The Fourth Council of Constantinople, Canon 10

The Fourth Council of Constantinople forbids the act of separating from one’s Patriarch, based on allegations of a crime, prior to a judgment from the proper ecclesiastical authorities.  This clearly demonstrates the mind of the Church, which requires that such judgments be rendered by the proper authorities, and not by private judgment.   The Council also forbids removing one’s Patriarch’s name from the Mass, based on allegations of a crime, prior to a judgment by the Church. 

The Council considered these acts to be so serious that it formally decreed that if any bishop or priest violates the teaching, they are immediately suspended; and if layperson and monk violated the teaching, they incur excommunication. 

The Following is Canon 10 from the Fourth Council of Constantinople:

“As divine scripture clearly proclaims, ‘Do not find fault before you investigate, and understand first and then find fault,’ and does our law judge a person without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does? Consequently this holy and universal synod justly and fittingly declares and lays down that no lay person or monk or cleric should separate himself from communion with his own patriarch before a careful enquiry and judgment in synod, even if he alleges that he knows of some crime perpetrated by his patriarch, and he must not refuse to include his patriarch's name during the divine mysteries or offices.

“In the same way we command that bishops and priests who are in distant dioceses and regions should behave similarly towards their own metropolitans, and metropolitans should do the same with regard to their own patriarchs. If anyone shall be found defying this holy synod, he is to be debarred from all priestly functions and status if he is a bishop or cleric; if a monk or lay person, he must be excluded from all communion and meetings of the church [i.e. excommunicated] until he is converted by repentance and reconciled.”


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