Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
is a term used in Church law to describe the act of not residing in the local precincts where the duties of the incumbent of an ecclesiastical office require his presence. The early Church passed special laws against non- residence. Justinian ordained that no bishop shall be absent for more than a year without the formal sanction of the emperor; and no bishop shall leave his diocese on pretense of coming to court. The Council of Sardica prohibited episcopal absence for more than three weeks, unless for very weighty reasons; and if the bishop have an estate in another diocese, he may, during three weeks, go there and collect his rents, provided on Sunday he perform worship in the church near which his lands lie. (See RESIDENCE).
The Council of Agde, yet more stringent with the inferior clergy, sentenced to suspension from communion for three years a presbyter or deacon who should be absent for three weeks. During the mediaeval period, and especially during the unhappy contests of the Western schism, great abuses prevailed. The whole substance of the legislation of the Roman Church on the subject, however, is compressed in the decrees of the Council of Trent, which are mainly contained in the decrees of the twenty-second and following sessions, "On Reformation." The decrees of the council regard all Church dignitaries, and others charged with the cure of souls. Without entering into the details, it will suffice to say that for all the penalty of absence, without just cause and due permission, consists in the forfeiture of revenues, in a proportion partly varying with the nature of the benefice, partly adjusted according to the duration of the absence. For each class, moreover, a certain time is fixed, beyond which, during twelve months, absence cannot be permitted. The duty is imposed on persons named in the law of reporting to their ecclesiastical superiors cases of prolonged absence. The same legislation has been confirmed by most of the recent concordats, and is enforced by the civil law of each country. In England, the penalties for non-residence are regulated by 1 and 2 Vict. cap. 106. Under this act, an incumbent absenting himself without the bishop's license for a period exceeding three, and not exceeding six months, forfeits one third of the annual income; if the absence exceed six, and does not exceed eight months, one half is forfeited; and if it be of the whole year, three fourths of the income are forfeited. The persons excused from the obligation of residence by the canon law are sick persons, persons engaged in teaching the theological sciences in approved places of study, and canons in immediate attendance upon the bishop ("canonici a latere"), who ought not to exceed two in number. By the act of 1 and 2 Vict. cap. 106, heads of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, the wardens of Durham University, and the head-masters of Eton, Westminster, and Winchester schools are generally exempted, and temporary exemptions from residence are recognized in other cases, which it would be tedious to detail. In the Roman Catholic Church, besides the general legislation, most of the provincial and diocesan statutes contain special provisions on the subject of non-residence. This legislation Would seem superfluous for Christian men, for it must be granted that nothing can reflect greater disgrace on a clergyman of a parish than to receive the emoluments without ever visiting his parishioners, and being unconcerned for the welfare of their souls; yet this in England has been a reigning evil, and proves that there are too many who care little about the flock, so that they may but live at ease.
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Non-Residence'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/non-residence.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.