Tag Archives: council

Respecting & Exercising Property Rights

The canons of the Church affirm the fundamental moral goodness of property; this doesn’t mean that all uses of property are of equal moral weight. Just as not all acquisitions and uses of property are all necessarily virtuous, neither are all necessarily sinful. Again the principle here is, in the words of St Maximus the Confessor, “it is only the misuse of things that is evil, and such misuse occurs when the intellect fails to cultivate its natural powers” (#4, Third Century on Charity). So while property is good, its misuse is evil and the result of a misunderstanding of property’s nature. Finally, the canons don’t offer us a fully formed theory of property rights. They do give us insight into the nature of property and how God intends us to make use it.

Apostolic Canons (XL), draw a distinction between the private and corporate ownership of property. Specifically between what belongs to the bishop (his “private goods” which would include not only clothes and money but also real estate) and what belongs to the diocese. The bishop is free to dispose of his own property as he sees fit; property in other words is alienable.  The bishop really owns his own property; he isn’t just a moral steward of this or that part of Creation. This means that, while the context of moral ad civil law he can transfer his property to a new owner.

The specific case in the canon is the bishop’s right to bequeath his property to his “wife, or children, or relations, or servants.” Doing so, again in the words of the canon, “is just before God and man” and necessary so that neither the bishop nor “his relations be injured under pretext” that his personal property belongs to the diocese. The bishop’s failure to provide for his family after his means to risk a state of affairs such that others will “cast reproaches upon.”

For this canon then the legal right to property and the morally right use of property are joined. The latter is the goal or the purpose of the former; what we own, we own so that we can care for those God has entrusted to us.

This, in turn, is why it is important to distinguish as a matter of law (ecclesial AND civil) what belongs to the bishop—and so his family—and what belongs to the diocese. Failure to do so not only means risking a lawsuit but also the greater moral and social harm of property being misused. Misuse here doesn’t necessarily mean using property for immoral purposes. Rather the concern is avoid any failure to use them for the purpose, and persons, for which and for whom it is intended. This is both a familial and ecclesial concern.

Clarity of ownership protects the right of the bishop’s family to his property; it also protects the right of the faithful to diocesan property. Just as with the episcopal family, it is unjust for “the Church [to] suffer any loss through ignorance of the bishop’s own property.” In other words, both sides needs to know who owns what.

This is why later councils stress the need for the bishop not only to be a good steward of the wealth of the diocese but that ownership be clearly, and legally, defined. In other words, the contemporary concern for procedural and substantive justice in matters of diocesan property is not unknown in the early Church.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

The Council of Ancyra & the Moral Goodness of Property

There are Christians who seem to think that private property is at best morally suspect. While not necessarily arguing that, property is theft there is the suggestion that ownership is greed and the fruit of the poisoned tree. To be fair, there is patristic authority that can be marshalled for this position. But on close examination, the fathers’ criticisms of property pertain more to how it is acquired and especially how it is used and not to the moral goodness of property as such.

For St Maximus the Confessor, what is corrupted is not the thing itself but our understanding and so use of the thing.

It is not food that is evil but gluttony, not the begetting of children but unchastity, not material things but avarice, not esteem but self-esteem. This being so, it is only the misuse of things that is evil, and such misuse occurs when the intellect fails to cultivate its natural powers (#4, Third Century on Charity).

We see a similar line of thought some 300 years earlier at Council of Gangra when the fathers condemn those who “take the matter of ascetic exercises as something to be proud of” and so “[dis]honor modest cohabitation of matrimony, and … despise wealth with justice and with the doing of good (Canon 21). While not beyond criticism, there is no suggestion here that property as such is theft. This shouldn’t surprise us if we recall the importance of property in ancient world. This is so even in the Old Testament. God doesn’t just call Abraham and make him the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5) be confirms His covenant by giving to Abraham and his descendants land. “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

With this in mind, let’s turn now to the canons on property (here) in the local Council at Ancyra (314). Here we get a glimpse of the how seriously the early Church took the moral goodness of property. The third and sixth canons give the loss of property and even the threat of such loss as a mitigating factor in reconciling apostates. Along with those who were tortured or jailed those who “had their property taken away from them … are not to be excluded from communion.” This extends not only to the laity but also “to the clergy.” The only requirement here is that the person demonstrate at the time “mournfulness over the occurrence in their whole make-up and their habit, and humbleness of life.” In other words, there must be some contemporary evidence of coercion.

Though generous the standard is not without limits.

