Faculties

Faculties a term of the Roman Catholic Church lay, designating certain rights as to ecclesiastical functions which an ecclesiastical superior confers upon subordintes., The most important faculties are those conferred by the popes upon bishops, especially with regard to dispensations. The first instances of such dispensations being given to foreign missionaries occur in the 13th century. Subsequently, especially since the 16th century, very extensive faculties were granted to the papal nuncios. As the Council of Trent reserved many dispensations which in former times had been granted by the bishops to the pope, and as many bishops regarded the Jurisdiction exercised by the nuncios as injurious to their authority, they applied to the pope for special faculties with regard to a number of dispensations. These faculties were generally granted for a term of five years (facultates quinquennales). An effort made in the 18th century by some of the German archbishops to reassert their own authority in the cases covered by the papal faculties was unsuccessful, SEE EMS, CONGRESS OF, and the facultates quinquennales are still conferred upon the bishops by the pope. Besides this general class of faculties, which contains twenty different provisions, many special faculties are conferred upon bishops in particular cases. The bishops, in their turn, confer faculties upon the vicars-general, deans, and common priests of their dioceses, either delegating to them rights which properly belong to bishops, or subdelegating papal rights which they have been specially authorized to subdelegate. — Herzog, Real-Encklop. 4:315; Wetzer und Welte, Kirch.-Lax. 4:879. (A.J.S.)

 
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