Bishop In addition to information already given, the following will doubtless be of interest.
I. The special conditions of eligibility for a bishopric were,
(1) that the candidate should be (Apost. Constit. 2, 1) fifty years of age; but, according to Conc. Necoces., A.D. 314. and later similar canons, the age of thirty only was insisted on. Photius, in one place, says thirty-five, which is likewise Justinian's rule in another place. Special merits, however, and the precedent of Timothy (1Ti 4:12) repeatedly set aside the rule in practice, as in the well-known case of St. Athanasius, apparently not much more than twenty-three when consecrated bishop.
(2) That he should be of the clergy of the Church to which he was to be consecrated (a rule enacted from pope Julius to Gregory the Great); a regulation repeatedly broken under the pressure of circumstances, special merit in the candidate, the condition of the diocese, etc.
(3) That he should be a presbyter, or a deacon at the least, and not become a bishop per saltum, but go through all the several stages; also at first ant ecclesiastical custom, grounded on the fitness of the thing (by a number of fathers and popes), but turned into a canon by Conc. Sardic., A.D. 347 (naming reader,. deacon, priest; the object being to exclude neophytes), and by some later provincial councils: and so Leo the Great (admitting deacons, however, on the same level with priests); broken likewise, perpetually, under special circumstances. Instances of deacons, indeed, advanced at once to the episcopate, are numerous, anld scarcely regarded as irregular, beginning with St. Athanasius. But the case of a reader also is mentioned in St. Augustine, and of a subdeacon in Liberatus. Although expressly forbidden by Justinian and by Conc. Arelat. IV, A.D. 455, yet the well-known cases of St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Martin of Tours, St. Germanus of Auxerre, and others, prove the admissibility of even a layman, if under the circumstances — as, e.g. by reason of the sudden acclamation of the people — such a choice was held to be "by the will" or "choice of God." Instances may also be found in the Alexandrian Church. But then
(4) such candidate was not to be a neophyte (1Ti 3:6) or a heathen recently baptized, who had not yet been tried, but one converted at least a year before, or who had been a reader or a subdeacon or a deacon for a year. Yet here, too, special circumstances were held to justify exceptions; as in the case of St. Cyprian himself; of St. Ambrose, and of Eusebius of Cesarea in Pontus, not yet baptized. All these are cases of immediate consecration; the later practice of ordaining to each step on successive days, in order to keep the letter while breaking the spirit of the rule, dating no earlier than the case of Photius above mentioned.
(5) Apost. Can. 21 permits the consecration of one made a eunuch by cruelty, or born so; and of one maimed or diseased in eye or leg; but forbids it in the case of a deaf or dumb person.
(6) Lastly, the bishop who was appointed interventor to a see during the vacancy was, on that account, ineligible to that see. SEE INTERCESSORES. It remains to add
(7) that the candidate's own consent was not at first held to be requisite, but that in many cases consecration was forced upon him (as in the case of Eusebius of Csesarea in Pontus, A.D. 362). Apost. Can. 36 orders the excommunication of a bishop who refuses the charge of the people assigned to him. But first St. Basil exempts those who in such a case had "sworn not to receive ordination." Afterwards the emperors Leo and Majorian forbade forced ordinations altogether.
II. Enthronization, which is mentioned in the Apost. Constit., and in Greek pontificals, as the concluding act of ordination, followed upon ordination, either (as at first) immediately or (in course of time) after an interval; a regular service being then provided for it. A sermon was thereupon preached, at least in the East by the newly consecrated bishop. Litteroe communicatorice, or synodicce, or enthronisticce, were written to other bishops, to give account of the sender's faith, and to receive letters of communion in return. The term was also applied to payments which came to be made by bishops-on occasion of their enthronization. The Arabic version of the Nicene canons has a rule that the bishop be enthroned at once by a delegate of the archbishop, and that the archbishop visit him personally after three months, and confirm him in the see.
III. A profession of obedience to the metropolitan, and (in the Carlovingian empire) an oath of allegiance to the emperor or king, began to be required, prior to confirmation; the former from the 6th century onwards, the latter from the time either of Charlemagne or of his immediate successors — but far earlier in Spain.
(a) The earliest written profession of obedience is one made by the metropolitan of Epirus to the archbishop of Thessalonica, and is condemned by Leo I in 450. Nevertheless, professions to the metropolitan by the bishop to be consecrated became the regular practice.
(b) A general oath of allegiance to the king, from all subjects, occurs repeatedly in the Spanish councils. A promise of fidelity from bishops is mentioned in Gaul as early as the time of Leodegarius of Autun and St. Eligius, c; A.D. 640.
