THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE - Definition Of The Holy And Universal Eighth Synod

Author: Constantinople IV


Session IV - 869-870




This council, designated as the eighth ecumenical council by western canonists, is not found in any canonical collections of the Byzantines; its acts and canons are completely ignored by them. Modern scholars have shown that it was included in the list of ecumenical councils only later, that is, after the eleventh century. We have decided to include the council, for the sake of historical completeness.

Emperor Basil I and the patriarch Ignatius, after being restored to his see of Constantinople, asked Pope Nicholas I to call a council to decide about the bishops and priests who had been ordained by Photius. It was held at Constantinople after the arrival of legates from Pope Hadrian II, who had meanwhile succeeded Nicholas. These legates were Donatus, Stephen and Marinus and they presided at the council. It began in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia on 5 October 869. The tenth and last session was held on 28 February 870, when 27 canons were read out and approved by the council. All who were willing to sign the Liber satisfactionis, which had been sent by Pope Hadrian II, were admitted to the council. The account made by Anastasius contains the authentic list of those who signed the acts of the council. Emperor Basil I and his sons, Constantine and Leo, signed the acts after the patriarchs and in the same year they promulgated the council's decisions, after drawing up a decree for this purpose.

As regards the canonical authority of these deliberations, various facts regarding the council held in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia in November 879, so that Photius might be restored to the see of Constantinople, should be remembered. Peter, a Roman cardinal, presided at this council. It took account of a letter of Pope John VIII, which had been sent to the emperor and translated into Greek. This reads (chapter 4): "We declare that the synod held at Rome against the most holy patriarch Photius in the time of the most blessed pope Hadrian, as well as the holy synod of Constantinople attacking the same most holy Photius (i.e., in 869-870), are totally condemned and abrogated and must in no way be invoked or named as synods. Let this not happen". Some people have thought that this text had been altered by Photius; but in the so-called "unaltered" text of the letter this passage is replaced by dots (. . .), and the following passage reads: "For the see of blessed Peter, the key-bearer of the heavenly kingdom, has the power to dissolve, after suitable appraisal, any bonds imposed by bishops. This is so because it is agreed that already many patriarchs, for example Athanasius .. .. after having been condemned by a synod, have been, after formal acquittal by the apostolic see, promptly reinstated". Ivo of Chartres explicitly affirms: "The synod of Constantinople which was held against Photius must not be recognised. John VIII wrote to the patriarch Photius (in 879): We make void that synod which was held against Photius at Constantinople and we have completely blotted it out for various reasons as well as for the fact that Pope Hadrian did not sign its acts". Ivo adds from the instructions that John VIII gave to his legates for the council in 879: "You will say that, as regards the synods which were held against Photius under Pope Hadrian at Rome or Constantinople, we annul them and wholly exclude them from the number of the holy synods". For these reasons there is no ground for thinking that the text was altered by Photius.

An authentic copy of the acts of the council of 869-870 was sent to Rome, as of right. Anastasius, the librarian, ordered a complete copy to be made for himself. Then, when the legates' copy was stolen, he translated his own copy into Latin, on Pope Hadrian's orders, making a word for word translation. Anastasius also makes it plain that the Greeks adopted every means to distort the acts, "by abbreviating here and by expanding or changing there". He adds: "Whatever is found in the Latin copy of the acts of the eighth synod is completely free from the alloy of falsehood; however, whatever more is found in the Greek text is thoroughly infected with poisonous lies".

The Greek text has been partly preserved from total destruction in the summary of an anonymous writer who copied out anti-Photian texts. This summary has 14 canons, as opposed to the 27 of Anastasius, and only contains excerpts, dealing with the most important points, of these canons. Where comparison is possible, the Latin version of Anastasius hardly departs from the Greek text. Indeed it is so literal that at times it can only be understood by comparison with the Greek text, and when the latter is missing we must sometimes rely on conjecture.

The documents printed below are taken from the following: the "Definition" from the Roman edition, (Concilia generalia Ecclesiae catholicae [Editio Romana], Rome 4 vols, 1608-1612) 3, 284-287; the canons from Les canons des conciles oecumeniques, ed. P-P. Jouannou (Pontificia commissione per la redazione del codice di diritto canonico orientale. Fonti. Fasc. IX: Discipline generale antique [IIe-IXe s.] tome 1 part 1), Grottaferata 1962 289-342.

The English translation is from the Latin text, for the reasons mentioned above. The material in curly brackets { } has been added by the hypertext editor, as also has some of the formatting

Definition Of The Holy And Universal Eighth Synod

The holy, great and universal synod, which was assembled by God's will and the favour of our divinely approved emperors Basil and Constantine, the holy friends of Christ, in this royal and divinely protected city and in the most famous church bearing the name of holy and great Wisdom, declared the following.

The Word, of one nature with the almighty God and Father, is he who established heaven like a vault and fixed the ends of the earth and the place of all other things. He made it to be contingent and he rules, preserves and saves it. He says through the voice of the prophet, Isaiah: Lift up your eyes to heaven, because heaven has been fashioned like smoke, but the earth shall wear out like a garment; its inhabitants shall perish like them; but my salvation shall last for ever and my justice shall not fail. He was made like us for our sake and has established on earth heavenly justice and said, Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away. He said to all who believed in him: If you continue in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

It was our God and Lord of infinite power alone who, just like a farmer of supreme wisdom and power, uprooted and scattered and rightfully obliterated many others from an earlier time and from long ago who, given over to lies and in opposition to the truth, were sowing -- to use the gospel image -- evil tares in his field, that is, in the church, and were trying to overwhelm the pure grain of divine justice. He always prepared his manner of deliverance so as to give warning, he established his justice and revealed it with greater clarity. But nevertheless, in our time too, the sower of tares is trying to make the field of the church useless through some utterly depraved and impious people. With that one and the same providence, he has shown that this field is worthy of compassion and snatched it from the filth of iniquity and called it back to its ancient purity. For, to destroy injustice and reinforce divine justice, he has raised up, as an unwavering follower of his commandments, a person proved to be incorrupt in both his knowledge and his maintenance of the truth, our most devout and serene emperor, who is a friend of divine justice and an enemy of injustice. He, by means of the divine help and the overall favour of the church, has gathered together architects from the ends of the earth into this royal city, which must be built up by God, and has assembled a universal synod which, while guarding the strong defences of

— the gospel sanctions,
— the laws of Moses and the prophets together with
— the commands of the apostles
— and fathers as well as of
— the councils,

has revived the established forms of right conduct and proclaimed truth and justice in the courts of the church.

