Can. 330 Just as, by the decree of the Lord, Saint Peter and the rest of the Apostles
form one College, so for a like reason the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the
Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, are united together in one.
Can. 331 The office uniquely committed by the Lord to Peter, the first of the Apostles,
and to be transmitted to his successors, abides in the Bishop of the Church of Rome. He is
the head of the College of Bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the universal
Church here on earth. Consequently, by virtue of his office, he has supreme, full,
immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, and he can always freely exercise
Can. 332 ß1 The Roman Pontiff acquires full and supreme power in the Church when,
together with episcopal consecration, he has been lawfully elected and has accepted the
election. Accordingly, if he already has the episcopal character, he receives this power
from the moment he accepts election to the supreme pontificate. If he does not have the
episcopal character, he is immediately to be ordained Bishop.
ß2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for
validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not
necessary that it be accepted by anyone.
Can. 333 ß1 By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only has power over the
universal Church, but also has pre‚eminent ordinary power over all particular Churches
and their groupings. This reinforces and defends the proper, ordinary and immediate power
which the Bishops have in the particular Churches entrusted to their care.
ß2 The Roman Pontiff, in fulfilling his office as supreme Pastor of the Church, is
always joined in full communion with the other Bishops, and indeed with the whole Church.
He has the right, however, to determine, according to the needs of the Church, whether
this office is to be exercised in a personal or in a collegial manner.
ß3 There is neither appeal nor recourse against a judgment or a decree of the Roman
Can. 334 The Bishops are available to the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his office,
to cooperate with him in various ways, among which is the synod of Bishops. Cardinals also
assist him, as do other persons and, according to the needs of the time, various
institutes; all these persons and institutes fulfill their offices in his name and by his
authority, for the good of all the Churches, in accordance with the norms determined by
Can. 335 When the Roman See is vacant, or completely impeded, no innovation is to be
made in the governance of the universal Church. The special laws enacted for these
circumstances are to be observed.
Can. 336 The head of the College of Bishops is the Supreme Pontiff, and its members are
the Bishops by virtue of their sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with
the head of the College and its members. This College of Bishops, in which the apostolic
body abides in an unbroken manner, is, in union with its head and never without this head,
also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church.
Can. 337 ß1 The College of Bishops exercises its power over the universal Church in
solemn form in an Ecumenical Council.
ß2 It exercises this same power by the united action of the Bishops dispersed
throughout the world, when this action is as such proclaimed or freely accepted by the
Roman Pontiff, so that it becomes a truly collegial act.
ß3 It belongs to the Roman Pontiff to select and promote, according to the needs of
the Church, ways in which the College of Bishops can exercise its office in respect of the
universal Church in a collegial manner.
Can. 338 ß1 It is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff alone to summon an Ecumenical
Council, to preside over it personally or through others, to transfer, suspend or dissolve
the Council, and to approve its decrees.
ß2 It is also the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to determine the matters to be
dealt with in the Council, and to establish the order to be observed. The Fathers of the
Council may add other matters to those proposed by the Roman Pontiff, but these must be
approved by the Roman Pontiff .
Can. 339 ß1 All Bishops, but only Bishops who are members of the College of Bishops,
have the right and the obligation to be present at an Ecumenical Council with a
ß2 Some others besides, who do not have the episcopal dignity, can be summoned to an
Ecumenical Council by the supreme authority in the Church, to whom it belongs to determine
what part they take in the Council.
Can. 340 If the Apostolic See should become vacant during the celebration of the
Council, it is by virtue of the law itself suspended until the new Supreme Pontiff either
orders it to continue or dissolves it.
Can. 341 ß1 The decrees of an Ecumenical Council do not oblige unless they are
approved by the Roman Pontiff as well as by the Fathers of the Council, confirmed by the
Roman Pontiff and promulgated by his direction.
ß2 If they are to have binding force, the same confirmation and promulgation is
required for decrees which the College of Bishops issues by truly collegial actions in
another manner introduced or freely accepted by the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 342 The synod of Bishops is a group of Bishops selected from different parts of
the world, who meet together at specified times to promote the close relationship between
the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops. These Bishops, by their counsel, assist the Roman
Pontiff in the defense and development of faith and morals and in the preservation and
strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline. They also consider questions concerning the
mission of the Church in the world.
