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Patronato Real


Royal patronage, a form of Church-State relationship in which the State played an active role in the administration and support of the Church, developed extensively in the colonial empires of Portugal and Spain. Papal grants were its foundation but it was extended through the centuries by the unilateral action of the State.

Padroado of Portugal

Padroado or patronage is a form of ecclesiastical benefice.

Origin. From the fifth century, laymen were called upon by the Church to help in the building of churches and in the establishment of other pious foundations. In return they were offered several privileges. The Council of Trent was very outspoken on this matter. Two kinds of rights were assigned to the patron: juspraesentandi and jura honorifica. The first entitled him to appoint the person to the ecclesiastical benefice, whether bishop, parish priest, abbot, etc. Rights and duties of the patrons were summarized in the following Latin verses: Patrono debetur honos, onus, emolumentum, Praesentet, praesit, defendat, alatur egenus. Patronage was thus both binding and useful to the patron. In case of need he could even avail himself of the revenues of his church or ecclesiastical foundation.

Christianity developed throughout Europe by means of this system of patronage. Portugal was no exception. Kings and nobles were patrons to many churches, chapels, and other pious foundations. In the 15th century the popes extended Portuguese patronage overseas, as the building of churches and the formation and maintenance of missionaries entailed enormous expenses. It was the Order of Christ, established in Portugal in 1319 to replace the Order of the Temple, then about to be suppressed, which received this right of patronage. As the administrators of the Order of Christ were members of the royal family, the overseas patronage became known as the Royal Patronage. The Church realized that, although there were many misuses and complaints about European patronage, it was necessary to encourage the Portuguese to carry their Christian faith overseas. From then on patronage decayed in Europe, but flourished in Africa, India, Brazil, China, Japan, etc. The reaction of the popes, from the beginning of the Portuguese expansion, was most enthusiastic. martin v in 1418 started a long list of graces and privileges granted by the Church to the Portuguese overseas patronage.

The system was duly carried out with good results. Bishops were presented by the kings of Portugal, as administrators of the Order of Christ and later nominated by the Holy See. In 1580 Portugal fell under the Spanish crown and remained thus up to 1640, when a national revolution reestablished a Portuguese dynasty on the throne. During this period (15801640) something new had happened in Church organization. The Congregation for the propagation of the faith (Propaganda Fide) was established in 1622, and it immediately took command of all mission work. Its first "Instructions" ordered Propaganda missionaries to carry the gospel to regions other than those already under padroado personnel. From 1622 to 1640 Portuguese patronage cooperated with the Propaganda Fide. In 1640, however, after the victory of the Portuguese revolution, relations between the two missionary bodies were seriously undermined. Spain did not at once recognize Portuguese independence and influenced the Holy See to take the same position. Portuguese bishops died one after the other, both in Europe and in the East, and were not replaced by the normal appointment of others. It was only in 1668, when both Spain and the Holy See recognized Lusitanian independence, that this sad state of affairs could be duly redressed.

Padroado versus Propaganda Fide. During this critical period of 28 years (164068) the long, drawn-out clashes began between missionaries sent by the Propaganda and those under the padroado. They took place mainly in Cochin China, Tonkin, Siam, and India. The padroado missionaries had several flourishing missions in these regions that had been entrusted by pontifical bulls to padroado dioceses. Taking advantage of the political situation then prevailing in Europe, Propaganda missionaries, instead of establishing themselves in other places, preferred to occupy positions close to the ones belonging to the padroado dioceses. In France, under Louis XIV, the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris (see paris foreign mission society) was founded in this period.

The Jesuit Alexander de rhodes, after an extensive tour of the East, came to the conclusion that the Church could not depend altogether on the decadent padroado dioceses. According to his opinion, the Holy See should appoint titular bishops or vicars apostolic, sent directly by Rome and independent from Lisbon. Portugal held the opinion that since the dioceses had been duly created and their boundaries properly marked in their respective bulls, any change would have to be agreed upon after mutual consultation. Besides, according to Portuguese officials, the vicars apostolic would be welcome in territories not assigned to the padroado dioceses; once within diocesan boundaries, such vicars apostolic would automatically fall under diocesan jurisdiction.

