Canons Concerning Rape in the Orthodox Church 3: Canons of St. Basil the Great (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)

Canon 25 

As for a man who keeps a woman as his wife after she has been ravaged by him, he shall incur the penalty provided for ravagement, while the woman shall be pardoned.
(Ap. c. LXVI; cc. XXII, XXIII, XXVI of St. Basil.).

Interpretation

The present Canon decrees that if perchance a man ravages a woman not betrothed to any other man, and after the ravagement takes her to wife, he is to be canonized because he ravaged her before the wedding, though he is to be permitted to keep her always as his wife. See also Ap. c. LXVII.

"Let deflorations performed in fulfillment of a need entail no responsibility, so that even a slave girl if violated by her own master is free from responsibility." St. Basil
“Let deflorations performed in fulfillment of a need entail no responsibility, so that even a slave girl if violated by her own master is free from responsibility.” St. Basil

St. Nikeodemos’ footnote

Balsamon states that the penalty for this ravagement is three years. adducing c. XXXII of St. Basil in witness thereof: it is truer and safer. However, to say that sentence for ravagement is fixed at four years. In accordance with c. XXII of St. Basil.

Canon 26 

Fornication is not matrimony, but is not even the beginning of matrimony. So that if it be possible to separate persons joined in fornication, this would be the best course to take. Rut if they insist upon marriage at all costs, let them pay the penalty for fornication, and let them have their way, lest anything should happen that is still worse.
(Ap. c, LXVII; cc. XXII, XXIII, XXV of St. Basil.).

Interpretation

After allowing those who have been raped before the wedding to contract a marriage in his cc. XXII and XXV, the Saint finally in the present Canon decrees this generally and more exactly, to wit: that as for those men who fornicate beforehand, either with a virgin or with a whore, and after the fornication seek to marry, the truer and better course is for them not to marry, but even if they should succeed in marrying, it is better that they be separated, since it is for this reason that marriage is called honorable and the marriage bed undefiled, namely, because it is free and clean from any previous sin and rape, whereas, on the contrary, fornication and rape are neither marriage nor a beginning of marriage. But if the fornicators themselves will on no account consent to being separated, let them be punished as fornicators, with a seven-year sentence, that is to say, but let them remain unseparated, in order to avoid having any more serious thing happen, or, more explicitly speaking, in order that after being separated they may not keep on secretly indulging in fornication, or, in order that while both of them are united with other persons they may not secretly commit adultery with each other, or in order to keep them from committing suicide because of their being unable to put up with excessive love and separation. Read also Ap. c. LXVII and the Footnote thereto.

Canon 30

As touching wife-snatchers, we have no old Canon, but have ventured to express our own opinion, which is that they and their abettors be condemned to exclusion from prayers. But so far as concerns an elopement, the man is not responsible when there has been no rape nor has any abduction marked the affair. A widow, on the other hand, being sui juris and at liberty to follow, we need not concern ourselves about pretenses.

Interpretation

As to men who snatch their wives out of hand, or abet others to such snatching, this Saint was the first in the present Canon to condemn them to three years to stand excluded from the prayers said for kneelers, which is the same as to say, to stand in the pronaos, or porch of the temple, together with listeners. For c. XXVII of the 4th decrees in regard to wife’ snatchers, but comes later than the present Canon. If, on the other hand, any woman who is sui juris, and not under the control of her father or of a master (i.e., slave-owner) voluntarily has followed her husband without being forced to do so, the man who has taken is not reprehensible, provided, however, that he did not rape her and did not have any sexual intercourse with her secretly (for this is what is denoted by the words “rape” and “abduction”). So that also if any widow, being sui juris, and being at liberty to follow her lover or not, should perchance be ashamed lest it appear that she is giving herself to her sweetheart of her own accord and be led to pretend, for appearance’s sake, that he snatched her, though in reality she herself followed him — if, I say, this should turn out to be a fact, the man who has taken this woman incurs no responsibility for the affair. For it is not the shame and pretense of wife-snatching that we have in mind, but, on the contrary, the question which interests us is whether the woman actually followed the man. See also c. XXVII of the 4th.

"Deflorations that have been performed forcibly and violently upon women are not to be accounted a sin, owing to their having been incurred involuntarily, and consequently they are not to be punished with a penance." St. Nikodemos
“Deflorations that have been performed forcibly and violently upon women are not to be accounted a sin, owing to their having been incurred involuntarily, and consequently they are not to be punished with a penance.” St. Nikodemos

Canon 49

Let deflorations performed in fulfillment of a need entail no responsibility, so that even a slave girl if violated by her own master is free from responsibility.
(St. Gregory the Miracle-worker in his c. II.).

Interpretation

Deflorations that have been performed forcibly and violently upon women, decrees the present Canon, are not to be accounted a sin, owing to their having been incurred involuntarily, and consequently they are not to be punished with a penance; so that even if a slave girl has been forcibly raped by her master, she is not liable to any penalty; likewise as regards all other women and girls that have been forcibly raped in any such manner. Note also c. II of St. Gregory the Miracle-worker.

In the 21st Footnote to the 4th Ecumenical Council, St. Nikodemos writes: This divine Nicephoros, in his Canon XX, says: “If any nun be raped by barbarians or disorderly men, provided that her former life was not blameworthy, she shall be penanced for only forty days; but if she had already been polluted or defiled prior thereto, she shall be penalized as an adulteress. Note that those who ravish an ascetic woman, or, a sacred virgin, even those who have abetted the ravishment are liable to capital punishment, and all their property is confiscated by the (civil) ruler, and is turned over to the monastery of the one ravished, according to the second ordinance of the First Title of the Novels (Photios, Title IX, Chapter 30). Likewise anyone that abducts or tries to take such a sacred virgin to wife is also liable to capital punishment, according to Book I, Title III, Ordinance 5. The woman herself, together with her things, is placed in a monastery and is securely guarded. Blastaris also adds the following fact, to wit, that even a man who has become a monk in the last days of his life and who failed to understand thoroughly what rites were administered to him when they made him a monk, cannot discard the habit and remain any longer in the world.

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