Can. 343 The function of the synod of Bishops is to discuss the matters proposed to it
and set forth recommendations. It is not its function to settle matters or to draw up
decrees, unless the Roman Pontiff has given it deliberative power in certain cases; in
this event, it rests with the Roman Pontiff to ratify the decisions of the synod.
Can. 344 The synod of Bishops is directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff,
whose prerogative it is:
1ƒ to convene the synod, as often as this seems opportune to him, and to designate the
place where the meetings are to be held
2ƒ to ratify the election of those who, in accordance with the special law of the
synod, are to be elected, and to designate and appoint other members;
3ƒ at a suitable time before the celebration of the synod, to prescribe the outlines
of the questions to be discussed, in accordance with the special law;
4ƒ to determine the agenda;
5ƒ to preside over the synod personally or through others;
6ƒ to conclude, transfer, suspend or dissolve the synod.
Can. 345 The synod of Bishops can meet in general assembly, in which matters are dealt
with which directly concern the good of the universal Church; such an assembly is either
ordinary or extraordinary. It can also meet in special assembly, to deal with matters
directly affecting a determined region or regions.
Can. 346 ß1 The synod of Bishops meeting in ordinary general assembly is comprised,
for the most part, of Bishops elected for each assembly by the Episcopal Conferences, in
accordance with the norms of the special law of the synod. Other members are designated
according to the same law; others are directly appointed by the Roman Pontiff. Added to
these are some members of clerical religious institutes, elected in accordance with the
same special law.
ß2 The synod of Bishops meeting in extraordinary general assembly for the purpose of
dealing with matters which require speedy resolution, is comprised for the most part, of
Bishops who, by reason of the office they hold, are designated by the special law of the
synod; others are appointed directly by the Roman Pontiff. Added to these are some members
of clerical religious institutes, elected in accordance with the same law.
ß3 The synod of Bishops which meets in special assembly is comprised of members chosen
principally from those regions for which the synod was convened, in accordance with the
special law by which the synod is governed.
Can. 347 ß1 When the meeting of the synod of Bishops is concluded by the Roman
Pontiff, the function entrusted in it to the Bishops and other members ceases.
ß2 If the Apostolic See becomes vacant after the synod has been convened or during its
celebration, the meeting of the synod, and the function entrusted in it to the members, is
by virtue of the law itself suspended, until the new Pontiff decrees either that the
assembly is to be dissolved or that it is to continue.
Can. 348 ß1 There is to be a permanent general secretariat of the synod, presided over
by a Secretary general appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The Secretary is to have the
assistance of a council of the secretariat, composed of Bishops, some elected by the synod
of Bishops itself in accordance with the special law, others appointed by the Roman
Pontiff. The function of all these persons ceases with the beginning of a new general
ß2 For each assembly of the synod of Bishops there are one or more special
secretaries, who are appointed by the Roman Pontiff. They remain in office only until the
end of the synod assembly.
Can. 349 The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a special
College, whose prerogative it is to elect the Roman Pontiff in accordance with the
norms of a special law. The Cardinals are also available to the Roman Pontiff, either
acting collegially, when they are summoned together to deal with questions of major
importance, or acting individually, that is, in the offices which they hold in assisting
the Roman Pontiff especially in the daily care of the universal Church.
Can. 350 ß1 The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders: the episcopal
order, to which belong those Cardinals to whom the Roman Pontiff assigns the title of a
suburbicarian Church, and eastern‚rite Patriarchs who are made members of the College of
Cardinals; the presbyteral order, and the diaconal order.
ß2 Cardinal priests and Cardinal deacons are each assigned a title or a deaconry in
Rome by the Roman Pontiff.
ß3 Eastern Patriarchs within the College of Cardinals have their patriarchal see as a
ß4 The Cardinal Dean has the title of the diocese of Ostia, together with that of any
other Church to which he already has a title.
ß5 By a choice made in Consistory and approved by the Supreme Pontiff, Cardinal
priests may transfer to another title; Cardinal deacons may transfer to another deaconry
and, if they have been a full ten years in the diaconal order, to the presbyteral order:
priority of order and of promotion is to be observed.
ß6 A Cardinal who by choice transfers from the diaconal to the presbyteral order,
takes precedence over all Cardinal priests who were promoted to the Cardinalate after him.