IV. Removal. — The next point to be considered is the various methods by which a bishop ceased to occupy a see.
1. Translation, which, as a rule, was forbidden, but only as likely to proceed from selfish motives. Before the period of the apostolic canons this prohibition would have been hardly needed. Apost. Can. 14 forbids it, unless there be a prospect of more spiritual "gain" in saving souls; and guards the right practical application of the rule by the proviso, that neither the bishop himself, nor the diocese ("parochia") desiring him, but many bishops," shall decide the point. The Council of Nice, Conc. Antioch. A.D. 341, Conc. Sardic. A.D. 347, Conc. Carth. III, A.D. 397, and Conc. Carth. IV, A.D. 398, forbid it likewise: the first two without qualification; and the second, whether the suggestion proceed from the bishop, the people, or other bishops; but the third, if "from a small city to a different one;" and the fourth, also in case it be "from an unimportant to an important place;" while allowing it if it be for the good of the Church, so that it be done "by the sentence of a synod," and at the request of the clergy and laity. The Council of Nice itself showed that exceptional cases were not excluded, by actually itself translating a bishop. St. Athanasius, indeed, gives us the obiter dictuni of an Egyptian council, condemning translation as parallel with divorce, and therefore with the sin of adultery. Similarly St. Jerome. But pope Julius condemns it on the assumption throughout that its motive is self-aggrandizement. Pope Damasils also condemns it, but it is when done "through ambition;" and pope Gelasius, but only "no causes existing." Leo the Great deposes a bishop who seeks to be translated, but it is "to a greater people," and "despising the mediocrity of his own city." Pope Hilary, A.D. 465, condemns a proposed Spanish translation, among other things, as contrary to the Nicene canon. Conc. Chalced., A.D. 451, re-enacts the canons against "transmigration." At the same time, translations, as a matter of fact, were repeatedly sanctioned, beginning with the noted case of Alexander and Narcissus of Jerusalem. In the Alexandrian Church the rule appears to have been exceptionally strict, so that originally it was forbidden to translate a bishop, already such, to the patriarchate, although in later and Mohammedan times this rule after great contentions became relaxed; and among the Nestorians, as one result of such relaxation of a like rule, it came to pass that patriarchs were often actually reconsecrated.
2. Resignation. —
(a) Of resignation simply; respecting which there is no express canon, absolutely speaking;: but Can. Apostol. can. 36, Conc. Ancyr. can. 18, Conc. Antioch., A.D. 341, cans. 17:18 assume or enact that a bishop once consecrated cannot refuse to go to a see, even if the people will not receive him; and the two latter refer the decision to the synod, which may allow him to withdraw or not as it judges best. Instances accordingly occur of resignations allowed because circumstances rendered it expedient for the good of the Church, as where the people obstinately refused to submit to the bishop: e.g. St. Gregory Nazianzen, when archbishop of Coistantinople, with the consent of the Council of Constantinople. Instances occur also of resignations offered (and approved, though not accepted) for peace' sake; as St. Chrysostom, Flavian of Antioch under Theodosius, the Catholic African bishops under Aurelius, and St. Augustine at the time of the Donatist schism. Eustathius. of Perga was permitted to. resign on account of old age, "retaining the name, dignity, and fellowship of the episcopate," but without authority to act as a bishop without a fellow-bishop's request. The canonical grounds for a resignation, as summed-up, are in substance — 1, guilt; 2, sickness; 3, ignorance; 4, perverse rebelliousness of the people; 5, the healing of a schism; 6, irregularity, such as, e.g. bigamy.
(b) Resignation in favor of a successor, however, was distinctly prohibited, but, as the rest of the canon shows, only in order to secure canonical and free election when the see became actually vacant. The object was, not to prohibit, but to prevent the abuse of the recommendations very commonly made by aged bishops of their successors; a practice strongly praised by Origen, comparing Moses and Joshua, but which naturally had often a decisive influence in the actual election. Such recommendations slipped naturally into a practice of consecrating the successor, sometimes elected solely by the bishop himself, before the recommending bishop's death, thus interfering with the canonical rights of the comprovincial bishops and of the diocese itself. But then we must distinguish
(c) that qualified resignation which extended only to the appointment of a coadjutor — not a coadjutor with right of succession, which was distinctly uncanonical, but simply an assistant during the actual bishop's life, and no further. The earliest instance, indeed, of a simple coadjutor, that of Alexander, coadjutor to Narcissus of Jerusalem, was supposed to require a vision to justify it.
3. The deposition of bishops.
A. The grounds upon which bishops as such were deposed were as follows:
(a) Certain irregularities which vitiated an episcopal consecration ab initio; and these were for the most part, although not wholly, irregularities such as disqualified for consecration at all.
(b) The general causes affecting all clergy, as well as causes relating to their .own special office.
(c) Bishops were liable to excommunication as well as deposition, if
(1) they received as clergy such as were suspended for leaving their own diocese; or
(2) if they "made use of worldly rulers to obtain preferment;" or
(3) if, being rejected by a diocese to which they have been appointed, they move sedition in another diocese, etc.
(d) Lastly, bishops were liable to suspension or other less censure,
(1) if they refused to attend the synod when summoned; and if, when summoned to meet an accusation, they failed to appear even to a third summons, they were deposed; or
(2) if they unjustly oppressed any part of their diocese, in which case the African Church deprived them of the part so oppressed.
