Conference, Roman Catholic

Conference, Roman Catholic, a meeting of priests for the discussion of religious and ecclesiastical topics. They are either convoked by the bishop of the diocese, or are held by priests of their own accord. Conferences are not mentioned before the 11th century. They seem to have had their origin in the large extent of the dioceses, which made the regular meetings of all the clergy of a diocese difficult. They consequently met in deaneries and archipresbyteries, under the presidence of the dean and archpriest. They were called Calendae because they were held on the first day of the month, or Chapters, Consistories, Synods, Sessions. They were common until the middle of the 13th century, when they fell into disuse. In the 16th century cardinal Charles Borromeo gave special regulations on these conferences, and:ordered them to be held regularly. The same order was given by a number of French provincial synods. In 1720 they were declared by the congregation of the Council of Trent to be a proper substitute for diocesan synods. They have, however, never been in general use. Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 2:766.

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