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Right of Presentation

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Out of gratitude for the foundation or endowment of churches and benefices, the Church grants founders, if they wish to reserve it, the right of patronage, the first and chief privilege of which is the right of presenting a cleric for the benefice. Presentation therefore means the naming to the ecclesiastical authorities of a suitable cleric, thereby conferring on the latter the right to have the vacant benefice. Like election and nomination presentation confers on the cleric presented a real right ( jus ad rem ), so that the ecclesiastical superior entrusted with the institution may not give the benefice to another. There are many forms of the right of patronage; here we need refer only to the right of ecclesiastical patronage belonging to ecclesiastical bodies as such, e.g. a chapter, and to the right of lay-patronage, possessed by laymen or ecclesiastics in their private capacity. Hence there exist notable differences in the manner of exercising the right of patronage, as might naturally be expected, especially when we remember that the foundations or endowments giving rise to the right of ecclesiastical patronage are made with property already belonging to the Church (see Pt size=-2>ATRON AND P ATRONAGE ). Theoretically no special form of presentation is necessary : it suffices if the act signifies the presentation, and excludes anything that might indicate a collation of the benefice, and if there is no simony ; in practice it is made in writing, generally after voting has taken place or an arrangement has been made, when the patron is not an individual and when there are co-patrons. It is communicated to the ecclesiastical superior, usually the bishop, who has to perform the canonical institution. The patron exercises his right personally if past the age of puberty (fourteen or twelve years respectively), although he may act by an attorney; if he has not attained this age, he must act through those who have authority over him: mother, guardian, protector. If the patron is an individual, he makes the presentation by himself; if it is a college, e.g. a chapter, a secret vote is taken and an absolute majority is required; if the co-patrons act individually, as when the different members of a family are called on to present a candidate, the most important point is to observe all the regulations governing the foundation; account is taken of the branches of the family and of the persons in each branch, in which case a relative majority is sufficient. A ballot is resorted to also when the patronage is exercised by a numerous community, e.g. the men of a parish who have attained their majority. In case of a tie, the bishop selects one of the candidates proposed. As to the suitability of the candidate, see Pt size=-2>ATRON AND P ATRONAGE . Often, in virtue of a local law, as in Austria, the patron must select from a list of suitable candidates three for ecclesiastical patrons. By the acceptance of the presentation, the cleric presented acquires immediately the right to the benefice, if the patronage is ecclesiastical ; but the right is definitive only, if the patronage is lay, on the expiration of the four months allowed the patron to exercise his right of presentation, unless the bishop has already proceeded to the institution. On learning of the presentation and acceptance, the bishop examines into the fitness of the candidate, whom he admits or rejects according to the case; if he admits him, he gives him canonical institution , regularly within two months; if he rejects, the patron may present another, unless in the previous instance he had knowingly presented an unfit candidate (cf. Lib. III, Decret., tit. xxxviii, "De jure patronatus"; Conc. Trid. Sess. VII, c. 13; Sess. XXIV, c. 18; Sess. XXV, c. 9, de Ref.; see also B ENEFICE ).

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