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Lateran IV

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  • CANON 26
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CANON 26

Summary. If a prelate through negligence has confirmed the election of an unworthy candidate for the guidance of souls, he is to lose the right of confirming the first successor of such a one and is also to be deprived of the revenue of his benefice, and the the one unworthily promoted is to be removed. If his action was prompted by malice, a severer penalty is to be imposed on him.

Text. Nothing is more injurious to the Church of God than the selection of unworthy prelates for the direction of souls. Wishing, therefore, to apply the necessary remedy to this evil, we decree by an irrefragable ordinance that when anyone has been elected for the guidance of souls, he to whom the confirmation of the election belongs shall carefully investigate the process and circumstances of the election as well as the person of the one elected, and only when everything proves to be satisfactory may he confirm. If through carelessness the contrary should take place, then not only the one unworthily promoted is to be removed, but the one also who furthered such promotion (by confirmation) is to be punished. The latter's punishment, we decree, shall consist in this, that when it is agreed that through negligence he confirmed a person who lacks sufficient knowledge or is wanting in integrity of morals or is not of legitimate age, not only is he to lose the right of confirming the first successor of such a person, but, that he may not in some case escape punishment, he is also to be deprived of the revenues of his benefice till he be deemed worthy of pardon. If, however, the evidence shows that his action was inspired by malice, a severer punishment is to be imposed on him. Bishops also, if they wish to escape canonical punishment, shall take the necessary precaution to promote to sacred orders and ecclesiastical dignities only such as are qualified to discharge worthily the duties of the office committed to them. Those who are immediately subject to the Roman pontiff, must appear personally before him for confirmation if this can be done conveniently, otherwise they may send suitable persons from whom may be ascertained the necessary information regarding the process of the election and the person of the one elected; so that only after a thorough investigation by the pope will those elected obtain the plenitude of their office, provided, of course, there be no canonical obstruction. Those who live at a great distance, that is outside of Italy, if they have been elected unanimously, may in the meantime and by way of exception (dispensative), on account of the needs of the churches, administer the respective offices in matters spiritual and temporal, so, however that they alienate absolutely nothing belonging to the churches. The consecration or benediction let them receive as has so far been the custom."




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