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So called because appointed by the Apostolic See for service in Rome. In 1570 Pius V instituted the Apostolic examiners to conduct examinations of candidates for orders and of confessors. These examiners, who are chosen by the pope take an oath in the presence of the cardinal vicar to discharge their duties faithfully. By virtue of a Constitution of Alexander VII, in 1662, the examination of those who would receive orders is held in the vicariate, or palace of the cardinal vicar, in the presence of at least three examiners. It is only after consultation with the pope that the cardinal vicar may dispense from the examination, except in case of tonsure, when he may allow candidates to be examined privately by one examiner. All, whether affiliated to the Diocese of Rome or not, must undergo this examination. Those who have been in Rome four months or more, and who intend to return to the Eternal City , must, under pain of suspension, be examined in the vicariate before receiving orders (not tonsure ) elsewhere. An exception is made in regard to the canons of the basilica of St. Peter , who are examined and promoted to orders by their cardinal archpriest. They must, however, have testimonial letters from the cardinal vicar . Even prelates of the Roman Curia must present themselves at the vicariate, but out of respect for their dignity they occupy seats among the examiners and examine one another.

As regards confessors they are not approved in Rome till they have passed a satisfactory examination before the Apostolic examiners. Although the cardinal vicar may dispense in this matter, the exercise of this prerogative is exceedingly rare. Generally, after a first and second test faculties to hear confessions are granted only for a limited time, while a third successful examination meets with unlimited approbation.


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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

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