Sinecure

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A sinecure ( /ˈsɪnɪkjʊər/ or /ˈsnɪkjʊər/ ; from Latin sine = "without" and cura = "care") is an office – carrying a salary or otherwise generating income – that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. The term originated in the medieval church, where it signified a post without any responsibility for the "cure [care] of souls", the regular liturgical and pastoral functions of a cleric, but came to be applied to any post, secular or ecclesiastical, that involved little or no actual work. Sinecures have historically provided a potent tool for governments or monarchs to distribute patronage, while recipients are able to store up titles and easy salaries.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

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.

Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings, popes, and the wealthy have provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors. It can also refer to the right of bestowing offices or church benefices, the business given to a store by a regular customer, and the guardianship of saints. The word "patron" derives from the Latin: patronus ("patron"), one who gives benefits to his clients.

Contents

A sinecure is not necessarily a figurehead, which generally requires active participation in government, albeit with a lack of power.

A sinecure can also be given to an individual whose primary job is in another office, but requires a sinecure title to perform that job. For example, the Government House Leader in Canada is often given a sinecure ministry position so that he or she may become a member of the Cabinet. Similar examples are the Lord Privy Seal and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the British cabinet. Other sinecures operate as legal fictions, such as the British office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, used as a legal excuse for resigning from Parliament.

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Canada) minister in the Cabinet of Canada

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, more commonly known as the Government House Leader, is the Cabinet minister responsible for planning and managing the government's legislative program in the House of Commons of Canada.

The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada. Chaired by the prime minister, the Cabinet is a committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and the senior echelon of the Ministry, the membership of the Cabinet and ministry often being co-terminal; as of November 2015 there are no members of the latter who are not also members of the former.

Lord Privy Seal sinecure office of state in the UK

The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. Originally, its holder was responsible for the monarch's personal (privy) seal until the use of such a seal became obsolete. The office is currently one of the traditional sinecure offices of state. Today, the holder of the office is invariably given a seat in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.

History

Girolamo and cardinal Marco Cornaro investing Marco, abbot of Carrara, with his benefice, Titian, ca 1520 Tizian 109.jpg
Girolamo and cardinal Marco Cornaro investing Marco, abbot of Carrara, with his benefice, Titian, ca 1520

Sinecure, properly a term of ecclesiastical law for a benefice without the cure of souls, arose in the English Church when the rector had no cure of souls nor resided in the parish, the work of the incumbent being performed by a vicar.[ citation needed ] Such sinecure rectories were expressly granted by the patron. They were abolished by parliament under the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act of 1840.[ citation needed ]

A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.

Church of England Anglican church in England, by law established

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader. The term comes from the Latin for the helmsman of a ship.

Other ecclesiastical sinecures were certain cathedral dignities to which no spiritual functions attached or incumbencies where by reason of depopulation and the like, the parishioners disappeared or the parish church was allowed to decay. Such cases eventually ceased to exist. [1]

Cathedral Christian church that is the seat of a bishop

A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul, Spain and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences.

The term is also used of any office or place to which salary emoluments or dignity, but no duties are attached. The British civil service and the royal household, for example, were loaded with innumerable offices which, by lapse of time, had become sinecures and were only kept as the reward of political services or to secure voting power in parliament.[ citation needed ] They were prevalent in the 18th century, but were gradually abolished by statutes during that and the following centuries.[ citation needed ]

Dignitas is a Latin word referring to a unique, intangible, and culturally subjective social concept in the ancient Roman mindset. The word does not have a direct translation in English. Some interpretations include "dignity", which is a derivation from "dignitas", and "prestige" or "charisma".

Below is a list of extant sinecures by country. [2]

Current usage

United Kingdom

Positions associated with the Cabinet

Positions associated with resignation from the House of Commons

Positions associated with the Whips' Office

Ceremonial and honorary positions

Canada

Australia

See also

Church:

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References

  1. Cf. M. Guasco, Storia del clero, Laterza (1997), p.20
  2. As extracted from Lord Mackay of Clashfern (ed.) (2002) Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th ed. Vol.14.

Bibliography