Chapter XXXVI.—The Authors Opinion of the Validity of Translations from One See to Another.
But since some parties by appealing to a prohibition in the ecclesiastical canon, prevented the election of Proclus, because of his previous appointment to the see of Cyzicus, I wish to make a few remarks on this subject. Those who then presumed to interpose such a cause of exclusion do not appear to me to have stated the truth; but they were either influenced by prejudice against Proclus, or at least have been themselves completely ignorant both of the canons, and of the frequent and often advantageous precedents that had been established in the churches. Eusebius Pamphilus relates in the sixth book of his Ecclesiastical History, 1018 that Alexander bishop of a certain city in Cappadocia, coming to Jerusalem for devotional purposes, was detained by the inhabitants of that city, and constituted bishop, as the successor of Narcissus; and that he continued to preside over the churches there during the remainder of his life. So indifferent a thing was it amongst our ancestors, to transfer a bishop from one city to another as often as it was deemed expedient. But if it is necessary to place beyond a doubt the falsehood of the statement of those who prevented the ordination of Proclus, I shall annex to this treatise the canon bearing on the subject. It runs thus: 1019
If any one after having been ordained a bishop should not proceed to the church unto which he has been appointed, from no fault on his part, but either because the people are unwilling to receive him, or for some other reason arising from necessity, let him be partaker of the honor and functions of the rank with which he has been invested, provided he intermeddles not with the affairs of the church wherein he may minister. It is his duty however to submit to whatever the Synod of the province may see fit to determine, after it shall have taken cognizance of the matter.
Such is the language of the canon. That many bishops have been transferred from one city to another to meet the exigencies of peculiar cases, I shall now prove by giving the names of those bishops who have been so translated. 1020 Perigenes was ordained bishop of Patræ: but inasmuch as the inhabitants of that city refused to admit him, the bishop of Rome directed that he should be assigned to the metropolitan see of Corinth, which had become vacant by the decease of its former bishop; here he presided during the rest of his days. Gregory was first made bishop of Sasima, one of the cities of Cappadocia, but was afterwards transferred to Nazianzus. Melitius after having presided over the church at Sebastia, subsequently governed that of Antioch. Alexander bishop of Antioch transferred Dositheus bishop of Seleucia, to Tarsus in Cilicia. Reverentius was removed from Arca in Phœnicia, and afterwards to Tyre. John was transferred from Gordum a city of Lydia, to Proconnesus, and presided over the church there. Palladius was transferred from Helenopolis to Aspuna; and Alexander from the same city to Adriani. Theophilus was removed from Apamea in Asia, to Eudoxiopolis anciently called Salambria. Polycarp was transferred from Sexantaprista a city of Mysia, to Nicopolis in Thrace. Hierophilus from Trapezopolis in Phrygia to Plotinopolis in Thrace. Optimus from Agdamia in Phrygia to Antioch in Pisidia; and Silvanus from Philippopolis in Thrace to Troas. This enumeration of bishops who have passed from one see to another is sufficient for the present; concerning Silvanus who was removed from Philippopolis in Thrace to Troas I deem it desirable here to give a concise account.
Cf. Euseb. H. E. VI. 11.173:1019
The canon here quoted is the eighteenth of the Council of Antioch (see Hefele, Hist. of the Ch. Councils, Vol. II. p. 71); whereas the canon of that council bearing on that subject is the twenty-first, as noted in chap. 35, note 1.173:1020
In what way these canons against the translation of bishops were understood and observed by the early church is discussed by Bingham, Christ. Antiq. VI. 4. 6.