In 1658 the Holy See appointed the first two vicars apostolic, franÇois pallu, Bishop of Heliopolis and Pierre lambert de la motte, Bishop of Berith. They received from the Holy See the task of exercising their jurisdiction not only in Tonkin and Cochin China, but also over all adjoining territories. Tonkin and Cochin China belonged to the padroado. A similar occurrence took place in Siam. The missionaries sent by the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris built a church only four or five miles away from the one under the padroado priests. In 1668 the Holy See declared that Siam belonged indeed to the Diocese of Malacca, but later on, in 1669, came a new statement from Rome to the effect that the French missionaries could hold jurisdiction over their own Christians. Thus originated the famous double jurisdiction. Clashes occurred and in 1673 Siam was definitely taken out of the Malacca diocese. Tonkin belonged to the macau diocese, but was also taken over by the Propaganda in 1696, as was Cochin China.

India, however, was the scene of the most deplorable misunderstanding between padroado and Propaganda missionaries. Portuguese padroado had the following dioceses in Indian territory: goa, Cochin, Mylapur and Cranganor. Bombay became an object of dispute between the Goanese clergy (padroado) and the Propaganda missionaries. Bombay had been given to the English as part of the dowry of the Portuguese Princess Catherine, when she married Charles II of England. The Bombay Catholic population, mainly composed of Goans, remained sympathetic toward their own missionaries (the Goan clergy), who were appointed by their ordinary, the archbishop of Goa. The new Protestant political authorities of Bombay did not rely on such priests and managed to have new missionaries sent them by the Vicar Apostolic of the Great Mogul, recently appointed, Father Mauritius of St. Theresa, an Italian Carmelite. In spite of Portuguese remonstrances, the Holy See agreed to the change and in 1720 the Goan fathers had to leave. As time went on, relations between Goa and Bombay authorities improved and in 1789 the vicar apostolic of the Great Mogul, Father Victory of St. Mary, received official notification to quit Bombay, which by then was the official residence of the same vicars apostolic. Thus the Goan priests came back, but the Bombay Catholics were already deeply divided. The East India Company, in order to avoid any further breaches of the peace, decided to divide the then existent churches between the two groups: two for the padroado and two for the Propaganda missionaries.

Between 1834 and 1836, when Portugal had broken off her diplomatic relations with Rome, the Holy See under Gregory XVI reorganized the Indian missions. Three eminent theologians were consulted as to whether the Holy See could extinguish the Portuguese padroado outside non-Portuguese territories without consulting the patron. Gregory XVI acted immediately and published the brief Multa praeclare on April 24, 1838, in which it was solemnly stated that the padroado was to be exercised only in the archdiocese of Goa and in the diocese of Macau. All the other Indian territories would belong to the Propaganda. Although Bombay belonged to the archdiocese of Goa, apparently in Rome it was taken for granted that it did not. It was this geographical error that was at the root of all future clashes. As there was no official new statement from the Holy See regarding Bombay, the padroado missionaries defended their presence in Bombay to their utmost. It was, in fact, during these years that the Church in India was shaken by most regrettable disputes. In 1841 diplomatic relations between Lisbon and Rome were renewed.

In the meantime, however, things went so far that three bishops became involved in the imbroglio: J. da Silva Torres, Archbishop of Goa; J. da Mata, Bishop of Macao; and A. Hartmann, Vicar Apostolic of Patna. Bombay was always the crucial question. While the padroado bishops maintained that until a new official decision by the Holy See was published, Bombay would continue to belong to the archdiocese of Goa, Propaganda circles asserted that by the Multa praeclare it had ceased to belong to the padroado and there was no need for further official pronouncement. The Holy See came to the conclusion that the best solution was to conclude a concordat with Portugal.

Conclusion. The concordat was duly signed in 1857. In 1886 a new concordat was negotiated and remained valid until 1928. Portuguese padroado maintained in India, besides the archdiocese of Goa, the diocese of Damão (later attached to Goa), the titular diocese of Cranganor, the diocese of Cochin, and that of St. Thomas of Mylapur. Bombay remained under double jurisdiction. Other agreements were afterward signed with the effect of reducing more and more the field of the padroado missions. In 1950, after the independence of India and upon negotiations with the Holy See, Portugal renounced the padroado in Indian territory, but the archdiocese of Goa kept some mission posts outside Portuguese Goa. A final agreement signed on Oct. 25, 1953, put an end to the padroado in India. In 1974, the Portuguese renounced their padroado privileges over the Archdiocese of Macau, putting an end to the padroado system.