The council makes a distinction between actual violence and civil fortitude and the threat of these. Apostasy committed to avoid the “threat of being imprisoned and punished, and of having their property taken away, or of being forced to change their abode” can be forgiven. Here reconciliation requires a six year long period of public penance before the individuals are re-admitted to Holy Communion. From the close of the council until Pascha (Easter) they may stay in the Liturgy only through the sermon (“as listeners”). After Pascha “they be obliged to serve three years as kneelers” at the entrance of the church asking for the prayers of the faithful. This is followed by “two more years (as co-standers)” when they may stay for the whole celebration of the Eucharist but not receive Holy Communion. Finally after this “they are to commune without an offering [i.e., additional penance], and thus to arrive at perfection.” To modern ears, this penance sounds harsh; however it is relatively mild for the time. As we read in third canon, it is meant as a correction for those who “were excluded by someone as a matter of excessive strictness, or … through ignorance.”

Given its status as local and not ecumenical, we ought not to make too much of the council’s comments on property which are, at best, tangential to the primary concern of reconciling apostates. Nevertheless, the off-handed way in which property is mentioned suggests the moral importance of property. One might argue that attachment to property made the faithful vulnerable to coercion. But the State’s willingness to exploit human weakness has never been the standard for determining Christian morality much less the willingness of the Church to forgive. Weakness, moral, physical or social, should rather inspire in us compassion and a renewed appreciation for the blessings that Caesar seeks to corrupt for his own ends and anything less than this is simply cruel.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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.

Canons on Property

Canons of the Holy Apostles

Canon XL:

Let the private goods of the bishop, if he have any such, and those of the Lord, be clearly distinguished, that the bishop may have the power of leaving his own goods, when he dies, to whom he will, and how he will, and that the bishop’s own property may not be lost under pretence of its being the property of the Church: for it may be that he has a wife, or children, or relations, or servants; and it is just before God and man, that neither should the Church suffer any loss through ignorance of the bishop’s own property, nor the bishop or his relations be injured under pretext of the Church: nor that those who belong to him should be involved in contests, and cast reproaches upon his death.

 

 

Council at Ancyra (314)

Canon 3:

As for those who were fleeing and were caught, or who were delivered up by their own intimates, or who otherwise had their property taken away from them, or who had to undergo tortures, or were cast into a jail, while crying out that they were Christians, and being torn to pieces, or who had anything put in their hands for violence by those employing force against them, or who had to accept some food of necessity, though confessing throughout that they were Christians, and ever exhibiting mournfulness over the occurrence in their whole make-up and their habit, and humbleness of life, they, as being without sin, are not to be excluded from communion. Even if they were excluded by someone as a matter of excessive strictness, or by some even through ignorance, they must immediately be admitted and restored to their rights. This applies likewise both to those who belong to the clergy, and to other members of the laity. A further question examined into was whether laymen can be promoted to orders if they incur the same necessity. It has been deemed but right that these persons too, as not having committed any sin, provided that their previous life has been correct and upright, be advanced to orders by imposition of hands.

 

Canon 6:

As concerning those who merely in obedience to a threat of being imprisoned and punished, and of having their property taken away, or of being forced to change their abode, have sacrificed, and up to the present time have failed to repent, and have neither been led to return, but have now come to join the Church and have become minded to return at a time coinciding with that of the Council, it has been deemed but right that until the great day they be admitted as listeners, and that after the great day they be obliged to serve three years as kneelers, and after two more years (as co-standers) they are to commune without an offering, and thus to arrive at perfection; so that they shall fulfill the whole period of six years. But if any persons were admitted to repentance before this Council convened, from that time let the term of six years be considered as having commenced. Nevertheless, if there be any danger and expectation of death ensuing from a disease or any other cause, let these persons be admitted conditionally.

 

Antiochean Council  (341)

Canon 24:

The rules and regulations of the Church must be rightly kept for the Church with all diligence and in all good conscience and faith reposed in God, who is the superintendent and judge of all things, and the affairs of the church should be governed with the judgment and authority of the Bishop entrusted with all the laity and the souls of all the members of the congregation thereof. What belongs to the dominion of the Church is manifest and well known to the Presbyters and Deacons under his jurisdiction, so that these persons ought to be well aware, and not ignorant, of whatever is property of the church, so that nothing should escape their observation to enable them, in case the Bishop should exchange life, in view of the fact that the things belonging to the dominion of the church are manifest, to prevent any of them from being embezzled or made away with and lost, and to see that none of the Bishop’s own things are disturbed on the pretense that they are ecclesiastical property. For it is just and pleasing to both God and man that the Bishop should leave his own property to whomsoever he may will it, but that things belonging to the church should be kept for it; and that neither should the church sustain any loss or damage, nor should property of the Bishop be confiscated on the pretense that it belongs to the church; nor should those persons be involved in any trouble in claims thereto, with the result of defaming him after death.
(Ap. cc. XXXVIII and XL.)

