Quinisext Council, Canon 49.previous | next
Renewing this sacred Canon too, we decree that Monasteries that have once been consecrated and established in accordance with the consent and approval of a Bishop shall remain Monasteries unto perpetuity, and the property that belongs to them shall be kept safe in the Monastery, and that they can no longer become worldly resorts, nor be let out by anybody whatever to any worldly tenants whatever. Though this has been done up till now, we nevertheless decree that it shall not be continued in any way whatever. Those who attempt to do this hereafter shall be subject to the penances provided by the Canons.
(c. XXIV of the 4th; c. XIII of the 7th.)
The present Canon renews c. XXIV of the 4th, which it repeats verbatim, and see the Interpretation there. All it adds thereto is this, that neither shall monasteries be let out by anybody (whether a clergyman or a layman or a monk, that is to say) to worldly men, to manage them, that is to say; and though this has been the practice hitherto, from now on, however, and hereafter it must not be done.
 Note that Patriarch Sisinius, and even John of Antioch, in agreement with this Ecumenical Canon, issued a Tome prohibiting the letting out of monasteries to worldlings. But Patriarch Sergius, to the contrary, issued another Tome ordering the monasteries to be turned over to worldly men, not, however, in order to have them converted into worldly resorts, which is forbidden by the Canon, but in order that they might rehabilitate and improve them. It would seem, however, if one thinks the matter over well, that Sergius did not order this with sound judgment. For if it was in reality the object of the Fathers to prevent these institutions from being turned over to worldlings and being turned into common resorts, why should the present Canon add that monasteries must not be let out by anybody whatever to worldly tenants, at a time when c. XXIV of the 4th says this expressly? For that addition would have been superfluous and vain verbosity. Besides, c. VIII of the 4th commands that the clergymen and superiors of monasteries shall be subject to the authority of the bishop. But if in accordance with the Tome of Sergius monasteries may be let out, it is an inconsistency that the superiors of monasteries ought to be subject both to the bishop and to the worldlings, and consequently be compelled to serve two masters. But inasmuch as this is impossible, as the Lord said, and a cause of dissensions and of scandals, the bishop ordering one thing, and the worldlings another, it is evident, then, that neither ought monasteries to be turned over to worldlings for rehabilitation and improvement, but only to clergymen and monks. For things that are sacred must be given to priests, and not to laymen. To do otherwise would be improper, and utterly inconsistent. And I do not even go to the trouble of saying that it is also harmful to men’s souls, and ruinous to the households of laymen who take over monasteries.
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