Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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The sphere within which the Church exercises her judicial authority. The external forum deals with matters that concern the public welfare of the Church and the people of God; the internal pertains to her jurisdiction in matters of conscience, notably the sacrament of penance, where sins are forgiven or retained and questions of morality are decided as to guilt, restitution, or responsibility.