{Now the customary recapitulation and reassertion of all previous ecumenical councils}

Consequently, all of us bishops who have come to take part in the synod and to strengthen the true and undefiled faith of Christians and the teaching of orthodox religion, we declare our belief in one God, in three persons consubstantial, divine and autonomous, as, for example, we may look at the one nature of light in three suns not unlike each other or in the same number of dazzling objects. We confess, indeed, God to be one, unique in respect of substance, but threefold or three if we are speaking of him in respect of persons, and we declare he has not received from himself that he has been made, nor in any way whatsoever from anyone else; but that he is alone, ever existing without beginning, and eternal, ever the same and like to himself, and suffering no change or alteration, that he exists as the maker and source of all beings endowed with intelligence and feeling. For the holy and great synod of { 1 } Nicaea spoke thus when expounding the creed: Light from light, true God, clearly declaring the Son to be from the Father who is true God, and the rest as the catholic church received it. We too, accepting this in the identical meaning, anathematize as of unsound mind and an enemy of the truth, Arius and all who, with him and following him, speculate with faulty perceptions on the term "hetero-substantial", that is otherness of substance and unlikeness, with reference to the divinely-ruling and blessed Trinity. But no less do we accept the second, holy and universal synod {2 Constantinople I}, and we anathematize that adversary of the Spirit or rather adversary of God, Macedonius; for we admit in the distinction of persons no difference of substance between the Father, the Son and the divine and autonomous Spirit, as the aforementioned heresiarchs did, nor do we confuse, like the lunatic Sabellius, the persons in one and the same substance. Moreover, we also confess that the unique Word of God became incarnate and was made like us for our sake, for it was not an angel or an envoy but the Lord himself who came and saved us and was made Emmanuel with us; and he was true God, God of Israel and saviour of all, in accordance with the divine and prophetic utterances. For this reason we confess that Mary, most holy and without experience of marriage, who bore him, is properly and truly mother of God, just as the third universal synod, which first assembled at { 3 } Ephesus, proclaimed. In union with that council we too anathematize Nestorius, that worshipper of the man and most self-opinionated individual who possessed a Jewish mentality. We teach that the one and same Christ and Lord is twofold, that is, perfect God and perfect man, possessing in one person the differences of each nature but keeping their properties always unchangeable and unconfused, just as the fourth, holy and universal synod {4 Chalcedon } solemnly taught. In accepting this synod together with the three councils previously enumerated, just like the quadruplicity of the holy gospels, we anathematize the insane Eutyches and the mad Dioscorus. In addition, proclaiming the two natures in the one Christ, according to the still clearer teaching of the fifth, holy and universal synod { 5 Constantinople II}, we anathematize Severus , Peter and Zoharas the Syrian, as well as Origen with his useless knowledge, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Didymus along with Evagrius, who also, although of the same or different opinions, were ensnared in the same pit of damnation.

Further, we accept the sixth, holy and universal synod {6 Constantinople III}, which shares the same beliefs and is in harmony with the previously mentioned synods in that it wisely laid down that in the two natures of the one Christ there are, as a consequence, two principles of action and the same number of wills. So, we anathematize Theodore who was bishop of Pharan, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter, the unholy prelates of the church of Constantinople, and with these, Honorius of Rome, Cyrus of Alexandria as well as Macarius of Antioch and his disciple Stephen, who followed the false teachings of the unholy heresiarchs Apollinarius, Eutyches and Severus and proclaimed that the flesh of God, while being animated by a rational and intellectual soul, was without a principle of action and without a will, they themselves being impaired in their senses and truly without reason. For if the one and same Christ and God exists as perfect God and perfect man, it is most certain that none of the natures which belong to him can exist partially without a will or without a principle of action, but that he carried out the mystery of his stewardship when willing and acting in accordance with each substance; this is how the chorus of all God's spokesmen, having knowledge of it from the apostles down to our own time, have constructed a colourful representation of that human form, assigning to each part of the one Christ natural properties distinct from each other, by which the meanings and conceptions of his divine nature and of his human nature are believed beyond all doubt to remain without confusion.

We also know that the seventh, holy and universal synod, held for the second time at { 7 } Nicaea, taught correctly when it professed the one and same Christ as both invisible and visible lord, incomprehensible and comprehensible, unlimited and limited, incapable and capable of suffering, inexpressible and expressible in writing. In agreement with that synod, this holy and universal synod publicly anathematizes Anastasius , Constantine and Nicetas , that irrational prelature whose name stinks, or, to put it better, that plain corruption; so too Theodosius of Ephesus, Sisinnius Pastilas and Basil Tricacabus, not forgetting Theodoret, Antony and John, once prelates of new Rome, the royal city of Christians, but better called defamers of Christ. They declared by word and deed that, despite what the list of prophets proclaimed about Christ, he had been incapable of destroying the statues of the idols. Furthermore, we also anathematize Theodore, who was called Krithinos, whom this great and holy synod summoned and condemned and loudly dinned an anathema into his ears. Similarly we anathematize all those who agreed with or supported those who said that the Word of the divine incarnation came about and existed by fantasy and supposition, indeed that through the removal of the image of our Christ and saviour there came the simultaneous removal of the accepted form of the true body which bore God within it. Everything which cannot be grasped by the imagination is surely to be understood in two ways, either as not existing or as in fact existing but minimally understandable, inasmuch as being invisible and hidden.

Therefore, if anyone happens to have taught any of these things about Christ the God and saviour of us all, he will be clearly proclaimed an enemy of true religion, since the first of these declares that Emmanuel was not truly made man and the second declares that he was indeed man but lacked human qualities, laid aside the flesh he assumed and had recourse in everything to his divine [nature] and to his incomprehensibility; this is alien to all the divinely inspired scriptures, which also clearly state that he will come once more as judge of all, and he is to be seen in the same way as he was seen by his disciples and apostles when he was taken up into heaven.

