Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION C.: OF SIMONY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION C.: OF SIMONY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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Article I.—Is simony a will of deliberate choice to buy or sell something spiritual, or annexed to what is spiritual?
R. An act is evil of its kind from falling upon undue matter. Now there are three reasons that render a spiritual thing undue matter of buying and selling. First, because a spiritual thing cannot have its equivalent in any earthly price, as is said of wisdom: “She is more precious than all riches.”2 Therefore also Peter, condemning the wickedness of Simon at its very root, said: “Keep thy money to thyself to perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”1 Secondly, because that cannot be due matter of sale, of which the seller is not the owner; but a prelate in the Church is not owner of spiritual goods, but steward or dispenser, according to the text: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God.”2 Thirdly, because selling is inconsistent with the origin of spiritual things, which proceed from the gratuitous will of God: hence the Lord says, “Freely have you received, freely give.”3
Article II.—Is it always unlawful to give money for the sacraments?
R. The sacraments of the New Law are especially spiritual, seeing that they are the cause of spiritual grace, which has not a money price; and it is inconsistent with the essential notion of this grace that it should not be given gratuitously. But the sacraments are dispensed by the ministers of the Church, who ought to be supported by the people, according to the Apostle.4 Thus then we must say that to take money for the spiritual grace of the sacraments is the crime of simony, which no custom can excuse, because custom avails not to the prejudice of natural or divine law. Now by money is understood everything that has a money price. But to take something for the sustenance of those who administer the sacraments of Christ, when it is done according to the ordinance of the Church and approved customs, is not simony, nor any sin; for it is not taken as the price of hire, but as the wages of necessity. Hence on 1 Tim. v. 17, Augustine’s gloss says: “Let them receive the sustenance of necessity from the people, the reward of their dispensation from the Lord.”
§ 6. Matrimony is not only a sacrament of the Church, but also an office of nature. Hence it is lawful to give money for matrimony, inasmuch as it is an office of nature; unlawful, inasmuch as it is a sacrament of the Church.
§ 2. It would be an unlawful ordinance to enact in any church, that there should be no procession at any one’s funeral unless he paid a certain sum of money: because such a statute would bar the way to any gratuitous rendering of that pious office. But it would be a more lawful ordinance to enact that such an honour should be paid to all who gave a certain alms: because that would not bar the way to paying it to others. And besides, the first ordinance has the appearance of an exaction, but the second the appearance of a return of gratitude.
§ 4. It is not lawful to exact anything or take anything as a price for entrance into a monastery. But if the monastery is poor, and not able to maintain so many persons, it is lawful, while granting entrance to the monastery gratuitously, to take something for the keep of the person received, if the funds of the monastery are not sufficient for that purpose.
Article IV.—Is it lawful to take money for what is annexed to spiritualities?
R. A thing may be annexed to spiritualities in either of two ways: in one way as depending on spiritualities, as the holding of ecclesiastical benefices is said to be annexed to spiritualities, because it is not within the competence of any but the holder of clerical office: hence such things can nowise be at all without spiritualities. And therefore it is nowise lawful to sell them, because in the sale of them spiritualities also are understood to be subject to sale. Other things again are annexed to spiritualities as being directed to spiritual ends: as the right of patronage, which is directed to the presentation of clerics to ecclesiastical benefices; and the sacred vessels, which are meant for use in the sacraments: hence such things do not presuppose spiritualities, but rather precede them in order of time. And therefore in some respect they may be sold, but not inasmuch as they are annexed to spiritualities.
§ 2. The sacred vessels are annexed to spiritualities as to their end, and therefore their consecration cannot be sold; but the material of them may be sold for the need of the Church and of the poor.
[2 ]Prov. iii. 15.
[1 ]Acts viii. 20.
[2 ]1 Cor. iv. 1.
[3 ]St. Matt. x. 8.
[4 ]1 Cor. ix. 13, 14.