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Without troubling about particulars, we may dismiss the extreme view on general grounds. It is tantamount to saying that, since the days of Adam, the vast majority of the human race have probably been buried alive. It gives us the uneasy feeling that, if we want to be buried as we used to think our fathers were, we must insist on being burned to a cinder, or must go out to No Man's Land and lie there for a week after getting shot-or do something else equally gruesome. All these weird things may possibly be true, but we must have more evidence than medical science has given us yet before we allow our sleep to be troubled.
In the case stated by 'Vexatus,' the probability of life was, therefore, rather slender. And, to make matters worse, there was another probability to face. Many theologians, following the lead of St. Alphonsus,1 maintain that the sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction cannot be administered to heretics in such circumstances, owing to the absence of the requisite intention2: and most of us know of Protestants who, if they regained consciousness for a moment, would be most emphatic in rejecting the help of any Catholic minister. But there are Protestants and Protestants. And so other theologians have taken a milder view, claiming that, whatever the explicit intention of the dying man, his general purpose of leading a Christian life would implicitly involve all that was necessary, especially if he knew of the sacrament or if a similar rite was practised in his own Church. The matter is one to be decided largely by the circumstances of the individual case. In the instance cited by 'Vexatus' they are all favourable; the so-called jocular remarks very likely covered a serious purpose.4
But, all the same, it must be granted that the validity of the sacraments in the case depends on two probabilities, and that the net probability is, therefore, very much diminished. Even if we grant that under each head the probabilities are equally divided-representing a chance of one in two-the resulting net probability is only one in four. If-as seems nearer the truth-we represent them as one in ten and one in two, respectively, the probability that the sacraments were validly received is only one in twenty--not enough to make us very enthusiastic.
We would, therefore, say that the priest was justified in acting as he did, but was not obliged. We would hold the same-but with less confidence-in regard to allowing Catholic burial. The laws of the Church against granting it to heretics, etc., have, especially in latter times, been very strictly' interpreted; and prominent authorities maintain that it may be allowed when heretics, who have lost command of their faculties, have been probably reconciled to the Church by the reception of the
1 vi. 483.
2 See the manuals passim.
3 D'Annibale, iii. 317; Génicot, ii. 298, etc.
4 So far as the intention is concerned, the probability in favour of baptism is greater than in the case of the other two sacraments. But that same probability is, in its turn, diminished by the fact that baptism has likely been conferred already.
Sacraments in the manner stated.1 But there are so many doubts and difficulties in the case that, if another instance of the kind occurs, we would strongly advise 'Vexatus' to follow the recommendations of Canon Law and consult his Ordinary in regard to the funeral arrangements. M. J. O'DONNELL.
COMMUNICATION OR SUB-DELEGATION OF FACULTIES REV. DEAR SIR,-I. Would you kindly let me know what is the precise meaning of the words, in qualibet civitate et oppido insigni in the clause of the Formula VI: Communicandi praedictas facultates duobus sacerdotibus tantum in qualibet civitate et oppido insigni' (n. 24). Im virtue of this clause, may these faculties be communicated to the pastor of a rural parish? In the diocese to which I am attached I know that a practice of this kind exists. Is this practice legitimate?
II. Are faculties granted outside the Formula VI in the same position in regard to communication or sub-delegation, as those contained in the Formula itself?
I. Rome has given at least two authentic interpretations of these words. One was to the Archbishop of Armagh, in 1832. It declares that, in the concession of faculties, the splendour and dignity of towns was not so much considered as the necessity and utility of the Catholic people. 'Wherever, therefore,' it continues, the Catholic people, in the rural districts about which your Grace speaks, are of such a kind and so numerous, the faculties can be sub-delegated to the priests who dwell there, even though the title, insignia oppida, cannot be given to these districts.'3
The Bishop of Kildare was the recipient of the second interpretation, in 1860. This prelate explained that he communicated all the faculties of the Formula VI to his Vicar-General, and part of them to the VicarsForane and to two or three other priests remarkable for their learning and piety, as the good of the faithful and religion seemed to him to demand, even though the Vicars or the other priests did not live in places which, from the number of the inhabitants, could be called oppida insignia. The Holy See approved of the Bishop's practice and left the matter entirely to his prudence.