B. The authority to inflict deposition was the provincial synod; and for the gradual growth and the differing rules of appeal from that tribunal, SEE APPEAL. Conc. Chalced., A.D. 451, forbids degradation of a bishop to the rank of a priest; he must be degraded altogether or not at all. Conc. Antioch., A.D. 341, forbids recourse to the emperor to reverse a sentence of deposition passed by a synod.
V. From the office, we pass to the honorary privileges and rank of a bishop. But no doubt many of such privileges belong to Byzantine times, and date no earlier than the 3d or 4th century.
1. Of the modes of salutation practiced towards him from the 4th century onwards. Such were (1) bowing the head to receive his blessing, mentioned by St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, and others, and referred to in a law of Honorius and Valentinian. (2) Kissing his hand. (3) Kissing the feet, also, appears by St. Jerome to have been at one time a mark of respect common to all bishops; being borrowed, indeed, from a like custom practiced towards the Eastern emperors. The deacon is to kiss the bishop's feet before reading the Gospel, according to the Ordo Romanus. It was restricted to the pope as regards kings, by Gregory VII. (4) The forms of address, and the titles and epithets, applied to bishops, have been mentioned already.
2. Singing hosannas before a bishop on his arrival anywhere, is mentioned only to be condemned by St. Jerome.
3. The form of addressing a bishop by the phrase corona tua or vestra, and of adjuring him per coronam, frequent in early writers, has been explained as referring to the mitre, to the tonsure, or to the corona or "assembly" of the bishop's presbyters; The personal nature of the appellation appears to exclude the last of these. Its being peculiar to bishops is against the second.
4. The bishop's throne. SEE THRONE.
5. If we are to take the pretended letter of pope Lucius to be worth anything as evidence in relation to later times, the bishop of Rome was habitually attended by two presbyters or three deacons, in order to avoid scandal.
VI. Rank. —
1. The relation of bishops to each other was as of an essentially equal office, however differenced individuals might be in point of influence, etc., by personal qualifications or by the relative importance of their sees. St. Cyprian's view of the "one episcopate" the one corporation of which all bishops are equal members — is much the same with St. Jerome's well- known declaration, "Wherever there may be a bishop, whether of Rome or of Eugubium... he is of the same merit, of the same priesthood also." A like principle is implied in the litterce communicatorice or synodicce —
sometimes called litterce enthronisticce-by which each bishop communicated his own consecration to his see to foreign bishops as to his equals. The order of precedence among them was determined by the date of consecration (so many Councils and Justinian).
2. This equality was gradually undermined by the institution of metropolitans, archbishops, primates, exarchs, patriarchs, pope: for each of whom see the several articles.
3. However, apart from this, there came to be special distinctions in particular churches; as, e.g. in Mauritania and Numidia the senior bishop was "primus;" but in Africa proper, the bishop of Carthage; and in Alexandria the bishop had special powers in the ordinations of the suffragan sees: for which SEE ALEXANDRIA (Patriarchate of); SEE METROPOLITAN.
4. The successive setting-up of metropolitans and of patriarchs gave rise to exceptional cases ("autocephali"); all bishops whatever having been really independent (save subjection to the synod) before the setting up of metropolitans, and all metropolitans before the establishment of patriarchs. SEE AUTOCEPHALI; SEE METROPOLITANS; SEE PATRIARCHS.
5. For chorepiscopi, in contradistinction from whom we find in Frank times episcopi cathedrales,
6. for suffragans,
7. for coadjutors,
8. for intercessores and interventores, and,
9. for commendatarii, see under the several titles.
VII. Subordinate Titles. — There remain some anomalous cases; as,
1. Episcopi vacanztes, viz. bishops who by no fault were without a see, but who degenerated sometimes into episcopi vagi or ambulantes, vacantivi; and among whom in Carlovingian times, and in northern France, "Scoti" enjoyed a bad pre-eminence. Bishops, indeed, without sees, either for missionary purposes to the heathen, or merely "honorary," existed from the time of the Council of Antioch, A.D. 341. Wandering bishops, who have- no diocese, are condemned by many councils.
2. The bishop-abbots, or bishop-monks, were principally of Celtic monasteries, but also in some continental ones; the former having no see except their monastery, SEE ABBOT, the latter being simply members of the fraternity in episcopal orders, but (anomalously) under the jurisdiction of their abbot, and performing episcopal offices for the monastery and its dependent district.
3. Episcopus, or antistes palatii, was an episcopal counsellor residing in the palace in the time of the Carlovingians, by special leave.
4. For episcopus cardinalis, which in St. Gregory the Great means simply "proprius," i.e. the duly installed (and "incardinated") bishop of the place, SEE CARDINALIS.
5. Episcopus regionarius, i.e. without a special diocesan city. SEE REGIONARIUS.
6. Titular bishops, and bishops in partibus.infidelium, belong under these names to later times.
7. Episcopus ordinum, in Frank times, was an occasional name for a coadjutor bishop to assist in conferring orders.
8. For the special and singular name of libra, applied to the suffragans of the see of Rome, SEE LIBRA.