OBEDIENCE, in canon law means the duty by which the various gradations in eccle siastical organization are held subject. in all things consistent with the law of God or of the church, to the several superiors placed immediately above each, respectively, in the hierarchical scale. Thus priests and inferior clergy owe canonical obedience to the bishop. and priests are bound thereto by a solemn promise administered at ordination. The bishop primitively took a similar oath to the metropolitan; but by-the modern law, the jurisdiction of the metropolitan is confined to the occasions of his holding a visita tion. or presiding in the provincial synod. Bishops, by the present law of the Roman Catholic church, take oath of obedience to the pope. This obedience, however, is strictly limited by the canons, and is only held' to bind in things consistent with the divine and natural law. In ecclesiastical history the word obedience has a special signi fication, and is applied to the several parties in the church, which, during the great we st ern schism (q.v.), adhered to the rival popes. Thus we read of the "Roman obedience," which included all who recognized the pope chosen at Rome, and the "Avignon obedi ence," which meant the supporters of the Avignon pope. So, again, historians speak of " the obedience of Gregory XII.," and " the obedience of Benedict XIII.," etc. Applied
to the monastic institute, obedience means the voluntary submission which all members of religious orders vow, at the religious profession, to their immediate superiors, of whatever grade in the order, as well as to the superior general, and still more 1,, the rules and constitutions of the order. This forms, in all orders, one of the cssentia vows. It is, however, expressly confined to lawful things; and although it is held th. a superior can command certain things under pain of sin, yet Roman Catholics repudiau the notion that the command of a superior can render lawful, much less good, a thing which is of its own nature, or by the law of God, sinful or bad. The name obedience is sometimes given to the written precept or other formal instrument by which a superior in a religions ordieticeimMUnientes to one Of his subjects any special precept or instrfic tion—as, for exaffipld,`to'iinde'rtake a certain office, to proceed upon a particular mission, to relinquish a certain appointment, etc. The instruction, or the instrument containing it, is called an obedience, because it is held to bind in virtue of religions obedience.