Roman Emperors Decree Priests Sheltering Debt Avoiders Must Pay Those Debts Personally

Roman Emperors Decree Priests Sheltering Debt Avoiders Must Pay Those Debts Personally

Emperor Honorius
Source: portableantiquities

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Emperors Arcadius and Honorius decree that if any priests refuse to surrender a person who has taken refuge in a church and in the clergy for the purpose of escaping debts, then the priests themselves will have to pay off those debts personally.

This new law says:

"If any slave, maidservant, decurion, public debtor, procurator, collector of purple dye fish, or anyone involved in public or private accounts takes refuge in a church, and is then either ordained a cleric or protected by clerics and such that he does not return to his former condition immediately . . . then those who customarily manage ecclesiastical accounts will be compelled without any delay to repay any public or private debt to which it appears that those persons are obligated whom clerics received to be defended and did not produce immediately." [CT 9.45.3]

The Roman government has already given churches the privilege of providing sanctuary to certain people under certain conditions, but here the emperors are taking away that privilege when it comes to people who owe money. This suggests that a lot of people have been trying to use the Christian Church to escape their debts.


Emperors of Rome: Honorius

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