Early Church Fathers
The Third Epistle of the Same to the Same.
(Found in Lib. cit., p. 255, et seqq. Epistle ccxvij. )
That one punishment be inflicted on lapsing clergymen, viz.: deposition, whether they be in dignity, or in, the ministry which is given without imposition of hands.
A woman delivered in the road, and neglecting her child, is guilty of murder, unless she was under necessity by reason of the solitude of the place, and the want of necessaries.
A widow slave desiring to be married a second time, has, perhaps, been guilty of no great crime in pretending that she was ravished; not her pretence, but voluntary choice is to be condemned; but it is clear, that the punishment of digamy is due to her.
That it is in the bishop's power to increase or lessen penance for involuntary murder.
They that are not ecclesiastics setting upon highwaymen, are repelled from the communion of the Good Thing; clergymen are deposed.
He that wilfully commits murder, and afterwards repents, shall for twenty years remain without communicating of the Holy Sacrament. Four years he must mourn without the door of the oratory, and beg of the communicants that go in, that prayer be offered for him; then for five years he shall be admitted among the hearers, for seven years among the prostrators; for four years he shall be a co-stander with the communicants, but shall not partake of the oblation; when these years are completed, he shall partake of the Holy Sacrament.
The involuntary murderer for two years shall be a mourner, for three years a hearer, four years a prostrator, one year a co-stander, and then communicate.
The adulterer shall be four years a mourner, five a hearer, four a prostrator, two a co-stander.
The fornicator shall be a mourner two years, two a hearer, two a prostrator, one a co-stander.
Professed virgins and monks, if they fall from their profession, shall undergo the penance of adulterers.
The thief, if he discover himself, shall do one year's penance; if he be discovered [by others] two; half the time he shall be a prostrator, the other half a co-stander.
He that abuses himself with mankind, shall do the penance of an adulterer.
And so shall he who abuses himself with beasts, if they voluntarily confess it.
The perjured person shall be a mourner two years, a hearer three, a prostrator four, a co-stander one.
He that confesses conjuration, or pharmacy, shall do penance as long as a murderer.
He that digs the dead out of their graves, shall be a mourner two years, a hearer three years, a prostrator four years, a co-stander one year.
Incest with a sister is punished as murder.
All incestuous conjunction, as adultery.
A reader or minister lying with a woman he has only espoused, shall cease from his function one year; but if he have not espoused her, he shall [wholly] cease from his ministry.
The priest or deacon that is polluted in lips, shall be made to cease from his function, but shall communicate with the priests or deacons. He that does more shall be deposed.
He that is convicted to have been conscious to any of these crimes, but not discovered it, shall be treated as the principal.
He that gives himself to divination, shall be treated as a murderer.
He that denied Christ, is to be communicated at the hour of death, if he confess it, and be a mourner till that time.
[The bishop] that has the power of binding and loosing, may lessen the time of penance, to an earnest penitent.
He that commits incest with a half-sister, shall be a mourner three years, a hearer three years, a co-stander two years.
And so shall he be who takes in marriage his son's wife.
He that divorces his wife, and marries another, is an adulterer; and according to the canons of the Fathers, he shall be a mourner one year, a hearer two years, a prostrator three years, a co-stander one year, if they repent with tears.
So shall he who successively marries two sisters.
So shall he who madly loves his mother-in-law, or sister.
The Fathers say nothing of polygamy as being beastly, and a thing unagreeable to human nature. To us it appears a greater: sin than fornication: Let therefore such [asare guilty of it] be liable to the canons, viz.: after they have been mourners one year-let them be prostrators three years-and then bereceived,
They who in the invasion of the barbarians have after long torments, eaten of magical things offered to idols, and have sworn heathen oaths, let them not be received for three years; for two years let them be hearers, for three years prostrators, so let them be received; but they who did it without force, let them be ejected three years, be hearers two years, prostrators three years, co-standers three years, so let them be admitted to communion.
They who by force have been driven to perjury, let them be admitted after six years; but if without force, let them be mourners two years, hearers two years, the fifth year prostrators, two years co-standers.
They that follow heathenish customs, or bring men into their houses for the contriving pharmacies, or repelling them, shall be one year mourners, one year hearers, three years prostrators, one year co-standers.
We do not judge altogether by the length of time, but by the circumstances of the penance. If any will not be drawn fromtheir carnal pleasures, and choose to serve them rather than the Lord, we have no communication with them.
Let us take care that we do not perish with them; let us warn them by night and day, that we may deliver them out of the snare or however save ourselves from their condemnation.