CASUS RESERVATI ("Reserved Cases"): In the Roman Catholic Church, cases in which absolution can be given only by a priest specially authorized. The practise of such reservation is defended on the ground that Christ granted the power of absolution only to the apostles and their successors (John xx. 21-23), and that the pope and bishops have thus the right to reserve to themselves as much of this power as in their judgment the good of the Church requires. This view is formally sanctioned by the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV., cap. vii., de pnitentia, 11). The cases in question are "certain graver cases of offense," "certain more atrocious and graver offenses"grave external sins, definitely completed and specifically determined by the legislator, i.e., by the pope or bishop. The details were gradually fixed in practise. Ordinarily speaking, the popes reserved to themselves only sins for which excommunication was the penalty, from which only the apostolic see could release the culprit, though there are some to which this did not apply. The principal instances are these named in the bull In cna Domini . Where, in these cases, the sin is not matter of public knowledge, the bishops are allowed to absolve (in person or by deputy) in foro conscienti; and other cases reserved to the pope are placed in their jurisdiction by their quinquennial faculties (see FACULTIES). The constitution Apostolic sedis of Pius IX. (1869) gives precise details on the different classes of reserved cases at the present day. The cases reserved to the bishops vary according to the locality; in general, they include a number of the graver sins, certain forms of unchastity, homicide, breach of the seal of confession by priests, etc. Bishops commonly depute their powers over a number of these cases to subordinates, either permanently or for special seasons. In all kinds of reserved cases, however, a penitent may be absolved by any priest in case of urgent necessity, such as approaching death.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Hausmann, Geschichte der päpstlichen Reservatfälle, New York, 1868; H. C. Lea, History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, i. 312 sqq., Philadelphia, 1896.
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