benefit clergy

benefit of clergy

noun
1.
the rites or sanctions of a church.
2.
formal marriage: living together withoutbenefit of clergy.
3.
the privilege claimed by church authorities to try and punish, by an ecclesiastical court, any member of the clergy accused of a serious crime. The privilege was abolished in the U.S. in 1790 and in England in 1827.

Origin:
1480–90

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
benefit of clergy
 
n
1.  sanction by the church: marriage without benefit of clergy
2.  (in the Middle Ages) a privilege that placed the clergy outside the jurisdiction of secular courts and entitled them to trial in ecclesiastical courts

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