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Author Topic: Canon Re. Disabilities  (Read 3026 times) Average Rating: 4
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TinaG
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« on: October 15, 2008, 01:00:41 PM »

I haven't been successful in any search.  Can someone please direct me to the Canons that forbid a priest from serving if he has suffered any loss of fingers or toes?  No particular reason other than a roundtable chat with my priest who mentioned it and I had not ever heard that.  Actually the canon is more broad and applies to anyone serving in the altar.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2008, 01:50:19 PM »

Hm, interesting. Though I highly doubt a bishop would refuse to ordain someone who did lose a finger.
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2008, 01:58:53 PM »

From the Apostolic Canons:
http://www.voskrese.info/spl/aposcanon.html

Canon XXI.
An eunuch, if he has been made so by the violence of men [some mss. add: or if his virilia have been amputated] in times of persecution, or if he has been born so, if in other respects he is worthy, may be made a bishop.

Canon XXII.
He who has mutilated himself, cannot become a clergyman, for he is a self-murderer, and an enemy to the workmanship of God.

Canon XXIII.
If any man being a clergyman shall mutilate himself, let him be deposed, for he is a self-murderer.

Canon XXIV.
If a layman mutilate himself, let him be excommunicated for three years, as practising against his own life.
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2008, 02:04:58 PM »

Actually yes they would.  In fact, if they DO ordain someone who has a pre-existing disability such as a missing finger, they are definitely going against the canons.  

It has to do with the priest being the type of christ, so they must be whole.  also it is a practical matter.  if you don't have fingers how can you bless people and make the sign of the cross?  
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2008, 02:13:11 PM »

Canon I of Nicea I:
Canon I.

   If any one in sickness has been subjected by physicians to a surgical
   operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain
   among the clergy; but, if any one in sound health has castrated
   himself, it behoves that such an one, if [already] enrolled among the
   clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no
   such person should be promoted.  But, as it is evident that this is
   said of those who wilfully do the thing and presume to castrate
   themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their
   masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men the Canon
   admits to the clergy.

   Notes.

   Ancient Epitome [57] of Canon I.

   Eunuchs may be received into the number of the clergy, but those who
   castrate themselves shall not be received.

   Balsamon.

   The divine Apostolic Canons xxi., xxii., xxiii., and xxiv., have taught
   us sufficiently what ought to be done with those who castrate
   themselves, this canon provides as to what is to be done to these as
   well as to those who deliver themselves over to others to be
   emasculated by them, viz., that they are not to be admitted among the
   clergy nor advanced to the priesthood.

   Daniel Butler.

   (Smith & Cheetham, Dict. Christ. Ant.)

   The feeling that one devoted to the sacred ministry should be
   unmutilated was strong in the Ancient Church....This canon of Nice, and
   those in the Apostolic Canons and a later one in the Second Council of
   Arles (canon vii.) were aimed against that perverted notion of piety,
   originating in the misinterpretation of our Lord's saying (Matt. xix.
   12) by which Origen, among others, was misled, and their observance was
   so carefully enforced in later times that not more than one or two
   instances of the practice which they condemn are noticed by the
   historian.  The case was different if a man was born an eunuch or had
   suffered mutilation at the hands of persecutors; an instance of the
   former, Dorotheus, presbyter of Antioch, is mentioned by Eusebius (H.
   E. vii., c. 32); of the latter, Tigris, presbyter of Constantinople, is
   referred to both by Socrates (H. E. vi. 15) and Sozomen (H. E. vi. 24)
   as the victim of a barbarian master.

   Hefele.

   We know, by the first apology of St. Justin (Apol. c. 29) that a
   century before Origen, a young man had desired to be mutilated by
   physicians, for the purpose of completely refuting the charge of vice
   which the heathen brought against the worship of Christians.  St.
   Justin neither praises nor blames this young man:  he only relates that
   he could not obtain the permission of the civil authorities for his
   project, that he renounced his intention, but nevertheless remained
   virgo all his life.  It is very probable that the Council of Nice was
   induced by some fresh similar cases to renew the old injunctions; it
   was perhaps the Arian bishop, Leontius, who was the principal cause of
   it. [58]

   Lambert.

   Constantine forbade by a law the practice condemned in this canon.  "If
   anyone shall anywhere in the Roman Empire after this decree make
   eunuchs, he shall be punished with death.  If the owner of the place
   where the deed was perpetrated was aware of it and hid the fact, his
   goods shall be confiscated."  (Const. M. Opera. Migne Patrol. vol.
   viii., 396.)

   Beveridge.

   The Nicene fathers in this canon make no new enactment but only confirm
   by the authority of an Ecumenical synod the Apostolic Canons, and this
   is evident from the wording of this canon.  For there can be no doubt
   that they had in mind some earlier canon when they said, "such men the
   canon admits to the clergy."  Not, houtos ho kanon, but ho kanon, as if
   they had said "the formerly set forth and well-known canon" admits such
   to the clergy.  But no other canon then existed in which this provision
   occurred except apostolical canon xxi. which therefore we are of
   opinion is here cited.

   [In this conclusion Hefele also agrees.]

   This law was frequently enacted by subsequent synods and is inserted in
   the Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretum Gratiani. Pars. I.  Distinctio LV.,
   C vij.
     __________________________________________________________________

   [57] For the authority of this epitome vide Introduction.

   [58] Leontius while still a presbyter lived with a subintroducta at
   Antioch, whose name was Eustolion, so we learn from St. Athanasius,
   Theodoret (H. E. ii. 24) and Socrates (H. E. ii. 26); as he could not
   part from her and wished to prevent her leaving him, he mutilated
   himself.  His bishop deposed him for this act, but the Emperor
   Constantius (not Constantine, as by a mistake in the English Hefele, I.
   p. 377) practically forced him into the episcopal throne of Antioch.
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2008, 02:15:50 PM »

The practice of the Greek (Roman/Byzantine/whatever)-influenced Churches was to have the candidate for ordination take off their gloves and show the bishop that he had all his digits.  In the photo age, this was added to the photo the candidate would take for ordination: palms facing the camera, fingers spread out.
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2008, 04:32:38 PM »

There's a Greek Orthodox priest (GOA) I met in Astoria, NY who has a missing half of a finger. He was ordained in this condition.

The canons above talk about someone deliberately defiling himself.  Someone with a natural disability is judged based on his ability to serve. So, for instance, someone who is blind cannot be ordained, but someone who has a limp can be provided he would not trip. The key is functionality.

If someone has a finger cut off on his right hand and can't make a Christogram, that would definitely be an impediment. But if it were on his left hand that might be a different situation.
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2008, 04:36:09 PM »

Quote
Can someone please direct me to the Canons that forbid a priest from serving if he has suffered any loss of fingers or toes?

I searched but could not find anything, sorry.
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2008, 05:56:28 PM »

All the canons quoted are in relation to a man purposely self-amputating his penis/testes.  How did we jump from this to fingers?  And if such a canon exists it should be ignored or rescended because having it only encourages malicious non-believers to cut the fingers off of our young men.  A priest from Africa I know had this done to him by Muslims for this very reason.  Fortunately the bishop ordained him anyway.  Does anyone believe/teach that a priest would be unable to bless if he couldn't form the Christogram?
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2008, 06:42:39 PM »

All the canons quoted are in relation to a man purposely self-amputating his penis/testes.  How did we jump from this to fingers?  And if such a canon exists it should be ignored or rescended because having it only encourages malicious non-believers to cut the fingers off of our young men.  A priest from Africa I know had this done to him by Muslims for this very reason.  Fortunately the bishop ordained him anyway.  Does anyone believe/teach that a priest would be unable to bless if he couldn't form the Christogram?

That was the original idea - the canons cited only provide relevant context: if one is mutilated by another person against their will, then they will not be denied (unless it incapacitates them - i.e. all the fingers are cut off, or he is blinded); however, if he mutilates himself, then he will not be ordained, for he is a self-murderer.
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2008, 07:42:22 PM »

however, if he mutilates himself, then he will not be ordained, for he is a self-murderer.

I wonder, would getting a tattoo constitute self-mutilation?
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2008, 08:42:52 PM »

however, if he mutilates himself, then he will not be ordained, for he is a self-murderer.

I wonder, would getting a tattoo constitute self-mutilation?
I attached a tag to the bottom of this thread to direct you to a list of threads where the subject of tattoos has been discussed before.  I hope this may offer some answers to your question. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2008, 09:36:09 PM »

^Thanks! 

