Canons Concerning Rape in the Orthodox Church 2: Canon 2 of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)

Canon 2 of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea:

And as for the charge that the female captives have been ravished, the barbarians violating their bodies. But if the life of any particular one of them has been duly investigated and she has been found to have been following the lead of amorous glances, as is written (Ruth 3:10), it is plain that a propensity to fornication may be suspected also during the time of captivity; accordingly, such females ought not to be admitted offhand to communion of prayers. If, however, it is found that any particular one of them has lived a life of the utmost sobriety, and that her previous life has been pure and above suspicion, but that she has now fallen as a result of violence and necessity a victim to insult, we have the example to be found in Deuteronomy in the case of the damsel whom a man found in the plain (or field) and forced to sleep with him: “Unto the damsel” it says, “thou shall do nothing: there is in the damsel no sin deserving death; for this matter is like the case in which a man riseth up against his neighbor and putteth his soul to death ….. the damsel shouted, and there was no one responding to her appeal” (Deut. 22:26-27). So much for these matters.

"But if the life of any particular one of them has been duly investigated, and she has been found to have been following the lead of amorous glances, it is plain that a propensity to fornication may be suspected..." St. Gregory
“But if the life of any particular one of them has been duly investigated, and she has been found to have been following the lead of amorous glances, it is plain that a propensity to fornication may be suspected…” St. Gregory

Interpretation.

Next in regard to enslaved women who were ravished by the barbarians, the present Canon decrees that this forcible ravishment is not a grave sin. (Note of Translator. — Though such is the signification of the words in the Greek original, it ought to be noted again that usage among the ecclesiastical writers of the Greek Church allows a different interpretation that would be natural in English; to wit, the word “ravishment” is to be taken in the passive sense, and the whole sentence is to be understood as meaning that being ravished under such circumstances is not per se a grave sin.) The matter ought, however, to be duly investigated. For if the former life of such women during the time when they were free was one to be described as being whorish, it is plain that a suspicion may be entertained that they may have taken to whorish habits and customs even during the time of their captivity. That is to say, more plainly speaking, there is room for a suspicion that they may not have been forcibly ravished by the barbarians, but that they themselves rather wanted to be ravished. Hence they ought not be easily permitted to pray together with the other women. But if the former life of such women was indeed sober and pure in the extreme, and proof against every suspicion and accusation, but afterwards they were forcibly insulted by the barbarians, God judges these women to be above deadly sin, just as He also decided that that virgin whom a man found alone in the plain and forcibly raped should be above (the suspicion of having committed) a sin deserving death, since she cried out, it says, and no one was found there near the scene to run to her aid.

"If the former life of such women during the time when they were free was one to be described as being whorish, it is plain that a suspicion may be entertained that they may have taken to whorish habits and customs even during the time of their captivity." St. Nikodemos
“If the former life of such women during the time when they were free was one to be described as being whorish, it is plain that a suspicion may be entertained that they may have taken to whorish habits and customs even during the time of their captivity.” St. Nikodemos

Concord.

In agreement herewith St. Basil the Great too, in his c. XLIX, says that forcible rapes entail no responsibility. Canon I of St. Nicephorus, on the other hand, says that if a nun is raped by barbarians or other disorderly men, in case her previous life was untainted and free from accusations she is to be canonized (i.e., penalized) for a period of forty days only, but if she was tainted (already), she is to be penanced as an adulteress.
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s Footnote:
IF A VIRGIN IS RAPED AND CRIES OUT OR FAILS TO CRY OUT
Note that according to the interpretation given to this passage by Philo the Jew, if the virgin fail to cry out, she is to be condemned, even though she was situated in a plain because her silence show, that she consented to be ravished. Just as in the contrary case, when she has been tied up and her mouth has been gagged by the ravisher in order to prevent her from crying out, even though she be situated in a city, she is not to be condemned.

 "If the virgin fail to cry out, she is to be condemned, even though she was situated in a plain because her silence show, that she consented to be ravished." Philo the Jew
“If the virgin fail to cry out, she is to be condemned, even though she was situated in a plain because her silence show, that she consented to be ravished.” Philo the Jew

Hence the father confessor acting as judge must examine in any such not so much the place as the will (or freedom of the will), according to the said Philo.
CONCERNING WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN RAPED
But why is it that Basil, on the one hand, judges such rapes to involve no responsibility, while Nicephoros, on the other hand, canonizes them to forty days? unless it be that he does so in spite of the fact that such rapes, being committed forcibly, are exempt from responsibility. Likewise
1) since the rapes remained rapes, and the women raped, no matter in what manner they were raped, have been raped, and are no longer virgins and unravished, as they were hitherto; and
2) the fact that if they were raped forcibly, though they did not offer their ravishers any excuse on their part, yet they are responsible because on account of their other sinful acts, either past or present, or future, they have been compelled by God to suffer such pollution.
For this reason and on this account divine Nicephoros canonizes them moderately. For it is thus too that John the Faster, in his Canon XXXV, penalizes to forty days anyone that vomits in any way after Divine Communion, because, he says, even though he himself presumes that he has not thus far given any occasion for it, yet at any rate this occurrence was allowed (by God) to take place on account of certain other misdeeds of his. Accordingly, in his Canon XXIII he canonizes with moderate penalties a woman who as a result of a plot of the Devil’s put her infant to death in her sleep. Because, he says, this abandonment was one that occurred on account of other misdeeds. It appears, on the other hand, that although this divine Gregory does not call such forcible rapes a grave sin, yet in spite of this he does call the act an insult.

St. Nikephoros the Confessor penances rape victims to 40 days, "but if she had already been polluted or defiled prior thereto, she shall be penalized as an adulteress."
St. Nikephoros the Confessor penances rape victims to 40 days, “but if she had already been polluted or defiled prior thereto, she shall be penalized as an adulteress.”

So, for this reason, or, at any rate on account of the insult involved in the ravishment, when men (i.e., male human beings) are forcibly raped in this manner during an incursion of barbarians, in case they are in Holy Orders they are to be deposed; but if they are unholy (i.e., not in Holy Orders) they are not to be admitted to Holy Orders; as for the wives of priests, on the other hand, who have this happen to them, they are to be separated from their husbands the priests, if they latter want to continue performing the duties of Holy Orders. But if they are unwilling to be separated from their wives, they are to be dismissed from Holy Orders. For all these occurrences are a blemish and a pollution in connection with the unblemished Holy Orders. As for the wives of laymen, when they have been forcibly ravished, they are not to be separated from their husbands, but are to be pardoned on account of the force, according to Theme 6 of Chapter 12 of Title XXXVIII of Book LX of the Civil Law.

St. John Chrysostom praises the Martyr Domina, who drowned her two daughters--Bernike and Prosdoke--and then drowned herself to avoid rape.
St. John Chrysostom praises the Martyr Domina, who drowned her two daughters–Bernike and Prosdoke–and then drowned herself to avoid rape.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s