CLERICS

I. Fiscal immunity – II. Patrimonial statute – III. Forum privilege. I. Fiscal immunity. A few months after the Edict of Milan, Constantine dispensed all clerics from the munera so that they would be able to dedicate themselves entirely to their ecclesiastical obligations CTh XVI, 2,1: 31 October 313. Suppressed by Julian, this ordinance was renewed by Valentinian I and extended further by Gratian. In 346, another constitution CTh XVI, 2,10 exempted clerics from land taxes. In 360, this was limited to ecclesiastical goods; this was certainly due to the fact that some laymen, in order to avoid these taxes, entrusted the management of their goods to obliging clerics. This same constitution exempted clerics from the munera sordida; but Theodosius II, in 423, was constrained by the difficulties of the times to require clerics and churches to participate again in the maintenance of bridges and the construction of streets CTh XV, 3,6 = CI I, 2,7. Finally, in 441, Valentinian III suspended all fiscal privileges of clerics Novella X.

II. Patrimonial statute. A constitution of Leo, valid only for the pars orientalis, granted clerics the right to conserve as property everything they had acquired from the time of their entrance into orders CI I, 3,33: AD 472. Thus it was licit for them to alienate their own property to whomever they wished. Nevertheless, canonical legislation strove in many ways to limit this right. From the 4th c. on, councils in Africa prohibited clerics from disposing of their goods in favor of non-Catholics Epitome of Hippo, can. 14; Reg. Carth. can. 81. Civil legislation of the 5th c. continued along the same lines: a constitution of Theodosius II granted the goods of a cleric who had not left a testament to his church CTh V, 3,1.

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