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Bishop Hosius said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which constantly urgeth me.397397 The Greek text of Bev. begins here. If a bishop be found quick to anger (which ought not to sway such a man), and he, suddenly moved against a presbyter or deacon, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made that such a one be not condemned too hastily [or read ἀθῶον, if innocent] and deprived of communion.
All said: Let him that is cast out be authorized to take refuge with the bishop of the metropolis of the same province. And if the bishop of the metropolis is absent, let him hasten to the bishop that is nearest, and ask to have his case carefully examined. For a hearing ought not to be denied those who ask it.
And that bishop who cast out such a one, justly or unjustly, ought not to take it ill that examination of the case be made, and his decision confirmed or revised. But, until all the particulars have been examined with care and fidelity, he who is excluded from communion ought not to demand communion in advance of the decision of his case. And if any of the clergy who have met [to hear the case] clearly discern arrogance and pretentiousness in him, inasmuch as it is not fitting to suffer insolence or unjust censure, they ought to correct such an one with somewhat harsh and grievous language, that men may submit to and obey commands that are proper and right. For as the bishop ought to manifest sincere love and regard to his subordinates, so those who are subject to him ought in like manner to perform the duties of their ministry in sincerity towards their bishops.
Bishop Hosius said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which further moveth me. If some bishop is perchance quick to anger (which ought not to be the case) and, moved hastily and violently against one of his presbyters or deacons, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made that an innocent man be not condemned or deprived of communion.
Therefore let him that is cast out be authorized to appeal to the neighbouring bishops and let his case be heard and examined into more diligently. For a hearing ought not to be denied one who asks it.
And let that bishop who cast him out, justly or unjustly, take it patiently that the matter is discussed, so that his sentence may either be approved by a number [of judges] or else revised. Nevertheless, until all the particulars shall be examined with care and fidelity, no one else ought to presume to admit to communion him who was excluded therefrom in advance of the decision of his case. If, however, those who meet to hear it observe arrogance and pride in [such] clergy, inasmuch as it surely is not fitting for a bishop to suffer wrong or insult, let them correct them with some severity of language, that they may obey a bishop whose commands are proper and right. For as he [the bishop] ought to manifest sincere love and charity to his clergy, so his ministers ought for their part to render unfeigned obedience to their bishop.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
One condemned out of anger, if he asks for assistance, should be heard. But until [he shall have asked for398398 This is the understanding of Beveridge’s Latin. I should have supposed the words to be supplied were “the reception of.”] the assistance let him remain excommunicated.
This is Canon XVII. of the Latin version.
This canon is intended especially to aid presbyters, deacons, and other clerics, who have been excommunicated precipitately and without just cause, or suspended by their own bishop in his anger and fury.…The canon, moreover, admonishes that the bishop with regard to whose sentence the dispute has arisen shall patiently consent to the discussion of the matter de novo, whether his decision be sustained by the majority or emended.
And let bishops and other prelates who have spiritual jurisdiction over the clergy note this, who cannot bear with equanimity that a word should be said against their decisions, but exact a kind of blind obedience, even frequently with great conscientious suffering to their very best ecclesiastics; and in such cases as do not promptly and blindly obey them, the clergy are traduced as rebels and even a patient hearing is refused to them.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, P. II., Causa XI., Q. iij., c. iv.
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