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Canon IX.

A presbyter who has been promoted after having committed carnal sin, and who shall confess that he had sinned before his ordination, shall not make the oblation, though he may remain in his other functions on account of his zeal in other respects; for the majority have affirmed that ordination blots out other kinds of sins.  But if he do not confess and cannot be openly convicted, the decision shall depend upon himself.

Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.

If a presbyter confess that he has sinned,127127    Aristenus understands this of fornication. let him abstain from the oblation, and from it only.  For certain sins orders remit.  If he neither confess nor is convicted, let him have power over himself.

Van Espen.

Therefore if he who before his ordination had committed a sin of the flesh with a woman, confess it after ordination, when he is already a priest, he cannot perform the priestly office, he can neither offer nor consecrate the oblations, even though after his ordination he has preserved uprightness of living and been careful to exercise virtue; as the words “zeal in other respects” (“studious of good”) Zonaras rightly interprets.

And since here the consideration is of a sin committed before ordination, and also concerning a presbyter who after his ordination was of spotless life, and careful to exercise virtue, the Fathers rightly wished that he should not, against his will, be deposed from the priestly office.

It is certainly curious that this canon speaks of ordination as in the opinion of most persons taking away all sins except consummated carnal offences.  And it will be noted that the ἀφιέναι must mean more than that they are forgiven by ordination, for they had been forgiven long ago by God upon true contrition, but that they were made to be non-existent, as if they had never been, so that they were no hinderance to the exercise of the spiritual office.  I offer no explanation of the difficulty and only venture to doubt the satisfactory character of any of the explanations given by the commentators.  Moreover it is hard to grasp the logical connexion of the clauses, and what this “blotting out” of τὰ λοιπὰ has to do with the matter I entirely fail to see.  The καὶ after πολλοὶ may possibly suggest that something has dropped out.

This canon and the following are together in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa xv., Quæst. viii., c. i.


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