That theory is full of Manichaean ideas and ungodliness inasmuch as it foolishly declares that a saying of the divinely inspired David was spoken about Christ, in which it says, He has set his tabernacle in the sun, since this impiety supposes that the casting off and laying aside of the Lord's deified body is meant. But the word of truth confidently says, both concerning the well-named Manes and all those who share his thought and are authors of the heresy about the destruction of icons and all other heresiarchs and enemies of religion: They have not known nor understood, but they walked in darkness. 0 you who abandon the right way and walk in the way of darkness, who rejoice in wrongdoing and exult in evil conversion; O you whose paths are evil and steps crooked so that they take you far from the right way and make you foreign to right thinking! Again, those who sowed what was corrupted by the wind have received destruction as their reward; and again, He that trusts in lies feeds the winds: and the same person runs after birds that fly away. For he has abandoned the rows of his vines, he wanders in the furrows of his field; for he wanders through a waterless desert and a great parched plain, yet gathers no fruit in his hands.

For this reasons [the church] brands all these with an anathema and, besides recognizing the seven, holy and universal synods already enumerated by us, has gathered together this eighth universal synod through the grace of our all powerful Christ and God and the piety and zeal of our most serene and divinely strengthened emperor, to cut down and destroy the shoots of injustice that have sprung up against those synods, together with the evil stirrings and influences, in order to bring about peaceful order in the church and stability in the world. For it is not only the removal of true teaching which knows how to destroy those of evil mind and to agitate and disturb the church, but also quibbling over the meaning of the divine commandments equally brings the same destruction on those who are not vigilant, and the world is filled with storms and disturbances by those who are reckoned as Christians.

{Now the council strikes out on its own}

This is what happened in recent times through the folly, cunning and evil machinations of the wretched Photius. He entered the sheepfold not through the door but through a window, and, like a thief or a robber, a destroyer of souls, as the Lord's words indicate, has tried, on every occasion and by every means, to steal, slaughter and destroy the right-thinking sheep of Christ and, by engineering all manner of persecution, he has not ceased from contriving numerous arrests and imprisonments, confiscations of property, protracted periods of exile and, in addition to these, accusations, charges, false testimonies and forgeries against all who worked for true religion and fought for the truth. For he, like another Severus or Dioscorus, engineered the expulsion of the most just, lawful and canonically appointed high priest of the church of Constantinople, namely the most holy patriarch Ignatius, and like an adulterous robber, breaking into his see and repeatedly submitting him to a thousand charges involving dethronement and as many anathemas, he roused continuous turmoil and storms for all the churches of Christ our saviour, in a multiplicity of ways.

However, the salt of the earth has not lost its savour, nor has the eye of the church become completely darkened, nor has the light of true religion been extinguished by the spirits of wickedness; nor has the fire of divine charity lost its destroying and burning power over sinful and worthless material, nor has the word of the Lord, which is sharper than a two-edged sword and a discerner of thoughts, been found ineffectual, nor did the foundation of solid stone collapse when submerged by swollen waters and floods of rivers and storms, but the precious cornerstone, which was laid down in Sion, that is, in the church, upon which the foundation stone of the apostles and prophets was laid for the building up of the church, in our time has sent out from every one of the church's established ranks, even into the ruling city, the new Rome, many other stones rolling over the land, as the prophet says, to destroy and lay waste the intrigues of those who desired and attempted to destroy truth and divine justice.

But with greater force and particular significance, Nicholas, the most blessed and aptly-named pope of old Rome, was sent from above as another cornerstone for the church, preserving as far as possible the figurative likeness, as from an exalted and pre-eminent place, to confront the carefully organised opposition of Photius. By the missiles of his letters and speeches, he struck down the powerful leading supporters of Photius and, reflecting a story of the old Testament, after the manner of the zealot Phinehas, he pierced Photius with the lance of truth as if he were another Midianite defiling the assembly of Israel; and he completely destroyed him on his not [added in Hrd [1]] agreeing to accept the remedies of a healing discipline aimed at treating the scars and healing the adulterous wound, and just as another Peter dealt with Ananias and Sapphira, who stole what belonged to God, by an anathema included as it were in his priestly dignity, he committed him to death.

Following these directives and decrees, the most religious friend of Christ, our emperor, whom the heavenly Emperor and Lord of majesty has raised up for the salvation of the world, has consigned Photius to a suitable place and recalled the most holy patriarch Ignatius to his rightful seat. Furthermore, for the perfect discernment and definition of what is agreed to be good and is beneficial, he has gathered together vicars from all the patriarchal seats and the whole college of bishops which is under his authority. Those of us who came together have celebrated this great and universal synod and, with much examination, testing and discussion, with due care and consistency, we have cut out with the sword of the spirit the roots of scandals and weeds along with their shoots, as we establish the truly innocent and most holy patriarch Ignatius in the controlling seat, while we condemn Photius, the interloper and illegal occupier with all his supporters and promoters of evil. For almighty God says somewhere by the mouth of a prophet: Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house. I will do no more to love them. Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit; and again: Canaan, there is a deceitful balance in his hand, he has loved oppression. And Ephraim said: But yet I am become rich, I have found for myself a place of repose: all his labours shall not find me, despite the iniquities that I have committed; and again: And the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions. The house of Jacob shall be afire and the house of Joseph aflame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.

