Canons on Money

Canons of the Holy Apostles

Canon XXIX:

If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall obtain possession of that dignity by money, let both him and the person who ordained him be deposed, and also altogether cut off from all communion, as Simon Magus was by me, Peter.


First Nicea (325)

Canon XII:

As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, (so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations); let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators. But in all these cases it is necessary to examine well into their purpose and what their repentance appears to be like. For as many as give evidence of their conversions by deeds, and not pretence, with fear, and tears, and perseverance, and good works, when they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers, may properly communicate in prayers; and after that the bishop may determine yet more favourably concerning them. But those who take [the matter] with indifference, and who think the form of [not] entering the Church is sufficient for their conversion, must fulfil the whole time.

Ancient Epitome of Canon XII: Those who endured violence and were seen to have resisted, but who afterwards yielded to wickedness, and returned to the army, shall be excommunicated for ten years. But in every case the way in which they do their penance must be scrutinized. And if anyone who is doing penance shews himself zealous in its performance, the bishop shall treat him more lentently than had he been cold and indifferent. [There is great difficulty about the last phrase and Gelasius of Cyzicus, the Prisca, Dionysius Exiguus, the pseudo-Isidore, Zonaras and most others have considered the “not” an interpolation.]

Canon XVII:

Forasmuch as many enrolled among the Clergy, following covetousness and lust of gain, have forgotten the divine Scripture, which says, “He hath not given his money upon usury,” and in lending money ask the hundredth of the sum [as monthly interest], the holy and great Synod thinks it just that if after this decree any one be found to receive usury, whether he accomplish it by secret transaction or otherwise, as by demanding the whole and one half, or by using any other contrivance whatever for filthy lucre’s sake, he shall be deposed from the clergy and his name stricken from the list.

Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII: If anyone shall receive usury or 150 per cent he shall be cast forth and deposed, according to this decree of the Church.


Gangraean Council (340)

Canon 21:

We state these things, not by way of cutting off from the Church of God persons wishing to exercise themselves ascetically in accordance with the Scriptures, but those who take the matter of ascetic exercises as something to be proud of, and who regard those living and conducting themselves in an easier manner disdainfully, and who introduce novelties that are contrary to the Scriptures and the Ecclesiastical Canons. For the fact is that we admire virtue with humility and welcome continence with modesty and godliness, and esteem anachoretic departures from mundane affairs with humility, and honor modest cohabitation of matrimony, and do not despise wealth with justice and with the doing of good. And we praise frugality and cheapness of garments, worn solely for protection of the body and plainly made; whereas we abhor loose and outworn fashions in dress. And we honor the houses of God, and we embrace the meetings that occur therein as holy and beneficial; though we do not confine piety to the houses, but honor every place that is built in the name of God. And we consider the congregation in the church of God to be a benefit to the public. And felicitate those brethren who do good to the poor in accordance with the traditions of the Church by way of supererogation. And, concisely speaking, we prayerfully hope that all the things will be done in the Church and in church that have been handed down traditionally by the divine Scriptures and the Apostolic traditions. (Ap. cc. LI, LIII; cc. XXVII, LXXX of the 6th; c. XVI of the 7th; cc. V, XX of Gangra.)


Laodicaean Council (364)

Canon 4:

Concerning the fact that those who are in priestly orders must not lend out money and take interest and the so-called “half-of-the-whole.” (Ap. c. XLIV.)


Council of Chalcedon (451)

Canon II:

If any Bishop should ordain for money, and put to sale a grace which cannot be sold, and for money ordain a bishop, or chorepiscopus, or presbyters, or deacons, or any other of those who are counted among the clergy; or if through lust of gain he should nominate for money a steward, or advocate, or prosmonarius, or any one whatever who is on the roll of the Church, let him who is convicted of this forfeit his own rank; and let him who is ordained be nothing profited by the purchased ordination or promotion; but let him be removed from the dignity or charge he has obtained for money. And if any one should be found negotiating such shameful and unlawful transactions, let him also, if he is a clergyman, be deposed from his rank, and if he is a layman or monk, let him be anathematized.


