simonist, n.
/suy"meuh nee, sim"euh-/, n.
1. the making of profit out of sacred things.
2. the sin of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, etc.
[1175-1225; ME simonie < LL simonia; so called from Simon Magus, who tried to purchase apostolic powers; see SIMON (def. 5), -Y3]

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Buying or selling of church offices or powers.

The name is taken from Simon Magus (Acts 8:18), who tried to buy the power of conferring the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simony was said to have become widespread in Europe in the 10th–11th century, as promotions to the priesthood or episcopate were bestowed by monarchs and nobles, often in exchange for oaths of loyalty. Changes in the understanding of the nature of simony and the relationship between lay and religious orders contributed to the perception of the growth of simony, even though corrupt practices did exist. Rigorously attacked by Pope Gregory VII and the reform movement associated with him, the practice recurred in the 15th century, but after the 16th century its more flagrant forms disappeared.

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      buying or selling of something spiritual or closely connected with the spiritual. More widely, it is any contract of this kind forbidden by divine or ecclesiastical law. The name is taken from Simon Magus (Acts 8:18), who endeavoured to buy from the Apostles the power of conferring the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

      Simony, in the form of buying holy orders, or church offices, was virtually unknown in the first three centuries of the Christian church, but it became familiar when the church had positions of wealth and influence to bestow. The first legislation on the point was the second canon of the Council of Chalcedon (Chalcedon, Council of) (451). From that time prohibitions and penalties were reiterated against buying or selling promotions to the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate. Later, the offense of simony was extended to include all traffic in benefices and all pecuniary transactions on masses (apart from the authorized offering), blessed oils, and other consecrated objects.

      From an occasional scandal, simony became widespread in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries. Pope Gregory VII (Gregory VII, Saint) (1073–85) rigorously attacked the problem, and the practice again became occasional rather than normal. After the 16th century, it gradually disappeared in its most flagrant forms with the disendowment and secularization of church property.

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Universalium. 2010.

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