Canon XXV. (Greek xxviii.)
Concerning bishops and the lower orders who wait upon the most holy mysteries. It has seemed good that these abstain from their wives.
Aurelius, the bishop, said: We add, most dear brethren, moreover, since we have heard of the incontinency of certain clerics, even of readers, towards their wives, it seemed good that what had been enacted in divers councils should be confirmed, to wit, that subdeacons who wait upon the holy mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters, as well as bishops according to former statutes, 427 should contain from their wives, so that they should be as though they had them not and unless they so act, let them be removed from office. But the rest of the clergy are not to be compelled to this, unless they be of mature age. And by the whole council it was said: What your holiness has said is just, holy, and pleasing to God, and we confirm it.
p. 455 Notes.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXV.
Those who handle holy things should abstain even from their own wives at the times of their ministration.
This is founded upon Canon iv. of the Council of Carthage, which met September 13th, 401, but the provisions are more stringent here, subdeacons as well as deacons being constrained to continence.
“Times of ministration,” so it is explained, Can. Trull., 13, where there were several African Bishops present, and allowed of that explication; yet Dion. Exig. is not clear, viz., Secundum propria statuta.
By Can. Laod., 23. Ministers, i.e., sub-deacons, are forbid to touch the Holy Vessels, yet here they are said to handle the Mysteries; I suppose they might handle the Holy Vessels, etc. before and after the celebration, but not during the solemnity; or else the customs of several ages and countries differed as to this particular.
The Greek reads “κατὰ τοὺς ἰδίους ὅρους,” and so it was understood at the Council of Trullo, as is evident from Canon XIII, of that synod. The Latin is “secundum propria statuta,” but Bruns reads “priora.”