Canon 25:
A Bishop shall have authority over the property and funds of his church, so as to be able to administer it to all needing it with all reverence and fear of God. He too shall partake thereof so far as he may have need thereof (if he should have any need) for his own necessary wants, and for those of the brethren he has under his hospitation, so as not to leave them in any way unprovided for according to the divine Apostle, who says: “having food and raiment, let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8). But if he should not be content therewith, but should convert property (of the church) to the needs of his own household, and should fail to handle the revenue of the church, of the fruit of the fields, with the consent and approval of the Presbyters and Deacons, but should extend the authority to his own intimates and relatives or brothers or sons, with the consequence of thereby imperceptibly or unobservedly causing the assets of the church to be injured; he shall be held accountable to the Synod of the province. If, on the other hand, the Bishop and the Presbyters serving with him be traduced on the alleged ground that they are appropriating to themselves goods belonging to the church, whether it be from the fields or from any other alleged property of the church, on the alleged ground that the indigent are being oppressed, whereas, in point of fact, calumny and defamation are being inflicted by the words upon those so governing, and they are charged with liability to correction, the holy Synod or Council must determine what ought to be done.
(Ap, cc. XXXVIII and XLI.)

 

 

Council at Sardica (343)

Canon 12:

Since some of the brethren and fellow Bishops in a city in which they are appointed to be Bishops seem to own exceedingly little property there, but in other regions have large possessions of land, from which they can lend succor to the indigent, in such cases we judge it to be allowable, when it comes to their going to their own possessions and gathering in the crops thereof, for them to stay for three consecutive Sundays, that is, for three weeks, upon their own land, and, in order to avoid seeming to be negligent in the matter of coming to church along with others, we deem it allowable for them to visit the nearest church in which a Presbyter is conducting services and celebrate Liturgy:, though not to go continually and too frequently to a city in which there is a Bishop. For in this manner not only will his own affairs suffer no damage or loss or injury in spite of his absence, but the possibility of being charged with conceitedness and inflation will seem to be averted.

(Ap. c. LVIII; cc. XIX, LXXX of the 6th; c. XVI of the lst-&-2nd; cc. V, XX, XXI of Gangra; c. XI of Sard.; cc. LXXIX, LXXXII, LXXXIII, CXXXI, CXXXII, CXXXIII of Carthage; c. VI of Nyssa; c. X of Peter.

 

 

Council of Chalcedon (451)

Canon III:

It has come to [the knowledge of] the holy Synod that certain of those who are enrolled among the clergy have, through lust of gain, become hirers of other men’s possessions, and make contracts pertaining to secular affairs, lightly esteeming the service of God, and slip into the houses of secular persons, whose property they undertake through covetousness to manage. Wherefore the great and holy Synod decrees that henceforth no bishop, clergyman, nor monk shall hire possessions, or engage in business, or occupy himself in worldly engagements, unless he shall be called by the law to the guardianship of minors, from which there is no escape; or unless the bishop of the city shall commit to him the care of ecclesiastical business, or of unprovided orphans or widows and of persons who stand especially in need of the Church’s help, through the fear of God. And if any one shall hereafter transgress these decrees, he shall be subjected to ecclesiastical penalties.

Canon XXIV:

Monasteries, which have once been consecrated with the consent of the bishop, shall remain monasteries for ever, and the property belonging to them shall be preserved, and they shall never again become secular dwellings. And they who shall permit this to be done shall be liable to ecclesiastical penalties.

 

 

Quinisextum (Trullum 692)

Canon XLIX:

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.)

 

 

Second Nicea (787)

Canon XII:

That a Bishop or Hegumenos ought not to alienate any part of the suburban estate of the church.

If bishop or hegumenos is found alienating any part of the farm lands of the bishoprick or monastery into the hands of secular princes, or surrendering them to any other person, such act is null according to the canon of the holy Apostles, which says: “Let the bishop take care of all the Church’s goods, and let him administer the same according as in the sight of God.” It is not lawful for him to appropriate any part himself, or to confer upon his relations the things which belong to God. If they are poor let them be helped among the poor; but let them not be used as a pretext for smuggling away the Church’s property. And if it be urged that the land is only a loss and yields no profit, the place is not on that account to be given to the secular rulers, who are in the neighbourhood; but let it be given to clergymen or husbandmen. And if they have resorted to dishonest craft, so that the ruler has bought the land from the husbandman or cleric, such transaction shall likewise be null, and the land shall be restored to the bishoprick or monastery. And the bishop or hegumenos doing this shall be turned out, the bishop from his bishoprick and the hegumenos from his monastery, as those who wasted what they did not gather.

