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Canonical Provision

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Canonical Provision is a term signifying regular induction into a benefice, comprising three distinct acts — the designation of the person, canonical institution, and installation. In various ways a person may be designated to fill a vacant benefice : by election, postulation, presentation, or recommendation, resignation made in one's favour, or approved exchange. In all cases confirmation by the proper ecclesiastical superior of the selection made is required, while letters of appointment, as a rule, must be presented. Reception of administration by a chapter without such letters brings excommunication reserved to the pope, together with privation of the fruits of the benefice ; and the nominee loses ipso facto all right to the prelacy. Ordinarily greater benefices are conferred by the pope ; minor benefices by the bishop, who as a rule has the power of appointing to all benefices in his diocese. The pope, however, owing to the fullness of his jurisdiction, may appoint to any benefice whatsoever. These extraordinary provisions became common in the eleventh and subsequent centuries, and met at times with stern opposition. In 1351 an English statute (Statute of Provisors) was enacted, designed to prevent the pope from exercising this prerogative. Similar enactments were made in 1390 and in later years. At present only in certain defined circumstances does the Supreme Pontiff make use of this right. The bishop's power is further restricted at times to confirming an election or postulation ; or to approving candidates presented by one who enjoys the right of presentation by privilege, custom, or prescription.

Canonical institution or collation is the concession of a vacant benefice by one who has the authority. If made by the sole right of the prelate, it is free; if made by legal necessity, for example, after due presentation or election, or at the command of a superior, it is styled necessary. An ecclesiastical benefice cannot be lawfully obtained without canonical institution .

Installation, called corporal or real institution, is the induction into the actual possession of a benefice. In the case of a bishop it is known as enthronization or enthronement. Corporal institution, according to common law , belongs to the archdeacon ; by custom to the bishop or his vicar-general. It may take place by proxy: the rite observed depends much on custom. To installation belong the profession of faith and oath, when prescribed. (See BENEFICE ; INSTITUTION, CANONICAL; INSTALLATION.)


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