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THE CANONS OF ANCYRA.
The Synod of Arcyra in Galatia was assembled A. D. 315, ten years before that of Nice. It consisted only of eighteen Bishops, who met to determine the cases of those who had lapsed in the time of the persecution under Maximin, and who desired to return to the Communion of the Church.
Canon I. Respecting the Presbyters who have sacrificed, and then again entered into the conflict, not deceitfully but truly, neither having before prepared and arranged the matter, and persuaded others to make it appear that they were exposed to tortures which in fact were applied only in seeming and pretence, it is decreed, that such persons may partake of the honor of their chair, but shall not be allowed to offer or preach (1), or take any part in the performance of the divine offices.
II. In like manner as regards the Deacons who have sacrificed, and then again entered into the conflict, [it is decreed] that they shall indeed have their other honors, but shall desist from all their sacerdotal service, both from the bringing in the bread or cup, and making the proclamations. If however any of the Bishops should perceive in them trouble of mind and meek humiliation, and should wish to grant them any greater privileges, or on the other hand should see reason to take away anything from them, they are to have authority to do so.
III. As regards those who have fled, and have been taken, or who have been betrayed by their servants, or by some other means have been spoiled of their goods, or have endured tortures, or been cast into prison, still exclaiming that they were Christians; and have been harassed by their persecutors forcibly putting something into their hands, or who have been compelled to receive food, professing all the while that they were Christians, and constantly manifesting grief for what had happened to them, in their habit and appearance and humble way of living, such persons as being without sin in this respect, are not to be repelled from Communion : but if they have been repelled by any one out of excessive strictness, or from ignorance of some things, let them be immediately received. And this decree applies equally to the Clergy and the Laity. Furthermore it has been considered whether Laymen who have fallen under such a necessity may be promoted to the Clergy; and it has been decreed, that such persons having in no respect sinned, inay, if their previous course of life is found to be correct, be ordained.
IV. As regards those who have indeed been forced to sacrifice, but who afterwards have eaten before the idols, and who being led away have returned with a cheerful appearance, and have put on a richer garment, and partaken without distinction of the supper which was prepared, it is decreed that they be hearers (1) for a year, and prostrators for three years, and communicants in prayers for two years, and then be admitted to full Communion (2).
V. Such persons however as have come with a mourning dress, and falling down have eaten, but weeping throughout the whole entertainment, after they have fulfilled a period of three years as prostrators, are to be received without offering. But if they have not eaten, let them, after having been prostrators two years, communicate without offering in the third, so as to be received to full Communion in the fourth year. The Bishops, however, are to have the power, upon considering the manner of their conversation, either to deal more leniently with them, or to lengthen their time of probation. But in particular let their previous as well as subsequent life be inquired into, and let favor be meted to them accordingly.
VI. With respect to those who have yielded upon the threat only of punishment, and spoiling of their goods, or of banishment, and have sacrificed, and up to the present time have not repented or been converted, but have come now on the occasion of the holding of this Synod, and taken thought of conversion, it has been decreed, that such persons should be received as hearers to the great day (1), and after the great day should be prostrators for three years, and for two other years should communicate without offering, and then come to the Communion, so as to complete the whole period of six years. But if any persons have been admitted to penitence before the holding of this Synod, the six years shall be reckoned from the time of their admission. If, however, any danger or expectation of death should occur from disease or any other cause, they are to be received, but under limitation.
VII. With respect to those who have taken part in any heathen feast in any place belonging to the heathen, but bringing with them, and eating their own provisions, it is decreed, that they shall be received after having been prostrators for two years, but whether or not with
the oblation, each Bishop is to determine after inquiring into the rest of their life.
VIII. Those, however, who have sacrificed a second or third time, even under violence, must continue prostrators four years, and communicate two years without the oblation, and in the seventh be received to full Communion,
IX. But those who have not only fallen away themselves, but have risen against their brethren, and forced them, or have been the cause of their being forced, must occupy the place of hearers for three years, and for a further six years that of prostrators, and for one year communicate without the oblation, and having thus fulfilled the space of ten years, they are then to be admitted to the Communion. The rest of their life, however, during this time must be inquired into.
X. Those who have been made Deacons, if at the time of their being made they have testified and said, that they must needs marry, because they are unable “to abide so,” (1 Cor. vii. 8.) may, if they should afterwards marry, continue in their Ministry, because this was allowed by the Bishop. But if any have kept silence respecting this, and have undertaken at their ordination " to abide so," and should afterwards marry, they must desist from the Ministry.
XI. As regards maidens who have been betrothed and who have afterwards been carried off by force, it is decreed, that they shall be restored to those to whom they were before betrothed, even if they should have suffered violence from those who carried them off.
XII. Those who before Baptism have sacrificed, and afterwards have been baptized, may be promoted to the Clergy, as having been washed from [their sins].
XIII. The Chorepiscopi (1) are not to be allowed to
ordain Presbyters or Deacons, nor the Presbyters of a City, without the permission of the Bishop in writing, in another Parish.
XIV. It is decreed that those of the clergy, being Presbyters or Deacons, who abstain from flesh, should taste it, and theri, if they will, abstain from it. But if they do not choose to do so, and will not even eat the vegetables which have been served with flesh, and refuse to obey the Canon, they are to be deprived of their order. (See Apost. Can. 51.)
XV. With respect to those things belonging to the Church which the Presbyters may have sold whilst there was no Bishop, it is decreed, that the property of the Church is to be reclaimed. The Bishop, however, is to decide whether it is desirable to receive the price or not; since it may often happen, that the price paid for the thing sold will bring a greater revenue than the things themselves.
XVI. Concerning those who are or have been guilty of bestial lusts, if they have sinned before the age of twenty, let them, after being prostrators for fifteen years, be admitted to Communion as far as the prayers, and having completed five years in this Communion, let them then partake of the oblation. But let their manner of life during the time of their being prostrators be inquired into. And so let them be gently dealt with. If, however, any have frequently sinned, let them have a long prostration. But if any having exceeded the beforementioned age, and having wives, have fallen into this sin, let them be prostrators for twenty-five years, and then partake of the Communion as far as the prayers, then having completed five years in the Communion of prayers, let them partake of the oblation. But if any having wives, and having exceeded the age of fifty years