This was first council to address sexuality in a major way.
The canon is not about homosexuality, however, but only about clergy who
Council of Ancyra, canon 17: 314 AD
This provided the basic canon law of middle ages on sodomy.
According to [Bailey (1955)] the canon refers only to bestiality.
Basil of Nyssa, First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochus
of Iconium, (Epist. 117, canon 62), 375 AD.
This is the canon most often cited by the Orthodox.
It was a private letter, but was later approved by councils.
Gregory of Nyssa, Canonical Letter to Letoius of
Mytilene (Epist. canonica 4), 390 AD.
The Emperor Justinian, Novella 77, 538 AD.
This and the following "Novella", criminalized homosexual sex in secular
At this stage the imperial secular law of the Christian Roman Empire was
also operative within the Church.
The revival of Roman law studies in the 12th century meant that these laws
had important effects on developing canon law as well as secular law.
Justinian, Novella 141, 544 AD.
2nd Council of Tours, canon 14, 567 AD.
Monks must not sleep two to a bed.
16th Council of Toledo, canon 3, 693 AD.
The Toledan councils were partly Church councils and partly councils of
the Visigothic state.
There is now a gap in Church actions lasting FOUR
The canons of Ancyra were republished by several Carolingian kings, and
there was much discussion in the new penitentials that were developed.
These were not official documents. At this stage confession by lay people
was rare, and there were no secular prosecution for sodomy. Things
did begin to heat up in the 12th century though, along with attacks on
heretics, Jews and other social outsiders.
Council of London, canons 28 & 29, 1102 AD.
This council seems to have been directed at the memory of William Rufus,
well known for his homosexuality.
It decreed that the general public be informed that homosexual intercourse
in the future be confessed as a sin.
St. Anslem, Archbishop of Canterbury went along with the decrees.
However he refused to have them read out in church saying:
"this sin has hitherto been so public that hardly
anyone is embarrassed by it,
and many have therefore fallen into it because
they were unaware of its seriousness.".
Council of Naplouse [Nablus/Shechem], canons 8-11,
An important council that took place in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem.
"Clergy in holy orders, who maintain their wives
incontinently in their homes should either expel them, and live continently,
or be deprived of ecclesiastical office and benefice.
Whoever is caught involved in that incontinence which is against nature,
and because of which
"the wrath of God came
upon the sons of disobedience" [Eph.
5:6], and five cities were consumed by fire
14:24-35], if they are clerics, they should
be deposed from clerical office and placed in a monastery to do penance;
they are laymen, they are to be excommunicated and completely isolated
from contact with believers. If any cleric, without clear and necessary cause, should especially
frequent nunneries, he should be restrained by the bishop, and if he does
not cease, he should be deposed from his ecclesiastical benefice"
This is the only canon of an Oecumenical council which could be construed
as condemning homosexuality.
It is clearly a disciplinary decree, and the "incontinence
which is against nature" could be bestiality.
The standard gloss by Bernard of Palma, 1263 AD
links it with novellas of Justinian.
Described the homosexual condition an "objective disorder".
Ordered Catholic bishops to eject lesbian and gay Catholic groups from
Accepted that homosexuality is a constitutive part of the personality.
Recognized gay people as a social group.
CDF "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic
Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual
Persons" 1991 AD.
Called on Catholic bishops to oppose civil rights initiatives for lesbians
Said that gays cannot be compared with racial minorities and women.
Approved of discrimination in teaching, coaching and military employment.
Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor
The first mention by a modern pope of homosexuality in an official document.
Homosexuality was included in a list of "intrinsically evil acts".
Derrick S. Bailey, "Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition" (London: Longmans, Green, 1955; repr. Hamden, Ct.: Archon/Shoestring
This contains many of the Conciliar canons in translation.
Michael Goodich, "The Unmentionable Vice" (Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-Clio, 1979)