The Appeal Canons

Hamilton Hess

in The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780198269755
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601163 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

 The Appeal Canons

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The Serdican canons that accord a right of appeal to the bishop of Rome by a bishop who believes himself to have been unfairly judged by his peers have played an important part in the development of papal jurisdictional claims. It is clear, however, that, in according this right of appeal, canon 3c (Greek IIIc) bases the papal prerogative of judgement on ‘the memory of blessed Peter the Apostle’—i.e. the moral authority (auctoritas) of social and civic leadership in Roman society and not on the later concept of jurisdiction. The prerogative attributed to the Roman bishop by this canon, and by canon 7 (Greek V), which repeats and amplifies it, is not for him to decide the case himself but to appoint new judges from among the bishops of the neighbouring province to undertake a new trial. Canon 7 (Greek V) also provides that the appellant may request the Roman bishop to send his own presbyters to participate in the judgement, and canon 4 (Greek IV) grants the protective measure that no other bishop shall be appointed to the see of the appellant until the case has been acted upon by the Roman bishop. Canon 17 (Greek XIV) assures the right of appeal to the neighbouring bishops (the metropolitan of the neighbouring province, according to the Greek) to any presbyter or deacon who has been condemned by his own bishop, and stipulates that his bishop must abide by the decision and that no one shall admit the appellant to communion until his case has been decided.

Keywords: appeal; auctoritas; bishop; bishop of Rome; deacon; judges; metropolitan; neighbouring province; papal jurisdiction; presbyter

Chapter.  10531 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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