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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Seventh Ecumenical Council.  The Second Council of Nice.: Canon XV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Canon XV.

That a clerk ought not to be set over two churches.

From henceforth no clergyman shall be appointed over two churches, for this savours of merchandise and filthy lucre, and is altogether alien from ecclesiastical custom.  We have heard by the very voice of the Lord that, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.”  Each one, therefore, as says the Apostle, in the calling wherein he was called, in the same he ought to abide, and in one only church to give attendance.  For in the affairs of the Church, what is gained through filthy lucre is altogether separate from God.  To meet the necessities of this life, there are various occupations, by means of which, if one so desire, let him procure the things needful for the body.  For says the Apostle, “These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.”  Occupations of this sort may be obtained in the God-protected city.  But in the country places outside, because of the small number of people, let a dispensation be granted.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.

Hereafter at Constantinople a cleric may not serve two churches.  But in the outskirts this may be permitted on account of the scarcity of men.

Van Espen.

This means that in the country or where men are so scarce that each parish cannot have its own presbyter, one presbyter should be allowed to serve two churches, not that so he may supply his own need, (as to-day is allowed by the combination of benefices), but that so the necessities of the parishioners may be provided for.

It should be noted that the synod deems it “filthy lucre” and “separate from God” if ecclesiastical ministries are performed “for the necessaries of life,” and is of opinion that the clergy should seek their support from some honest employment or work by the example of Paul, rather than to turn ecclesiastical ministrations to the attaining of temporal things, and to use these as an art by which to gain bread.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Pars. II., Causa XXI., Quæst. I, canon j. where the gloss is “because there the clergy are few.”

Next: Canon XVI

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