Canon XI:

Concerning those who have fallen without compulsion, without the spoiling of their property, without danger or the like, as happened during the tyranny of Licinius, the Synod declares that, though they have deserved no clemency, they shall be dealt with mercifully. As many as were communicants, if they heartily repent, shall pass three years among the hearers; for seven years they shall be prostrators; and for two years they shall communicate with the people in prayers, but without oblation.

Ancient Epitome of Canon XI: As many as fell without necessity, even if therefore undeserving of indulgence, yet some indulgence shall be shown them and they shall be prostrators for twelve years. Zonaras: The prostrators stood within the body of the church behind the ambo and went out with the catechumens.

 

 

Constantinople (861)

Canon 1:

The building of monasteries, which is something so seemly and honorable, and rightly excogitated by our blissful and devout fathers of old, is seen to be done wrongly today. For some men, bestowing the name of monastery on their own property and domain, and promising God to sanctify this, have recorded themselves as owners of the consecrated lands and buildings, and have contrived to devise a way in which to devote them to a divine purpose in name only. For they do not blush to assume the same authority over them after the consecration as they could have exercised before this without overstepping their rights. And so much commercialized has the thing become that many of the lands and buildings consecrated are being sold openly by the consecrators themselves, inspiring beholders with amazement and indignation. And not only have they no regret for what they have done in appropriating to themselves authority over what was dedicated to God once, but they even fearlessly confer it upon others. For these reasons, then, the holy Council has decreed that no one shall have a right to build a monastery without the consent and approval of the bishop. With his knowledge and permission, after he has executed the necessary prayer, as was enjoined legislatively by the God-beloved fathers of olden times, they may build a monastery together with all its accessories, recording everything belonging thereto in a breve and depositing the latter in the archives of the bishopric; the consecrator having no right whatever to make himself an abbot, or anyone else in his stead, without the consent of the bishop. For if one is no longer able to exercise ownership over what he has given away to some other human being, how can one be conceded the right to appropriate the ownership of what he has sanctified and dedicated to God?
(cc. IV, XXIV of the 4th; c. XLIX of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XVII, XIX of the 7th; c. II of Cyril.)

Canon 6:

Monks ought not to have anything of their own. Everything of theirs ought to be assigned to the monastery. For blissful Luke says concerning those who believe in Christ and conform to the monks’ way of life: “Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but, on the contrary, they held everything in common” (Acts 4:32). Wherefore unto those wishing to lead the monastic life permission is given to dispose of their property to whatever persons they may wish, so long, that is to say, as the property may be legally transferred to them. For after their entering upon the monastic life the monastery has the ownership of all they bring with them, and they have nothing of their own to worry about other than what they have been allowed to dispose of beforehand. If anyone be caught appropriating or claiming any possession that has not been made over and conveyed to the monastery, and revealed to be enslaved to the passion of love of property, that possession shall be seized by the abbot or bishop, and shall be sold in the presence of many persons, and the proceeds therefrom shall be distributed to the poor and indigent. As for anyone who shall meditate holding back any such possession, after the fashion of Ananias of old, the holy Council has decreed that he shall be chastened with a suitable discipline. It is to be understood, moreover, that whatever rules the holy Council has made in regard to men who are leading the monastic life of monks, the same rules apply also to women who are leading the monastic life of nuns.

Canon 7:

We see many of the bishoprics falling down and in danger of being relegated to utter destruction, because, we venture to say, the heads of these establishments consume their thought and attention in projecting new monasteries, and exploiting these projects, and in contriving to convert the income thereof to their own use they busy themselves with the development of those. The holy Council has therefore decreed that not one of the bishops shall be permitted to build a new monastery of his own to the detriment of his own bishopric. If anyone be caught daring to do this, he shall be punished with the proper penalty, while the building he has erected shall be assigned to the estate of the bishopric as its own property, on the ground that he has not even so much as had a right to originate a monastery. For nothing that has been unlawfully and irregularly in vogue can be taken as the prejudice of what is canonically consistent.
(Ap. c. XXXVIII; c. XXVI of the 4th; cc. XI, XII of the 7th; cc. XXIV, XXV of Antioch; c. XV of Ancyra; c. 7th of Gangra; cc. XXXIV, XLI of Carthage; c. X of Theophilus; c. II of Cyril.)

Canons on Wealth

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.)