Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 13/Section 02

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Rules for Awarding Benefices, Adopted on the Recommendation of Monsieur Vincent

After being appointed to the council in the way we have described, Monsieur Vincent felt the first order of business ought to be to set out some guidelines for the awarding of those benefices which depended upon nomination by the queen.

The main ones adopted were:

  1. The queen would grant no pension for bishops and archbishops except in cases foreseen in the law. This requires that the officeholder, after serving for a long time, voluntarily resigns from his office because of infirmity, old age, or other valid reason.
  2. The queen would give no commission for abbeys except to those who, besides the other qualities required, will be at least eighteen years of age; sixteen years of age for priors, canons of cathedral churches, and fourteen years for canons of collegial churches.
  3. No commission would be given for benefices that have devolved upon the crown, unless documents had been submitted in support of requests. Certification must be presented regarding the life, morals, and abilities of those requesting these benefices. If the petitioners do not have the required qualities, others shall be chosen in whom these qualities do exist, and who can re-establish the dissolved benefices.
  4. There would be no assistant honorary abbots, not even provisional ones.
  5. There would be no appointments to bishoprics, even coadjutors, except for those ordained at least a year. No coadjutors would be appointed to abbeys of women, unless it be known for certain that the rule is observed in these abbeys. The religious to be appointed to this position should be at least twenty-three years old, and of at least five years of profession.

It is easy enough to take good resolutions. Keeping them is something else. Monsieur Vincent did all he could to make sure they were strictly observed. He often recalled them to mind. When he saw they were not being followed exactly, he had them reinstated. This allowed him to correct abuses which had slipped into the awarding of benefices and the handling of the administration of ecclesiastical goods. He did so freely but always respectfully. He complained only when he saw purely human considerations taking precedence over those referring to the service of God and the good of the Church.

This is not to say that he disregarded persons of birth and courage for ecclesiastical positions, and even for bishoprics, when birth and other qualities did not serve as a pretext for vanity, and if they had the competence, virtue, and other necessary dispositions.

In this connection he followed an old maxim: "Better fifty deer led by a lion than fifty lions led by a deer." He lamented before God when he saw temporal interests prevail over spiritual considerations, to the prejudice of the service of God and to the disadvantage of his Church. Nevertheless, after doing what he felt it was his duty to do, he committed the rest to Providence and remained at peace.

This page:
Abelly: Book Two/Last Chapter/Section One
Rules for Awarding Benefices, Adopted on the Recommendation of Monsieur Vincent

Index of
Abelly: Book Two/Last Chapter

Index of:
Abelly: Book Two