1 Génicot, ii. n. 627; Gury, Casus, ii. p. 191,
2 Cf. New Code, c. 1240, § 2.
3'Ubi igitur talis ac tanta sit populi catholici copia commorantis in ruralibus districtibus de quibus A. T. loquitur, poterunt sacerdotibus ibi degentibus facultates subdelegari, licet iis districtibus non conveniat titulus insignum oppidorum.'-Coll. de Prop. Fide, n. 153.
4Facultates omnes quas vi concessionis Formulae VI communicare valeo, nostro Vicario Generali impertiebar, et ex his facultatibus quasdam Vicariis Foraneis et aliis duobus ac tribus sacerdotibus scientia ac pietate conspicuis
From these replies it follows that a Bishop may communicate the faculties of the Formula VI to priests living in rural districts, if he considers that it is for the good of religion or the faithful to do so. Not more than two priests, however, should be sub-delegated in any district. The practice, therefore, which prevails in our correspondent's diocese, is quite legitimate.
It may not be inopportune to state here that there are certain of the faculties of the Formula VI in regard to which the Irish Bishops possess more extensive powers of sub-delegation. Thus, in virtue of a Rescript of the Propaganda given in 1895, they may sub-delegate to suitable priests of their dioceses' the power of absolving from secret heresy contained in the first article of the Formula.1
Similarly, they may sub-delegate to every priest, even though not subject to them,' all or any of the faculties which they have received for the internal forum. This concession was first made in 1901, but only for a period of ten years; it was renewed for a similar period in
II. If the same clause, Communicandi praedictas facultates,' etc., is attached to faculties granted outside the Formula VI, then, of course, they are in the same position as the faculties of the Formula so far as communication or sub-delegation is concerned. If a different clause is added, then its terms must be adhered to. If the faculties contain no reference to communication or sub-delegation, previous to 1898, there was considerable doubt regarding a Bishop's power in this matter. Some writers, e.g., Putzer 3 and Rosset, held that a Bishop was incapable of sub-delegating. They urged that the frequent express concessions of this power, in a greater or lesser degree, by the Holy See, implied that a Bishop did not possess this power, unless it was expressly mentioned in the indult. The more general teaching, however, was that the Bishop, being a delegatis principis in the technical sense, could sub-delegate." All doubts were set at rest by a reply of the Holy Office, in December, 1898, which confirmed this latter view. The Congregation was asked whether a Bishop of a diocese can, without a special concession, subdelegate to his Vicars-General or other ecclesiastics in a general way, or at least for a particular occasion, faculties granted to him temporarily by the Holy See?' Their answer was in the affirmative, provided that it is not forbidden in the faculties, or that the right of sub-delegating is not restricted to certain persons only; for in this latter case the form
communicamus, prout bonum fidelium ac religionis postulare videtur, sive Vicarii et alii sacerdotes laudati degant in oppido quod ex numero incolarum dici possit insigne sive non,' etc.
R. SSmus. sententiam Episcopi ac praxim approbavit ac ejus prudenti judicio eumdem remisit.'-Coll. de Prop. Fide, n. 155.
1 See Appendix to Maynooth Statutes, p. 151.
2 Ibid. p. 154.
3 Commentarium in Fac. Ap., p. 40.
4 De Matrimonio, n. 2502.
* Vide Wernz, De Matrimonio, n. 621, nota 104. VOL. X-35
of the rescript must be observed to the letter.' Whenever, therefore, faculties granted by the Holy See make no reference to this matter, a Bishop may sub-delegate them to priests or other ecclesiastics either in a general way or for a particular case.
COMPULSORY RESIGNATION OF A PARISH. MEANING OF THE WORDS 'VERE SUSPENSUS'
REV. DEAR SIR,-Answers to the following queries would much oblige.
I. A resigned his parish through moral compulsion. He has again and again asked his Bishop to state specifically the nature and extent of his ecclesiastical disabilities, but can get neither information nor a reply from him. (1) Has A a right to enlightenment on his difficulties? (2) What are the laws, if any, that might impose an obligation on his Bishop to do so?
II. In a Roman document the words vere suspensus occur. (1) What is the correct canonical interpreation of the words? (2) Do the words imply a censure in the strict sense; or might the words mean merely a penal suspension ?
