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Exemption is the whole or partial release of an ecclesiastical person, corporation, or institution from the authority of the ecclesiastical superior next higher in rank, and the placing of the person or body thus released under the control of the authority next above the former superior, or under a still higher one, or under the highest authority of all, the pope.
Originally, according to canon law, all the subjects of a diocese, and all diocesan institutions, were under the authority of the bishop. On account of the oppressive manner in which bishops at times treated the monasteries, these were soon taken under the protection of synods, princes, and popes. The papal protection often developed later into exemption from episcopal authority. The first privilege of this kind was given by Pope Honorius I, in 628, to the old Irish monastery of Bobbio, in Upper Italy (Jaffé, Regesta Pont. Rom., no. 2017). Since the eleventh century, papal activity in the matter of reforms has been a frequent source or occasion of exemptions; in this way the monks became more closely bound to the popes, as against the bishops, many of whom were often inimical to the papal power. It thus came to pass that not only individual monasteries, but also entire orders, obtained exemption from the authority of the local ordinary. Moreover, from the reign of Urban II , the broadly general "protection" of the Holy See ( libertas Romana ), which many monasteries enjoyed, came to be regarded as exemption from the authority of the bishop. From the twelfth century, it may be said the exemption of orders and monasteries became the rule. Exemptions were also granted to cathedral chapters, collegiate chapters, parishes. communities, ecclesiastical institutions, and single individuals. Under these circumstances the diocesan administration of the bishops was frequently crippled (Trent, Sess. XXIV, De ref. c. xi); consequently the bishops complained of such exemptions, while, on the other hand, the parties exempted were wont to accuse the bishops of violating acquired privileges. The Council of Trent sought to correct the abuses of exemption by placing the exempt, in many regards, under the ordinary jurisdiction of the bishops, or at least under the bishops as papal delegates. This provision of the council was never fully executed, owing to the frequent opposition of the monasteries. About the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, many monasteries were suppressed by the process known as secularization, in part accepted by the Holy See. In some countries more recent civil legislation does not permit exemption.
Exemption, as a rule, arises when the privilege is granted by competent authority ( exemptio dativa ). It can also rest on immemorial use ( exemptio pr scriptiva ). Finally exemption can be original ( exemptio nativa ), when the respective church or monastery has always been free and distinct from the later diocesan organization. The claimant of exemption must prove the fact.
Another kind of exemption applies to bishops, when released from the authority of the metropolitan, either at their own request or as a gracious act on the part of the Apostolic See, under whose direct control they are then placed. However, to prevent injury to the Church, the bishops, thus made independent of their proper metropolitans, are obliged to attend the synods of the province for which they have opted. Bishops who had not connected themselves with an provincial synod were summoned, by Benedict XII, to attend the Roman one of 1725. Exemption also frequently occurs in connexion with the system of military chaplaincies. In Austria, since 1720, the "Feldbischof" (army bishop ), nominated by the emperor, is exempt. In Prussia, since 1868, the "Feldprovost" or army provost, is appointed by the pope after nomination by the German emperor. In France military chaplains who serve permanent garrisons remote from a parish church are exempt. In Spain and elsewhere vicarii castrenses generales , i.e. army vicars-general, are appointed.
As applied to monasteries and churches, exemption is known as passiva or activa . In the former case the jurisdiction of the monastic or ecclesiastical prelate is confined to the ecciesiastics and laity belonging to his monastery or church. On the other hand, prelates health, he began a tour of his diocese to collect, and succeeded in raising some hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few years, so that when he died (May, 1886) the new cathedral was almost completed without any debt encumbering it. It was during his episcopate that the French CanadianCatholics began to come to the diocese in considerable numbers, first to Woonsocket and then to the various mill towns along the little streams of the Blackstone and the Pawtuxet, and above all to Fall River. The bishop, engrossed with other things, did not realize apparently the magnitude of the problem, and his attempts to deal with it were not infrequently a cause of anxiety and pain to himself and others.
