they will be liable to a penalty of five pounds of gold, in order that ordinations may everywhere be observed with propriety.
"A copy of this law, with the addition, has also been sent to Dominick, Praetorian Prefect of Myricia."