clergy

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clergy

ministers, priests or pastors of churches. Historically clergy were exempt from trial or punishment before the secular courts, which was known as benefit of clergy. On the other hand, until the House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Act 2001, clergy could not sit in the House of Commons. (Lords Spiritual who sit in the House of Lords are still excluded from the Commons.)

CLERGY. All who are attached to the ecclesiastical ministry are called the clergy; a clergyman is therefore an ecclesiastical minister.
     2. Clergymen were exempted by the emperor Constantine from all civil burdens. Baronius ad ann. 319, Sec. 30. Lord Coke says, 2 Inst. 3, ecclesiastical persons have more and greater liberties than other of the king's subjects, wherein to set down all, would take up a whole volume of itself.
     3. In the United States the clergy is not established by law, but each congregation or church may choose its own clergyman.