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Frequently Asked Questions
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Q. 1. I recently heard that simony is a sin. I never heard that word before. What does it mean?

A. 1. Simony finds its origin in the Holy Bible in Acts 8:9-24. There you will read that Simon the Magician offered money to the Apostles Simon and John for the gift of the laying of the hands through which the Holy Spirit was received. The word "simony" comes from the name "Simon."

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, simony is explained as follows:

"Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. [Acts 8:9-24] To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money!" [Acts 8:20] Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: "You received without pay, give without pay." [Mt 10:8; cf. already Isa 55:1] It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment."

Because we receive freely the gifts of God, we should give them out freely.

Examples of the sin of simony is the selling of religious articles that have been blessed such as chaplets, crucifixes, holy pictures, relics, religious candles, religious medals, rosaries, scapulars, statues, water fonts, and the list goes on.

On a larger scale, the sin of simony also includes matters like a priest paying to be elevated to the position of bishop, a priest asking for a baptismal fee of any kind, a priest asking for a specific Mass stipend other than the amount fixed by the local bishop, such an amount being sufficient to meet the necessities of the priest. The sin of simony also includes the buying of indulgences, obtaining an absolution from the Sacrament of Confession, and other issues related to trying to buy spiritual things with money or the exchange of goods.

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