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49 Jurist 347 (1989)
The Apostolic Visitation of a Diocese: A Canonico-Historical Investigation

handle is hein.journals/juristcu49 and id is 353 raw text is: TIIE JURIST 49 (1989) 347-398

Is Archbishop Hickey's visit to Seattle a standard church pro-
cedure?' This was the first question raised and addressed when Arch-
bishop Raymond Hunthausen announced on October 26, 1983 that the
Archdiocese of Seattle would soon be the subject of an apostolic in-
vestigation to be conducted by Archbishop James Hickey of the Arch-
diocese of Washington. This question has been asked again and again
both in the popular media and in scholarly circles as events in Seattle
and elsewhere have unfolded since 1983. Despite the uproar that fol-
lowed in the wake of the apostolic visitation of the Archdiocese of
Seattle, the question remains unanswered: Is an apostolic visitation of
a diocese a standard church procedure? This paper is a modest effort
to respond to this vexing question by tracing the main lines of the
historical development of the canonical institute of the apostolic visi-
tation of a diocese.
Critical to an understanding of an apostolic visitation is an appre-
ciation of the notion of a canonical visitation in general. A canonical
visitation is not a friendly visit. Rather, in the canonical sense,
to visit is nothing other than to inquire about excesses and negli-
gences, to castigate the things uncovered, to correct in accor-
dance with appropriate remedies, and also to preserve and,
where they are lacking, to restore to its pristine state the ob-
servance of obligations toward whatever person and the require-
ment of circumstances.2
I Archbishop Hunthausen on Vatican Requested Study, Origins 13/22 (Novem-
ber 10, 1983) 380.
2 Augustinus Barbosa, De officio et potestate episcopi (Lyons: P. Borde et L. Ar-
naud, 1656), pars 2, allegat. 73, n. 1. The purpose of a canonical visitation is, as Ferraris
insisted and subsequent commentators reiterated, to promote sound and orthodox faith
by the expulsion of heretics, to protect good morals, to correct the wicked, to inflame

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