Rt. Rev. Matthew Harkins succeeded Bishop Hendricken after an interval of eleven months. Born in Boston 17 Nov., 1845, educated at the Boston Latin School, Holy Cross College, and Douai College in France, he made his theological studies at Saint Sulpice (Paris), where he was ordained in 1869. The Vatican Council took place while he was continuing his studies in Rome. Made pastor of Arlington in 1876, he was transferred to St. James' parish, Boston, in 1884, in succession to Bishop Healy of Portland and Archbishop Williams of Boston, its former pastors. On the 14 April, 1887, Bishop Harkins was consecrated in the new (uncompleted) Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in xxyyyk.htm">Providence which had first been opened a year before for the obsequies of his predecessor. A man of wide reading, acute mind, and judicial temperament, a lover of order and method, he has devoted himself to the task of organizing his diocese. He has particularly made his own the diocesan charities. The orphan asylum begun in 1851, transferred in 1862, had always obtained a precarious income from fairs and donations, and for these he substituted parochial assessments. Through the generosity of Joseph Banigan the Home for the Aged in Pawtucket was built in 1881. Mr. Banigan also built the large St. Maria Working Girls' Home in xxyyyk.htm">Providence in 1894 at a cost of $80,000, and either gave in his lifetime or left by will (1897) sums of $25,000 or more to nearly every diocesan charity. St. Joseph's Hospital was begun in 1891 and the St. Vincent de Paul Infant Asylum in the following year; the Working Boys' Home began in 1897, the House of the Good Shepherd in 1904, Nazareth Home (a day-nursery, that also supplies nurses in the homes of the poor ) in 1906. In Woonsocket and Newport and other parts of the diocese similar charitable institutions have been erected at the suggestion and advice of Bishop Harkins. Almost twenty parishes out of a total of seventy-nine are exclusively French Canadian, while there are a few small parishes of mixed French and English-speaking Catholics. In the last fifteen years (1911) the Italians have come to xxyyyk.htm">Providence and the vicinity in large numbers, so that now there are perhaps between thirty and forty thousand of them in the diocese. Two churches for the Italians were dedicated in xxyyyk.htm">Providence in 1910 and other smaller parishes provide for their needs in the outlying districts. The four colonies of Poles have four Polish parishes, while the Portuguese have one in Providence. One Syrian parish in Central Falls ministers to some of the Orientals in these parts.
Parochial schools are established in the greater number of the English-speaking parishes of the cities. Thus out of seventeen English-speaking parishes in Providence, nine have large and well-equipped schools ; of the four in Pawtucket, three have schools ; the three parishes in Newport have schools. The others are either very small or heavily in debt or unable to procure suitable teachers. Among the French Canadians, with whom the church school is a patriotic as well as a religious institution, it is rare to find a parish without its school. Religious women are usually the teachers (in ten schools, the Sisters of Mercy ); in only three are there Brothers for the larger boys. La Salle Academy, a diocesan High School of which the bishop is president, obtained a university charter from the state (1910). The teachers are diocesan priests (for the classics) and Christian Brothers. It is conveniently situated in Providence. One day high school ( St. Francis Xavier's Academy) and two boarding schools (Bayview Sisters of Mercy, and Elmhurst, Religious of the Sacred Heart ) provide similar training for the girls. In all there are some eighteen thousand children receiving Catholic training in the diocese.
A diocesan weekly paper, the "Providence Visitor", sanctioned by the bishop and edited by diocesan priests, has a considerable influence among the Catholics of the state. The Catholic Club for men, established in 1909, has its own home in Providence and a large and influential membership. The Catholic Woman's Club, established in 1901, has a membership of four hundred and is noted for considerable literary and social activity. Although in a numerical majority, Catholics do not exert any perceptible influence on public life. They receive their share of elective offices, the last two governors, the one a democrat, the other a republican, being Catholics. Frequently the mayors and other city officials are Catholics. There has, however, never been a Catholic judge of a superior court.
The clergy until recently was nearly exclusively diocesan. From 1878 to 1899 the Jesuits had St. Joseph's parish in Providence, but left there, as there was no prospect of opening a college. Now various small communities of men have parishes in outlying districts, Westerly (1905, Marist Fathers ), Portsmouth (1907, Congregation of the Holy Ghost ), Natick (1899, Sacred Heart Fathers); in 1910 the Dominicans began a new parish between Pawtucket and xxyyyk.htm">Providence. The Catholic population of the diocese, approximately from 250,000 to 275,000, live for the most part in the densely inhabited xxyyyk.htm">Providence County, only eighteen parishes, and several of them very small, existing in the four other counties of the state, while there are sixty-one in xxyyyk.htm">Providence county.
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