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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/865

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NEW JERSEY


793


NEW JERSEY


Legislation on Matters Directly Affecting Religion. — The First. Constitution of the State of New Jersey, adopted at the Provincial Congress held at Burlington on 2 July, 1776, was a makeshift war measure, and provided that all state officers of promi- nence should be elected by a legislature chosen by voters possessing property qualifications. While this instrument provided "that no person shall ever, within this colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor under any pretense whatever be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment"; and while it also provided "that there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this province in preference to another", yet it dis- criminated by implication against Catholics for pub- lic office in the following language: "that no Prot- estant inhabitant of this colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles, but that all persons professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect, who shall de- mean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity enjoyed by others their fellow-subjects". The Constitution agreed upon in convention at Trenton in 1844, and ratified by the people at an election held on 13 August, 1S44, guarantees absolute freedom of worship, and further provides that "no religious test shall be re- quired as a qualifieation for any office or public trust; and no person shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious princi- ples." In it there is no discrimination in favour of Protestants as in the earlier instrument.

The statutes of the state prohibit all worldly em- ployment or business, except works of necessity or charity, on Sunday. Oaths are administered to all witnesses in courts of justice either by the ceremony of the uplifted hand or on the Bible, except where one declares himself, for conscientious reasons, to be scru- pulous concerning the taking of an oath, in which case his solemn affirmation or declaration is accepted. Blasphemy and profanity are prohibited by statute and punishable by fine, while perjury is punished by fine and imprisonment, besides disqualification after- wards on the part of the person convicted to give evi- dence in any court of justice. The sessions of the Legislature are, through custom, opened by prayer. Catholic clergymen have frequently officiated in both houses on such occasions. The legal holidays in New Jersey are New Year's Day; Lincoln's Birthday, 12 February; Washington's Birthday, 22 February; Good Friday; Memorial Day, also known as Decora- tion Day, 30 May; Independence Day, 4 July; 12 Oc- tober, known a.s ('ohiiiibus Day; the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, or Klection Day; Thanksgiving Day, wliicli is fixed by the governor's proclanuilion; and C'luistrnas Day. There is no stat- utory provi.-iion recognizing the seal of the confes- sional, but no attempt to compel an answer to a ques- tion which would involve a breach of the sacramental seal has ever been known in tlu' history of New Jersey jurisprudence.

Legislation on Matters Affecting Religious Work. — In 1S75 a liberal statute was enacted, which has since then been supplemented and amended, whereby parochial corporations can be created through the filing with the county clerk of a certificate of in- corporation signed by the Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese concerned, the vicar-general (or, in case of the vacancy of either of those offices, the administra- tor of the diocese for the time being), and two lay members of the church or congregation. Religious societies organized under this act may acquire, pur-


chase, and hold lands, legacies, donations, and other personal property to an amount not exceeding $3000 a year (exclusive of the church edifices, school-houses, and parsonages, and the lands whereon the same arc erected), and burying-places. The religious corpora- tion may grant and dispose of its real and personal property; but all proceedings, orders, and acts must be those of a majority of the corporation, and not of a less number, and to be valid must receive the sanction of the bishop. Under an Act of the Legislature ap- proved on 11 April, 1908, any Roman Catholic diocese may become a corporation, and be able unlimitedly to acquire and hold real and personal property. The legal corporate title of the Newark diocese is "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Newark"; that of the Trenton Diocese is "The Diocese of Trenton". Church property is exempt from taxation; parsonages owned by religious corporations, and the land whereon they stand, are exempt to an amount not exceeding $5000.

Marriage and Divorce. — A revision of the stat- utes relating to marriage, enacted in 1910, empowers the following officers to perform marriages between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matri- monial relation: the chief justice and each justice of the supreme court, the chancellor and each vice-chan- cellor, and each judge of the court of common pleas and justice of the peace, recorder and police justice, and mayor of a city, and every "stated and ordained minister of the gospel"; and "every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join to- gether in marriage such persons as are members of the said society, or when one of such persons is a member of such society, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization to which they or either of them belong". The same act renders ab- solutely void any marriage within the following pro- hibited degrees of relationship: "A man shall not marry any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sis- ter, or the daughter of his brother or sister, or the sis- ter of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood. A woman shall not marry any of her ancestors or descendants, or her brother, or the son of her brother or sister, or the brother of her father or mother, whether such collat- eral kindred be of the whole or half blood". Since 1 July, 1910, it is necessary for persons intending to be married to obtain first a marriage licence and deliver the same to the clergyman, magistrate, or person who is to officiate, before the proposed marriage can be lawfully performed; but, if the marriage is to be per- formed by or before any religious society, institution, or organization, the licence shall be delivered to the said religious society, institution, or organization, or any officer thereof. In Chaper 274 of the Laws of 1910, which makes such licences necessary, it is pro- vided that "nothing in this act contained shall be deemed or taken to render any common law or other marriage, otherwise lawful, invalid by reason of the failure to tLike out a licence as is herein provided".

With certain limitations, decrees of nullity of mar- riage may be rendered in all cases, when (1) either of the parties has another wife or husband living at the time of a.s<'coji(l or other marriage, (2) tli<' i)artiesare within tlie degrees prohibited by l:i,w, CO the p.arties, or either of them, are at the time of marriage ])liysic- ally and incurably impotent, (4) the i)arties, or either of them, were, at the time of the marriage incap.ible of consenting thereto, and the marriage has not been subsequently ratified, (5) at the suit of the wife, when she was under the age of sixteen years at the time of the marriage, unless such marriage be confirmed by her after arriving at such age; (6) at the suit of the hus- band, when he was under the age of eighteen at the time of the marriage, unless such marriage be con- firmed by him after arriving at such age. The decree of nuUity of marriage does not render illegitimate the