22 February 2016

Et in Anglia Simonia?

In the Patristic passage offered in the (old) Breviary for the Tuesday after Lent I, we found S Bede doing his best to explain why the Lord expelled all those commercial people from the Temple, when all the poor chaps were doing was to enable the Temple Worship as laid down by God to be duly performed. Eventually, after a bit of a struggle, he comes up with this: they were selling doves; the dove is a Biblical symbol of the Spirit; so the Lord is condemning those who, in the Church, confer the Holy Spirit by the imposition of hands pretio; "for a fee".

My instinct is that he isn't talking about the imposition of hands in Absolution or Confirmation ... so, presumably, he has in mind bishops acepting fees for conferring Ordination. I recall that one possibility suggested by historians for S Theodore's view that S Chad was invalidly ordained to the Episcopate was that Chad's Consecrator, Bishop Wine, had been guilty of Simony. We have to remember that, at different times and in different places, very different impediments have been considered sufficient to render Ordinations invalid. Basically, it seems often to have boiled down to a sense that, if one disapproves of someone enough to want their Ordination to be invalid, one can usually find something. Rather like American Marriage Tribunals in the 1970s.

An antidote here, perhaps, to any naive picture of the newly-founded Anglo-Saxon Church as invariably shining brightly with evangelical fervour and untarnished sanctity!

Let us hope that the custom of neoconsecrati offering their Consecrator loaves of bread and barrels of wine does not constitute Simony. And how about neopresbyteri handing over candles?

1 comment:

Liam Ronan said...

I am certain Saint Bede was right on the mark though I am a bit too dense to see how.

St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin must have availed of those same commercial people to purchase their two turtle-doves, the offering of the poor, on the occasion of the Circumcision of Jesus.

"When eight days had passed, and the boy must be circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before ever he was conceived in the womb. And when the time had come for purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him before the Lord there. It is written in God’s law, that whatever male offspring opens the womb is to be reckoned sacred to the Lord; and so they must offer in sacrifice for him, as God’s law commanded, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons." Luke 2:21-24

I rather imagine too that the Blessed Virgin had such an offering made for her Purification.

"But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Leviticus 12:8