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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils
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If any Bishop or any Abbot be found disposing of productive property of the bishopric or monastery respectively into the hands of lay rulers, or of any other person, the transfer is to be invalid and void, in accordance with the Apostolic Canon saying: “Let the Bishop have the care of all ecclesiastical matters and let him manage them on the understanding that God is overseeing and supervising. Let him not be allowed to appropriate anything therefrom or to give God’s things to his relatives. If they be indigent, let him provide for them as indigents, but let him not trade off things of the Church under this pretext.” If it be alleged as an excuse that the property is actually a liability involving a loss or overall expense and that the fields are not rendering any profit or benefit, even so the place must not be sold or let out to the civil rulers of the region, but to Clergymen or to farmers (i.e., husbandmen). But if by employing some cunning rascality, a civil ruler should buy the fields from a Clergyman or a farmer, even so let the sale be invalid and void, and let the property be restored to the Bishopric, or to the Monastery, as the case may be, and let the Bishop, or the Abbot, respectively, who does this be driven out — the Bishop out of the Bishopric, and the Abbot out of the Monastery — on the ground that they are plundering wrongfully what they did not gather together.
(Ap. cc. XXXVIII, XLI; c. XXVI of the 4th; c. XI of the 7th; c. VII of the lst-&-2nd; c. XV of Ancyra; c. VII of Gangra; cc. XXIV, XXV of Antioch; cc. XXXIV, XLI of Carthage; c. X of Theophilus; c. II of Cyril.)
By the phrase “productive property” is meant all those things that produce an income, and especially real estate: such as arable fields, vineyards, olive groves, etc. So as concerning these things the present Canon decrees that if anyone who should alienate them, as bishop from the bishopric, or an abbot from a monastery, and turn them over to civil rulers, either by sale or by exchange, any such transfer is to remain invalid and of no effect, and the things are to revert to the bishopric or monastery, as the case may be, just as Ap. c. XXXVIII decrees, which the present Canon quotes verbatim and in full. But if it should happen that the bishop or abbot alleges that such or such a field, or vineyard, is not producing any income or profit, but rather a loss, let them sell it, not to civil rulers and autocrats, but to clergymen or farmers, men, that is to say, who are humble and paltry. But if by employing some villainy they should first have given them to the latter with the object of letting them be taken from them later by a civil ruler, this sale is to be invalid and void, while the bishop who has sold the property in such a manner is to be ousted from the bishopric, and any abbot who has done so is to be ousted from the monastery, because they have wrongfully dissipated and lost the property which had been rightfully gathered together and consecrated by others. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXVIII.