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The Apostolic Penitentiary (Latin : Paenitentiaria Apostolica), formerly called the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, is one of the three tribunals of the Roman Curia. The Apostolic Penitentiary is chiefly a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church.
A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title. For example, an advocate who appears before a court with a single judge could describe that judge as 'their tribunal'. Many governmental bodies that are titled 'tribunals' are so described to emphasize that they are not courts of normal jurisdiction. For example, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is a body specially constituted under international law; in Great Britain, employment tribunals are bodies set up to hear specific employment disputes. In many cases, the word tribunal implies a judicial body with a lesser degree of formality than a court, to which the normal rules of evidence and procedure may not apply, and whose presiding officers are frequently neither judges nor magistrates. Private judicial bodies are also often styled 'tribunals'. However, the word tribunal is not conclusive of a body's function–for example, in Great Britain, the Employment Appeal Tribunal is a superior court of record.
The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the Pope’s name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular Churches and provides the central organization for the Church to advance its objectives.
In a religious context, sin is an act of transgression against divine law. In Islamic ethics, Muslims see sin as anything that goes against the commands of Allah (God). Judaism regards the violation of any of the 613 commandments as a sin as long as the sinner is aware of the commandment. In Jainism, sin refers to anything that harms the possibility of the jiva (being) to attain moksha.
The Apostolic Penitentiary has jurisdiction only over matters in the internal forum. Its work falls mainly into these categories:
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, excommunication, the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it presupposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Catholic Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense.
There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of reconciliation and anointing of the sick; and the sacraments of service: holy orders and matrimony.
In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins". It may reduce the "temporal punishment for sin" after death, in the state or process of purification called Purgatory.
The head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Major Penitentiary, is one of the few Vatican officials who retain their positions sede vacante .If the Major Penitentiary is a Cardinal Elector he is one of only three persons in the conclave allowed to communicate with those outside the conclave, so that he can continue to fulfill his duties (the other two being the Cardinal Vicar of Rome and the Vicar General for the Vatican City State). The Major Penitentiary is a Titular Archbishop and is normally a Cardinal. Since 21 September 2013, the Major Penitentiary is Cardinal Mauro Piacenza. The second-highest-ranking official in the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Regent, is (since 26 June 2012) H.E.Msgr. Krzysztof Józef Nykiel.
Sede vacante is a term for the state of an episcopal see while without a bishop. In the canon law of the Catholic Church, the term is used to refer to the vacancy of any see of a particular church, but it comes into especially wide journalistic use when the see is that of the papacy.
Cardinal Vicar is a title commonly given to the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome for the portion of the diocese within Italy. The official title, as given in the Annuario Pontificio, is "Vicar General of His Holiness".
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
In the Papal Bull Misericordiae Vultus (Latin: "The Face of Mercy"), Pope Francis decreed that the Church would observe a Special Jubilee Year of Mercy lasting from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a Holy Day of Obligation) on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, until the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe on the last Sunday before Advent, in November 2016. For this, he allowed certain qualified priests to serve as "Missionaries of Mercy" to each Diocese, with the faculties to absolve even sins that are reserved to the Holy See through the Apostolic Penitentiary. Normally, a priest or even a bishop would not be able to do this unless the person was in danger of imminent death. The Pope has the power, as the earthly absolute sovereign of the Catholic Church, to make this special change for the year.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
Mercy is benevolence, forgiveness, and kindness in a variety of ethical, religious, social, and legal contexts.
In Christianity, a Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fiftieth year, during which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.
Up until the 18th century, the Apostolic Penitentiary also considered cases of confessor-penitent disputes involving violations against what was termed the "external forum".
For particularly heinous sins (for example, rape or murder), or for serious sins committed by penitents of high political or cultural standing, it was often the practice to impose rather harsh penances. This practice was particularly true in the medieval Church, for sins referred to a bishop for absolution. If a penitent felt that the penance imposed was disproportionate to the sins committed, he could submit the dispute to the Apostolic Penitentiary. The alleged offense was said to be against the "external forum"; that is, related to public acts required of the penitent.
If the tribunal decided in favor of the penitent, they would issue a formal statement confirming that appropriate recompense had already been made, that the penitent's sins were forgiven, and that the matter was closed.
These statements were transcribed by legal clerks, who were paid by fees assessed by the Apostolic Penitentiary for the transcription of their decisions. This practice prompted claims that the tribunal, and by extension the Church, accepted money for the forgiveness of sins.
Normally confessions of sins are handled at the local level by priests and their bishops and are not heard by the tribunal. The work of the Apostolic Penitentiary involves sins, such as defiling the Eucharist, which are reserved to the Holy See. In late 2006, then Major Penitentiary Cardinal Stafford said this offense is occurring with more and more frequency, by ordinary faithful who receive Communion and then spit it out or otherwise desecrate it.Other sins that are handled by the Penitentiary include a priest breaking the seal of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who sought penance, or a priest who has sex with someone and then offered forgiveness for the act. These sins bring automatic excommunication from the Church. Once the excommunication is lifted, then absolution can be granted. A fourth type of case that comes to the tribunal involves a man who has contributed towards facilitating an abortion, such as by paying for it, or directly so by performing one, who then seeks to become a priest or deacon.