For the wretched Photius was truly like the person who did not make God his refuge; but trusted in the abundance of his cunning and sought refuge in the vanity of his iniquities, following the example of Ephraim of old, in turning his back on the divine mercy; the word of the prophet mocks and derides him, saying: Ephraim is become as bread baked under ashes, that is not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength and he knew it not, grey hairs also are spread upon him, and he is ignorant of it. He shall be humbled by the insult of Israel before his face; and in all this he has not returned to the Lord, his God. Ephraim is become as a dove, that called upon the table of Egypt and went to the Assyrians. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them as upon the birds of the air; I will bring them down, I will strike them to make their tribulation heard. For Photius was lifted up to the heights of arrogance in attacking the most blessed pope of old Rome, Nicholas, and he vomited out the poison of his evil. He gathered together false vicars from three supposedly eastern sees, set up what was thought to be a synodical council, and, making lists of the names of accusers and witnesses, fashioning profiles and speeches which seemed to be suited to each person who plays a part in a synodical investigation, and making up, writing down and organizing forged records as accounts of those proceedings, he had the audacity to anathematize the aforementioned most blessed pope Nicholas and all those in communion with him. Photius did this in such a way that as a result all the existing bishops and priests, that is, the other patriarchal sees and all the clerics within them, were included in the same anathema, for all were most certainly in communion with the leading bishop, and amongst them himself and his followers. The word of the prophet condemns and refutes him when it says: They have multiplied their transgressions, they have enacted extraneous laws and invoked their confession; and again: They conceived in their heart lying words and turned justice back, and righteousness has stood afar off from them; for truth has been destroyed in their streets and they have been unable to follow the right path. Truth has disappeared and changed their mind so that it cannot understand. And: He who turns from evil is attacked, and the Lord saw and it displeased him because there was no judgment, and again: Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Judah and for four, I will grant them no reprieve; because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his statutes. Therefore, as regards the man who has acted in this way and has disturbed and shaken the whole holy, catholic and apostolic church with so many brazen attacks of this kind, has utterly refused to be converted and repent, and has refused to submit to the decrees and judgment of the holy patriarchal sees, just as long ago the most blessed pope Nicholas and then his successor, the most holy pope Hadrian,— anathematized him, so too this holy and universal synod has reproved him and put him under an ever severer anathema while addressing to him, in the person of all God's people, the words of the prophet Isaiah: Just as a garment soiled in blood will not be clean, so you will not be clean, for you have defiled the church of Christ and have been a source of scandal and destruction to the people of God on many counts and in many ways. We command that those who do not share this view, but give Photius their willing support, if they are bishops or clerics, must be deposed for ever; we anathematize monks or lay people, until such time as they are converted from their false ways and wickedness.



If we wish to proceed without offence along the true and royal road of divine justice, we must keep the declarations and teachings of the holy fathers as if they were so many lamps which are always alight and illuminating our steps which are directed towards God. Therefore, considering and esteeming these as a second word of God, in accordance with the great and most wise Denis, let us sing most willingly along with the divinely inspired David, The commandment of the Lord is bright, enlightening the eyes, and, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my paths; and with the author of Proverbs we say, Your commandment is a lamp and your law a light, and like Isaiah we cry to the lord God with loud voice, because your commands are a light for the earth. For the exhortations and warnings of the divine canons are rightly likened to light inasmuch as the better is distinguished from the worse and what is advantageous and useful is distinguished from what is not helpful but harmful.

Therefore we declare that we are preserving and maintaining the canons which have been entrusted to the holy, catholic and apostolic church by the holy and renowned apostles, and by universal as well as local councils of orthodox [bishops], and even by any inspired father or teacher of the church. Consequently, we rule our own life and conduct by these canons and we decree that all those who have the rank of priests and all those who are described by the name of Christian are, by ecclesiastical law, included under the penalties and condemnations as well as, on the other hand, the absolutions and acquittals which have been imposed and defined by them. For Paul, the great apostle, openly urges us to preserve the traditions which we have received, either by word or by letter, of the saints who were famous in times past.


Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as persons who will have to give account, commands Paul, the great apostle. So, having both the most blessed pope Nicholas as the instrument of the holy Spirit and his successor, the most holy pope Hadrian, we declare and order that everything which has been expounded and promulgated by them in a synod at various times, both for the defence and well-being of the church of Constantinople and of its chief priest, namely Ignatius, its most holy patriarch, as well as for the expulsion and condemnation of Photius, the upstart and usurper, should be maintained and observed together with the canons there set forth, unchanged and unaltered, and no bishop, priest or deacon or anyone from the ranks of the clergy should dare to overturn or reject any of these things.

Whoever, then, shall be found, after these directives of ours, despising any of the articles or decrees which have been promulgated by these popes, must be stripped of his dignity and rank, if he is a priest or cleric; a monk or lay person, of whatever dignity, must be excommunicated until he repents and promises to observe all the decrees in question.


We decree that the sacred image of our lord Jesus Christ, the redeemer and saviour of all people, should be venerated with honour equal to that given to the book of the holy gospels. For, just as through the written words which are contained in the book, we all shall obtain salvation, so through the influence that colours in painting exercise on the imagination, all, both wise and simple, obtain benefit from what is before them; for as speech teaches and portrays through syllables, so too does painting by means of colours. It is only right then, in accordance with true reason and very ancient tradition, that icons should be honoured and venerated in a derivative way because of the honour which is given to their archetypes, and it should be equal to that given to the sacred book of the holy gospels and the representation of the precious cross.

If anyone then does not venerate the icon of Christ, the saviour, let him not see his face when he comes in his father's glory to be glorified and to glorify his saints', but let him be cut off from his communion and splendour; similarly the image of Mary, his immaculate mother and mother of God, we also paint the icons of the holy angels just as divine scripture depicts them in words; we also honour and venerate those of the highly renowned apostles, prophets, martyrs and holy men as well as those of all the saints. Let those who are not so disposed be anathema from the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit.


In tearing up by the roots the love of power, as being an evil root nourishing the scandals which have arisen in the church, we condemn, with a just decree, him who boldly, cunningly and unlawfully, like a dangerous wolf, leapt into the sheepfold of Christ; we are speaking about Photius, who has filled the whole world with a thousand upheavals and disturbances. We declare that he never was nor is now a bishop, nor must those, who were consecrated or given advancement by him to any grade of the priesthood, remain in that state to which they were promoted. Moreover, we debar from this kind of preferment those who received from Photius the customary rescripts for promotion to special office.

As for the churches which Photius and those who were ordained by him are thought to have consecrated and the altars which they are thought to have renovated after they had been torn down, we decree that they are to be consecrated, anointed and renovated again. In sum, everything that was done in his person and by him, for the establishing or penalizing of the sacerdotal state, has been abrogated. For the God of the whole universe says through his prophet: Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me and, You have forgotten the laws of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they bloat their souls with their iniquities. And again he says: Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning, they have become to him altars for sins; I will write copiously about them.


Since we desire to ensure, in Christ, that the stability of the canons should always remain firm in the churches, we renew and confirm the limits and conditions which were formerly decreed by the holy apostles and our holy fathers and which made it a law in the church that nobody, who is a neophyte in the faith or priestly office, should be made a bishop, lest he be puffed up and fall into the judgment and snare of the devil, as the Apostle says. Therefore, in accordance with the previous canons, we declare that nobody of senatorial rank or a secular way of life, who has recently been admitted to the tonsure with the intention or expectation of the honour of becoming a bishop or patriarch, and who has been made a cleric or monk, should rise to such a level, even if he is shown to have completed a considerable time in each stage of the divine priesthood. For it is clear that the tonsure was not received for religious reasons, love of God or hope of progressing along the path of the virtues, but for love of glory and honour. We exclude such people still more rigorously if they are pushed forward by imperial backing.

