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A term used for sins whose absolution is not within the power of every confessor, but is reserved to himself by the superior of the confessor, or only specially granted to some other confessor by that superior. To reserve a case is then to refuse jurisdiction for the absolution of a certain sin. Christ gave power to the rulers of His Church to make such reservations: "Whose sins you shall retain they are retained" ( John 20:23 ). The reservation of sins presupposes jurisdiction, and therefore the pope alone can make reservation for the whole Church ; bishops can do the same for their diocese only, and certain regular prelates for their religious subjects. That a sin be reserved it must be mortal, external, and consummated. If a sin be reserved in one diocese, and a penitent, without the intention of evading the law, confess to a priest in another diocese where the sin is not reserved, the latter may absolve the reserved sin. Cases are reserved either
- merely on account of the sin itself, that is without censure, or
- on account of the censure attached to it.
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