Can. 351 ß1 Those to be promoted Cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman
Pontiff, who are at least in the order of priesthood and are truly outstanding in
doctrine, virtue, piety and prudence in practical matters; those who are not already
Bishops must receive episcopal consecration.
ß2 Cardinals are created by decree of the Roman Pontiff, which in fact is published in
the presence of the College of Cardinals. From the moment of publication, they are bound
by the obligations and they enjoy the rights defined in the law.
ß3 A person promoted to the dignity of Cardinal, whose creation the Roman Pontiff
announces, but whose name he reserves in petto, is not at that time bound by the
obligations nor does he enjoy the rights of a Cardinal. When his name is published by the
Roman Pontiff, however, he is bound by these obligations and enjoys these rights, but his
right of precedence dates from the day of the reservation in petto.
Can. 352 ß1 The Dean presides over the College of Cardinals. When he is unable to do
so, the sub‚Dean takes his place. The Dean, or the subDean, has no power of governance
over the other Cardinals, but is considered as first among equals.
ß2 When the office of Dean is vacant, those Cardinals who have a suburbicarian title,
and only those, under the presidency of the sub‚Dean if he is present, or of the oldest
member, elect one of their number to act as Dean of the College. They are to submit his
name to the Roman Pontiff, to whom it belongs to approve the person elected.
ß3 In the same way as set out in ß2, the sub‚Dean is elected, with the Dean
presiding. It belongs to the Roman Pontiff to approve also the election of the sub‚Dean.
ß4 If the Dean and sub‚Dean do not already have a domicile in Rome, they acquire it
Can. 353 ß1 Cardinals assist the Supreme Pastor of the Church in collegial fashion
particularly in Consistories, in which they are gathered by order of the Roman Pontiff and
under his presidency. Consistories are either ordinary or extraordinary.
ß2 In an ordinary Consistory all Cardinals, or at least those who are in Rome, are
summoned for consultation on certain grave matters of more frequent occurrence, or for the
performance of especially solemn acts.
ß3 All Cardinals are summoned to an extraordinary Consistory, which takes place when
the special needs of the Church and more serious matters suggest it.
ß4 Only an ordinary Consistory in which certain solemnities are celebrated, can be
public, that is when, in addition to the Cardinals, Prelates, representatives of civil
states and other invited persons are admitted.
Can. 354 Cardinals who head the departments and other permanent sections of the Roman
Curia and of Vatican City, who have completed their seventy-fifth year, are requested to
offer their resignation from office to the Roman Pontiff, who will consider all the
circumstances and make provision accordingly.
Can. 355 ß1 It belongs to the Cardinal Dean to ordain the elected Roman Pontiff a
Bishop, if he is not already ordained. If the Dean is prevented from doing so, the same
right belongs to the sub‚Dean or, if he is prevented, to the senior Cardinal of the
ß2 The senior Cardinal Deacon announces the name of the newly elected Supreme Pontiff
to the people. Acting in place of the Roman Pontiff, he also confers the pallium on
metropolitan Bishops or gives the pallium to their proxies.
Can. 356 Cardinals have the obligation of cooperating closely with the Roman Pontiff.
For this reason, Cardinals who have any office in the Curia and are not diocesan Bishops,
are obliged to reside in Rome. Cardinals who are in charge of a diocese as diocesan
Bishops, are to go to Rome whenever summoned by the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 357 ß1 When a Cardinal has taken possession of a suburbicarian Church or of a
titular Church in Rome, he is to further the good of the diocese or church by counsel and
patronage. However, he has no power of governance over it, and he should not for any
reason interfere in matters concerning the administration of its goods, or its discipline,
or the service of the church.
ß2 Cardinals living outside Rome and outside their own diocese, are exempt in what
concerns their person from the power of governance of the Bishop of the diocese in which
they are residing.
Can. 358 A Cardinal may be deputed by the Roman Pontiff to represent him in some solemn
celebration or assembly of persons as a 'Legatus a latere', that is, as his alter ego; or
he may, as a special emissary, be entrusted with a particular pastoral task. A Cardinal
thus nominated is entitled to deal only with those affairs which have been entrusted to
him by the Roman Pontiff himself.
Can. 359 When the Apostolic See is vacant, the College of Cardinals has only that power
in the Church which is granted to it by special law.