However, if someone gives no suspicion of seeking the worldly benefits just mentioned, but, prompted by the actual good of a humility which is centered on Christ, renounces the world and becomes a cleric or monk and, while passing through every ecclesiastical grade, is found without reproach and of good character during the periods of time currently established, so that he completes one year in the order of lector, two in that of subdeacon, three as deacon and four as priest, this holy and universal synod has decreed that such a one may be chosen and admitted. As for those who have remained religiously in the order of cleric or monk and have been judged worthy of the dignity and honour of the episcopacy, we reduce the aforesaid period of time to that which the superiors of these bishops approved at the time. If, however, anyone has been advanced to this supreme honour contrary to this directive of ours, he must be condemned and completely excluded from all priestly functions, because he has been elevated contrary to the sacred canons.


It appears that Photius, after the sentences and condemnations most justly pronounced against him by the most holy pope Nicholas for his criminal usurpation of the church of Constantinople, in addition to his other evil deeds, found some men of wicked and sycophantic character from the squares and streets of the city and proposed and designated them as vicars of the three most holy patriarchal sees in the east. He formed with these a church of evil-doers and a fraudulent council and set in motion accusations and charges entailing deposition against the most blessed pope Nicholas and repeatedly, impudently and boldly issued anathemas against him and all those in communion with him. The records of all these things have been seen by us, records which were cobbled together by him with evil intent and lying words, and all of which have been burnt during this very synod.

Therefore, to safeguard church order, we anathematize first and foremost the above-mentioned Photius for the reason given; next everyone who henceforth acts deceitfully and fraudulently and falsifies the word of truth and goes through the motions of having false vicars or composes books full of deceptions and explains them in favour of his own designs. With equal vigour Martin, the most holy pope of Rome, a valiant contender for the true faith, rejected behaviour of this kind by a synodal decree.


Moses, the divine spokesman, clearly declares in his law that what is right should also be rightly executed, since a good act is not good unless it is carried out in accordance with reason. So it is indeed good and very advantageous to paint holy and venerable images as also to teach others the disciplines of divine and human wisdom. But it is not good nor at all profitable for any of these things to be done by those who are unworthy.

For this reason we declare and proclaim that those declared anathema by this holy and universal synod may not, on any account, work on sacred images in holy places of worship nor teach anywhere at all, until they are converted from their error and wickedness. Whoever, therefore, after this directive of ours, admits them in any way to paint sacred images in churches, or to teach, must be removed from office if he is a cleric; if he is a lay person, he must be excommunicated and debarred from taking part in the divine mysteries.


The great apostle Paul says somewhere: All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. Therefore, we ought to do everything for the advantage and perfection of the holy church of God and nothing at all to promote controversy and vainglory. Since a report has come to our ears that not only heretics and those who have wrongly obtained the patriarchate of Constantinople, but also the orthodox and legitimate patriarchs, demand and extract from the order of priests guarantees, written in their own hands, which are designed for the security, benefit and, as it were, permanence of the above persons, it has therefore seemed good to this holy and universal synod that nobody at all should do this from now on, with the exception of what is demanded at the time of episcopal consecrations, according to rule and custom, in order to witness to the purity of our faith; every other way of doing it is completely inappropriate and has no part in the building up of the church. So whoever dares to nullify this directive of ours, either by asking for such a document or by providing it to those who ask, shall lose his own office.


From the very beginning the wretched Photius brought about in the church of Constantinople an abundance of all kinds of wickedness. We have learnt that even before his tyrannical period in office he used to give documents, signed by his own hand, to his followers who were learning the wisdom that has been made foolish by God, even though this system was clearly a new invention and thoroughly alien to our holy fathers and doctors of the church.

Since therefore they direct us to loose every bond of wickedness and to make void enforced contracts, the holy and universal synod has declared that nobody, from now on, should hold or keep such a contract, but all, without hindrance, hesitation or fear, may both teach and study if they are competent for either task, with the exception of those who are found to be enslaved to error or heretical beliefs since we strictly forbid such persons to teach or to pursue studies. If anyone shall be found rejecting and transgressing against this directive, he shall lose his rank if he is a cleric; if a lay person, he shall be excommunicated as one who does not believe the Lord's word which says, Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven .


As divine scripture clearly proclaims, Do not find fault before you investigate, and understand first and then find fault, and does our law judge a person without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?. Consequently this holy and universal synod justly and fittingly declares and lays down that no lay person or monk or cleric should separate himself from communion with his own patriarch before a careful enquiry and judgment in synod, even if he alleges that he knows of some crime perpetrated by his patriarch, and he must not refuse to include his patriarch's name during the divine mysteries or offices.

In the same way we command that bishops and priests who are in distant dioceses and regions should behave similarly towards their own metropolitans, and metropolitans should do the same with regard to their own patriarchs. If anyone shall be found defying this holy synod, he is to be debarred from all priestly functions and status if he is a bishop or cleric; if a monk or lay person, he must be excluded from all communion and meetings of the church until he is converted by repentance and reconciled.


Though the old and new Testament teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul, and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means using a wisdom that has been made foolishness.

Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians.


The apostolic and conciliar canons clearly forbid the nomination and consecration of bishops which have come about as a result of the power and intrigues of the civil authorities. Therefore we declare and proclaim, in full agreement with them, that if any bishop has received his consecration through the manipulation and constraint of such persons, he should be deposed absolutely as one who has desired and consented to have the gift of God not from the will of God and ecclesiastical law and decree, but from human beings and through their machinations as a result of the prompting of carnal desire.


The divine word says, The worker is worthy of his pay For this reason we too decree and proclaim that the clerics of the great church [of Constantinople], who have served in the lower orders, may rise to the higher grades and, if they have shown themselves worthy, may deservedly enjoy higher dignities, since some of those who now enjoy them either will be called through promotion to more important duties or will vacate them by dying. But those who do not belong to this particular clergy and yet insinuate themselves into it, must not receive the dignities and honours due to those who have laboured in it a long time, for in that case the clerics of the church [of Constantinople] would be found to have no promotion.

