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Obreption and subreption (both from the Latin word repo/reptum (genitive), meaning to creep or crawl. The prefix, Ob- means "towards, against, or, in the way of"; Sub- means "under, or, close to") are terms used in ancient Roman law and in the canon law applied by the Catholic church to species of fraud by which an ecclesiastical rescript is obtained.
Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.
In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law, a criminal law, or it may cause no loss of money, property or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements.
Dispensations or graces are not granted unless there be some motive for requesting them, and the law of the Church requires that the true and just causes that lie behind the motive be stated in every prayer for such dispensation or grace.
When the petition contains a statement about facts or circumstances that are supposititious or at least, modified if they really exist, the resulting rescript is said to be vitiated by obreption, which consists in a positive allegation of what is false.
In legal terminology, a rescript is a document that is issued not on the initiative of the author, but in response to a specific demand made by its addressee. It does not apply to more general legislation.
If, on the other hand, silence had been observed concerning something that essentially changed the state of the case, the concealment or suppression of statements or facts that according to law or usage should be expressed in an application or petition for a rescript is called subreption.
Rescripts obtained by obreption or subreption are null and void when the motive cause of the rescript is affected by them. If it is only the impelling cause, and the substance of the petition is not affected, or if the false statement was made through ignorance, the rescript is not vitiated. As requests for rescripts must come through a person in ecclesiastical authority, it is his duty to inform himself of the truth or falsity of the causes alleged in the petitions, and in case they are granted, to see that the conditions of the rescript are fulfilled.
In its effects subreption is equivalent to obreption. Subreption may be intentional and malicious, or attributable solely to ignorance or inadvertence. It may affect the primary, substantial reason or motive of the grant, or constitute merely a secondary or impellent cause of the concession.
Obreption is a term used in Roman, Canon and Scots Law. The word Obreption has been described in on-line dictionaries with many meanings other than Canon law. The term obreption is still used in heraldry in Scotland.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States and designed to serve the Roman Catholic Church. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index volume in 1914 and later supplementary volumes. It was designed "to give its readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine".
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