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POLITICAL, CONSTITUTIONAL, STATISTICAL
A WORK OF UNIVERSAL REFERENCE
on subjects or
CIVIL ADMINISTRATION, POLITICAL ECONOMY, FINANCE,
CATHEDRAL. Certain churches are called cathedrals or cathedral churches, in consequence of having a seat of dignity (cathedra, a Greek term for such a seat) appropriated to a bishop or archbishop. Thus there is the cathedral church of Canterbury, the cathedral church of Norwich, &c. The collegiate churches of Manchester and Ripon were constituted cathedral churches of the new sees of Manchester and Ripon by 6 & 7 Wm. IV.c. 77, the act under which these sees were created. CATHOLIC CHURCH (Roman). Although in ordinary language this name is often used to designate the ruling authority or power in the Catholic religion, as if distinct from the members of that communion, yet the definition which Catholics give of the church is such as to comprehend the entire body of its members as well as its rulers, the flock as much as the shepherds. Thus we hear of Catholics being under the dominion of their church, or obliged to obey it, as though it were something distinct from themselves, or as if they were not a part of their church. This preliminary remark is made to explain a certain vagueness of expression, which often leads to misapprehension, and serves as the basis of incorrect ideas regarding the peculiar doctrines of that church. The Catholic church therefore is defined to be the community of the faithful united to their lawful pastors, in communion with the see of Rome, or with the pope, the successor of St. Peter and vicar of Christ on earth. Simply developing the terms, of this definition, we will give a brief sketch of the constitution or fundamental system of this church under the heads of its government, its laws, and its vital or constitutive principle. I. The government of the Catholic church may be considered monarchical, inasmuch as the pope is the ruler over the entire church, and the most distant bishop of the Catholic church holds his appointment from him, and receives from him his authority. No bishop can be considered lawfully consecrated without his approbation. The dignity or office of pope is inherent in the occupant of the see of Rome, because the supremacy over
the church is believed to be held in virtue of a commission given to St. Peter, not as his own personal prerogative, but as a part of the constitution of the church, for its advantage, and therefore intended to descend to his successors; as the epis
copal power did from the apostles to
those who succeeded them in their respective sees. The election of the pope, therefore, devolves upon the clergy of Rome, as being their bishop; and it is confided to the college of cardinals, who, bearing the titles of the eldest churches in that city, represent its clergy, and form their chapter or electoral body. The meeting or chapter formed for this purpose alone is called a conclave. The cardinals are appointed by the pope, and compose the executive council of the church. They preside over the various departments of ecclesiastical government, and are divided into boards or congregations, as they are called, for the transaction of business from all parts of the world; but every decision is subject to the pope's revision, and has no value except from his approbation. On some occasions they are all summoned to meet the pope on affairs of higher importance, as for the nomination of bishops, or the admission of new members into their body; and then the assembly is called a consistory. The full number of cardinals is seventy, but there are always some hats left vacant. The Catholic church, being essentially episcopal, is governed by bishops, who are of two sorts, bishops in ordinary, and vicars apostolic. By the first are meant titular bishops, or such as bear the name of the see over which they rule; as the Archbishop of Paris, or of Dublin; the Bishop of Cambray, or of New Orleans. The manner of appointing such bishops varies considerably. When they are unshackled by the government, the clergy of the diocese meet in chapter, according to old forms, and having selected three names, forward them to the Holy See, where one is chosen for promotion. This is the case in Ireland, Belgium, and perhaps in the free states of America." In most countries however the election of bishops is regulated by concordat, that is, a special agreement between the pope and the civil government. The presentation is generally vested in the crown; but the appointment must proceed from the pope. The powers of bishops, and the manner of exercising their authority, are regulated by the canon law; their jurisdiction on every point is clear and definite, and leaves no room for arbitrary enactments or oppressive measures. Yet it is of such a character as, generally considered, can perfectly control the inferior orders of clergy, and secure them to the discharge of their duty. In most Catholic countries there is a certain degree of civil jurisdiction allowed to the bishops, with judicial powers, in matters of a mixed character; as in cases appertaining to marriages, where a distinction between civil and ecclesiastical marriage has not been drawn by the legislature. Some offences connected with religion, as blasphemy or domestic immorality, are likewise brought under their cognizance. Where the succession of the Catholic hierarchy has been interrupted, as in England, or never been established, the bishops who superintend the Catholic church and represent the papal authority are known by the name of vicars apostolic. A vicar apostolic is not necessarily a bishop—an instance of which we had a few years ago at Calcutta—where the vicar apostolic was a simple priest. Generally, however, he receives episcopal consecration; and, as from local circumstances, it is not thought expedient that he should bear the title of the see which he administers, he is appointed with the title of an ancient bishopric now in the hands of infidels, and thus is called a bishop in partibus insidelium, though the last word is often omitted in ordinary language. A vicar apostolic, being generally situated where the provisions of the canc., law cannot be fully observed, is guided by particular instructions, by precedents and consuetude, to which all the uniformity of discipline through the Catholic church gives . and security. Thus the vicars apostolic, who rule over the four episcopal districts of England, have their code in the admirable constitution of Pope Benedict XIV., beginning with the words Apostolicum ministerium. The powers of