Can. 360 The Supreme Pontiff usually conducts the business of the universal Church
through the Roman Curia, which acts in his name and with his authority for the good and
for the service of the Churches. The Curia is composed of the Secretariat of State or
Papal Secretariat, the Council for the public affairs of the Church, the Congregations,
the Tribunals and other Institutes. The constitution and competence of all these is
defined by special law.
Can. 361 In this Code the terms Apostolic See or Holy See mean not only the Roman
Pontiff, but also, unless the contrary is clear from the nature of things or from the
context, the Secretariat of State, the Council for the public affairs of the Church, and
the other Institutes of the Roman Curia.
Can. 362 The Roman Pontiff has an inherent and independent right to appoint Legates and
to send them either to particular Churches in various countries or regions, or at the same
time to States and to public Authorities. He also has the right to transfer or recall
them, in accordance with the norms of international law concerning the mission and recall
of representatives accredited to States.
Can. 363 ß1 To Legates of the Roman Pontiff is entrusted the office of representing in
a stable manner the person of the Roman Pontiff in the particular Churches, or also in the
States and public Authorities, to whom they are sent.
ß2 Those also represent the Apostolic See who are appointed to pontifical Missions as
Delegates or Observers at international Councils or at Conferences and Meetings.
Can. 364 The principal task of a Papal Legate is continually to make more firm and
effective the bonds of unity which exist between the Holy See and the particular Churches.
Within the territory assigned to him, it is therefore the responsibility of a Legate:
1ƒ to inform the Apostolic See about the conditions in which the particular Churches
find themselves, as well as about all matters which affect the life of the Church and the
good of souls;
2ƒ to assist the Bishops by action and advice, while leaving intact the exercise of
their lawful power;
3ƒ to foster close relations with the Episcopal Conference, offering it every
4ƒ in connection with the appointment of Bishops, to send or propose names of
candidates to the Apostolic See, as well as to prepare the informative process about those
who may be promoted, in accordance with the norms issued by the Apostolic See;
5ƒ to take pains to promote whatever may contribute to peace, progress and the united
efforts of peoples;
6ƒ to work with the Bishops to foster appropriate exchanges between the Catholic
Church and other Churches or ecclesial communities, and indeed with non-Christian
7ƒ to work with the Bishops to safeguard, so far as the rulers of the State are
concerned, those things which relate to the mission of the Church and of the Apostolic
8ƒ to exercise the faculties and carry out the other instructions which are given to
him by the Apostolic See.
Can. 365 ß1 A papal Legate who at the same time acts as envoy to the State according
to international law, has in addition the special role:
1ƒ of promoting and fostering relationships between the Apostolic See and the
Authorities of the State;
2ƒ of dealing with questions concerning relations between Church and State,
especially, of drawing up concordats and other similar agreements, and giving effect to
ß2 As circumstances suggest, in the matters mentioned in ß1, the papal Legate is not
to omit to seek the opinion and counsel of the Bishops of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction
and to keep them informed of the course of events.
Can. 366 Given the special nature of a Legate's role:
1ƒ the papal Legation is exempt from the power of governance of the local Ordinary,
except for the celebration of marriages;
2ƒ the papal Legate has the right to perform liturgical celebrations, even in
pontificalia, in all churches of the territory of his legation; as far as it is possible,
he is to give prior notice to the local Ordinary.
Can. 367 The office of papal Legate does not cease when the Apostolic See is vacant,
unless otherwise specified in the pontifical Letters‚ it does cease, however, on the
expiry of the mandate, on receipt by him of notification of recall, and on acceptance of
his resignation by the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 368 Particular Churches, in which and from which the one and only catholic Church
exists, are principally dioceses. Unless the contrary is clear, the following are
equivalent to a diocese: a territorial prelature, a territorial abbacy, a vicariate
apostolic, a prefecture apostolic and a permanently established apostolic administration.
Can. 369 A diocese is a portion of the people of God, which is entrusted to a Bishop to
be nurtured by him, with the cooperation of the presbyterium, in such a way that,
remaining close to its pastor and gathered by him through the Gospel and the Eucharist in
the Holy Spirit, it constitutes a particular Church. In this Church, the one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church of Christ truly exists and functions.