Host desecration is a form of sacrilege in Christian denominations that follow the doctrine of real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It involves the mistreatment or malicious use of a consecrated host—the sacred bread used in the Eucharistic service of the Divine Liturgy or Mass. It is forbidden by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as in certain Protestant traditions. In Catholicism, where the host is held to have been transubstantiated into the body of Jesus Christ, host desecration is among the gravest of sins. Intentional host desecration is not only a mortal sin but also incurs the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae. Throughout history, a number of groups have been accused of desecrating the Eucharist, often with grave consequences due to the spiritual importance of the consecrated host.
Persons who wish to receive an absolution or dispensation reserved to the Holy See write a petition to the Penitentiary. Usually, this petition is written through their initial confessor. The petition must use pseudonyms when explaining the situation to avoid revealing the identity of the persons involved (which would violate the Seal of Confession), and the tribunal itself acts in complete secrecy. The Major Penitentiary considers the matter himself, unless it is particularly important in which case the whole of the tribunal considers the petition. The members of the tribunal only give advice regarding the petition—the Major Penitentiary has the ultimate decision on whether the dispensation or absolution should be granted. If the Major Penitentiary is uncertain as to whether he has authority in a given case, he submits the matter to the Pope. The impediment or act in question must not be public, as it would then be a matter of the external forum and cannot be absolved or dispensed by the Penitentiary.
The Apostolic Penitentiary also specifies actions for which indulgences are granted, either permanently (in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum),or on special occasions, such as the Year for Priests (19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010), during which a plenary indulgence is granted, on 19 June 2009, on first Thursdays, on 4 August 2009 (150th anniversary of the death of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney), and on 19 June 2010, to all the faithful who attend Mass, pray for priests to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, offer any other good work they do that day, and satisfy the conditions for any plenary indulgence (detachment from all sins, the Sacrament of Penance within the last or next couple of weeks, holy communion (Eucharist in the Catholic Church), and praying for the Pope's intentions). There are also adaptations for those unable to go to church, and daily indulgences available only to priests.
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in the Catholic Church
Penance is repentance of sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a part in confession among Anglicans and Methodists, in which it is a rite, as well as among other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin paenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven. Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works". Word derivations occur in many languages.
The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church is an office of the papal household that administers the property and revenues of the Holy See. Formerly, his responsibilities included the fiscal administration of the Patrimony of Saint Peter. As regulated in the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus of 1988, the camerlengo is always a cardinal, though this was not the case prior to the 15th century. His heraldic arms are ornamented with two keys – one gold, one silver – in saltire, surmounted by an ombrellino, a canopy or umbrella of alternating red and yellow stripes. These also form part of the coat of arms of the Holy See during a papal interregnum. The camerlengo is Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, appointed by Pope Francis on 14 February 2019. The vice camerlengo has been Archbishop Giampiero Gloder since 20 December 2014.
In the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Pardon is an indulgence given for the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. The Apostolic Pardon is given by a priest, usually along with Viaticum. It is not usually given as part of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. However, if the Anointing of the Sick is given with Viaticum, in exceptional circumstances or an emergency, it may be given then..
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced by Christians in the life of the Church. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations.
Urbi et Orbi denotes a papal address and apostolic blessing given by the pope on certain solemn occasions.
William Wakefield Baum was an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (1970–73) and Archbishop of Washington (1973–80) before serving in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (1980–90) and Major Penitentiary (1990–2001). He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1976. At the time of his 1980 appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, he was the highest-ranking American ever in the Church. Cardinal Baum was the longest-serving American cardinal in history.
In the Catholic Church, the Seal of Confession is the absolute duty of priests not to disclose anything that they learn from penitents during the course of the Sacrament of Penance (confession). Even where the seal of confession does not strictly apply – where there is no specific serious sin confessed for the purpose of receiving absolution – priests have a serious obligation not to cause scandal by the way they speak.
The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church. In addition, it oversees the administration of justice in the church.
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, in which the faithful obtain absolution for the sins committed against God and neighbour and are reconciled with the community of the Church. By this sacrament Catholics believe they are freed from all sins committed after baptism. The sacrament of Penance is considered the ordinary means for the remission of sin.
Fernando Cento was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as Major Penitentiary of Apostolic Penitentiary.
The papal conclave of 1592 elected Pope Clement VIII in succession to Pope Innocent IX.
Indulgentarium Doctrina is an apostolic constitution about indulgences issued by Pope Paul VI on 1 January 1967. It responds to suggestions made at the Second Vatican Council, it substantially revised the practical application of the traditional doctrine relating to indulgences. The title is taken from the opening words of the original Latin text.
Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv. is an Italian titular bishop. He is Regent Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary since his retirement on 26 June 2012. He served as Regent from 16 February 2002 until 2012. He had previously served as Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Giovanni Aldobrandini was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy was a Roman Catholic period of prayer held from 8 December 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to 20 November 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. Like previous jubilees, it was seen by the Church as a period for remission of sins and universal pardon focusing particularly on God's forgiveness and mercy. It was an extraordinary Jubilee because it had not been predetermined long before; ordinary jubilees are usually celebrated every 25 years.
Giacomo Lanfredini was a Roman Catholic cardinal who served as Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Portico (1734–1741) and Bishop of Osimo e Cingoli (1734–1740).
Note on the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal is a July 1, 2019 document of the Apostolic Penitentiary, approved for promulgation on June 21, 2019 by Pope Francis, that explains that the internal forum of the sacrament of penance is sacred and that the inviolability of the Seal of the Confessional in the Catholic Church is absolute, in spite of civil law, as a matter of de fide dogma, and as part of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The aim of the Note is to instill trust in the people that go to confession.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article about Apostolic Penitentiary .|