a vicar apostolic are necessarily more extended than those of ordinary bishops, and are ampler in proportion to the difficulty of keeping up a close communication with loome. Thus many cases of dispensation in marriage which a continental bishop must send to the Holy See may be provided for by an English or American vicar apostolic; and other similar matters, for which these must consult it, could at once be granted by the ecclesiastical superiors of the Mauritius or of China. The nomination of vicars apostolic is solely with the pope. The inferior clergy, considered in reference to the government of the church, consists mainly of the parochial clergy, or those who supply their place. In all countries possessing a hierarchy, the country is divided into parishes, each provided with a parochus or curate,” who corresponds to the rector or vicar of the English established church. The appointment to a parish is vested in the bishop, who has no power to remove again at will, or for any cause except a canonical offence juridically proved. The right of presentation by lay patrons is, however, in particular instances fully respected. In Italy the parish priests are generally chosen by competition: upon a vacancy, a day is appointed on which the testimonials of the different candidates are compared, and they are examined before the bishop in theology, the exposition of scripture, and extemporaneous preaching; and whoever is pronounced, by ballot, superior to the rest, is chosen. Under an apostolic vicariate, the clergy corresponding to the parochial clergy generally bear the title of apostolic missionaries, and have missions or local districts with variable limits placed under their care; but are dependent upon the will of their ecclesiastical superiors. Besides the parochial clergy, there is a considerable body of ecclesiastics, who do not enter directly into the governing part of the church, although they help to discharge some of its most important functions. A great number of secular clergy are devoted to the conduct of education, either in universities or seminaries; many occupy themselves exclusively with the pulpit, others with instructing the poor, or attending charitable institutions. A certain number also fill prebends, or attend to the daily service of cathedrals, &c.; for in the Catholic church pluralities, where the cure of souls exists, are strictly prohibited, and consequently a distinct body of clergy from those engaged in parochial duties, or holding rectories, &c., is necessary for those duties. Besides this auxiliary force, the regular clergy, or monastic orders, take upon them many of these functions. The clergy of the Catholic church in the west are bound by a vow of celibacy, not formally made, but implied in their ordination as sub-deacons. This obligation of celibacy is only reckoned among the disciplinary enactments of the church. The clergy of that portion of the Greek and Armenian church which is united in communion with the see of Rome may be married: that is, may receive orders if married, but are not allowed to marry after having taken orders. A similar discipline, if thought expedient by the church, might be introduced into the West.
* The parish priest in Ireland corresponds to the cure in France, the curato (or, in the country, arciprete) of Italy, and the cura of Spain. The curate in Ireland, as in the church of England, is equivalent to the vicaire of France and the sottocurato of Italy.
The only point concerning the government of the Catholic church which remains to be mentioned is the manner in which it is exercised. The most solemn tribunal is a general council, that is, an assembly of all the bishops of the church, who may attend either in person or by deputy, under the presidency of the pope or his legates. When once a decree has passed such an assembly, and received the approbation of the Holy See, there is no further appeal. Distinction must be, however, made between doctrinal and disciplinary decrees; for example, when in the Council of Trent it was decreed to be the doctrine of the church that marriage -s indissoluble, this decree is considered binding in the belief and on the conduct, nor can its acceptance be refused by any one without his being considered rebellious to the church. But when it is ordered that marriages must be celebrated
only in presence of the parish priest, this is a matter of discipline not supposed to rest on the revelation of God, but dictated by prudence; and consequently a degree of toleration is allowed regarding the adoption of the resolution in particular dioceses. It is only with regard to such decrees, and more specifically the one we have mentioned, that the Council of Trent is said to have been received, or not, in different countries. When a general council cannot be summoned, or when it is not deemed necessary, the general government of the church is conducted by the pope, whose decisions in matters of discipline are considered paramount, though particular sees and countries claim certain special privileges and exemptions. In matters of faith it is admitted that if he issue a decree, as it is called, er cathedral, or as head of the church, and all the bishops accept it, such a definition or decree is binding and final.” The discipline or reformation of smaller divisions is performed by provincial or diocesan synods. The first consist of the bishops of a province under their metropolitan; the latter, of the parochial and other clergy under the superintendence of the bishop. The forms to be observed in such assemblies, the subjects which may be discussed, and the extent of jurisdiction which may be assumed, are laid down at full in a beautiful work of the learned Benedict XIV., entitled “De Synodo Dioecesana.’ The acts and decrees of many such partial synods have been published, and are held in high esteem among Catholics; indeed, they may be recommended as beautiful specimens of deliberative wisdom. Such are the decrees of the various synods held at Milan under the virtuous and amiable St. Charles Borromeo. II. The laws of the Catholic church
* The great difference between the Transalpine and the Cisalpine divines, as they are termed. is whether such a decree has its force prior to, or independent of, the accession of the body of bishops to it, or receives its sanction and binding power from their acceptance. Practically there is little or no difference between the two opinions; yet this slight variety forms a principal groundwork of what are called the liberties of the Gallican church.