Degradation in ecclesiastical law, the act of depriving a clergyman of his orders, or the act of deposing an offender from a higher to a lower grade of office. In the case of bishops, this degradation consisted in removal from a larger and more important see to one smaller or less considerable. Presbyters were degraded to the rank of deacons, and deacons to that of subdeacons. This kind of punishment was also inflicted on bishops in Africa by superseding them in their expected succession to the office of archbishop or metropolitan. In later times, degradation implied privation of all authority and station. An instance of ecclesiastical degradation in the eighth century at Constantinople is recorded. The patriarch Constantine was made to ascend the ambo; he was stripped by the bishops of his pallium, and anathematized; he was then made to walk out of the church backwards. When Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, was degraded by order of queen Mary, his persecutors dressed him in episcopal robes made of canvas, put the mitre on his head, and the pastoral staff in his hand; and in this attire showed him to the people. They then stripped him piece by piece. On the Roman forms of degradation, see Elliott, Delineation of Romanism, bk. ii, ch. xv (Lond. edition); see also Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. xvii, ch. i, ii; Canon 122 of Church of England; Augusti, Christl. Archaeologie, 3, 401, and the article SEE DEPOSITION.

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