Presentation in ecclesiastical law, is,
I, in the state-established churches, one of those forms of canonic collation of the prebends by which the rights of the bishop are limited, inasmuch as he cannot himself nominate an occupant to the vacant office, but must be content with confirming the nominee of the patronus beneficii. The right of presentation is therefore the right of the patron to designate to the bishop the successor elected by him of a deceased beneficiary, the bishop being obliged to confirm the candidate if he be worthy, capable, and proposed according to canonical rules. This right of presentation is the first and most important of all patronal rights. The patron, in the exercise of his right, is bound by the general conditions of a canonical provision: he has to propose a capable and worthy person gratuitously, and within the legal limits of time. If the patronate be an ecclesiastical or a mixed one, the time is six months; if it be a worldly one, four months: yet there are departures from this rule. In Austria the patron must choose his nominee out of a list drawn up by the ordinariate: if he be at home, within six months; if he be abroad, within three months, from the day of the receipt of the list. In Prussia six months are allowed to the lay patron, as well as to the ecclesiastical patron, from the day of the vacation of the office; or, if the beneficiary die abroad, from the day on which the news of his death is received. In Baden the time is limited to three months, except in the case of insurmountable hindrances. If the right of presentation belong to several persons individually, they can agree upon a common choice, or designate each his own candidate, leaving the choice to the bishop; or the matter may be decided by the majority of the votes; and in case of an equality of votes in favor of each candidate, the decision may be left again to the bishop. The same rules obtain when the right of a patron has been transmitted to several heirs, in which case, of course, the heirs of one patron can give only one vote. If the right of presentation belong to a college or a juridical person, the case is settled by the statutes of the corporation; or if regulations on the subject be wanting, by a collegiate vote. In the remainder, the right of the patron is unlimited: he can propose his nearest relation, but not himself, although he could, "via gratiae," present a request for his own admission (gratiosam petere admissionem). He can submit several candidates to the choice of the bishop; if he be a layman, he can, so long as the legal term is not elapsed and the canonic collation has not taken place, propose successively several other names. This jus variandi is not allowed to an ecclesiastical patron. Here the first presentation, according to the principle "Tempore prior potior jure," makes null and void all subsequent nominations. If the legal term is passed without presentation, or if the presentation has not been made gratuitously, the nomination in that case is lost to the patron, and belongs exclusively to the collator. The same happens when an ecclesiastical patron wittingly proposes an unworthy subject, while the lay patron is allowed another presentation in the legal four months. But if the patron, whether layman or ecclesiastic, have unwittingly proposed an unworthy candidate, he obtains a new term of four or of six months. The Prussian law allows, after the expiration of the primitive term, only a supplementary term of six weeks. In Baden the patron, if his proposition have been rejected by the ordinariate, is allowed another presentation, to be made in the space of four weeks, and the same term is allowed him a second time, but not further. The presentation is made by letter, for which many ordinariates prescribe fixed formulas to the private patrons. The contests about the patronal rights are, according to decretal law, subject to the ecclesiastical courts; but modern legislation has almost everywhere added it to the competency of the worldly tribunals. If the patronal right itself be contested, the actual possessor has the "jus prasentandi," and the nomination resulting from the use he makes of it is not invalidated by his being afterwards defeated in the lawsuit. But if the right to hold the goods with which the patronate is connected should itself' be questioned, then the right of presentation is suspended, and the bishop in this case enjoys a free right of collation. The winner of the suit may then, to insure his privilege, confirm the nomination made by the bishop; but if he should refuse his consent, this can have no influence on the situation of the nominee. See Schulte, Kirchenrecht, p. 67 sq.; Rosshirt, Kanonisches Recht, p. 437 sq.; Pachmann, Kirchenrecht, 1, 268 sq.; Richter, Kirchenrecht, § 193; Gerlach, Das Prisentationsrecht (Regensb. 1855).
II. In the Established Church of Scotland the minister intended for a living by a patron must be presented to the presbytery for inquiry into his qualifications, and for induction if these are satisfactory. If the patron fail to present within six months, the right then devolves on the presbytery, tanquam jure devoluto. SEE JUS DEVOLUTUM. When a presentee was objected to by the major part of the congregation, whether with or without reason, the General Assembly of the Church formerly claimed the right to declare that he should not be inducted or entitled to the benefice. This declaration was contained in an act of Assembly, dated 1835, called the Veto Act. But after much litigation it was decided by the courts of law that such Veto Act was ultra vires and void; and this decision led to a secession of many ministers and people from the Established Church, and to the formation of a new dissenting Church, called the Free Church (q.v.). The law is now settled that it is the presbytery, and not the people, who are to judge of the reasonableness of any objections made to the presentee, for which purpose reasons and objections are heard on both sides, and a wide discretion is exercised by the presbytery. If the presbytery dismiss the objections, they then proceed to the trial and induction (q.v.) of the presentee. The following is the form of a Scotch presentation, and is a copy, indeed, of the one which led to the disputes and processes that ended in the disruption of the Scottish Church:
"The right honorable Thomas Robert Drummond Hay, earl of Kininoull, undoubted patron of the parish church and parish of Auchterarder, lying within the presbytery of Alchterarder and sheriffdom of Perth, considering that the said church and parish is now vacant and become at my gift and presentation by and through the death of the Rev. Charles Stewart, late minister of the Gospel at the said church of Auchterarder and I being sufficiently informed of the literature, loyalty, qualifications, good life and conversation of Mr. Robert Young, preacher of the Gospel, residing at Seetield Cottage, Dundee, do therefore, by these presents, nominate and present the said Robert Young to lie minister of the said parish and church of Auchterarder during all the days of his lifetime, giving, granting, and dispensing to him the constant, localled, and modified stipend, with the manse and glebe, and other profits and emoluments belonging to the said church, for the crop and year 1835, and during his lifetime, and his serving the cure of the said church, requiring hereby the reverend moderator and presbytery of Auchterarder to take trial of the qualifications, literature, good life, and conversation of the said Robert Young; and having found him fit and qualified for the function of the ministry at the said church of Auchterarder, to admit and receive him thereto, and give him his act of ordination and admission in due and competent form, recommending hereby to the lords of council and session, upon sight of this presentation and the said presbytery's act of ordination and admission, to grant letters of holming, on a simple charge of two days only, and other executorials necessary at the instance of the said Robert Young, against all and sundry the heritors, life-renters, felars, tacksmen, tenants, possessors, and occupiers of lauds within the said parish, subject and liable in payment of the said localled and modified stipend, for causing the said Robert Young, and others in his name, be readily answered and paid thereof in such due and competent form as effeirs. And I consent to the registration thereof in the Books of council and session, or others competent, therein to remain for preservation: and for that effect I constitute my procurators. In witness whereof, etc., (signed) Drummond Kinnoul. R. A. Yates, witness. Thomas Neatham, witness."