Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 319: Clerical Poverty (2)
Clerical Poverty (2)
After Epiphany, Augustine declared publicly as promised the state and disposition of his clerics.1 His ecclesiastical office exposed him to praise by some and blame by others. Those who loved him should have no reason for embarrassment before those who did not. At the beginning of his report, the deacon Lazarus read the passage in the Acts of the Apostles concerning the life of the first Christians (Acts 4:32–35b). This scriptural passage forms the basis for the rule of the life for his clergy. Augustine re-read the passage himself. He then justified each member of his clergy individually who for good reasons could not until then have renounced their property or who were falsely accused of not having done so.
Next Augustine retracted his permission to his clergy to live from property outside of his common house. Since the priests had consented to live in common, whoever is found to have something of his own will be removed from the clerical state in Hippo.
Let him call a thousand councils and bring complaints against me. Let him travel if he wishes across the sea. Whatever he does, I hope with the help of God he will not be received as a cleric where I am recognized to have episcopal power. These clerics have joyfully consented to my established order. I confidently expect by the power and mercy of God they will...
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