canonical faculties

(Latin: facultates, powers)

Powers which an ecclesiastical superior with jurisdiction, grants to his priests for either the external or the internal forum, or for both, in order that the latter may act, validly or licitly or with safety. These faculties concern chiefly the Sacrament of Penance. As a rule, faculties from the Holy See are understood. The custom of giving extensive faculties arose about the 16th century when new lands were discovered. Missionary bishops, vicars, and prefects Apostolic receive ample powers, which vary according as those who use them are distant from Rome or have difficulty in communicating with the Holy See. These faculties are granted to the missionary Ordinaries by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples according to locality. When other bishops apply for faculties, they receive them from the various departments of the Roman Curia. Faculties are very often granted for a definite period of years. They are given to the Ordinaries, and therefore they may be used by their successors or by the vicar-general, unless otherwise stated, or the exercise of the faculty demands the use of episcopal power, which the executor of the faculty does not enjoy. Habitual faculties, i.e., those that are given either in perpetuity or for a definite time or for a certain number of cases, are reckoned as privileges above the law, therefore they are to be interpreted according to the rules governing the interpretation of such privileges. A faculty always carries with it the powers that are necessary for its use.

New Catholic Dictionary

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