FACULTIES: The term applied in canon law to powers conferred by an ecclesiastical superior upon a subordinate. The most important are the papal faculties. These are conferred on missionaries for certain cases of dispensation and absolution, especially on the heads of missionary orders; since the sixteenth century on papal nuncios in countries where, as in Germany, the Roman Catholic Church is endeavoring to recover her former footing; and on the bishops and archbishops, who are regarded as missionaries. These powers have always been limited by a regard to the special needs of the region over which they are to be exercised. Those which are conferred upon bishops in certain countries are usually good for a period of five years (hence called facultates quinquennales), and are normally renewed on their expiration. Besides these traditional faculties, there are certain special ones which may be regarded as an extension of them, allowing archbishops and bishops to reduce masses on a foundation, to designate certain altars as privileged, and to nominate synodal examiners. All these faculties are revocable at the will of the people. They are attached to the person of the bishop in respect of his connection with a particular diocese, and terminate by his death or removal from the particular office, but not by the death of the pope who granted them. The bishops in their turn can confer faculties upon their clergy, especially deans and vicars-general, to perform certain functions belonging to the ordinary jurisdiction of the bishop (e.g., absolution in cases reserved to the bishop); and they can also, when this right has been expressly given, subdelegate the exercise of the powers conferred on them in their facultates quinquennales to such officials.
(P. HINSCHIUS †.)