On simony

To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the Middle Ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators. Pope Julius II declared simoniacal papal elections invalid, an enactment which has since been rescinded, however, by Pope Pius X (Constitution “Vacante Sede”, 25 Dec., 1904, tit. II, cap. Vi, in “Canoniste Contemp.”, XXXII, 1909, 291). The collation of a benefice is void if, in obtaining it, the appointee either committed simony himself, or at least tacitly approved of its commission by a third party. Should he have taken possession, he is bound to resign and restore all the revenues received during his tenure. Excommunication simply reserved to the Apostolic See is pronounced in the Constitution “Apostolicae Sedis” (12 Oct., 1869): (1) against persons guilty of real simony in any benefices and against their accomplices; (2) against any persons, whatsoever their dignity, guilty of confidential simony in any benefices; (3) against such as are guilty of simony by purchasing or selling admission into a religious order; (4) against all persons inferior to the bishops, who derive gain (quaestum facientes) from indulgences and other spiritual graces; (5) against those who, collecting stipends for Masses, realize a profit on them by having the Masses celebrated in places where smaller stipends are usually given. The last-mentioned provision was supplemented by subsequent decrees of the Sacred Congregation of the Council. The Decree “Vigilanti” (25 May, 1893) forbade the practice indulged in by some booksellers of receiving stipends and offering exclusively books and subscriptions to periodicals to the celebrant of the Masses. The Decree “Ut Debita” (11 May, 1904) condemned the arrangements according to which the guardians of shrines sometimes devoted the offerings originally intended for Masses partly to other pious purposes. The offenders against the two decrees just mentioned incur suspension ipso facto from their functions if they are in sacred orders; inability to receive higher orders if they are clerics inferior to the priests; excommunication of pronounced sentence (latae sententiae) if they belong to the laity. – from “Simony” in The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912)

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