Studebant augendo patrimonio singuli, et obliti quid credentes, aut sub apostolis ante fecissent, aut semper facere deberent, insatiabili cupiditatis ardore ampliandis facultatibus incubabant. 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. iungere cum infidelibus vinculum matrimonii, prostituere cum gentilibus membra Christi. non iurare tantum temere, sed adhuc etiam peierare: praepositos superbo tumore contemnere, venenato sibi ore maledicere; odiis pertinacibus invicem dissidere. episcopi plurimi, quos et hortamento esse oportet ceteris 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 velle, fundos insidiosis fraudibus rapere, usuris multiplicantibus foenus augere. quid non perpeti tales pro peccatis eiusmodi mereremur, cum iam pridem praemonuerit ac dixerit censura divina: si dereliquerint legem meam, et in iudiciis meis non ambulaverint, si iustificationes meas profanaverint et pracepta mea non observaverint, visitabo in virga facinora eorum et in flagellis delicta eorum.
(Cyprian, De Lapsis 6)
Each one was desirous of increasing his estate; and forgetful of what believers had either done before in the times of the apostles, or always ought to do, they, with the insatiable ardour of covetousness, devoted themselves to the increase of their property. Among the priests there was no devotedness of religion; among the ministers there was no sound faith: in their works there was no mercy; in their manners there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced; in women, their complexion was dyed: the eyes were falsified from what God’s hand had made them; their hair was stained with a falsehood. Crafty frauds were used to deceive the hearts of the simple, subtle meanings for circumventing the brethren. They united in the bond of marriage with unbelievers; they prostituted the members of Christ to the Gentiles. They would swear not only rashly, but even more, would swear falsely; would despise those set over them with haughty swelling, would speak evil of one another with envenomed tongue, would quarrel with one another with obstinate hatred. Not a few bishops who ought to furnish both exhortation and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business, forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brethren were starving in the Church. They sought to possess money in hoards, they seized estates by crafty deceits, they increased their gains by multiplying usuries. What do not such as we 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 walk not in my judgments; if they shall profane my statutes, and shall not observe my precepts, I will visit their offences with a rod, and their sins with scourges?” (tr. Robert Ernest Wallis)