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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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5.

 It is a deadly sin when any sinners remain incorrigible. But what is worse than this happens if they insist upon rising up against piety and truth, preferring Mammon to obedience to God, and failing to cling fast to His canonical ordinances. Among those persons God is not the Lord, unless by any chance they be humiliated and again become sober enough to see their own mistake. For it rather behooves them to approach God, and with a contrite heart to ask for remission of this particular sin, and for pardon, instead of pluming themselves on their lawless behavior. For “the Lord is nigh unto them that are contrite of heart (Ps. 34:18). As for those boasting that by giving gold they have obtained some rank in the Church and trusting to this wicked custom, which is alien to God and alienates men from God, and from every holy order; and as a result thereof with an impudent face and unbridled mouth dishonoring by reproachful words those who have been elected and installed through virtuousness of life by the Holy Spirit, without the giving of any money, those who have been doing this at first, are to receive the lowest rank in their own battalion. But if they insist and persist, they are to be corrected by means of a penance. If, on the other hand, anyone ever should appear to have done this with a view to ordination, let him suffer in accordance with the Apostolic Canon which says: “If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon gain possession (of this dignity by means of money, let both him and the one who ordained him be deposed from office, and exscinded, or cut off, altogether from communion, as was Simon by me Peter.” Likewise also in accordance with the second Canon of the devout Fathers assembled in Chalcedon, which says: “If any bishop ordain anyone for money, and make merchandise of the unvendible grace, and perform the ordination of a Bishop, Auxiliary Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon, or anyone on the roll of the Clergy, with a view to gain; or nominate any Steward, Ecdicus, or Paramonarius, or anyone else that belongs to the canon, for money, with the object of making a shameful profit for himself: let him who is found guilty of having undertaken this stand in peril of his office; and let him who has been thus ordained have no benefit from such traffic in ordinations or nominations, but, on the contrary, let him be without any claim upon the dignity or job which he has thus obtained by means of money. If, in fact, anyone even appear as a middleman or factor or intermediary for such shameful and illicit deals, let him too, if he be a clergy­man, forfeit his office; but if he be a layman or a monk, let him be anathema­tized.”

(Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; John 1:16.)

 

Interpretation.

Some persons who intended to get themselves enrolled in the clergy of a certain church, offered money to it of their own free will with a God-loving frame of mind, not in order to get the clergyship therewith, but as devoting or consecrating the money to God, according to Balsamon. But later, boasting of giving the money, and preferring mammon and wealth to the sacred canons, they sought and asked for chief seats (Matt. 23:6), and shamelessly and brazenly reproached those clergymen who, being elected by the Holy Spirit, on account of their virtuous conduct in life, were enrolled in the clergy without giving any money. So for this reason the present Canon commands that those who boast of this money and reproach the others because they gave none be reduced to the lowest rank of the clergymen of the same order. But if they persist in this any further, they are to be corrected by the chief priest with a suitable severer penalty. Referring to the passage in the Epistle of St. John, these Fathers call the incorrigible boasting of such clergymen[271] about money a deadly sin; and they call their shameless and insolent treatment of the other clergymen a worse than deadly sin, and assert that among those men the God is no Lord, in accordance with the Bible; while, on the other hand, they call their giving of money lawless, not in itself — for it was good at first and God-loving — but on account of the later boasting of the givers and their brazen shamelessness. So take care not to take this gift of money for ordination, since this Canon appears to consist of two parts. The first part forbids them to give money, not to be ordained, for this comes in later but to get themselves enrolled in the parish of a certain church, and afterwards to wax insolent and to hold the poor and reverent clergymen in contempt: so it is this kind of giving that it forbids as lawless. Then it goes on to present the second part, by saying that if they should offer such money for ordination they must be deposed from office, in accordance with Canons already issued. But this Canon adds that whoever should give money to be ordained a clergyman or a priest is to receive the penalties provided by Ap. c. XXIX and c. II of the 4th, both of which are quoted verbatim: and see the Interpretation of them there.

 

 




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