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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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17.

 Because of the fact that many persons covered by the Canon, out of greed and in pursuit of shameful profits (willfully) forgot the divine passage of Holy Writ saying “who hath not lent out his money at interest” (Ps. 15:5), and in lending demanded a percentage commission or profit, the holy and great Council has deemed it just and right that in case anyone is found after the adoption of this definition receiving interest for the use of money, or otherwise exploiting the matter, or demanding commission, or through any other subterfuge contriving to exact shameful profits, he shall be deposed from the clergy and shall be an alien to the Canon.

(Ap. c. XLIV; c. X of 6th; c. IV of Laod.; cc. V, XX of Car.; c. IV of Basil.)

 

Interpretation.

Various Canons prohibit the charging of interest on money, but the present one expressly ordains this, to wit: Since many canonics, or clergymen, being fond of greed and shameful profits, have forgotten the saying in the Psalm of David which says that the chosen man is one “who hath not lent out his money at interest,” meaning the righteous man who is destined to dwell in the holy mountain of the Lord, or, in other words, in the heavenly kingdom, and in lending money have been exacting a percentage charge[32] from their debtors, consisting, for example, of twelve cents, or pennies, say, per hundred (or per dollar), which was an excessive interest — because, I say, clergymen were actually doing this, this holy and great Council deemed it right and just that if hereafter any clergyman should be found to be charging interest, or treating the matter as a commercial proposition, or turning it to his own advantage in any other way (while pretending not to charge interest, that is to say, when lending his money to those in need of it, yet agreeing with them that he too is to receive some part of the interest and profit accruing from the money, thus calling himself, not a lender, but a sharetaker or partner), and be caught doing this, or demanding a commission (or half the percentage, which would amount, in this case, to six cents, or six pennies, instead of the twelve comprised in the full amount of total interest, i.e., of interest at 12%), or should invent any similar means of making a shameful profit, any such person shall be deposed from the clergy and shall be estranged from the canonical order. Read also Ap. c. XLIV.

 

 




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