Sacred laws are very strict for he who buys his ordination for money, so that he would “put to sale a grace which cannot be sold, and for money ordain a bishop, or chorepiscopus, or presbyters, or deacons… let him who is convicted of this forfeit his own rank; and let him who is ordained be nothing profited by the purchased ordination or promotion; but let him be removed from the dignity or charge he has obtained for money” (Canon 2 of the Council of Chalcedon in year 451).

The ethical rule states that anyone should deserve a position in order to obtain it. The second rule stipulates that anyone in charge of a job shall fulfill it and content themselves with their salary. As for the ones who earn low pay, the society as a whole is responsible for them, as well as philanthropists. They should not ask for a certain amount of money as a condition to carry out the job, for it is a duty based on the concept of serving the citizens who have a right to be respected by those in charge of delivering the work; a right that must not be compromised. Whoever accepts a position within the governmental sector – whether it is a high-ranking position or a law-ranking one – has a responsibility to serve all people, especially the poor who should not be extorted and whose interests should not be ignored.

Every service is provided gratis, and the political community provides for those who are at its service. The government may default, especially in times of hardship. This situation requires us to strive for raising salaries or curbing price hikes. Society is based on justice, and this includes being fair to those in positions of responsibility. Before this war, we knew judges who lived in poverty, died and left nothing. Humanity also knew senior rulers in the past whose families did not inherit anything from them after their death. Those are greats in the church and in the world, who lived in severe austerity and did not defile themselves by ill-gotten money.

If you encounter an employee who fails to meet your rightful demands, you should urge upon them or their superior, to fulfill their duty. You can wait, but you should not sin. There is no worse than the senior or junior employee who is tempted to be bribed and who relies on gifts, for the gift weakens the will of the person in charge who accepts it, and makes them do a dishonest action. It is because some actions harm one of the citizens that they are forbidden by laws, in any field of community life. And employees who do illegal actions are aware that they are harming someone or the government which represents the entire society.

The judge who seeks a gift or who is promised to receive one will issue a judgment that is unfair to one of the parties. And the physician who gives a false report harms the institution to which the fake patient belongs. And those who give a wrong statement harm at least themselves for they undermine themselves, become cowards, and do not teach people honesty.

Ministers, deputies or politicians in general, fail to love their country if they accept bribery, because they would say what they wanted them to say, and they would keep silent on an unjust law and an unfair political position. Desire of money can lead to high treason.

Without virtue, who can defend the oppressed? Who protects the country from infringements if it weren’t for groups of pure people whom money does not tempt? Who would say we want in the church a righteous and pure bishop who would be a great teacher, if bribery was spread among those in charge? Who is the orthodox man who would ensure the safety of his family if spiritual judges are tempted to receive gifts? How can a judge consider a lawsuit carefully according to the laws if one of the litigants promised to offer him money?

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”, as Paul taught us. It ruins the society, the church, the government and the conscience. With your integrity, you can encourage those who are in charge to be honest also. Lebanon will be established only by pure people. The Lebanese will have no value if they did not learn that some things should not be done, and sometimes “there isn’t a way out”. The truth on which we insist in every responsibility is God Himself.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الرشوة” – 09.01.94- Raiati no2