Seventh Ecumenical Council, Canon 19.previous | next
Among the headmen of the Church the hatred of avarice has been abated to such an extent that even some of the men and women called reverent, having forgotten the Lord’s commandment, have been deceived or misled into allowing the admission for money of those joining the Sacerdotal Order, or the monastic life. The result is that, as Basil the Great says, what is disreputable from the start is wholly rejectable. For neither is it possible to serve both God and Mammon. If, therefore, anyone be found doing this, in case he is a Bishop, or an Abbot, or anyone in the Priesthood, either let him cease or let him be deposed in accordance with the second Canon of the holy Council held in Chalcedon; but if the offender is an Abbess, let her be driven out of the Nunnery, and let her be delivered to a different Nunnery for subordination. Likewise, too, in the case of an Abbot who lacks ordination as a Presbyter. As regards property of any kind given by parents to their children by way of dowry or personal belongings that have been donated by donators who acknowledge them to be things consecrated to God, we have decreed that whether they stay or leave, those things are to remain in the monastery, in accordance with his promise, unless his departure has been caused by the Prior.
(Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; cc. XXII, XXIII of the 6th; c. XCI of Basil; Epistles of Gennadius and of Tarasius; Matt. 6:24.)
“Headman” is a designation for prelates and priests, and for abbots of monasteries, since they have been appointed to stand at the head of the laymen, both with respect to the right faith and with respect to good works. So the present Canon says that inasmuch as these men have been so overcome by avarice as to take money as an inducement to admit those coming to the Sacerdotal Order or to monastic life; and thus is fulfilled in them the saying of St. Basil the Great to the effect that if the beginning of anything is inefficient and bad, the whole of it thereafter will be inefficient and bad. If any bishop, or abbot in holy orders, or anyone else on the sacerdotal list, does this hereafter, let him either cease or be deposed from office, in accordance with c. II of the 4th C., which decrees that anyone is to be deposed from office who in exchange for money should nominate even a Prosmonarius. But if the person doing this be an abbot not in holy orders or an abbess, let them be driven out of their monasteries and be put in other monasteries, in order to render them obedient, as not being worthy of the abbotship and of the right to subordinate others, seeing that they demand money in advance in order to consent to admit those applying as candidates for the position of caloyer or monk. As for those things (whether they are chattels, that is to say, or real estate of any kind) which a person may possess either as dowry from his parents or as belongings of his own and which he may consecrate to the monastery in which he has decided to take up his abode as a monk, the present Canon decrees that these things are to remain inalienable from the monastery in accordance with the promise or vow of the one who consecrated them, no matter whether he stays in the monastery or departs from it for reasons of his own and of his own free will. But if he should depart from the monastery in consequence of any occasion (such as we shall mention in the Interpretation of the following c. XXI of this same 7th) due to the abbot, he can take them back.
 I found a note to the present Canon (apparently due to Zonaras) asking why c. II of the 4th decisively decrees that anyone who ordains or nominates a person for money shall be deposed from office, whereas this Canon says that he must either cease doing so or be deposed from office. He then proceeds to solve the perplexity, and says that the canon of the 4th is speaking of those who ordain others for money; this canon, on the other hand, is speaking not of those who ordain others, but of those who admit others to the clergy, which is tantamount to saying, of those who for money consent to enroll among the clergy of any particular church persons who have already previously been ordained and are clerics, on which account too it has prescribed a lighter penalty. It becomes plain that this solution is correct also from the assertion in the Canon. For it says that if the person doing this is one on the sacred list, he is to be deposed from office, but a priest in general ordains no one a cleric. Note, however, that according to this Canon those coenobiarchs and abbots ought to be driven away from their monasteries who today are trying to possess themselves of money and who admit those persons who apply to them with money, but without money refuse to admit them into the monastery.
 From the present Canon it becomes plain that even a monk who is not in holy orders may be made the abbot of a monastery, provided he is sensible and prudent and worthy of the abbotship.
 For this reason the second ordinance of Title I of the Novels decrees that if a monk leaves one monastery and goes to another, his belongings must remain in the first monastery. And the thirty-eighth ordinance of Title II of Book I of the Code says that those who leave their own monastery are not to take the personal property which they brought there, no matter how great the quantity of it may be even though no consecratory document concerning them was made out (Photius, Title XI, ch. 4). But even real estate that anyone consecrates must remain with the monastery. For even the land which Ananias and Sapphira his wife consecrated to God was real estate. On account, however, of the fact that he kept back part of the price for which he sold it, thus becoming guilty of theft, he was condemned to an exquisite death (Acts, ch. 5).
 He cannot, however, recover it by himself, on the ground of its having been consecrated to God, and again consecrate to another monastery.
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