Be forewarned ye traitorous clerics:

Among priests there was no devotion in religion, among ministers there was no sound faith, in works no mercy, in manners no discipline. The beards of men were corrupted, women coloured their faces, eyes were altered from what God’s hand had made, hair was coloured to deceive. For the deception of the hearts of the simple there were cunning frauds and subtle meanings for circumventing the brethren. They joined in the bond of marriage with unbelievers, they prostituted the members of Christ to the Gentiles. They would swear not only rashly, but more so to perjure, they would despise those set over them while swelling with pride, they would speak evil of one another with envenomed lips, and dispute with one another with stubborn hatred. Many bishops, they who should give both exhortation and example to others, despising their divine office, became agents of worldly business. Foresaking their thrones, deserting their people, they wandered around foreign provinces, hunting in the markets for profitable merchandise. While in the Church brethren were starving they sought out hoards of silver. They seized estates by crafty deceit, they increased their gains by multiplying usuries. What do such as we not deserve to suffer for sins of this kind, when even already the Divine rebuke has forewarned us, and said, ‘If they shall forsake my law and do not walk in my judgments, if they shall profane my decrees and not observe my commandments, I will visit their offenses with a rod, and their sins with scourges?’”

Non in sacerdotibus religio devota, non in ministris fides integra, non in operibus misericordia, non in moribus disciplina. Corrupta barba in viris, in feminis forma fucata, adulterati post Dei manus oculi, capilli mendacio colorati. Ad decipienda corda simplicium callidae fraudes, circumveniendis fratribus subdolae voluntates. Jungere cum infidelibus vinculum matrimonii, prostituere gentilibus membra Christi. Non jurare tantum temere, sed adhuc etiam pejerare: praepositos superbo tumore contemnere; venenato sibi ore maledicere, odiis pertinacibus invicem dissidere. Episcopi plurimi, quos et hortamento esse oportet caeteris et exemplo, divina procuratione contempta, procuratores rerum saecularium fieri, derelicta cathedra, plebe deserta, per alienas provincias oberrantes, negotiationis quaestuosae nundinas aucupari, esurientibus in Ecclesia fratribus, habere argentum largiter. A velle, fundos insidiosis fraudibus rapere, usuris multiplicantibus foenus augere. Quid non perpeti tales pro peccatis ejusmodi mereremur, cum jam pridem praemonuerit ac dixerit censura divina: Si dereliquerint legem meam et in judiciis meis non ambulaverint, si justificationes meas profanaverint et praecepta mea non observaverint, visitabo in virga facinora eorum et in flagellis delicta eorum.

—St. Cyprian of Carthage (ca. 210-14–258), On the Lapsed, PL 4, 469 ff.

Compliments of Andrew Greenwell

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About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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