Can. 370 A territorial prelature or abbacy is a certain portion of the people of God,
territorially defined, the care of which is for special reasons entrusted to a Prelate or
an Abbot, who governs it, in the manner of a diocesan Bishop, as its proper pastor.
Can. 371 ß1 A vicariate apostolic or a prefecture apostolic is a certain portion of
the people of God, which for special reasons is not yet constituted a diocese, and which
is entrusted to the pastoral care of a Vicar apostolic or a Prefect apostolic, who governs
it in the name of the Supreme Pontiff.
ß2 An apostolic administration is a certain portion of the people of God which, for
special and particularly serious reasons, is not yet established by the Supreme Pontiff as
a diocese, and whose pastoral care is entrusted to an apostolic Administrator, who governs
it in the name of the Supreme Pontiff.
Can. 372 ß1 As a rule, that portion of the people of God which constitutes a diocese
or other particular Church is to have a defined territory, so that it comprises all the
faithful who live in that territory.
ß2 If however, in the judgment of the supreme authority in the Church, after
consultation with the Episcopal Conferences concerned, it is thought to be helpful, there
may be established in a given territory particular Churches distinguished by the rite of
the faithful or by some other similar quality.
Can. 373 It is within the competence of the supreme authority alone to establish
particular Churches; once they are lawfully established, the law itself gives them
Can. 374 ß1 Each diocese or other particular Church is to be divided into distinct
parts or parishes.
ß2 To foster pastoral care by means of common action, several neighboring parishes
can be joined together in special groups, such as vicariates forane.
Can. 375 ß1 By divine institution, Bishops succeed the Apostles through the Holy
Spirit who is given to them. They are constituted Pastors in the Church, to be the
teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers of governance.
ß2 By their episcopal consecration, Bishops receive, together with the office of
sanctifying, the offices also of teaching and of ruling, which however, by their nature,
can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its
Can. 376 Bishops to whom the care of a given diocese is entrusted are called diocesan
Bishops; the others are called titular Bishops.
Can. 377 ß1 The Supreme Pontiff freely appoints Bishops or confirms those lawfully
ß2 At least every three years, the Bishops of an ecclesiastical province or, if
circumstances suggest it, of an Episcopal Conference, are to draw up, by common accord and
in secret, a list of priests, even of members of institutes of consecrated life, who are
suitable for the episcopate; they are to send this list to the Apostolic See. This is
without prejudice to the right of every Bishop individually to make known to the Apostolic
See the names of priests whom he thinks are worthy and suitable for the episcopal office.
ß3 Unless it has been lawfully prescribed otherwise, for the appointment of a diocesan
Bishop or a coadjutor Bishop, a ternus, as it is called, is to be proposed to the
Apostolic See. In the preparation of this list, it is the responsibility of the papal
Legate to seek individually the suggestions of the Metropolitan and of the Suffragans of
the province to which the diocese in question belongs or with which it is joined in some
grouping, as well as the suggestions of the president of the Episcopal Conference. The
papal Legate is, moreover, to hear the views of some members of the college of consultors
and of the cathedral chapter. If he judges it expedient, he is also to seek individually,
and in secret, the opinions of other clerics, both secular and religious, and of lay
persons of outstanding wisdom. He is then to send these suggestions, together with his own
opinion, to the Apostolic See.
ß4 Unless it has been lawfully provided otherwise, the diocesan Bishop who judges that
his diocese requires an auxiliary Bishop, is to propose to the Apostolic See a list of the
names of at least three priests suitable for this office .
ß5 For the future, no rights or privileges of election, appointment, presentation or
designation of Bishops are conceded to civil authorities.
Can. 378 ß1 To be a suitable candidate for the episcopate, a person must:
1ƒ be outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom,
prudence and human virtues, and possess those other gifts which equip him to fulfill
office in question;
2ƒ be held in good esteem;
3ƒ be at least 35 years old;
4ƒ be a priest ordained for at least five years;
5ƒ hold a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred Scripture, theology or canon
law, from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least be
well versed in these disciplines.
ß2 The definitive judgment on the suitability of the person to be promoted rests with
the Apostolic See.
Can. 379 Unless prevented by a lawful reason, one who is promoted to the episcopate
must receive episcopal consecration within three months of receiving the apostolic
letters, and in fact before he takes possession of his office.
Can. 380 Before taking canonical possession of his office, he who has been promoted is
to make the profession of faith and take the oath of fidelity to the Apostolic See, in
accordance with the formula approved by the same Apostolic See.
