BENEFICIUM COMPETENTIÆ: The privilege by which a condemned debtor is allowed to retain so much of his income as is absolutely necessary to his maintenance. Such a privilege exists in many places, in the interest of the public service, for officials and also for clerics. For the latter the custom is usually referred to the decree of Gregory IX (1271-76) De solutionibus (iii, 23). This passage, however, only establishes the principle that an unbeneficed clerical debtor can not be forced to pay by spiritual penalties, and that the creditors are to be content with sufficient security for payment when the debtors circumstances improve. The glosses, and common practise following them, base the privilege upon the decree, and statute law has confirmed it, restricting any levy upon the salary or other income of such a cleric so that a certain sum is left to him as congrua (sustentatio). This privilege can not be pleaded in the case of debts arising from unlawful transactions or of public taxes.