Dumbness The Apostolical Canons excommunicate any cleric who mocks the deaf, dumb, or blind. These three classes are excluded from the episcopate, not as defiled, but that the proceedings of the Church should not be hindered. The capacity of the dumb to receive the sacraments or accept a penance was the subject of some controversy. A whole work of Fulgentius is devoted to the question of the validity of the baptism of an Ethiop catechumen after the loss of his voice, and he concluded that it was entitled to the same validity as that of an infant. This view prevailed in the Church. Among other canonical authorities, the first Council of Orange, A.D. 441, enacted that a person suddenly losing his voice might be baptized or accept a penance, if his previous will thereto could be proved by the witness of others, or his actual will by his nod. So the second Council of Aries (A.D. 452) to the same effect as regards baptism. According to one of Ulpian's Fragments, the dumb could not be a witness nor make a testament. By a constitution of Justinian, A.D. 531, deaf mutes were declared incapable of making a will or codicil, or conferring a freedom, unless the infirmity should not be congenital, and they should have learned to write before it occurred, in which case they could exercise these rights by writing under, their own hand. The dumb were in all cases allowed to do so by such writing. It was, however, held by the old law that the dumb, as well as the deaf and blind, could lawfully contract marriage, and bec.ome subject to dotal obligations. Deaf mutes were held excused from civil honors, but not from civic charges. But the dumb might lawfully decline a guardianship or curatorship.

Definition of dumbness

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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