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Consistory

CONSISTORY

The consistory was main diocesan administrative and judicial organ in the Russian Orthodox Church from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth. The 1721 Spiritual Regulation of Peter I marked a new period in the history of the administrative life of the Orthodox Church. Although the Regulation did not refer specifically to a consistory, nineteenth-century Russian church historians cited Clause 5 in the section pertaining to bishops as pointing to the eventual consistory. Diocesan administration changed only gradually in the eighteenth century. In many ways it came to mirror the provincial government administration, as well as the collegial organization of the church's higher administrative body, the Holy Synod. Although the consistory can be seen as part of the modern institutional church, nineteenth-century churchmen often associated it with an ancient form of church government (a council of presbyters) described in the writings of such early Christians as Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian of Carthage and Ambrose of Milan.

During the early decades of the eighteenth century, diocesan boards were referred to by various names. A 1744 directive called for a uniform name"consistory"for all such diocesan boards. An 1832 directive reiterated this directive for the Kiev, Chernigov, and Kishinev dioceses. The responsibilities and rules governing the consistory were finally standardized in 1841. This statute was revised in 1883 and remained in effect until 1918.

Consistories were organized into two parts: a collegial board (usually three to five members; more if local circumstances demanded) and a chancery office. The management of the consistory's day-to-day business fell to a chancery office staffed by lay clerks and overseen by a secretary. At first, members of the consistory's board were drawn mostly from the monastic clergy. By 1768, that trend was reversed, and a 1797 directive instructed that at least half of the consistory's members be chosen from among married parish priests. Deacons were not eligible to serve on consistory boards. In theory, the bishop presided over the consistory, and no decision could be put forward without his ratification. In practice, however, the issue of authority was not always so clear. For instance, the diocesan bishop nominated members for the board, but the Holy Synod confirmed them. Similarly, while responsible to the bishop, the secretary was nominated by the ober-procurator and confirmed by members of the Holy Synod.

The consistory oversaw a wide range of affairs. These included the growth and preservation of the Orthodox faith (and the teaching and preaching that helped to achieve these ends); liturgical schedules; the maintenance and decoration of churches; the recommendation of candidates for clerical positions; the dissemination of episcopal and synodal directives; and the collection of records from parishes. As an ecclesiastical court, the consistory was concerned with certain issues relating to marriage and divorce; birth, baptismal and death records; crimes and misdemeanors involving clergy; complaints against clergy for negligence in their liturgical or pastoral responsibilities; and disputes among clergy over the use of church property. Although the consistory's judicial concerns lay primarily with clergy, laity became involved when the issue of penance (epitemiya ) arose.

The chancery processed numerous requests, petitions, and reports by dividing them among various "tables." Members of the consistory's board were assigned to oversee these tables but, in practice, preparing a case for presentation and resolution depended largely on lay clerks. Once cases were ready for review, members of the board, at least in theory, were supposed to review and decide on them collectively. The secretary oversaw the decision-making process and helped to resolve cases that members could not decide unanimously. The diocesan bishop was to review and ratify all decisions.

The consistory became a subject of debate in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Churchmen often complained that the consistory's formalism and lack of efficiency caused ill relations between parish clergy and laity on the one hand and the diocesan administration on the other. Churchmen were also concerned about the bureaucratic quality with which serious issues of Christian life were often decided, with seemingly no attention to scripture or canon law. Low pay for consistory employees did not help matters, and complaints of bribes were not uncommon. Evaluations of the consistory were determined in large part by the evaluator's perspective and understanding of episcopal authority, the relationship between the central, diocesan, and even more regional church administrations, and the involvement of laity in the management of diocesan affairs. Most churchmen maintained that the consistory's judicial and administrative functions should be separated and independently overseen, as they had been in the civil sphere since 1864. In 1918, the All-Russian Church Council carried out sweeping church administrative reforms, and the consistory ceased to exist. In its place, the Council established a separate local diocesan court, a diocesan council and a diocesan assembly.

See also: russian orthodox church.

bibliography

Cunningham, James W. (1981). A Vanquished Hope: The Movement for Church Renewal in Russia, 19051906. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Freeze, Gregory L. (1977). The Russian Levites: Parish Clergy in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Freeze, Gregory L. (1983). The Parish Clergy in Nineteenth-Century Russia: Crisis, Reform, Counter-Reform. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Muller, Alexander V., ed. and tr. (1972). The Spiritual Regulation of Peter the Great. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Vera Shevzov

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"Consistory." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Consistory

Consistory

Judaism

Official organization of the French Jewish Community. Its constitution was drafted at the Assembly of Jewish Notables called by the Emperor Napoleon in 1806, whose purpose was to integrate Jews as ‘useful citizens’.

Christianity

Any of certain ecclesiastical courts (the consistory being the room in which Roman emperors administered justice). In the Roman Catholic Church, the consistory is the assembly of cardinals convoked by the pope and conducted in his presence. It may be public (e.g. to appoint new cardinals) or private to consider Church business. In the Church of England the consistory court is the bishop's diocesan court.

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"Consistory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Consistory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved December 14, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/consistory

consistory

consistory †council chamber; council; (eccl.) bishop's court, papal ‘senate’ XIV; court of presbyters XVI. — AN. consistorie = (O)F. consistoire — late L. consistōrium, f. consistere (see CONSIST); see -ORY 1.
Hence consistorial XV.

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Consistory

Consistory

a solemn council; a court; an ecclesiastical senate. See also conclave.

Examples: consistory of bishops, of martyrs, 1641; of saints, 1641; of senators, 1660.

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consistory

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