Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

( Latin cura animarum ), technically, the exercise of a clerical office involving the instruction, by sermons and admonitions, and the sanctification, through the sacraments, of the faithful in a determined district, by a person legitimately a ppointed for the purpose. Those specially having cure of souls are the pope for the entire Church the bishops in their dioceses, and the parish priests in their respective parishes. Others may likewise have part in the cure of souls in subordination to these. Thus in missionary countries where espiscopal sees have not yet been erected, those who labour for the salvation of souls are in a special manner sharers of the particular responsibility of the Vicar of Christ for those regions. In like manner, a parish priest may have curates who attend to the wants of a particular portion of the parish, subordinate to himself. The object of the cure of souls is the salvation of men, and hence it is a continuation of Christ's mission on earth. As the Reedeemer established a church which was to govern, teach, and sanctify the world, it necessarily follows that those who are to assist in the work of the Church must obtain their mission from her alone. "How shall they preach, unless they be sent?" ( Romans 10:15 ).

The canonical mission of a priest is derived from the Apostolic succession in the Church. This succession is twofold: Holy orders and authority. The first is perpetuated by means of bishops ; the latter by the living magistracy of the Church, of which the head is the pope, who is the source of jurisdiction. Both elements enter into the mission of him who has cure of souls: Holy orders, that he may offer sacrifice and administer the sacraments, which are the ordinary channels of sanctification employe d by the Holy Ghost ; and jurisdiction, that he may teach correct doctrine, free his subjects from sins and censures, and govern them in accordance with the canons of the Church. The power of Holy orders is radically common to all priests by virtue of the ir valid oridination, but the power of jurisdiction is ordinary only in pope, bishops, and parish priests, and extraordinary or delegated in others. It is plain, then, that while valid orders may exsist outside the Catholic Church, jurisdiction cannot, as its source is the Vicar of Christ and it is possessed only so far as he confers it or does not limit it. The duties of those who have cure of souls are all carefully defined in the sacred cannons. (see Pope ; Bishop ; Parish Priest.)

We have here touched only upon what is common to the idea of a pastor of the faithful. It is plain that the closer the bond exsisting between the subordinate members of the hierarchy and their superiors, and between pastors and their people, the more ef fective will be the work done for the salvation of souls. If the pastor be earnest in preaching and admonishing, unremitting in the tribunal of penance and visitaion of the sick, charitable to the poor, kind yet firm in his dealings with all the members of his flock, observant of the regulations of the Church as to his office and particularly that of dwelling among his people (see Residence, Ecclesiastical), that he may know them and bring them succour at all times; and if, on the other hand, the people be truly desirous for their own salvation, obedient towards their pastor, zealous to obtain and employ the means of sanctification, and mindful of their obligations as members of a parish to enable their pastor to institute and improve the parochial insti tutions necessary for the proper furtherance of the object of the Church, we shall have the true idea of the cure of souls as intended by Christ and as legislated for in the canons of His Church.


More Encyclopedia

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.

Catholic Encyclopedia

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.

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

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
14 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 23rd, 2014 Image

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter