Penitential Priests

Penitential Priests officers appointed in many ancient churches, when private confession was introduced, for the purpose of hearing confessions and imposing penances. The office originated in the time of the Decian persecution, and was abolished by Nectarins, bishop of Constantinople. The example of Nectarius was followed by all the bishops of the East, but the office was continued in the Western churches, chiefly at Rome. The Council of Lateran, A.D. 1215, ordered all bishops to have a penitentiary; and such a dignitary is still connected with most Romish cathedrals, whose duties, however, are quite different from those of the original penitentiary.

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