RESIDENCE: The obligation on all holding ecclesiastical benefices of any kind to remain during definite periods in the districts assigned for their administration. It is a natural consequence of the requirement that every official must normally discharge his duties in person, an obligation particularly needful in the case of the clergy. So often, however, did the clergy leave the benefices to which they had been assigned, that synods passed stringent prohibitions of such abuses as early as the fourth century. Secular legislation here came to the aid of the Church, while residence was likewise stressed in the Frankish kingdom. Later the clergy were forbidden to travel without permission, nor was a plurality of benefices permitted to interfere with residence. Subsequently, however, the laws of residence were relaxed, not only as a result of pluralities, but also because canons, after the decline of chapter life, were frequently represented by vicars, while the prelates were often obliged to be absent on affairs of state. The Council of Trent accordingly renewed the requirements of residence, enacting that if any priest or prelate should be absent for six months in succession without good and sufficient reason, he should be mulcted of a fourth of his income for the year. An absence of six months more was to involve a loss of another quarter of the yearly income; still longer absence should be reported to the pope within three months, and the offending clergy should be replaced by more worthy incumbents. The council likewise stressed the requirement of personal residence for all, except in cases of evident necessity, the provincial synod being directed to guard against all abuses. Absence was, however, permitted for two, or at most three, months each year, provided it involved no detriment to the cure of souls. The permanent privileges hitherto given for non-residence and income were now abolished, but temporary dispensations were still allowed, although the bishop was required to appoint proper vicars to obviate any neglect of pastoral care. Canons might not be absent more than three months. Those who violated this rule should be mulcted of their incomes, and permanent disobedience rendered the offender liable to trial in the ecclesiastical courts.
Besides the "dignitary" and "double" (involving the cure of souls) benefices to which the laws of residence just cited apply, there are also "simple" benefices in which residence is not obligatory. A distinction is accordingly drawn between residentia prcisa, in which residence is required under penalty of forfeiture of the benefice, and residentia causitiva, where non-residence involves only loss of the income of the benefice in question. If, however, an incumbent is absent from his benefice legally, he is regarded, by legal fiction, as resident, except in cases where actual personal attendance is necessary, as for receiving presence fees (see PRESENCE AND PRESENCE FEES).
In the Lutheran Church in Germany actual residence is always presupposed, the ecclesiastical authorities providing the proper substitutes if the incumbent is prevented from fulfilling his duties. Generally speaking, leave of absence must be obtained from the president of the consistory.