Quinisextum (Trullum 692)

Canon XXII:

We command that those men be deposed from office, whether they be Bishops or Clergymen whatsoever, who have been ordained or are being ordained for money, and not in accordance with a test and choice of life. (Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; c. XXIII of the 6th; ec. IV, V, XIX of the 7th; c. XCI of Basil; letters of Gennadius and Tarasius.)

Canon XXIII:

Concerning the rule that no one, whether a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, that imparts of the intemerate Communion shall collect from the partaker coins or any compensation whatsoever in exchange for such communion. For neither is grace bought, nor do we impart the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit for money; but, on the contrary, it must be imparted to the worthy without the incentive of knavishness. If, however, any person enrolled in the Clergy should be found to be demanding compensation of any kind of him to whom he imparts of the intemerate Communion, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he is votary of Simon’s delusion and maleficence. (Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; c. XXII of the 6th; cc. IV, XV, IX of the 7th; c. XCI of Basil; letters of Gennadius and Tarasius.)


Second Nicea (787)

Canon XIX:

That the vows of those in holy orders and of monks, and of nuns are to be made without the exaction of gifts.

The abomination of filthy lucre has made such inroads among the rulers of the churches, that certain of those who call themselves religious men and women, forgetting the commandments of the Lord have been altogether led astray, and for the sake of money have received those presenting themselves for the sacerdotal order and the monastic life. And hence the first step of those so received being unlawful, the whole proceeding is rendered null, as says Basil the Great. For it is not possible that God should be served by means of mammon. If therefore, anyone is found doing anything of this kind, if he be a bishop or hegumenos, or one of the priesthood, either let him cease to do so any longer or else let him be deposed, according to the second canon of the Holy Council of Chalcedon. If the offender be an abbess, let her be sent away from her monastery, and placed in another in a subordinate position. In like manner is a hegumenos to be dealt with, who has not the ordination of a presbyter. With regard to what has been given by parents as a dowry for their children, or which persons themselves have contributed out of their own property, with the declaration that such gifts were made to God, we have decreed, that whether the persons in whose behalf the gifts were made, continue to live in the monastery or not, the gifts are to remain with the monastery in accordance with their first determination; unless indeed there be ground for complaint against the superior.

Canon V:

That they who cast contumely upon clerics because they have been ordained in the church without bringing a gift with them, are to be published with a fine.

It is a sin unto death when men incorrigibly continue in their sin, but they sin more deeply, who proudly lifting themselves up oppose piety and sincerity, accounting mammon of more worth than obedience to God, and caring nothing for his canonical precepts. The Lord God is not found among such, unless, perchance, having been humbled by their own fall, they return to a sober mind.

It behoves them the rather to turn to God with a contrite heart and to pray for forgiveness and pardon of so grave a sin, and no longer to boast in an unholy gift. For the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart. With regard, therefore, to those who pride themselves that because of their benefactions of gold they were ordained in the Church, and resting confidently in this evil custom (so alien from God and inconsistent with the whole priesthood), with a proud look and open mouth

vilify with abusive words those who on account of the strictness of their life were chosen by the Holy Ghost and have been ordained without any gift of money, we decree in the first place that they take the lowest place in their order; but if they do not amend let them be subjected to a fine. But if it appear that any one has done this [i.e., given money], at any time as a price for ordination, let him be dealt with according to the Apostolic Canon which says: “If a bishop has obtained possession of his dignity by means of money (the same rule applies also to a presbyter or deacon) let him be deposed and also the one who ordained him, and let him also be altogether cut off from communion, even as Simon Magus was by me Peter.” To the same effect is the second canon of our holy fathers of Chalcedon, which says: If any bishop gives ordination in return for money, and puts up for sale that which cannot be sold, and ordains for money a bishop or chorepiscopus, or presbyter, or deacon, or any other of those who are reckoned among the clergy; or who for money shall appoint anyone to the office of oeconomus, advocate, or paramonarius; or, in a word, who hath done anything else contrary to the canon, for the sake of filthy lucre—he who hath undertaken to do anything of this sort, having been convicted, shall be in danger of losing his degree. And he who has been ordained shall derive no advantage from the ordination or promotion thus negotiated; but let him remain a stranger to the dignity and responsibility which he attained by means of money. And if any one shall appear to have acted as a go-between in so shameful and godless a traffic, he also, if he be a cleric, shall be removed from his degree; if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.