III. A, on the resignation of his parish, signed a document of whose contents he is at this moment absolutely ignorant. Is A's Bishop when asked by him bound to supply a copy?
I. As far as we can make out 'Reader's' first difficulty from his query, is this: A has resigned his parish through moral compulsion, and does not know what ecclesiastical disabilities arise therefrom. He asks, therefore, whether A's Bishop is bound to enlighten him on the point. If such is his difficulty, then, our answer is in the negative. The disabilities, if any, which arise from such acts as resignation, privation, etc., are specified in Canon Law; and, needless to say, priests are supposed, from their college training and from their own private study afterwards, to have a general acquaintance with this subject, especially with that portion of it which has a bearing upon the particular position which they occupy. As a matter of fact, the disabilities arising from the resignation of a parish, even though it be made under moral compulsion, are practically nil. If the moral compulsion is just, the parish priest, indeed, loses all right to his parish, both to its pastoral charge and to its temporalities; but, otherwise, he remains unaffected. So far, indeed, as the mere resignation is concerned, he may be again appointed to another or even to the same parish.
We suspect that our correspondent's difficulty is not quite so simple as this; but, if so, he has not expressed himself fully in this first query. 1 An possit Episcopus dioecesanus sub-delegare absque speciali concessione suis Vicariis Generalibus aut aliis ecclesiasticis generali modo vel saltem pro casu particulari, facultates ab Apostolica Sede sibi ad tempus delegatus ?
Affirmative, dummodo id in facultatibus non prohibeatur, neque ɛubdelegandi jus pro aliquibus tantum coarctetur; in hoc enim casu servanda erit ad amussim forma rescripti.'
II. 1°. Where the words vere suspensus are used without any limiting clause, they imply complete suspension, that is to say, suspension from the exercise of all Orders, from the exercise of all jurisdiction, and from the administration and enjoyment of the temporalities of benefices. Vere indicates that the suspension is not a mere precautionary administrative measure, but a real punishment, either medicinal or vindicatory.
2o. The words vere suspensus may imply either a censure in the strict sense or a penal suspension in accordance with circumstances. If suspension is inflicted in perpetuity, for a definite time, or ad beneplacitum infligentis, it is regarded as penal. The same is also true, if it is inflicted for a crime which is altogether past, or if no mention is made of the crime, or if the canonical warnings, in so far as they are required by Canon Law, have not been given. Otherwise, it is a censure, in the strict sense. Our correspondent will have no difficulty in applying this teaching to the document in question and in thus determining for himself the precise implication of vere suspensus.
III. We suspect that this final query is merely a more definite form of the first. It seems that not only has A resigned his parish through moral compulsion, but that also, at his resignation, he signed a document, of the contents of which he is now ignorant, and as a result of which certain ecclesiastical disabilities may have arisen. He, therefore, desires to know whether his Bishop is bound to furnish him with a copy of this document, and, so, make him acquainted with his ecclesiastical status.
So far as we can find out, under the existing discipline, there is no regulation of positive law upon the point. We think, however, that it is in accordance with the principles of natural equity that a copy of the document should be given to the parish priest. As his conduct must be, to a considerable extent, regulated by its contents, it is of the utmost importance for him to have at hand a copy by which he may know what precisely his rights and obligations are. Other means, indeed, may be conceived by which he may acquire the necessary information; but this is the most natural and most effective. Besides the onus which the concession of a copy imposes upon the Bishop or his Chancellor is a very slight one. We are further confirmed in this view by the new Code, which has a positive provision to this very effect. It is contained in the first section of canon 384: Documenta quae in paroeciarum et Curiarum archivis sub secreto servanda non sunt, fit cuilibet cujus intersit inspiciendi potestas, itemque postulandi ut sua impensa sibi legitimum eorum exemplar exscribatur et tradatur.'
MASS PRO POPULO' ON SUPPRESSED FEASTS UNDER THE NEW CODE
REV. DEAR SIR,-Kindly state in your next issue of the I. E. RECORD if the new Code of Canon Law has made any change in reference to the obligation on parish priests of saying a Missa pro populo on the festa abrogata. There are twenty-six such feasts, and I am bound to a Missa pro populo on each of them. In some dioceses, I believe, the