Libel is the technical name of the document which contains the accusation framed against a minister before ecclesiastical courts. SEE FAMA CLAMOSA. In England, libel, in the ecclesiastical courts, is the name given to the formal written statement of the complainant's ground of complaint against the defendant. It is the first stage in the pleadings after the defendant has been cited to appear. The defendant is entitled to a copy of it, and must answer the allegations contained in it upon oath. In Scotland, the libel is a document drawn up, as usual, in the form of a syllogism, the major proposition stating the name and nature of the crime, as condemned by the Word of God and the laws of the Church; the minor proposition averring that the party accused is guilty, specifying facts, dates, and places; and then follows the conclusion deducing the justice of the sentence, if the accusation should be proven. By the term relevancy is meant whether the charge is one really deserving censure, or whether the facts alleged, if proved, would afford sufficient evidence of the charge. A list of witnesses is appended to the copy of the libel served in due time and form on the person accused. One of the forms is as follows: "Unto the Reverend the Moderator and Remanent Members of the —— Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church, The Complaint of A and B, a committee appointed to prosecute the matter after-mentioned (or of Mr. A.B., merchant in ——, a member of said Church); Sheweth, That the Reverend C.D., minister of the —— Congregation of ——, has been guilty of the sin of (here state the denomination of the offense, such as "drunkenness," "fornication," or such like). In so far as, upon the —— day of ——, 1800, or about that time, and within the house of ——, situated in —— street, ——, he, the said C.D. (here the circumstances attending the offense charged are described, as, for example, "did drink whiskey or some other spirituous liquor to excess, whereby he became intoxicated"), to the great scandal of religion and disgrace of his sacred profession; may it therefore please your reverend court to appoint service of this libel to be made on the said Reverend C.D., and him to appear before you to answer to the same; and on his admitting the charge, or on the same being proved against him, to visit him with such censure as the Word of God and the rules and discipline of the Church in such cases prescribe, in order that he and all others may be deterred from committing the like offenses in all time coming, or to do otherwise in the premises as to you may appear expedient and proper. According to justice, etc. List of witnesses." — Eadie, Eccles. Dict. s.v.

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