MY CATHOLIC FAITH: The Roman Curia

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MY CATHOLIC FAITH

LVIII.

What is the Roman Curia? –It is the organization of various bodies to which the Pope has delegated the exercise of his jurisdiction.

Almost all the heads of the bodies in the Roman Curia are cardinals.

The Roman Curia is the papal court; it is the core of the government of the Church. The Holy Father possesses complete and absolute power over the government of the Church; but it is not possible for him to exercise his authority personally and directly over every detail in the worldwide Church. A great deal of the jurisdiction has therefore been delegated to the Roman Curia, which at present consists of:

Twelve Congregations, namely: Of the Holy Office, of the Consistory, for the Oriental Church, of the Sacraments, of the Council, of Religious, for the Propagation of the Faith, of Sacred Rites, of Ceremonies, of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, of Seminaries and Universities, and of the Basilica of St. Peter. Continue reading

St. Mennas

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St. Mennas, Martyr

THE EDICTS of Dioclesian were rigorously executed in the East, when Mennas or Menas, an Egyptian by birth, a soldier in the Roman troops, then quartered at Cotyæus in Phrygia, was apprehended, and, boldly confessing his faith, cruelly scourged, then tormented in the most inhuman manner on the rack, and at length beheaded, by the command of Pyrrhus, the president, probably about the year 304. His name has been always very famous in the calendars of the church, especially in the East. See the first acts of this martyr, translated in Surius, who borrowed them from Metaphrastes. They begin, [Greek], and are warmly defended and extolled by Falconius, p. 30. The second acts in Surius, ascribed to Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, in 380, deserve little credit. (See Tillem. t. 5. in Peter of Alex. n. 4.) Lambecius mentions other acts of this saint, t. 8. p. 269. See Fabricius Bibl. Gr. t. 6. p. 548. 1

Another ST. MENNAS, martyr in Lybia, under Maximian, is named in the Eastern and Western Martyrologies on the 10th of December. Procopius (l. 1. de ædif. Justin.) mentions a church built at Constantinople by Justinian, in honour of St. Mennas, whose body was translated thither. This Baronius understands of the Lybian; Jos. Assemani of Mennas, the soldier under Dioclesian. (t. 5. p. 461.) The acts of Mennas the Lybian, in Surius, are of no authority. 2

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

Fourth Lateran Council (1215)

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Fourth Lateran Council (1215)

From the commencement of his reign Innocent III had purposed to assemble an ecumenical council, but only towards the end of his pontificate could he realize this project, by the Bull of 19 April, 1213. The assembly was to take place in November, 1215. The council did in fact meet on 11 November, and its sessions were prolonged until the end of the month. The long interval between the convocation and the opening of the council as well as the prestige of the reigning pontiff, were responsible for the very large number of bishops who attended it, it is commonly cited in canon law as “the General Council of Lateran”, without further qualification, or again, as “the Great Council”. Innocent III found himself on this occasion surrounded by seventy-one patriarchs and metropolitans, including the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Jerusalem, four hundred and twelve bishops, and nine hundred abbots and priors. The Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria were represented by delegates. Envoys appeared from Emperor Frederick II, from Henry Latin Emperor of Constantinople, from the Kings of France, England, Aragon, Hungary, Cyprus, and Jerusalem, and from other princes. The pope himself opened the council with an allocution the lofty views of which surpassed the orator’s power of expression. He had desired, said the pope, to celebrate this Pasch before he died. He declared himself ready to drink the chalice of the Passion for the defence of the Catholic Faith, for the succour of the Holy Land, and to establish the liberty of the Church. After this discourse, followed by moral exhortation, the pope presented to the council seventy decrees or canons, already formulated, on the most important points of dogmatic and moral theology. Dogmas were defined points of discipline were decided, measures were drawn up against heretics, and, finally, the conditions of the next crusade were regulated.
The fathers of the council did little more than approve the seventy decrees presented to them; this approbation, nevertheless, sufficed to impart to the acts thus formulated and promulgated the value of ecumenical decrees. Most of them are somewhat lengthy and are divided into chapters. The following are the most important:

