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(1,945 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
The notion of a forum, as a special place, goes back to the early days of civilization. As a juridical term, it comes from the usage to which the place which it designated was put (e.g., the Forum Romanum), in an age when religion, political life, and law intermingled. Etymologically, the word implies a fencing which both protects and separates. So having first meant a place, the word became associated with a court of justice. It became a formal term in juridical language, meaning primarily the …

Mass Stipend

(1,104 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
A Mass stipend is an offering, normally consisting of money, which is entrusted to a priest as depository and which is to be ordained by him to an offering of holy Mass. 1. History. The Mass stipend was developed as a special use from the offertory of the eucharistic celebration. According to ancient Christian understanding, the eucharistic Communion at table was constituted by an offering of gifts. This was a right and honour which belonged only to full members of the Church, and which was at the same time a duty for all who t…


(1,736 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
1. Concept. Etymologically hierarchy means holy origin (ἱερά άρχή), holy dominion and, since the time of Denis the Areopagite, it has been used to signify the order given the Church by the Lord. In ecclesiastical legal language the hierarchy is the structure composed of those who, according to the principle of unity of head and body, are called to represent the invisible Lord; more precisely, it is, in the objective sense, the institutional order within this structure, and, in the subjective sense, the totality of those holding sacred authority. 2. Basis. To sum up the teaching on th…


(2,049 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
Since the 16th century “Cardinal” has been an exclusive designation for the members of the College of Cardinals, also called the Sacrum Collegium, which consists of three classes (cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons). 1. History. The historical roots of the College of Cardinals go back to the presbyterate of the Bishops of Rome. According to an old custom, which held fast to the memory of the eucharistic celebration by the bishop together with his presbyterate, the heads of the Roman titular churches, whose nu…


(1,418 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
In the legal terminology of the Church, jurisdiction is the authoritative power to govern ( potestas jurisdictionis seu regiminis, CIC, can. 196), which was bestowed on the Church in the metaphor of the shepherd (cf. Jn 10:1– 28; 21:15–17); hence it is sometimes called, in contrast to the power of teaching and sanctifying, the pastoral office. Jurisdiction is exercised in the external and internal forum, in the sacramental and the non- sacramental realm. In contrast to the power of orders, which comes from a conse…

Ecclesiastical Office - In Canon Law

(2,622 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
Part of Ecclesiastical Office: 1. In Canon Law 2. Office and Charism A. Concept Ecclesiastical office ( officium ecclesiasticum) is a permanent institution created by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance for the fulfilment of certain ecclesiastical duties and endowed with corresponding pastoral powers, which can be conferred upon a physical person or a college, for the purpose of exercising, as an organ of the Church, the service prescribed by that office. Ecclesiastical office is the hierarchy of offices rather th…


(6,345 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
A diocese is a territorial corporation established by the competent ecclesiastical authority. It is part of the people of God having at its head its own shepherd, and in its own district represents the Church. A. History of the Word Deriving from διοιϰεΐν, meaning “to keep house”, “to administer”, the word διοίϰησις signified an administrative district and in Roman law became a technical term for political organizational units of varying sizes: city districts, portions of a province, and after the division of the empire into 12 distri…

Ecclesiastical Law - Code of Canon Law

(3,373 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
Part of Ecclesiastical Law: 1. Concept and System 2. History of Ecclesiastical Law 3. Code of Canon Law 4. Church Laws A. History At the time of Vatican I there was a general recognition of the need for a summary and revision of canon law. Legislation was dispersed in many different collections and this gave rise to uncertainty about the status of current law. The most important source was still considered to be the Corpus Iuris Canonici; but this included norms long superseded, changed, outdated, or doubtful. The reform began by Trent was decisively influenced by papal…

Bishop - Canon Law

(3,923 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
Part of Bishop: 1. New Testament 2. Church History 3. Theology 4. Canon Law 1. Meaning of episcopate. The episcopate is that ministry established in the Church of Jesus Christ which bestows a share in the Church’s office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing. Those called to it are successors of the apostles and consequently exercise their ministry as vicars and envoys of Christ, individually as the head, bishop, of a particular Church, as a collegiate body of several bishops serving a group of particular Chur…


(1,424 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
In contrast to the laity, the clergy signify those members of the new people of God who through holy orders have a special ministry in the Church and who form a separate ecclesiastical state ( status clericalis). Κλήρος originally meant a lot, the share resulting from a lottery. In 1 Pet 5 :.3 ϰλήρος means the shares which the individual presbyters receive from the whole community. In Acts 1:17 ϰλήρος is the share in spiritual service. Clergy was used in this narrower sense by Origen to denote the ministers of the Church, in contrast to the laity. The Latin word clerus (the oldest witness is T…

Ecclesiastical Authority

(5,337 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
Ecclesiastical authority ( potestas sacra) is the authority which the Church has been given by Jesus Christ to be exercised in his name in carrying out the mission entrusted to it. 1. Basis in the nature of the Church. In the language of Vatican II potestas sacra means the power which Jesus Christ has given the Church to exercise in his name, in the discharge of ministries he has established in his Church in such a way that they have to be carried out by special authorities (Constitution on the Church, art. 18). The ministry here referred t…