Those who manage the houses or estates of leading persons must by no means have the possibility of being admitted or inducted into the clergy of the great church [of Constantinople]: No soldier on service for God gets entangled in civilian pursuits. If indeed anyone, contrary to the directive we have now issued, is promoted to any dignity whatsoever in this great church, he must be excluded from all ecclesiastical dignity as one who has been promoted contrary to the decision of the great synod.


We declare that those who are called by divine grace to the office of bishop, since they bear the image and likeness of the holy hierarchies in heaven, that is of the angels, in accordance with what is clearly an hierarchical dignity and function, should be held as worthy of all honour on the part of everyone, rulers and ruled alike.

We also declare that they must not go to meet a general or any other high official a long way from their churches, nor should they dismount from their horses or mules a long way off or bow down in fear and trembling and prostrate themselves; nor should they go to table for dinner with secular dignitaries and show the same honours as they do to generals, but according to what is in keeping with their own spiritual dignity and honour, they should render to everyone his due: Tribute to whom tribute is due, honour to whom honour is due. They must show that the confessors of the emperors, who are friends of Christ, and those who have the same dignity, deserve great respect from the leading persons of those emperors. Thus the bishop will have the courage to reprimand generals and other leading officials and all other secular authorities as often as he finds them doing something unjust or unreasonable, and in this way to correct them and make them better.

But if some bishop, after the holy directive of this council, shall ignore the honour duly and canonically bestowed on him, and permits something to happen according to the old, debased and disordered custom which is contrary to what has now been declared, he must be suspended for a year and the official involved is to be considered unworthy to take part in the mysteries or the means of grace for two years.


This holy and universal synod, in renewing the canons of the apostles and fathers, has decreed that no bishop may sell or in any way dispose of precious objects or consecrated vessels except for the reason laid down long ago by the ancient canons, that is to say, objects received for the redemption of captives. They must not hand over endowments of churches by emphyteutic leases nor put on sale other agricultural properties, thereby damaging ecclesiastical revenues. We decree that such revenues are for church purposes, the feeding of the poor and the assistance of pilgrims. However, bishops have full powers to improve and enlarge, as opportunity offers, the ecclesiastical properties which produce these revenues. Moreover, they have the right to apportion or bestow their own property on whomsoever they wish and choose, in accordance with their own powers and rights of ownership.

Now that this decree has been made, whoever appears to have acted in a way contrary to this holy and universal synod, must be deposed on the grounds of violating divine law and precepts. Any sale which was made by the bishop, either in writing or otherwise, must be made entirely void, as well as any emphyteutic lease or any other act disposing of precious objects or endowments. Whoever buys or acquires any of the aforementioned precious objects or endowments and does not restore to the church what belongs to it and does not hand over for burning the bills of sale or leases, is anathema until he does what has been determined by this holy and universal synod.

If a bishop is found guilty of having built a monastery with the revenues of a church, he must hand over the monastery to the same church. But if he built it from his own money or other sources, he may have it for his whole life under his own jurisdiction and direction; he may also bequeath it after his death to whomsoever he wishes, but it may not be used as a secular dwelling.


A matter which merits great sorrow, even many tears, has come to our ears from many of the faithful. They say that under the previous emperor some laymen of the senatorial order were seen to plait their hair and arrange it on their heads, and to adopt a kind of priestly dignity in accordance with their different ranks at the emperor's court. They did this by wearing various ornaments and articles of clothing which are proper to priests and, as it was thought, made themselves out to be bishops by wearing a pallium over their shoulders and every other piece of episcopal dress. They also adopted as their patriarch the one who took the leading role in these buffooneries. They insulted and made a mockery of a variety of holy things, such as elections, promotions and consecrations of bishops, or by bringing up subtle but false accusations against bishops, and condemning and deposing them, switching in turn from distress to collusion as prosecutors and defendants.

Such a way of behaving has never been heard of since time began, even among the pagans. It shows that those we have now brought to light are in a worse and more wretched state than the pagan nations. The sacred and universal synod, therefore, has declared and promulgated that these attempts to do evil must be condemned as crimes, and no member of the faithful who bears the name of Christian should henceforth attempt to do or tolerate such a thing, or to protect by silence anyone who has committed such an impious act. If any emperor or any powerful or influential person should attempt to mock holy things in such a way, or with evil intent to carry out or permit such a great wrong to be done against the divine priesthood, he must first be condemned by the patriarch of the time, acting with his fellow bishops, and be excommunicated and declared unworthy to share in the divine mysteries, and then he must accept certain other corrective practices and penances which are judged appropriate. Unless he repents quickly, he must be declared anathema by this holy and universal synod as one who has dishonoured the mystery of the pure and spotless faith.

However, if the patriarch of Constantinople and his suffragan bishops come to know of any others who have committed crimes of this kind and neglect to act against them with the necessary zeal, they must be deposed and debarred from the dignity of their priesthood. Those who in any way have shown, or shall show in future, such impious conduct and have not confessed it in any way and received the appropriate penance, are declared excommunicate by this synod for three years; during the first year they must remain outside the church as public penitents, during the second year they may stand inside the church among the. ranks of the catechumens, during the third year they may join the faithful and thus become worthy of the sanctifying effects of the holy mysteries.


The first, holy and universal synod of Nicaea orders that the ancient custom should be preserved throughout Egypt and the provinces subject to her, so that the bishop of Alexandria has them all under his authority; it declares, "Because such a custom has prevailed in the city of Rome". Therefore this great and holy synod decrees that in old and new Rome and the sees of Antioch and Jerusalem the ancient custom must be preserved in all things, so that their prelates should have authority over all the metropolitans whom they promote or confirm in the episcopal dignity, either through the imposition of hands or the bestowal of the pallium; that is to say, the authority to summon them, in case of necessity, to a meeting in synod or even to reprimand and correct them, when a report about some wrongdoing leads to an accusation.

But since some metropolitans give as an excuse for not responding to the summons of their apostolic prelate that they are detained by their temporal rulers, it has been decided that such an excuse will be utterly invalid. For since a ruler frequently holds meetings for his own purposes, it is intolerable that he should prevent leading prelates from going to synods for ecclesiastical business or hold some back from their meetings. We have learnt, however, that such an obstacle and alleged refusal of permission can come about in various ways at the suggestion of the metropolitan.