In Africa and in Brazil, the padroado system had no difficulties at all, for the Propaganda missionaries did not try to work in those territories. Conflicts burst out only in territories given first to the padroado but claimed afterward by the Propaganda. As other missionaries stepped in and as Portugal had lost influence in such territories, the padroado had to adapt itself to the new circumstances.

[a. da silva rego]

Patronato of Spain

The origin, theories, operation, and effects of the patronato of Spain are similar to those of the Portuguese padroado.

Origin and Theories. Upon the return of Columbus from his first trip to America, the rulers of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, immediately asked Pope Alexander VI for documents affirming their right to the recently discovered territory (see alexandrine bulls). Through letters issued in 1493, the Holy Father charged these rulers with the spiritual conquest of the natives of the New World, making concessions so broad and vague that they lent themselves to differing interpretations.

The first of these documents was the confidential Inter caetera (May 3) in which a grant was made, with exclusive rights to all the islands and land (the rights of the Portuguese rulers being respected) and with concession of apostolic privileges for the Christianizing enterprise to which the Spanish monarchs were obligated. Others followed: Piis fidelium (June 25), granting vicarial power to appoint the missionaries who were to go to the Indies and various privileges to these and to the natives of the lands discovered; Inter caetera (probably June 28), broader than the bull of the same name, with some variations but with the same intent; Eximiae devotionis (probably July 2), granting pleno jure all the privileges that the Portuguese enjoyed; and Dudum siquidem (September 25), which annulled the previous concessions and made a new general grant, unconditional and unlimited, and broader so as to include India.

Since the rights acquired by the king over the territories of the Indies were not clarified, the grant of general patronage was issued again during the papacy of Julius II. On July 28, 1508, the bull Universalis ecclesiae was issued; it gave the rulers of Castile and León the right in perpetuity to grant permission for the construction of "large churches" and to propose proper persons for the offices and benefices of the cathedrals, collegiate churches, monasteries and other pious places. It stipulated that presentations for benefices decreed in consistory were to be made to the pope and all the rest of the bishops.

From the papal documents, Spanish authors arrived at various theories as to the juridical nature of the royal right, which evolved historically as follows: (1) During the 16th century, patronage, properly speaking, was considered an ecclesiastical juridical right that the king exercised by virtue of specific apostolic concession. (2) In the 17th century it was held that the royal vicariate that made the king a delegate of the pope for the Church in the Indies originated in the Church, but once granted, it was irrevocable, properly and exclusively the monarch's in full right (juridically it could be classified as a mixed right, ecclesiastical and civil). (3) The regalism of the 18th century maintained that it was the right of the monarch, inherent in the crown and as such juridically a purely civil right, which the monarch exercised over some ecclesiastical affairs. The reaction of the Church to the doctrines these theories proclaimed was to put the works of their authors on the Index of Prohibited Books, as was done with the De indiarum iure (Madrid 1641) of Juan de Solórzano Pereira, and the Tractatus de regio patronata (Madrid 1677) of Pedro Frasso.

Operation. In spite of theoretical distinctions, in practice the right of patronage was exercised in almost the same manner throughout the centuries of viceregal government in the Americas. Since presentation was the essential right of patronage, this aspect is most interesting to examine. Whenever the king had notice of a vacant see, he sent an order to the Cámara of the Council of the Indies to propose candidates. From all the information that had been accumulated on the ecclesiastics, the Cámara selected three names and suggested them to the king, who consulted the father confessor. The latter chose one, which the king invariably proposed to the Holy See for papal approval. The appointment of capitular prebendaries was made in the same way, without the intervention of the Roman Curia.

According to the legislative system of the Indies, the viceroys, the presidents of the audiencias and the provincial governors were vice patrons; they were charged with proposing candidates for offices and benefices. In the case of vacancies in benefices held by secular clergy, the bishop or the cabildo of the vacant see if the benefice was a bishopric, called the candidates together within a set time. When the examinations had been taken and the candidates approved, the three most suitable ones were proposed to the vice patron; he chose one and proposed him to the bishop for canonical bestowal of the benefice. For benefices held by the regular clergy, the religious superiors selected three of their subjects, in accord with their rights and proposed them to the vice patron. The latter chose one and proposed him to the bishop, who had the right to examine the candidate before approving him for the appointment.

In spite of strict limitation of the right of patronage to the presentation of candidates, the kings arrogated to themselves derivative rights. These involved not only the bureaucratic procedures to which the nominees were subjected (the same as those applying to civil public officials), but also limitations on the autonomy of the Church and of the hierarchy. The Council of the Indies was given the right to examine all documents issued by the Holy See and to allow their free circulation (regium exequatur ), to hold back those that it did not want to reach the Church in America, or to change their content in order that the king's right of patronage might not be infringed upon. The bishops were prohibited from making visits ad limina and from sending information about their dioceses to Rome; they were required to send it to the Council of the Indies. Through these measures the Church in the Indies was kept completely isolated from the Roman Curia during the three centuries of the colonial period.

The king also maintained the right to send the bishop-elect to govern the diocese while procedures were under way to obtain papal approval, as well as the right of being represented in provincial councils and among the applicants for benefices by a royal delegate, who defended patronage. The holders of benefices did not receive inalienable possession of them; they were subject to removal ad nutum by the vice patron and the bishop, by common agreement, for just cause. In practice the patronato regulated the qualifications of candidates for the priesthood and for the religious life, as well as the erection of monasteries and the destruction of those built without royal permission. There was even legislation as to the place that the ecclesiastic judge and vicar-general of the diocese, not being prebendary, was to occupy in the meetings of the ecclesiastic chapter inside and outside the choir.

Effects. The methods of control established by the kingmany of them not canonicallimited the action of the Church in America and hindered its full development during the viceregal period. The dioceses kept their original limits, which made spiritual government difficult. Permission was denied for building monasteries and other pious establishments; the ordination and profession of mestizos was prohibited (during the 17th century), contributing to the scarcity of secular and regular clergy and of nuns, which deprived the faithful of proper training. The anticanonical subjection of the religious orders to juridic decree and diocesan law limited the privileges and the autonomy which the Church grants to the orders to enable them to develop their apostleship in the most suitable manner; it made them virtually officials of the State.

Because of this system, which prevailed for three centuries, when independence was achieved in the American provinces the Church lacked the training necessary for establishing autonomy within the State. The new governments tried to obtain from the Holy See the same privileges of patronage that the rulers of Castile had enjoyed. Ferdinand VII prevented this through his representative to the Vatican, alleging his right of presentation, which he claimed had been granted to the person of the king, not because of his political bonds with the American people. The new republics systematically rejected nominees who arrived from Rome. In order to reconcile the interests of the various parties, the Holy See tried to provide bishops in partibus while the problem was being solved, but this effort met with protest and resistance on the part of the American hierarchy. Pius VII, Leo XII and Pius VIII finally stopped making nominations. In Mexico all the bishoprics were vacant in April 1829.

The Spanish government continued to exercise the right of patronage in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines during the 19th century.

Bibliography: Portugal. a. da silva rego, Le Patronage portugais de l'Orient: Aperçu historique (Lisbon 1957). j. godinho, The Padroado of Portugal in the Orient, 14541860 (Bombay 1924). e. hull, Bombay Mission History and the Padroado Question, 2 v. (Bombay 192730). a. lourenÇo, Utrum fuerit Schisma Goanum post Breve "Multa praeclare" usque ad annum 1849 (Goa 1947). Spain. j. garcÍa gutiÉrrez, Apuntes para la historia del origen y desenvolvimiento del regio patronato indiano hasta 1857 (Mexico City 1941). a. de la hera, El regalismo borbónico en su proyección indiana (Madrid 1963). p. de leturia, Relaciones entre la Santa Sede e Hispanoamérica, 3 v. (Analecta Gregoriana, 101103; 195960).

[w. m. porras]

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