The restriction in certain cases by a superior of the jurisdiction ordinarily exercised by an inferior. Reservation obtains in appointing to a benefice (q.v., section Collation), in dispensing from vows (q.v.), and in absolving from sins and censures. The power of reservation is vested in its fullness in the pope, who may exercise this right throughout the world. Bishops, regular superiors, or others with quasi-episcopal jurisdiction in the penitential forum may reserve to themselves the absolution of sins of their own subjects. Parish priests and local superiors do not possess this right. The chief reason for thus restricting the power of confessors is to deter evil-doers by the difficulty of obtaining absolution. Only graver mortal sins, that are external and completed, not merely attempted acts, should be reserved. Confession would prove too odious, were the confessor's jurisdiction unduly limited. Sins are reserved with censure (see Censures, Ecclesiastical) or without censure: nearly all papal reservations belong to the former class, and the reservation is principally on account of the censure; episcopal reservations pertain for the most part to the latter category.
A. B. MEEHAN