Metropolitans have had the custom of holding synods twice a year and therefore, they say, they cannot possibly come to the chief one, that of the patriarch. But this holy and universal synod, without forbidding the meetings held by the metropolitans, is conscious that the synods summoned by the patriarchal see are more necessary and profitable than the metropolitan ones, and so demands that they take place. A metropolitan synod affects the good order of only one province, a patriarchal synod often affects the good order of a whole civil diocese, and in this way the common good is provided for. So it is fitting that the common good take priority over a particular one, especially when the summons to meet has been issued by those of greater authority. The fact is that certain metropolitans seem to regard with contempt the ancient custom and canonical tradition, by their not meeting together for the common good. Therefore the laws of the church demand, with severe penalties and leaving no loop-hole, that they comply with the summons of their patriarchs whether they are summoned as a body or individually.

We refuse to listen to the offensive claim made by some ignorant people that a synod cannot be held in the absence of the civil authorities. The reason for this is that the sacred canons have never prescribed the presence of secular rulers at synods but only the presence of bishops. Hence we find that they have not been present at synods but only at universal councils. Furthermore, it is not right that secular rulers should be observers of matters that sometimes come before the priests of God.

Therefore, if any metropolitan ignores his patriarch and disobeys his summons, whether addressed to him alone or to several or to all, unless prevented by a genuine illness or a pagan invasion, and for two whole months after notice of the summons makes no attempt to visit his patriarch, or if he hides in some way or pretends he has no knowledge of the patriarch's summons, he must be excommunicated. If he shows the same stubbornness and disobedience for a year, he must be unconditionally deposed and suspended from all sacerdotal functions and excluded from the dignity and honour that belong to metropolitans. If any metropolitan disobeys even this directive, let him be anathema.


This holy and great synod has decided that the goods or privileges which belong to the churches of God as a result of long enduring custom and have been granted, whether in writing or not, by emperors of revered memory or by other religious people and possessed by the churches for thirty years, must in no way be removed by force on the part of any secular person, or taken away by him on any pretext whatsoever, from the jurisdiction of the prelate who has them. Whatever is known to have been possessed by the churches for thirty years must remain subject to the control and use of the prelate of the church. Any secular person who acts in a way contrary to this present decree shall be ad judged as one who commits sacrilege and, until he reforms himself and restores or gives back the privileges and goods belonging to the church, let him be anathema.


Paul, the great apostle, condemns greed as another form of idolatry and wants all who unite under the name of Christian to abstain from every form of shameful love of gain. It is all the more wrong, therefore, for those who have the ministry of the priesthood to burden their fellow-bishops and suffragans in any way whatsoever.

For this reason this holy and universal synod has decreed that no archbishop or metropolitan should leave his own church and visit other churches under the pretext of an official visitation, nor abuse his authority over other churches and consume the revenues which they have at their disposal and for feeding the poor, and thus, by a form of greed, be a burden to the consciences of our brothers and fellow ministers. An exception is made in the case of hospitality, which may sometimes arise on account of necessary travel. But even then he must accept, with reverence and fear of God, nothing else than what is found prepared from that which is currently at hand. He should quickly continue the journey he has undertaken without asking or demanding any at all of the things which belong to that church or the suffragan bishop. For if the sacred canons decree that every bishop should be sparing in his use of what belongs to his own church, and should no way spend or consume the ecclesiastical revenues in an unfitting or unreasonable way for his own advantage, what kind of impiety do you think he will be found guilty of if he has no scruples about going around and burdening the churches entrusted to other bishops and thereby incurring the charge of sacrilege ?

Whoever attempts to do such a thing, after this directive of ours, shall incur from the patriarch of the time the punishment commensurate with his unjust and greedy behaviour, and shall be deposed and excommunicated as the sacrilegious person he is or, to put it otherwise, as an idolater, according to the teaching of the great Apostle.


It has come to the ears of this holy synod that in certain places some, on their own authority and without the agreement of those who are entrusted with such decisions, callously and mercilessly expel people who have received some of their lands by emphyteusis, on the pretext that the contract about the agreed rent has been broken.

This must not be allowed to happen unless the person who made the emphyteutic contract first listens to the objections through the mediation of some suitable and trustworthy persons. Then, if the leaseholder has not paid for three years the rent due, he may be expelled from his lands. But it is necessary, after the rent has been unpaid for three years, to go to the authorities of the city or region and bring before them a charge against the person who obtained the emphyteutic lease, and to show how he has defaulted. Only then, after the decision and judgment of the officials, may the church take back its property. Nobody may effect the confiscation of the aforesaid lands on his own initiative and authority, since this would be a sign of the worst form of profiteering and greed.

So, if any bishop or metropolitan, contrary to this directive of ours, confiscates any property from anyone, thinking he is protecting his own church, let him be suspended by his patriarch for a time, having first restored what he took away. If he persists in his disobedience to the decision of this holy universal synod, he must be completely removed from office.


We believe that the saying of the Lord that Christ addressed to his holy apostles and disciples, Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever despises you despises me, was also addressed to all who were likewise made supreme pontiffs and chief pastors in succession to them in the catholic church. Therefore we declare that no secular powers should treat with disrespect any of those who hold the office of patriarch or seek to move them from their high positions, but rather they should esteem them as worthy of all honour and reverence. This applies in the first place to the most holy pope of old Rome, secondly to the patriarch of Constantinople, and then to the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Furthermore, nobody else should compose or edit writings or tracts against the most holy pope of old Rome, on the pretext of making incriminating charges, as Photius did recently and Dioscorus a long time ago. Whoever shows such great arrogance and audacity, after the manner of Photius and Dioscorus, and makes false accusations in writing or speech against the see of Peter, the chief of the apostles, let him receive a punishment equal to theirs.

If, then, any ruler or secular authority tries to expel the aforesaid pope of the apostolic see, or any of the other patriarchs, let him be anathema. Furthermore, if a universal synod is held and any question or controversy arises about the holy church of Rome, it should make inquiries with proper reverence and respect about the question raised and should find a profitable solution; it must on no account pronounce sentence rashly against the supreme pontiffs of old Rome.


