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BISHOP


583


BISHOP


the bishop. In large cities, however, like Rome, it was soon found necessary to hand over permanently to the priests and deacons certain definite functions. Moreover, as a result of the spread of Christianity outside the great centres of population, the bishop gradually left to other ecclesiastics the administra- tion of a fixed portion of the diocesan territory. In the East, at first bishoprics were created in all dis- tricts where there was a considerable number of Christians. But this system presented great incon- veniences. To distant or rural localities, therefore, the Church sent bishops, who were only the delegates of the bishop of the city, and who did not possess the right of exercising the most important powers of a bishop. Such bishops were known as Chorepiscopi or rural bishops. Later on, they were replaced by priests (Gillman, Das Institut der Chorbischofe im Orient, Munich, 1903). The establishment of parishes from the fourth and the fifth century on gradually freed the bishops from many of their original charges; they reserved to themselves only the most important affairs, i. e. those which concerned the whole diocese and those which belonged to the cathedral church. However, above all other affairs the bishops retained the right of supervision and supreme direction. While this change was taking place, the Roman Empire, now Christian, granted bishops other powers. They were exclusively empowered to take cognizance of the misdemeanours of clerics, and everj' lawsuit entered into against the latter had to be brought before the bishop's court. The Emperor Constantine even permitted all Christians to carry their lawsuits before the bishop, but tliis right was withdrawn at the end of the fourth centurj-. Nevertheless, they continued to act as arbitrators, which office the earliest Christians had committed to them. More important, perhaps, is the part which the Roman law assigns to the bishops as protectors of the weak and oppressed. The master was permitted to legally emancipate his slave in the bishop's presence; the latter had also the power to remove young girls from immoral houses where their parents or masters had placed them, and to restore them to liberty. Newly bom infants abandoned by their parents were legally adjudged to those who sheltered them, but to avoid abuses it was required that the bishop should certify that the child was a foundling. The Roman law allowed the bishops the right to visit prisons at their discretion for the purpose of improving the condition of prisoners and of ascertaining whether the rules in favour of the latter were observed. The bishops po.ssessed great influence over the Christian emperors, and though in the Eastern Church these intimate rela- tions between Church and State led to Caesaropapism, the bishops of the West preserved in a great measure their independence of the Empire (Loning, Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenrechts, Strasburg, 1878, 1, .314- 331 : Troplong, De I'influence du christianisme sur le droit civil des Remains, Paris, 1842, new ed., 1902). The authority of the bishop was even greater after the barbarian invasions; among the Germanic peoples he soon became an influential and powerful personage. He inspired confidence and commanded respect. He was beloved, for he protected the young and the weak, he was the friend of the poor, was accvLstomed to intercede on behalf of the victims of injustice, and especially on behalf of orphans and women. Through his influence, in many spheres, the bishop became the real master of the episcopal city. The only func- tionaries whose authority was comparable with that of the bishop were the dukes and counts, representa- tives of the king. In certain districts the pre-emi- nence showed itself clearly in favour of the bishop; in some cities the bishop became also count. In France, as a general rule, this state of affairs did not continue, but in (iermany many bishops became temporal lords or princes. Finally, the bishop ac-


quired an extensive civil jurisdiction not only over his clergy but also over the laity of his diocese (\'iollet, Histoire des institutions politiques de la France, Paris, 1890, I, 380-409). Such an exalted position was not without its difficulties. One of the gravest was the interference of the lay authority in the election of bishops. Until the .sixth century, the clergy and the people elected the bishop on condition that the election should be approved by the neigh- bouring bishops. Undoubtedly, the Christian Roman emperors sometimes intervened in these elections, but outside the imperial cities only, and generally in the case of disagreement as to the proper person.

As a rule they contented themselves with exercising an influence on the electors. But from the beginning of the sixth centurj', this attitude was modified. In the East, the clergj- and the primates, or chief citizens, nominated three candidates from whom the metro- politan chose the bishop. At a later date, the bishops of the ecclesiastical province assumed the exclusive right of nominating the candidates. In the West, the kings intervened in these elections, notably in Spain and Gaul, and sometimes assumed the right of direct nomination (Funk, "Die Bischofswahl im clmstlichen Altertum und im Anfang des Mittelal- ters" in Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen und Untersuchungen", Paderborn, 1897, 1, 23-39; Imbart de la Tour, "Les elections ^piscopales dans I'ancienne France", Paris, 1890). This interference of princes and emperors lasted until the quarrel about Investi- tures, which was especially \-iolent in Germany, where from the ninth to the eleventh centuries abbots and bishops had become real temporal princes. (See Investiture.) The Second Lateran Council (1139) handed over to the chapter of the cathedral church the sole right of choosing the bishop, and this legisla- tion was sanctioned by the Decretals (Decretum Gratiani. P. I., Dist. Ixiii, ch. xxxv; ch. iii. De causa possessionis et proprietatis, X, II, xii; ch. liv, De electione et electi potestate, X, I, vi; Friedberg, Corpus Juris Canonici, Leipzig. 1879-81, I, 247, II, 9.5, 276). The bishops of the Middle Ages acquired much temporal power, but this was accompanied by a corresponding diminution of their spiritual au- thority. By the exercise of the prerogative of the primacy the Holy See reserved to itself all the most important affairs, the so-called causw majores, as for instance the canonization of saints (ch. i, De reliquiis, X, III, xlv; Friedberg, II, 6.50); the permission to venerate publicly newly discovered relies, the absolu- tion of certain grave sins, etc. Appeals to the pope against the judicial decisions of the bishops became more and more frequent. The religious orders and the chapters of cathedral and collegiate churches obtained exemption from episcopal authority. The cathedral chapter obtained a verj' considerable in- fluence in the administration of the diocese. The pope reserved al.so to himself the nomination to many ecclesiastical benefices (C. Lux. Constitutionum apostolicarum do generali beneficiorum reservatione collectio et interpretatio, Breslau, 1904). He also claimed the right to nominate the bishops, but in the German Concordat of 1448 he granted to the chapters the right of electing them, while in that of 1.516 he permitted the King of France to nominate the bishops of that nation. Subsequently the Covmcil of Trent defined the rights of the bishop and remedied the abuses which had slipped into the administration of dioceses and the conduct of bishops. The council granted them the exclusive right of publishing in- dulgences; it also impressed upon them the obligation of residence in their dioceses, the duty of receiving consecration within three months after their elevation to the epi.scop.ate, of erecting seminaries, of convoking annual diocesan synods, of assisting at provincial synods, and of visiting their dioceses. It also forbade them to cumulate benefices, etc. The same council