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Lateran IV

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  • CANON 48
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Summary. Provision is made that no one may through frivolous refusal deny or reject the jurisdiction of his judge.

Text. By a special prohibition it has been provided that a sentence of excommunication be promulgated against no one without a previous warning. Wishing to forestall any attempt on the part of the one thus warned to avoid, under pretext of deceitful refusal or appeal, the inquiry of the one giving the admonition, we decree that, should he assert that he entertains a suspicion in regard to the judge, let him in the presence of the judge indicate the cause of his just suspicion, and let him with his opponent, or if he has no opponent, with the judge, conjointly choose arbiters, or if together they cannot agree, let them choose without ill will two, he one and the judge the other, who may inquire into the cause of the suspicion; and if they cannot come to an agreement, let them ask for a third party, so that what two of them decide may obtain greater weight. Let them know also that, by reason of a strict precept enjoined by us in virtue of obedience under witness of the divine judge, they are bound to execute this faithfully. If the true cause of the suspicion has not been proved by them within a reasonable period of time, let the judge use his jurisdiction; but if it has been legitimately proved, then let the judge with the consent of the one who suspected him commit the matter to a competent person, or let him submit it to the superior, that the latter may take such action in his regard as should be taken.

Moreover, in case the one warned should resort to an appeal, let no heed be given to a provocation of this kind if from the evidence of the case or from his confession or from another source his guilt has been clearly established, since the remedy of appeal was not instituted for the defense of iniquity but for the protection of the innocent. If his guilt is doubtful, that he may not impede the process of the judge by recourse to a frivolous appeal, let him explain in the judge's presence the probable ground of the appeal, namely, such a ground as, if proved, would be regarded as valid. If he has an opponent, the cause of the appeal is to be continued within a period fixed by the same judge, due consideration being given to the distance, time, and nature of the business; if h does not care to continue it, then, notwithstanding the appeal, let the judge proceed with it. If there is no opponent and the cause of the appeal has been proved before the superior judge, let the latter exercise his jurisdiction. But, if the appellant fails in his proof, then he case is to be returned to the judge from whom he deceitfully 'appealed.

These two aforesaid decrees, however, we do not wish to be applied to regulars, who have their own special observances.

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