The Resistance to the Transfer of Bishops in Egypt (Part IV), Fr. Peter Farrington

Download: PDF

In the first of these four short articles we have seen that it was an ecumenical council, the most authoritative and important decision making body in the Church, which decided that it would not be allowed for bishops to move from one diocese to another. We have also seen that the bishops gathered at this council of Nicaea were well aware that in some places bishops were being transferred, but they completely rejected this practice believing that it caused harm to the life of the Church. In the second article we looked at several examples from the period after Nicaea, and we saw that in each case the canon or rule against the transfer of bishops was carefully preserved. Then, in the third article, we considered the history of the transfer of bishops in the Church of Rome, and in the Syrian Orthodox Church. We discovered that all the time that Rome remained Orthodox it rejected the transfer of bishops, even digging up the body of a bishop who had worked over many years to become the Pope of Rome, so that the body could be stripped of the papal vestments. While in the case of Syria we saw that after the council of Nicaea there were no transfers of bishops certainly until the end of the 10th century. Far from the canon of Nicaea being ignored, we find that everywhere it is being applied until relatively recently.

Read more: The Resistance to the Transfer of Bishops in Egypt (Part IV), Fr. Peter Farrington

The Transfer of Bishops in Practice (Part III), Fr. Peter Farrington

Download: PDF

The second article in this series ended with a note that this third article would consider the history of the transfer of bishops over a much larger period of history to allow us to understand when and why some Orthodox Churches did begin to allow the transfer of bishops, and to show that the Church in Egypt always resisted such changes until very recent times.

Read more: The Transfer of Bishops in Practice (Part III), Fr. Peter Farrington

The Transfer of Bishops in History (Part II), Fr. Peter Farrington

Download: PDF | MP3 Lecture (coming soon)

In the first article in this series we considered one of the canons or rules which was formulated at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This fifteenth canon forbade the transfer of one bishop to another see, and was especially enacted to prevent the disturbances associated with such movements of bishops. This canon was considered necessary to preserve the stability of the Church and continuity in the ministry of bishops. If bishops could be transferred then bishops might enviously set their sights on larger dioceses, and larger dioceses might set their sights on the most capable and well-known of bishops.

Read more: The Transfer of Bishops in History (Part II), Fr. Peter Farrington

The Translation of Bishops (Part I), Fr. Peter Farrington

Download: PDF | MP3 lecture recording (15:50)

It is impossible to avoid the present controversy within the Coptic Orthodox Church concerning the election of a new patriarch. The conversation has spread onto the internet, and has provoked important contributions from priests and bishops. Many ordinary Church members might think that this is a matter which is outside of their interest and influence. But a selection of ordinary Church members have the privilege of helping to elect the new patriarch, and each member of the Church is responsible for the health and well-being of the whole Church, since we are one Body of Christ. Therefore it is important that each of us understands why there is a discussion taking place about how the new patriarch should be chosen. The way in which the Church is organised and acts matters.

Read more: The Translation of Bishops (Part I), Fr. Peter Farrington

An Academic Understanding of Canon 15 from Abp L'Huiller

H.E. Anba Bishoy is presenting a different understanding of Canon 15 of Nicaea than H.G. Anba Serapion and others. What do scholars outside the Coptic Church have to say on the meaning of this canon? As Abp L'Huiller explains below in "The Canons of the Council, Canon 15 (The Council of Nicea)", the meaning is perfectly clear, and has been widely disregarded. It seems that H.E.'s argument that the canon does not apply to H.E.'s own candidecy does not match with the understanding of scholars from groups who routinely disregard the canon, but who at least awknoledge that they are disregarding it, rather than arguing that it supports their choices.

 

15

Because of the great agitation and troubles which have recently occurred, it has been decided to abolish completely the custom which, contrary to the rule, has been introduced in certain places, so that it is forbidden for a bishop, priest or deacon to go from one city to another. If anyone, after the decree of the holy and great council, dares to attempt such a thing or busies himself in actually doing it, his scheme will be struck with absolute nullity, and he will be reinstalled in the church for which he was ordained bishop, priest or deacon.

The difficulties posed by this canon are not of a philological order; in the manuscripts we do not find any variants affecting the meaning.

Read more: An Academic Understanding of Canon 15 from Abp L'Huiller