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Simony (pron. Si-mon-ee) is the crime of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:18-24. Simon Magus offers the disciples of Jesus, Peter and John payment so that anyone on whom he would place his hands would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of the term simony[1] but it also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things".[2][3] Simony was also one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy.


Church of England

The Church of England also struggled with the practice after its separation from Rome. While English law recognized simony as an offence,[4] it treated it as merely an ecclesiastical matter, rather than a crime, for which the punishment was forfeiture of the office or any advantage from the offence and severance of any patronage relationship with the person who bestowed the office. The cases of Bishop of St. David's Thomas Watson in 1699[5] and of Dean of York William Cockburn in 1841 were particularly notable.[6]

As of 2007, simony remains an offence.[3][7] An unlawfully bestowed office can be declared void by the Crown, and the offender can be disabled from making future appointments and fined up to £1000.[8] Clergy are no longer required to make a declaration as to simony on ordination but offences are now likely to be dealt with under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003,[9] r.8.[7]

See also

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