Covetousness The works of the earliest Christian authorities are full of warnings against the different forms of this vice. The oblations of the covetous were not to be received. Gregory Thaumaturgus, archbishop of Neo-Caesarea (about A.D. 262) declares that it is impossible to set forth in a single letter all the sacred writings which proclaim not robbery alone to be a fearful crime, but all covetousness, all grasping at others' goods for filthy lucre. Others of the-fathers in like manner vigorously denounced the existence of the vice among the clergy. Gregory of Nyssa observes that the fathers have affixed no punishment to this sin, which he assimilates to adultery; though it be very common in the Church, none inquires of those who are brought to be ordained if they be polluted with it. It is true, a decree from Gratian, ascribed to pope Julius I, A.D. 337-352, denounces as filthy lucre the buying in time of harvest or of vintage, not of necessity but of greed, victuals or wine, in order to sell at a higher price; and the 17th canon of the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) is directed against the love of filthy lucre and usury, enacting deposition as the punishment for the cleric. But here, as in a parallel canon of the synod of Seleucia, A.D. 410, it is perhaps to be inferred that the vice was chiefly, if not solely, aimed at under the concrete form of usury (q.v.). That covetousness was as rife in the monastery as in the world may be inferred from Cassian.
The very doubtful "Sanctions and Decrees of the Nicene fathers," apparently of Greek origin, require priests not to be given to heaping up riches, lest they should prefer them to the ministry, and if they do accumulate wealth to do so moderately. The 3d Council of Orleans, A.D. 538, forbids clerics, from the diaconate upwards, to carry on business as public traders for the greed of filthy lucre, or to do so in another's name. As the time wears on, covetousness seems often: to be confounded with avarice, and to be legislated against under that name. SEE BRIBERY; SEE COMMERRCE; SEE USURY. For rapacity in exacting fees, SEE SPORTULAE.