Canon 1: Exposition of the Catholic Faith and of the dogma of Transubstantiation.
Canon 2: Condemnation of the doctrines of Joachim of Flora and of Amaury.
Canon 3: Procedure and penalties against heretics and their protectors.
Canon 4: Exhortation to the Greeks to reunite with the Roman Church and accept its maxims, to the end that, according to the Gospel, there may be only one fold and only one shepherd.
Canon 5: Proclamation of the papal primacy recognized by all antiquity. After the pope, primacy is attributed to the patriarchs in the following order: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem. (It is enough to remind the reader how long an opposition preceded at Rome this recognition of Constantinople as second in rank among the patriarchal sees.)
Canon 6: Provincial councils must be held annually for the reform of morals, especially those of the clergy.
Canon 8: Procedure in regard to accusations against ecclesiastics. Until the French Revolution, this canon was of considerable importance in criminal law, not only ecclesiastical but even civil.
Canon 9: Celebration of public worship in places where the inhabitants belong to nations following different rites.
Canon 11 renews the ordinance of the council of 1179 on free schools for clerics in connexion with every cathedral.
Canon 12: Abbots and priors are to hold their general chapter every three years.
Canon 13 forbids the establishment of new religious orders, lest too great diversity bring confusion into the Church.
Canons 14-17: Against the irregularities of the clergy — e.g., incontinence, drunkenness, the chase, attendance at farces and histrionic exhibitions.
Canon 18: Priests, deacons, and subdeacons are forbidden to perform surgical operations.
Canon 19 forbids the blessing of water and hot iron for judicial tests or ordeals.
Canon 21, the famous “Omnis utriusque sexus”, which commands every Christian who has reached the years of discretion to confess all his, or her, sins at least once a year to his, or her, own (i.e. parish) priest. This canon did no more than confirm earlier legislation and custom, and has been often but wrongly, quoted as commanding for the first time the use of sacramental confession.
Canon 22: Before prescribing for the sick, physicians shall be bound under pain of exclusion from the Church, to exhort their patients to call in a priest, and thus provide for their spiritual welfare.
Canons 23-30 regulate ecclesiastical elections and the collation of benefices.
Canons 26, 44, and 48: Ecclesiastical procedure.
Canons 50-52: On marriage, impediments of relationship, publication of banns.
Canons 68, 69: Jews and Moslems shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians. Christian princes must take measures to prevent blasphemies against Jesus Christ.
The council, moreover, made rules for the projected crusade, imposed a four years’ peace on all Christian peoples and princes published indulgences, and enjoined the bishops to reconcile all enemies, The council confirmed the elevation of Frederick II to the German throne and took other important measures Its decrees were widely published in many provincial councils.
Comments

APA citation. Leclercq, H. (1910). Fourth Lateran Council (1215). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Leclercq, Henri. “Fourth Lateran Council (1215).” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

 

Saint Martin of Tours

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Saint Martin of Tours

Missionary Bishop
(† 397)

Saint Martin, born in Pannonia (Hungary), followed his father, a military tribune in the service of Rome, to Italy. Although he was raised in paganism, he felt nothing but contempt for its cult, and as though he were Christian by nature, he took pleasure only in the assemblies of the faithful, which he attended despite his family’s opposition. When he was fifteen years old, he was forcibly enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day. What would become of this young boy, when exposed to the libertinage of the camps? Would his faith not be obliterated? No, for God was watching over His vessel of election.

The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: I was naked, and you clothed Me. My friend, he said, I have nothing but my weapons and my garments. And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar. The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me. Soon afterwards he received Baptism.

Disinterested charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the young soldier. He obtained his discharge at the age of about twenty. Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home by the Arians. He took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. After having given striking proofs of his attachment to the faith of Nicea, he founded near Poitiers the celebrated monastery of Ligugé, the first in Gaul. The brilliance of his sanctity and his miracles raised him in 372 to the episcopal throne of Tours, despite his lively resistance. His life thereafter was but a continual succession of prodigies and apostolic labors. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan at heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people. His power over demons was extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given it by Saint Martin.

After having visited and renewed his diocese, the servant of God felt pressed to extend his journeyings and labors beyond its confines. Clothed in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the countryside. He passed through virtually all the provinces of Gaul, and neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped him. Everywhere his undertakings were victorious, and he more than earned his title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.