Canons 9-14 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)

The Council of Carthage in 397 began by creating a summary of the canons issued at Hippo in 393, the Breviarium. Here are the next few.

9. Sane quisquis episcopus seu clericorum, cum in ecclesia ei fuerit crimen institutum vel civilis causa fuerit commota, relicto ecclesiastico judicio publicis judi­ciis purgari voluerit, etiamsi pro illo fuerit prolata sen­tentia, locum suum amittat [in locum suum non restituatur]. Hoc in criminali. In civili vero perdat quod evicit; si locum suum obtinere maluerit.

However any bishop or member of the clergy, if in the church there had been a criminal indictment made against him, or a civil case had been started, and, having refused ecclesiastical judgment, he wished to be acquitted by the public courts, even if sentence has been given for him, he shall lose his office [he shall not be reinstated in his place].  This (is) in a criminal case.  But in a civil case he shall lose what he won, if he prefers to retain his office.

Cui enim ad eligendos judices undique ecclesiae patet auctoritas, ipse se indignum fraterno consortio judicat, qui de universa ecclesia male sentiendo, saeculari de judi­cio poscit auxilium: cum privatorum Christianorum causas apostolus ad ecclesiam deferri, atque ibi determinari praec­ipiat.

For he whom the authority of the church allows to choose judges from every side, he judges himself unworthy of the fraternal fellowship, who, thinking badly of the whole church, demands the remedy of a secular trial,  since the apostle instructs that the cases of private Christians are to be referred to the church, and settled there.

Interestingly this canon is quoted and translated in 1674 by Fr. Peter Walsh, in “The history et vindication of the Loyal Formulary or Irish Remonstrance of 1661 against all Calumnies and Censures in several treatises”, 1674, p.197, online here.

10.  Hoc etiam placuit, ut a quibuscumque judicibus ecclesiasticis ad alios judices ecclesiasticos, ubi est maior auctoritas, fuerit provocatum, non eis obsit, quorum fuerit soluta sententia, si convinci non potuerint vel inimico animo judicasse, vel aliqua cupiditate aut gratia depravato.  Sane si ex consensu partium judices electi fuerint, etiam a pauciore numero quam constitutum est, non liceat provocari.

This also was agreed, that (if) an appeal was made, from some ecclesiastical judges to other ecclesiastical judges, where there is greater authority, it shall not tell against them [the first set of judges], by whom the sentence was pronounced, unless it is shown** that they judged either with inimical intent, or having been corrupted by some cupidity or bribe. However if the judges have been chosen by the consent of the parties, even from a smaller number than decreed, it shall not be allowed to make an appeal.

11. Ut filii episcoporum et clericorum spectacula saecularia non exhibeant nec exspectent. [quandoquidem a spectaculis arcentur.]

That the sons of bishops and clergy should not give public shows nor attend them.  [seeing that they (bishops) are kept away from the shows]

12. Ut gentilibus vel haereticis et schismaticis filii episcoporum vel quorumlibet clericorum matrimonio non conjungantur.

That the sons of the bishops, or of any clergy whatever, shall not join in matrimony with pagans or heretics or schismatics.

13. Ut episcopi vel clerici filios suos a sua potestate per emancipationem exire non sinant, nisi de moribus eorum et de aetate fuerint securi, ut possint ad eos iam propria pertinere peccata.

That bishops or clergy shall not allow their sons to pass out of their power through emancipation, unless they have been certain of their morals and age, and their [the sons’] own sins now pertain to them.

14. Ut episcopi vel clerici eis qui christiani catholici non sunt, etiamsi consanguinei fuerint, nec per donationes, [nec per testamentum] rerum suarum aliquid conferant.

That bishops or clergy shall not convey anything of their goods by donations [nor by will] to those who are not catholic Christians, even if they are relatives.

These canons were probably brought into being by actual incidents where an obvious evil was occurring, and needed to be remedied.  As before, these are all practical concerns, affecting how people live in a society which, while nominally Christian, was in reality mostly secular.  But note how it’s all about the clergy, rather than the people.  Does this mean that the people had been given up?


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