The word is specifically applied in the early Roman Catholic Church to the examination of the catechumens or those under instruction in the faith. They were taught the creed and the Lord's Prayer, examined therein, and exorcized prior to baptism. The days of scrutiny varied at different periods from three to seven. From about the end of the 12th century, when it became usual to baptize infants soon after their birth instead of at stated times (Easter and Pentecost), the ceremony of scrutiny was incorporated with that of the actual baptism.
Scrutiny is also a term applied to a method of electing a pope in the Catholic Church, in contradistinction to two other methods, acclamation and accession. In the law of elections, scrutiny is the careful examination of votes cast after the unsuccessful candidate has lodged a petition claiming the seat, and alleging that he has the majority of legal votes. Each vote is dealt with separately, notice being given beforehand by one party to the other of the votes objected to and the grounds of objection.