Church patronage

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The church patronage or advowson (Latin ius patronatus ), short and patronage , the patron of is national or landlord (also a local authority ) about a church that is located on its territory.

A patronage box, St. Anne's Church in Prießnitz near Borna

Definition of terms

Patron is the Latin equivalent for Kirchherr (also Kilchherr in the Swiss-speaking area). A church patronage is generally understood to be a legal relationship between a parish and its patron. Depending on the legal structure, a patronage can be exercised by a female or male person who takes on special responsibility for a church; be it in the form of a regular contribution or in the form of a construction load obligation.

Historical creation

The history of church patronage as a legal construction goes back a long way. The church patronage developed from the private church system of the Middle Ages. Until the approval of the church patronage by Pope Alexander III. in the 12th century AD most of the churches were owned by noble landlords or by towns. These were foundations for the benefit of the Church.

It is true that the donors were not allowed to alienate the churches from their purpose. The donors nevertheless remained the legal owners of the church building and the beneficiary . The patronage law has changed significantly over the years. The popes fought against private church law in the high Middle Ages . Alexander III nevertheless introduced the church patronage (also church law or law of collatures), which solidified the superior property of the founder and his legal successor under canon law, but also positiveized the pastor's rights of use.

Legal requirements

The following prerequisites were required for the establishment of a church patronage: The person in question had to have a canonical acquisition title, he had to be able to become a patron (legal or natural person with ecclesiastical ability), an object capable of patronage (e.g. a church) had to be exist, the future patron had to receive a church authority approval to acquire patronage. A distinction is still made today (2014) between encumbered and unencumbered patrons. The encumbered are real patronage associated with the ownership of a good, i.e. H. The patron is the owner of the property associated with the patronage, provided that he is a member of the church and acknowledges its principles.

Rights and duties of the patron

One of the duties of a patron is the construction work on the church building and sometimes on the parsonage , often also the remuneration of the pastor and other officials of the church.

The rights are partly rights of honor , e.g. B. on a special seat in the church in the patronage stalls and the mention in prayer, some real rights , such as. B. the possibility of proposing the new pastor to the ecclesiastical authority when filling a parish again ( right of presentation ) and to be able to exercise the right of veto when a person who does not like the patron takes over the pastor's office . In addition, the previous church (s) was entitled to burial in the church. This position with historical patrons can also be seen today in numerous art treasures in churches.

The patronage of the German St. Petri Church in Copenhagen , which still exists today, is a special case : in the course of the 17th century the patron developed from a supervisory body to the highest lobbyist of the community.

Significance of the patronage contracts today

Historical church patrons exist in large numbers in western Germany. In the diocese of Augsburg z. B. 22 private and 35 municipal patronages, which entitle the patronage or the respective city or parish council to present the bishop with a pastor of their choice. Some patrons are no longer exercised or exercised cautiously, i. H. the authorized representative and the bishop agree on who is to be presented before the presentation. However, there are still patrons who exercise their rights in the old way. The Second Vatican Council demanded the free right of bishops to appoint the parishes of their dioceses ( Christ Dominus , nos. 18 and 21). As a result, some dioceses attempted to push back patronage. A legal dispute in the Diocese of Passau, for example, helps to clarify the legal security for existing patronage: The apostolic signature , the highest court of the church, shows in its judgment the criteria for the continued existence of patronage rights.

In the Evangelical Church in Baden , the patron's consent is sought when filling the regionally preserved patronage parishes both at the opening and at the end of the procedure; the list of nominations for election by the regional church is also coordinated with him. The election itself is made by the congregation, unless there is an appointment procedure on the part of the regional church - which in turn would involve the patron. Before changes to these rules, the regional church granted the patronage holders a hearing.

In the Evangelical Church in Württemberg , the last patronage rights, which had affected 137 pastoral positions since 1920, were in 1992 with the death of the last patron saint Reinhard von Koenig-Fachsenfeld (1899–1992), who last exercised his rights in 1988 at the Fachsenfeld pastor near Aalen had gone out for good.

In 2012 there were still 131 patronages in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover . New patrons cannot be created.

In the east of Germany, the chivalry patronage came to a virtual standstill (if not necessarily legally), as manor owners were expelled from their courts between 1945 and 1949. However, it should be noted that the patronage has not been legally abolished and were predominantly connected in rem with the country. In this respect, the current owners would have the right of patronage. In practice, however, the legal situation in the Protestant regional churches in eastern Germany is different. In some regional churches, the right of patronage has not only actually come to a standstill, but no longer exists today. For reasons of monument protection, other regional churches are going over to revitalizing old patronage agreements or even signing new patronage agreements.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. cann. 1448–1471 CIC / 17 ( Latin , English )
  2. ^ Gmür, Roth: Grundrisse der Deutschen Rechtsgeschichte . 2005, marginal no. 119
  3. Jürgen Beyer: The first patron who wasn't and who existed twice. The origin of the patronage at the Sankt Petri Church . In: 400 years of royal patron of Sankt Petri / 400 år kongelig patron for Sankt Petri . [Copenhagen:] Sankt Petri [2016], pp. 61–65.
  4. Rudolf Neumaier: The Lord Count and his souls. In a Lower Bavarian village, a nobleman decides who will be the pastor in his community . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 19, 2015, p. 12.
  5. Prot. N. 19391/87 CA , Sententia definitiva coram Stickler (June 2, 1990) to Graf von Deym in Arnstorf
  6. ^ Matthias Ambros: Administrative complaint and administrative jurisdiction. The efficiency of church legal protection measured against a Passau patronage dispute (= church and state church law, 22) . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2016, ISBN 978-3-506-78397-4 .
  7. § 14a – d Parish Occupation Act (PfStBesG). April 12, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2017 .
  8. Andreas Weiß: Canon Law of the Evangelical Church in Württemberg and selected Evangelical Free Churches. A comparison . Tübingen 2012, p. 34, note 242.
  9. ^ Patronage day on; accessed on April 23, 2020
  10. Church law on patronage (Patronatsgesetz) of December 14, 1981, Section 1, Paragraph 2, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover ( ); accessed on April 23, 2020
  11. z. B. according to SaEvKiStVG i. V. m. Art. 12 para. 1 sentence 1 Evangelical Church Treaty of Saxony: "The patronage rights existing in the Free State are revoked."
  12. Which historical patronage contracts, development associations and foundations: legal structures for the preservation of endangered village churches . ( Memento from July 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) ilex Rechtsanwälte & Steuerberater, Potsdam / Berlin