Sacrilege, Christian View of

Sacrilege, Christian View Of.

The ancient Church distinguished several sorts of sacrilege:

1st, the diverting things appropriated to sacred purposes to other uses; to break or burn the furniture of the Church, or deliver it to be broken or burned;

2d, robbing the graves or defacing and spoiling the monuments of the dead;

3d, those were considered as sacrilegious persons who delivered up their Bibles and the sacred utensils of the Church to the pagans in the time of the Diocletian persecution;

4th, profaning the sacraments, churches, altars, etc.;

5th, molesting or hindering a clergyman in the performance of his office;

6th, depriving men of the use of the Scriptures or the sacraments, particularly the cup in the eucharist, the last being condemned by Gelasius and pope Leo, and yet not recognised as sacrilege by the Romish casuists. SEE SACRILEGIUM. In England sacrilege is not now a legal, but a popular term, used to denote the breaking into a place of worship and stealing therefrom. The legal offense comes generally under the head of burglary or housebreaking. A less punishment applies to the offense when committed in dissenting chapels. In Scotland there is no increase of severity in the punishment by reason of the sacred character of the things stolen.

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