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BENEFICE


474


BENEFICE


gifts which they had received or even the income from property which the Church had acquired. The latter form of grant, in connexion •nith lands or permanent endowments, was known as precaria, a name which indicates its imstable tenure; on the death of the possessor the source of liis revenue reverted to the common fund of church property, and could not serve tor the support of a cleric unless devoted anew to this purpose by a formal act of ecclesiastical authority. Though these prccarice were in the beginning contrary to the canons, cir- cumstances justified their increasing employment, and they paved the way for the recognition of the modern benefice.

All that was needed to transform the precarice into benefices, was to do away with the need of a new episcopal decree assigning the income from certain lands or other property to the support of a priest on the occurrence of a vacancy, and to recognize in the source of income a perpetual foundation for this specific purpose. Wlien this was done and the incumbent was given permanency in office, the modern benefice came into being. It was of gradual growth, its beginning dating from the sixth century and its universal adoption being delayed until the eleventh century. Since the usufruct allowed to clerics resembled the grants of land which sovereigns were accustomed to make to subjects who had dis- tinguished themselves by military or political ser- vice, and which the Church was at times compelled to concede to powerful lay lords in order to secure necessary protection in troubled times, it was natural that the term benefice, wliich had been applied to these grants, should be employed to denote the similar practice in regard to ecclesiastics. Wherever the common law of the Church holds sway the establishment of benefices is the rule. In more than one countrj' a system de^'eloped by centuries of piety has fallen before decrees of secularization, but if the usurping government makes a pretence of compensation by stipends to the clergj-, such stipends are regarded by the Church as beneficiary re\-enue, and those who receive them retain the status of beneficed clerics. In the United States benefices are almost unkno'mi. A solitary example in Xew Orleans figured as a notable exception in the decree of the Second Plenarj^ Council. A few pa- rochial benefices are foimd in the province of San Francisco, and there is good ground for the opinion which sees in permanent rectorships all the requisites of a benefice; but these instances, with the episcopates, are in marked contrast with the general organization of the Church in the United States. In England, also, benefices are the exception, but in Canada they are more common (Gignac, Compend. Jur. Eccl., Quebec. 1906). The beneficiary system plays an important part in the discipline of the evangelical churches on the continent of Europe, and of the State church of England. In 1900, out of 22,800 clergjnnen at work in the Anglican Church, 13.872 were beneficed. (For benefices or "livings" in the Anglican Church see Phillimore, " Ecclesiastical Law "; Idem, " Book of Church Law ", London. 1899, 227; ibid, the Benefices .\ct of 1S9S. For the Evan- gelical Churches see Hinschius. " Kirchenrecht ", Ber- lin. 1869 sq.; Friedberg, " I.ehrbuch des Kirchen- rechts ", 4th ed.. 1895; Real Encvk. f. Prot. Theol. und Kirche, 3d ed.. 1897, II. 596.) '

Divisiox. — Benefices are divided into simple and double; major and minor; elective, presentative, and collative; residential and non-residential; perpetual and manual; secular and regular. Simple benefices are those which involve only the duty of reciting the Divine Office or of celebrating Mass. Double benefices imply the care of souls or jurisdiction in the external forum or administrative functions, and, if they be episcopal or supra-episcopal in rank, are


styled major benefices. A benefice is elective when the appointing authority may collate only after some electoral body has named the future incumbent ; presentative when such nomination belongs to a patron; collative when the bishop or other superior appoints independently of any election or presenta- tion. The distinction between residential and non- residential benefices is based upon the fact that in some cases the canons or articles of foundation im- pose the obligation of residence in the locality of the benefice while in other cases no such obligation is annexed. Manual benefices are not benefices in the strict sense, since their distinctive note is that appointments to them are revocable at the will of the collating authority. A legal presumption exists that all benefices are secular, but those which exist in churches or houses of religious orders or which by custom or by the will of the foimder have been appropriated to religious are known as regular bene- fices. This last distinction has at times a special importance because of the rule requiring that secu- lar benefices be conferred only on secular clerics, regular benefices only on regulars.

Cre.\tiox. — Benefices can be created only by ecclesiastical authority, since the right to revenue which they suppose is always necessarily connected with some spiritual function, and is therefore reck- oned among the jura spiritualia controlled by the Church. The competent authority may be the pope or a bishop or one possessing quasi-episcopal au- thority, it being always understood that the pope has exclusive control of all major benefices. A bene- fice must be erected in a church or at an altar, under the title of some saint or mysterj-, and with the an- nexed obligation of rendering some spiritual service. Since the idea of compensation is always implied, a sufficient endowment must in everj' case be guaran- teed, the amount var^-ing with the character of the benefice, the locality of the foundation, and the na- ture of the services which are to be rendered. In some countries, as in Austria, the consent of the civil authorities is a necessary preliminary to the creation of a benefice.

Modification". — A benefice once erected is under- stood to be perpetual, but the law must and does provide for circumstances which may require an alteration of the status of a benefice by union or division, or even its entire suppression or extinction. Sometimes, owing to changed conditions, especially to a diminution of revenue, it becomes necessary to unite two or more benefices. This union may be effected in two ways, either so that an entirely new individual entity is brought into being, or so that the original titles remain, but are conferred on one cleric instead of several. In this latter case a dis- tinction has to be made between a union in which both benefices retain their legal autonomy and a union in which one benefice is made legally dependent on the other. The pope alone can unite major bene- fices: minor benefices are subject in this respect to episcopal authority, with \'ery few exceptions. A bishop is not allowed to proceed to the union of benefices unless such action be justified by reasons of necessity or of advantage, and unless a hearing be first granted to all interested persons. The patron, if there be one, and the cathedral chapter are the only parties whose consent, as distinguished from mere opinion, is required. The division of benefices, which is most frequently \erified in connexion with parishes, is authorized when the incumbent is unable on account of increasing obligations to meet the re- quirements of his office, even with the help of such auxiliaries as the law allows. The formalities are generally the same as for a union. The term "dis- membration" is frequently employed as a sjTionj-m for division, but strictly speaking it denotes an act by which a part of the goods or revenues of one