After a brief glance at those threads, I see that there are varied opinions on whether or not tattoos are self-mutilation, but none directly addresses my question in context.  Perhaps I should have asked what I really wondered, would a tattoo be considered self-mutilation for the purposes of the canon under discussion?  That is, has it ever happened that a man who willingly got tattooed was prohibited from ordination for that reason alone?
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2008, 01:27:44 AM »

Quote
Can someone please direct me to the Canons that forbid a priest from serving if he has suffered any loss of fingers or toes?

I searched but could not find anything, sorry.

And you're not going to...Apostles 77 explicitly says 'If any cripple, or anyone with a defect in an eye or in a leg, is worthy of the episcopate, let him be made a bishop. For it is not an injury to the body that defiles one, but a pollution of the soul.' Blindness and deafness are really the only impediments of that nature allowed, even the complete loss of an arm or leg would be a poor argument against ordination from a canonical perspective.

After a brief glance at those threads, I see that there are varied opinions on whether or not tattoos are self-mutilation, but none directly addresses my question in context.  Perhaps I should have asked what I really wondered, would a tattoo be considered self-mutilation for the purposes of the canon under discussion?  That is, has it ever happened that a man who willingly got tattooed was prohibited from ordination for that reason alone?

I really don't see how that would apply...the impediments were instituted to discourage those who took Christ's command to cut off an offending member too literally. Infact, the only type of self-mutilation discussed in the canons is castration. Tattoos can't possibly be logically considered to be in the same category. It's arguable if cutting off one's toes or fingers is even in the same category since that wouldn't bring about the same physiological changes as something as extreme as castration, to include tattoos or piercing in such a prohibition is almost as absurd as including those who cut their hair or trim their beard.
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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 11:26:09 AM »

It's arguable if cutting off one's toes or fingers is even in the same category since that wouldn't bring about the same physiological changes as something as extreme as castration

So you are suggesting that it is the surrender of obvious masculine features that disqualifies one for ordination?  I had been focusing on the meaning of "mutilation," but this puts an entirely different spin on the issue.  Hmm.
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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2008, 11:31:43 AM »

It's arguable if cutting off one's toes or fingers is even in the same category since that wouldn't bring about the same physiological changes as something as extreme as castration

So you are suggesting that it is the surrender of obvious masculine features that disqualifies one for ordination?
I wouldn't think this so much, unless you consider how this fundamentally alters one's very identity.
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« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2008, 11:46:35 AM »

Well anyone who committed self-mutilation would be a heretic as well which would be an impediment.
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2008, 12:36:15 PM »

It's arguable if cutting off one's toes or fingers is even in the same category since that wouldn't bring about the same physiological changes as something as extreme as castration

So you are suggesting that it is the surrender of obvious masculine features that disqualifies one for ordination?  I had been focusing on the meaning of "mutilation," but this puts an entirely different spin on the issue.  Hmm.

Not at all, I think the issue is more that sexual desires and urges are part of who we are and inherently a good thing...an attempt to destroy these by self-mutilation demonstrates a psychologically sick person. It has nothing to do with gender, a self-inflicted clitorectomy would be just as problematic.
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« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2008, 10:11:26 PM »

Let me give y'all some more clarification on how the conversation went.  He said that loss of digits would be a basic problem for holding the chalice.  Also, in his experiences, he'd suprised or shocked his superiors by performing manual labor.  Further, in Greece it is forbidden for clergy to engage in any manual labor.  All these restrictions, precisely for the reason of clergy not accidentally maiming themselves.  I guess it's a little shocking that in this day and age a missing finger would prevent someone from serving.  But who am I to question.
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2008, 01:45:15 AM »

Well anyone who committed self-mutilation would be a heretic as well which would be an impediment.

What if he cut off the part because it was leading him to sin? Why would he then be held back from becoming a religious official?

"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."  Matthew 5:29
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« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2008, 04:27:44 PM »

What if he cut off the part because it was leading him to sin? Why would he then be held back from becoming a religious official?

"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."  Matthew 5:29

Actually, the reason that self-mutilation has in the past been considered 'heresy' and not merely 'messed-up' is because a literal interpretation of that verse has been deemed to be heretical.
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