Can. 381 ß1 In the diocese entrusted to his care, the diocesan Bishop has all the
ordinary, proper and immediate power required for the exercise of his pastoral office,
except in those matters which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the
supreme or to some other ecclesiastical authority.
ß2 Those who are at the head of the other communities of the faithful mentioned in
can. 368, are equivalent in law to the diocesan Bishop unless the contrary is clear from
the nature of things or from a provision of the law.
Can. 382 ß1 A person who is promoted to the episcopate cannot become involved in the
exercise of the office entrusted to him before he has taken canonical possession of the
diocese. However, he is able to exercise offices which he already held in the same diocese
at the time of his promotion, without prejudice to can. 409 ß2.
ß2 Unless he is lawfully impeded, one who is not already consecrated a Bishop and is
now promoted to the office of diocesan Bishop, must take canonical possession of his
diocese within four months of receiving the apostolic letters. If he is already
consecrated, he must take possession within two months of receiving the apostolic letters.
ß3 A Bishop takes canonical possession of his diocese when, personally or by proxy, he
shows the apostolic letters to the college of consultors, in the presence of the
chancellor of the curia, who makes a record of the fact. This must take place within the
diocese. In dioceses which are newly established he takes possession when he communicates
the same letters to the clergy and the people in the cathedral church, with the senior of
the priests present making a record of the fact.
ß4 It is strongly recommended that the taking of canonical possession be performed
with a liturgical act in the cathedral church, in the presence of the clergy and the
Can. 383 ß1 In exercising his pastoral office, the diocesan Bishop is to be solicitous
for all Christ's faithful entrusted to his care, whatever their age, condition or
nationality, whether they live in the territory or are visiting there. He is to show an
apostolic spirit also to those who, because of their condition of life, are not
sufficiently able to benefit from ordinary pastoral care, and to those who have lapsed
from religious practice.
ß2 If he has faithful of a different rite in his diocese, he is to provide for their
spiritual needs either by means of priests or parishes of the same rite, or by an
ß3 He is to act with humanity and charity to those who are not in full communion with
the catholic Church‚ he should also foster ecumenism as it is understood by the Church.
ß4 He is to consider the non-baptized as commended to him in the Lord, so that the
charity of Christ, of which the Bishop must be a witness to all, may shine also on them.
Can. 384 He is to have a special concern for the priests, to whom he is to listen as
his helpers and counselors. He is to defend their rights and ensure that they fulfill
obligations proper to their state. He is to see that they have the means and the
institutions needed for the development of their spiritual and intellectual life. He is to
ensure that they are provided with adequate means of livelihood and social welfare, in
accordance with the law.
Can. 385 He must in a very special way foster vocations to the various ministries and
to consecrated life, having a special care for priestly and missionary vocations.
Can. 386 ß1 The diocesan Bishop is bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the
truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to behavior. He is himself to preach
frequently. He is also to ensure that the provisions of the canons on the ministry of the
word, especially on the homily and catechetical instruction, are faithfully observed, so
that the whole of Christian teaching is transmitted to all.
ß2 By whatever means seem most appropriate, he is firmly to defend the integrity and
unity of the faith to be believed. However, he is to acknowledge a just freedom in the
further investigation of truths.
Can. 387 Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and
simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of
Christ's faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal
dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ's faithful
entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may
know and live the paschal mystery.
Can. 388 ß1 After he has taken possession of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop must
apply the Mass for the people entrusted to him on each Sunday and on each holyday of
obligation in his region.
ß2 The Bishop must himself celebrate and apply the Mass for the people on the days
mentioned in ß1; if, however, he is lawfully impeded from so doing, he is to have someone
else do so on those days, or do so himself on other days.
ß3 A Bishop who, in addition to his own, is given another diocese, even as
administrator, satisfies the obligation by applying one Mass for all the people entrusted
ß4 A Bishop who has not satisfied the obligation mentioned in ßß1‚3, is to apply as
soon as possible as many Masses for the people as he has omitted.
Can. 389 He is frequently to preside at the Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral
church or in some other church of his diocese, especially on holydays of obligation and on
Can. 390 The diocesan Bishop may use pontificalia throughout his diocese. He may not do
so outside his diocese without the consent of the local Ordinary, either expressly given
or at least reasonably presumed.
