Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Seventh Ecumenical Council. The Second Council of Nice.: Canon V
That they who cast contumely upon clerics because they have been ordained in the church without bringing a gift with them, are to be published with a fine.
It is a sin unto death when men incorrigibly continue in their sin, but they sin more deeply, who proudly lifting themselves up oppose piety and sincerity, accounting mammon of more worth than obedience to God, and caring nothing for his canonical precepts. p. 559 The Lord God is not found among such, unless, perchance, having been humbled by their own fall, they return to a sober mind. It behoves them the rather to turn to God with a contrite heart and to pray for forgiveness and pardon of so grave a sin, and no longer to boast in an unholy gift. For the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart. With regard, therefore, to those who pride themselves that because of their benefactions of gold they were ordained in the Church, and resting confidently in this evil custom (so alien from God and inconsistent with the whole priesthood), with a proud look and open mouth vilify with abusive words those who on account of the strictness of their life were chosen by the Holy Ghost and have been ordained without any gift of money, we decree in the first place that they take the lowest place in their order; but if they do not amend let them be subjected to a fine. But if it appear that any one has done this [i.e., given money], at any time as a price for ordination, let him be dealt with according to the Apostolic Canon which says: “If a bishop has obtained possession of his dignity by means of money (the same rule applies also to a presbyter or deacon) let him be deposed and also the one who ordained him, and let him also be altogether cut off from communion, even as Simon Magus was by me Peter.” To the same effect is the second canon of our holy fathers of Chalcedon, which says: If any bishop gives ordination in return for money, and puts up for sale that which cannot be sold, and ordains for money a bishop or chorepiscopus, or presbyter, or deacon, or any other of those who are reckoned among the clergy; or who for money shall appoint anyone to the office of œconomus, advocate, or paramonarius; or, in a word, who hath done anything else contrary to the canon, for the sake of filthy lucre—he who hath undertaken to do anything of this sort, having been convicted, shall be in danger of losing his degree. And he who has been ordained shall derive no advantage from the ordination or promotion thus negotiated; but let him remain a stranger to the dignity and responsibility which he attained by means of money. And if any one shall appear to have acted as a go-between in so shameful and godless a traffic, he also, if he be a cleric, shall be removed from his degree; if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
It seems that such as glory in the fact that they owe their position to their liberality in gold to the Church, and who contemn those who were chosen because of their virtue and were appointed without any largess, should receive the lowest place in their order. And should they continue in their ways, let them be punished. But those who made such gifts so as to get ordinations, let such be cast forth from communion, as Simon Magus was by Peter.
Zonaras and Balsamon in earlier times, and later Christian Lupus and Van Espen, remarked that the second part of this canon treats of simony, but not the first. This has in view rather those who, on account of their large expenditure on churches and the poor, have been raised, without simony, to the clerical estate as a reward and recognition of their beneficence; and being proud of this, now depreciate other clergymen who were unable or unwilling to make such foundations and the like.
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