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Neophyte ( neophytoi , the newly planted, i.e. incorporated with the mystic Body of Christ), a term applied in theology to all those who have lately entered upon a new and higher state or condition of life, e.g. those who have begun the ecclesiastical life, or have joined a religious order. More particularly is it used of those who, lately converted from heathenism, have by the sacrament of Baptism, been transplanted into the higher life of the Church. From very early times there have been prohibitions against neophytes in this last sense being promoted too quickly to Holy Orders and to positions of responsibility in the Church. Thus the Council of Nicaea in its second canon lays down; rules on this subject, on the ground that some time is necessary for the state of a Catechumen and for fuller probation after baptism ; for the Apostolic decree is clear which says, "Not a neophyte, lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil " ( 1 Timothy 3:6 ). The period which should elapse after conversion before promotion is not fixed but (Bened. XIV, "De syn.", vii, 65-6) is left to the discretion of the bishop and will vary with the individual case. (See DIVORCE, sub-title Pauline Privilege. )
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