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Catholic Dictionary




A relaxation of the Church's law in a particular case. It is neither an abrogation of the law nor an excuse from observing the law but a release from its observance, temporarily or permanently, by competent authority, for good reasons. the Pope can dispense from all purely ecclesiastical laws, Other Church authorities can dispense from the laws that they or their predecessors have passed. Only those can dispense from the laws of a higher superior who are granted the power either by the Church's general legislation or by a special delegation. (Etym. Latin dispensatio, distribution, administration; freeing, release: from dis- + pendere, to weigh: dispendere, to weigh out.)