Simony is the act of paying for sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s and consequently for holy office
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

s or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus
Simon Magus
Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Apostle, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in . The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is...

 (Also, Simon the Sorcerer), who appears in the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 8:9-24. Simon Magus offers the disciples of Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 and John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

, payment so that anyone on whom he would place his hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

 would receive the power of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. This is the origin of the term simony; but, it also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things". Simony was also one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...


Church of England

The Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 also struggled with the practice after its separation from Rome. While English law recognized simony as an offence, 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
Thomas Watson (Bishop of St David's)
Thomas Watson was an English clergyman, Church of England Bishop of St. David's . A supporter of King James II, he opposed the Revolution of 1688 but was ultimately deprived of his ecclesiastical offices for the offence of simony and jailed for his failure to pay his legal costs...

 in 1699 and of Dean of York
Dean of York
The Dean of York is the member of the clergy who is responsible for the running of the York Minster cathedral.-11th–12th centuries:* 1093–c.1135: Hugh* c.1138–1143: William of Sainte-Barbe...

 William Cockburn
Sir William Cockburn, 11th Baronet
Sir William Cockburn, 11th Baronet was a Church of England clergyman. He was Dean of York and was famously defended on a charge of simony by his nephew Sir Alexander Cockburn, 12th Baronet in 1841....

 in 1841 were particularly notable.

, simony remains an offence. An unlawfully bestowed office can be declared void by the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

, and the offender can be disabled from making future appointments and fined up to £1000. Clergy are no longer required to make a declaration as to simony on ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 but offences are now likely to be dealt with under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, r.8.
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