Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/731

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657

APPROBATION


057


APPROBATION


of many acts differing one from the other. Tiie permanent capability and the appointment to the service of the Churcli in general are transmitted by means of Holy or<iers. The actual appointment to the exercise of ministry in a determined sphere springs from the conferring of an ecclesiastical office which, in accord with the spirit of the Church, is recognized as a iiermanent charge, ami hence slioukl not l)e given except after a special proof of fitness by him who is invested therewith. I'^ven when a priest, by Holy orders ami appointment to a cliarge, IS made capable of the pastoral ininistrj' and is a.-isigncd to it, the exerci.se of the transmittetl power still depends upon the will and faithfulness of tlio mandatory; and at the same time otiier extensive variable circumstances, v. g. the actual situation of the Church or the spirit of the times, may deter- mine now an exlen.sion, now a restriction, and at times suspension or revocation of the delegated power. lrom this it follows that, besides orders and the appointment to a charge, a special act of delega- tion is necessary for the actual exercise of the pa.s- toral ministry. Hence the word approbation is appropriate to keep the co-workers of the bishop alert, to remind them of their dependence, to give the bishop greater facility to excrci.se his right of watchfulness, ami to keep each one within the proper hmits of his jurisdiction. The absolute necessity of approbation, especially for administering the Sacrament of Penance, was expressly decreed by the Council of Trent (Sess. XXIII, XV, De ref.), so that, except in the ca.se of imminent death, the absolution by a priest not approved would be in- valid. This approbation for the Sacrament of Penance is the judicial declaration of the legitimate superior that a certain priest is fit to hear, iind has the faculties to hear, the confession of his subjects. The (>)uncil of Trent, quoted above, decrees: "Al- though priests receive in their ordination the power of absolving from sins, nevertheless the Holy Synod ordains that no one, even though he be a regular, is able to hear the confessions of seculars, not e\en of priests, and that he is not to be reputed fit there- imto, unless he either holds a parocliial benefice or is, by the bisliops, after an examination if they shall think it necessary, or in some other wav, judged fit and has obtained their approbation, which shall be granted gratuitously — any privileges and custom whatsoever, though immemorial, to the contrary notwitlistanding. " This is the basis of the actvial discipline everywhere. Suarez (De Pten., disp. xx\'iii, sect. 3, tract, xxi) .says that before the Coun- cil of Trent a parish priest by law could validly and lawfully give jurisdiction to any priest who had the proper qualifications of the natural and divine law to hear c()nf<'ssioiis, without approbation or jurisdiction from tlic Ijisliop. The Council of Trent withdrew this by its requirement of the approbation of the bishop. .\ parish priest has from his "paro- chial benefice" the implied approbation of the bishop anil ortlinarj' power to hear the confessions of his own parisliioners, even outside his parish or diocese. By bishop is meant also his vicar-gcncral. or the vicar-capitular or administrator during the vacancy of a see, also any regular prelate having ordinary jurisdiction over a certain territory. Tiiis appro- bation may be given orally or in writing, ami may be given indirectly, as when, for instance, priests receive power to choose in their own diocese an approved priest of another diocese for their confes.sor. Tlie bishop may wrongfully but valitlly refuse his approbation, without which no priest may hear confessions. Approbation cea.scs at the time fixed, by revocation of the bishop, if attached to a benefice; by the loss of the benefice; also by censure, if inflicted publicly; if the cen.sure is inflicted privately, the exercise of jurisdiction is unlawful but valid. The


pope may grant this jurisdiction to those who have the es.sential requirements in any part of the world, and to whomsoever he thinks fit. A bishop may grant it likewi.se in his own diocese, and superiors of regulars to their subjects. Hy custom an ap- proved priest absolves validly in any part of the diocese in which he is approved. Ai\ approved confes.sor may hear the confessions of tho.se coming from anotlier diocese who come in gootl faith, and not fraudulently to escape the reservations of their own diocese. .-\.n approved confes.sor may absolve from the ca-ses "reserved" in another diocese, but not from tho.se re.servetl in his own tlioce.se. A con- fessor's jurisdiction may be restricted to various clas.ses of persons, e. g. to children, or to men, without the right to hear women. A special appinljation is required to hear nuns or women of rcliguius com- munities, and this extends with modifications to all connminities of recognized sisterhoods. A con- fes.sor approved for one convent is not presumed to be approveil for all. A confessor having tem- porary juri.sdiction for "reserved cases" may con- tinue to exerci.se it in any case begun before the lap.se of the appointed time. The priest travelling on the high seas, if he be approved oy his own onlinary, may validly hear the confessions of any of his com- panions during the whole journey, even if from time to time the vessel pvit into a port or ports out- side the jurisdiction of said ordinary (S. C. Inq., 4 April, 1900).

Approbation given in a general way does not cease at the death of the giver. Approbation may be made revocable, and restricted to a place, time, and persons, according to the judgment of a bishop. By the decree quoted of the Council of Trent, regulars must obtain the approbation of the bishops to hear the confessions of^ seculars, even of priests. This special clause was in.scrted to put an eml to contro- versies that had arisen from privileges granted to the regulars. In 1215 the Fourth I^ateran Council had decreed that all the faithful of either sex who had reached the use of reason should confess to their own (parish) priest at least once a year. If any shoukl wish to confess to another priest, permission should be olitained from their own priest; otlierwise, the ab.solution sliould be void. Shortly after this council tlif pop<'s granted many privileges to the members of the Franciscan and Dominican Orders of friars lately established, and exhorted the bishops to allow them to preach in public squares or churches and to hear confessions in their dioceses. Dis- sensions between the friars and the secular clergy brought from Honiface VIII, in ll.'90, an edict requiring a request to the bishop that certain selected friars should receive permission to hear confessions. If the bishops refused, he by his plenarj' power authorized the friars to hear confessions to the same extent as the pari.sh priests. Benedict XI, in 130-1, increa.sed this privilege, but Clement V, in 1311, restricted the privileges to those granted by Boni- face VIII. At times the dissensions and disputes in the various countries of Europe between the bishops and secular priests and the friars be- came very heated. An interesting account of the extent of tliese controversies in Kngland and Ireland occurs in the "Catholic University Bulletin" (.Xiiril. 190.3, 19.") sqq.), which gives the details of the arraign- ment of the mendicant friars by the celebrated Fitz- Ualpli, .\rclibisliop of .Vrmagli, in 1357, before Innocent VI at .\vignon. The Council of Trent undertook to remedy these troubles by restricting the privileges of the regulars, mainly in those things connected with the care of souls and the administra- tion of the .sacrainents, which it sought to replace directly under the control of the bishops, The privileges of the mendicant friars had been extended toother orders; in particular, to the Society of Jesus.