Roman Emperors Ban Clergy Visits to Widows or Female Wards if Family Object Hot

Roman Emperors Ban Clergy Visits to Widows or Female Wards if Family Object

Roman Empire at the Time of Emperor Valentinian I, 364-375 CE

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Emperors Valentinian I and Valens order that clergy, ex-clergy, and celibates are banned from visiting widows or female wards if the women's relatives express any suspicions about them.

The decree states:

"Ecclesiastics, ex-ecclesiastics, and the celibate must not visit the homes of widows and female wards if relatives, by blood or marriage, report such visits to authorities.

Furthermore, clerics cannot obtain anything at all through any act of liberality or by a last will from those women to whom they have attached themselves privately under the pretext of religion.

Anything left by such women to clerics, even through a third party, whether as a gift or in a last will, will be confiscated. If clerics receive something through a will of such women, and this is justified through law or edict, then they are ordered to transfer that property to the nearest relative. [CTh 16.2.20]

Although nothing is stated explicitly here, the new decree gives the impression that Christian clergy might be preying on widows and single women. This must be developing into a serious issue if the Roman emperors have to step in and say something about it.

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