( Latin confraternitas , confratria )
A confraternity or sodality is a voluntary association of the faithful, established and guided by competent ecclesiastical authority for the promotion of special works of Christian charity or piety. The name is sometimes applied to pious unions, but the latter differ from confraternities inasmuch as they need not be canonically erected and they regard rather the good of the neighbour than the personal sanctification of the members. Confraternities are divided into those properly so called and those to which the name has been extended. Both are erected by canonical authority, but the former have a more precise organization, with rights and duties regulated by ecclesiastical law, and their members often wear a peculiar costume and recite the Office in common. When a confraternity has received the authority to aggregate to itself sodalities erected in other localities and to communicate its advantages to them, it is called an archconfraternity.
Pious associations of laymen existed in very ancient times at Constantinople and Alexandria. In France, in the eighth and ninth centuries, the laws of the Carlovingians mention confraternities and guilds. But the first confraternity in the modern and proper sense of the word is said to have been founded at Paris by Bishop Odo who died in 1208. It was under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Various other congregations, as of the Gonfalon, of the Holy Trinity, of the Scapular, etc., were founded between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. From the latter century onwards, these pious associations have multiplied greatly. Indulgences are communicated to confraternities either directly by the pope or through the bishops, unless the association be aggregated to an archconfraternity (it may not be aggregated to more than one) through which it participates in the latter's privilege. If the aggregation be not made according to the prescribed formula, the Indulgences are not communicated. The directors of confraternities are appointed or approved by the bishop, or in the churches of regulars by the regular superior. Only after such appointment can the director apply the Indulgences to the objects which he blesses, and he cannot subdelegate this power without special faculty. The reception of members must be carried out by the appointed person. The observance of the rules is not binding in conscience nor does their neglect deprive a person of membership, though in the latter case the Indulgences would not be obtained. The loss of all its members for a short time does not dissolve a confraternity, and by the reception of new members the Indulgences may again be gained. The dissolution, translation, and visitation of confraternities belong to the ordinary. The canon law governing these associations is found in the Constitution of Clement VIII (7 Dec., 1604) with some modification made later by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online