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Usually applied to a situation where a priest who does not have jurisdiction to hear confessions is believed by the people to have such jurisdiction. If they confess their sins to him, his sacramental absolution is valid. But the error must be founded on a reasonable conclusion from a given practical situation which is public; it cannot be just an assumption or the result of mere ignorance. (Etym. Latin communis, common, joint, combined; general.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.