This holy and universal synod declares and decrees, in agreement with earlier councils, that the promotion and consecration of bishops should be done by means of an election and decision of the college of bishops. So it promulgates as law that no lay authority or ruler may intervene in the election or promotion of a patriarch, a metropolitan or any bishop, lest there be any irregularity leading to improper confusion or quarrelling, especially since it is wrong for any ruler or other lay person to have any influence in such matters. Rather he should be silent and mind his own business until the election of the future bishop has been completed with due process by the ecclesiastical assembly. But if any lay person is invited by the church to join in the discussion and to help with the election, he is permitted to accept the invitation with respect, if he so wishes. For in this way he may be able to promote a worthy pastor in a regular manner, to the benefit of his church.

If any secular authority or ruler, or a lay person of any other status, attempts to act against the common, agreed and canonical method of election in the church, let him be anathema- this is to last until he obeys and agrees to what the church shows it wants concerning the election and appointment of its leader.


We have also learnt that some bishops, at the request of certain people, have unreasonably made a gift of properties belonging to other churches. Thus they usurp the authority of other bishops, so far as they can. This conduct will clearly bring on them the curse of the prophet who says, Woe to those who add house to house and field to field in order to defraud their neighbour, and it has made them guilty of sacrilege. For this reason, this great and universal synod has decided that no brother of ours in the episcopate or anyone else may transact such a wicked property deal, nor, if asked by someone, dispose of any property belonging to other churches, nor install priests or any other clerics in churches that are not under his jurisdiction, without the permission of the bishop responsible for the church in question. Furthermore, no priests or deacons, who are consecrated for holy functions, should perform, of their own accord and decision, any sacred functions in churches to which they have not been appointed from the beginning. This behaviour is unlawful and utterly alien to the canonical regulations.

Whoever, after this declaration of ours, shall be seen to do any of these things which have now been forbidden, must be excommunicated for a period of time, and the contractual arrangements, whether written or not, must be completely dissolved and abrogated because they were made in contravention of the canons. Likewise, the priest or deacon is to be suspended until he withdraws from the church to which he does not belong. But if he ignores the suspension, he must be got rid of completely and dispossessed of every sacred office.


Divine scripture says, Cursed is everyone who does the work of the Lord with slackness Yet some metropolitans have fallen into the depths of negligence and sloth. They summon the bishops subject to their jurisdiction and commit to them the divine offices of their own church as well as litanies and all the sacred ministries which are personal to themselves. The consequence is that they celebrate through the agency of these bishops everything they should readily do themselves. In this way they make those who have merited the dignity of bishop seem like clerics in their service.

These metropolitans, contrary to church law, give themselves to secular business and administration, failing to persevere in prayers and petitions for their own sins and the ignorance of their people. Some excuse this behaviour even though it is utterly and completely contrary to canonical regulations. What is still more serious, it is said that the bishops are told to complete the above ministries at allotted times each month at their own expense. This is totally alien to all apostolic sanction. All this makes such people worthy of the most severe condemnation possible, for they are shown by their actions to be infected by a form of satanic pride and arrogance.

Any metropolitan who, after this directive of the holy and universal synod, is consumed by a similar pride, arrogance or contempt and does not carry out with fear, promptitude and a good conscience the necessary ministries in his own city, but seeks to carry them out through his suffragan bishops, must be punished by his patriarch and be either reformed or deposed.


The holy synod has duly decided that the bishops, priests, deacons and subdeacons of the great church [of Constantinople], who received their consecration from Methodius and Ignatius, the most holy patriarchs, and became hard of heart like the arrogant and unfeeling heart of Pharaoh, and even now are in complete disagreement with this holy and universal synod and, while rejecting harmony with us in the word of truth, have wholeheartedly supported the cause of the usurper Photius, must be deposed and suspended from all sacerdotal functions, just as the most blessed pope Nicholas decreed not long ago. On no account are such men to be readmitted into the ranks of the clergy, even if they wish in future to change their ways. An exception will be made in regard to receiving the means of holiness, and it is only our mercy which makes us think that they are worthy of this. They do not deserve to have the opportunity of being restored by their repentance to their former status, as is illustrated by the case of the odious Esau, though he begged in tears for that favour.


This holy synod has also decided that any priest or deacon who has been deposed by his bishop for some crime, or who alleges he has suffered some kind of injustice and is not satisfied with the judgment of his bishop, saying that he does not trust him and that he has been wronged, either because of the enmity which the bishop has for him or because of favours the bishop wants to bestow on certain others, such a person has the right to have recourse to the metropolitan of his province and to denounce his deposition from office, which he thinks is unjust, or any other injury. The metropolitan should be willing to take up such cases and to summon the bishop who has deposed the cleric or injured him in any way. He should examine the case himself, with the help of other bishops, so as either to confirm the deposition of the cleric beyond all doubt, or to quash it by means of a general synod and the judgment of many persons.

In the same way we decree that bishops may have recourse to the patriarch, their head, if they complain that they have suffered similar things from their metropolitan, so that the business in question may receive a just and right decision from their patriarch and the metropolitans under him. No metropolitan bishop may be judged by his neighbouring metropolitan bishops, even though it is alleged that he has committed serious crimes, but he may only be judged by his own patriarch; we decree that this judgment will be just and beyond suspicion because a number of esteemed people will be gathered around the patriarch, and for this reason his judgment will be fully ratified and confirmed. If anyone does not, agree with what we have promulgated, let him be excommunicated.


We decree that, in ecclesiastical promotions and consecrations, the marks which signify the rank to which each person belongs, should be kept, in accordance with the traditional usages of each province, region and city. Thus bishops who have been permitted to wear the pallium at certain times, may wear it at those times and places but should not abuse so great and honourable a garment through pride, vainglory, human conceit and self-love, by wearing it unnecessarily throughout the divine sacrifice and every other ecclesiastical ceremony. We decree that those who have devoutly embraced the monastic life and merited the dignity of a bishop, should keep the appearance and garments of the monastic habit and that holy way of life. None of them has the right to lay aside that type of dress out of pride and wilful arrogance, lest he is found thereby to violate his personal vows. Just as the continual wearing of the pallium shows the bishop as given to ostentation and vainglory, so the laying aside of the monastic habit exposes him to the same charges.

Therefore, any bishop who wears the pallium outside the occasions stipulated in writing, or lays aside the monastic dress, must either be corrected or be deposed by his patriarch.


[1] J. Hardouin, Conciliorum collectio regia maxima adp. Philippi Labbei et p. Gabrielis Cossartii e Societate Jesu labores haud modica accessione facta et emendationibus pluribus additis ..., 12 vols. Paris 1714-1715

Introduction and translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner