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If an Abbot's jurisdiction extends beyond the limits of his abbey, over the inhabitants -- clergy and laity -- of a certain district or territory which forms an integral part of a bishop's diocese, he belongs to the middle grade ( praelatus quasi nullius dioecesis ) and his exemption is termed active ( exemptio activa ).
And when an Abbot has jurisdiction over the clergy and laity of a district or territory (comprising one or several cities and places) which forms no part whatever of any diocese, his abbey is styled vere nullius dioecesis (of no diocese) and, excepting a few rights only, for the exercise of which the ordo episcopalis is required, his authority is in all things equal to that of a bishop.
Regular Abbots are prelates in the full sense of the word, and their dignity is of three grades.
An Abbot who presides only over such persons, ecclesiastical and lay, as are attached to his monastery, belongs to the lowest grade, and his jurisdiction carries with it what is called the simple passive exemption ( exemptio passiva ) from the authority of the diocesan bishop.
Paul extra Muros ( Rome ); that of Monte Vergine near Avellino, founded by St. All exempt abbeys, no matter what the canonical title or degree of their exemption, are under the immediate jurisdiction of the Holy See.
The whole government of a religious house depends upon the Abbot.
When the monasteries in which the same regular observance is followed, or the abbeys of the same province, district, or country form a congregation, i.e.
a federation of houses to promote the general interest of the order, the presiding Abbot is styled the "Abbot President", or the "Abbot General." Thus, the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance has at its head an Abbot General; the English Congregation, the American-Cassinese, and the American-Swiss, have each an Abbot President.
His will is supreme in all things; yet, as the Rule says, nothing is to be taught, commanded, or ordered beyond the precepts of the Lord.
All the officials who are to assist him in the government of the house, are appointed by him and have their authority from him. The Abbot, by virtue of his office, administers the temporal possessions of the community, exercises a general supervision for the maintenance of monastic discipline, provides for the keeping of the Rule, punishes and, if need be, excommunicates the refractory, presides in choir during the recitation of the Office, and at Divine Service, and gives the blessings.Benedict were united under the presidency of an "Abbot Primate" ( Leo XIII , Summum semper , 12 July, 1893); but the unification, fraternal in its nature, brought no modification to the abbatial dignity, and the various congregations preserved their autonomy intact.