(1) The exceptional relaxation of a church law or penalty by the canonical authority owing to the needs of a special case or occasion. The dispensation must be for good cause. The church law remains valid despite the dispensation, but it is not applied to the case or situation specified by the dispensation. Members of the church not included in the dispensation continue to be bound by the church law as they were before the dispensation. The church can only dispense its own laws, not natural or divine law. Dispensations have often concerned the church's requirements concerning ordination, marriage, religious vows, and disciplines such as fasting.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.