Can. 391 ß1 The diocesan Bishop governs the particular Church entrusted to him with
legislative, executive and judicial power, in accordance with the law.
ß2 The Bishop exercises legislative power himself. He exercises executive power either
personally or through Vicars general or episcopal Vicars, in accordance with the law. He
exercises judicial power either personally or through a judicial Vicar and judges, in
accordance with the law.
Can. 392 ß1 Since the Bishop must defend the unity of the universal Church, he is
bound to foster the discipline which is common to the whole Church, and so press for the
observance of all ecclesiastical laws.
ß2 He is to ensure that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially
concerning the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals,
the worship of God and the cult of the saints, and the administration of goods.
Can. 393 In all juridical transactions of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop acts in the
person of the diocese.
Can. 394 ß1 The Bishop is to foster various forms of the apostolate in his diocese and
is to ensure that throughout the entire diocese, or in its particular districts, all works
of the apostolate are coordinated under his direction, with due regard for the character
of each apostolate.
ß2 He is to insist on the faithful's obligation to exercise the apostolate according
to the condition and talents of each. He is to urge them to take part in or assist various
works of the apostolate, according to the needs of place and time.
Can. 395 ß1 The diocesan Bishop is bound by the law of personal residence in his
diocese, even if he has a coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop.
ß2 Apart from the visit 'ad limina', attendance at councils or at the synod of Bishops
or at the Episcopal Conference, at which he must be present, or by reason of another
office lawfully entrusted to him, he may be absent from the diocese, for a just reason,
for not longer than one month, continuously or otherwise, provided he ensures that the
diocese is not harmed by this absence.
ß3 He is not to be absent from his diocese on Christmas Day, during Holy Week, or on
Easter Sunday, Pentecost and Corpus Christi, except for a grave and urgent reason.
ß4 If the Bishop is unlawfully absent from the diocese for more than six months, the
Metropolitan is to notify the Holy See. If it is the Metropolitan who is absent, the
senior suffragan is to do the same.
Can. 396 ß1 The Bishop is bound to visit his diocese in whole or in part each year, so
that at least every five years he will have visited the whole diocese, either personally
or, if he is lawfully impeded, through the coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop, the Vicar
general, an episcopal Vicar or some other priest.
ß2 The Bishop has a right to select any clerics he wishes as his companions and
helpers in a visitation, any contrary privilege or custom being reprobated.
Can. 397 ß1 Persons, catholic institutes, pious objects and places within the
boundaries of the diocese, are subject to ordinary episcopal visitation.
ß2 The Bishop may visit the members of religious institutes of pontifical right and
their houses only in the cases stated in the law.
Can. 398 The Bishop is to endeavor to make his pastoral visitation with due diligence.
He is to ensure that he is not a burden to anyone on the ground of undue expense.
Can. 399 ß1 Every five years the diocesan Bishop is bound to submit to the Supreme
Pontiff a report on the state of the diocese entrusted to him, in the form and at the time
determined by the Apostolic See.
ß2 If the year assigned for submitting this report coincides in whole or in part with
the first two years of his governance of the diocese, for that occasion the Bishop need
not draw up and submit the report.
Can. 400 ß1 Unless the Apostolic See has decided otherwise, in the year in which he is
bound to submit the report to the Supreme Pontiff, the diocesan Bishop is to go to Rome to
venerate the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and to present himself to the
ß2 The Bishop is to satisfy this obligation personally, unless he is lawfully impeded;
in which case he is to satisfy the obligation through the coadjutor, if he has one, or the
auxiliary, or a suitable priest of his presbyterium who resides in his diocese.
ß3 A Vicar apostolic can satisfy this obligation through a proxy, even through one
residing in Rome. A Prefect apostolic is not bound by this obligation.
Can. 401 ß1 A diocesan Bishop who has completed his seventy-fifth year of age is
requested to offer his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who, taking all the
circumstances into account, will make provision accordingly.
ß2 A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become
unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation
Can. 402 ß1 A Bishop whose resignation from office has been accepted, acquires the
title 'emeritus' of his diocese. If he so wishes, he may have a residence in the diocese
unless, because of special circumstances in certain cases, the Apostolic See provides
ß2 The Episcopal Conference must ensure that suitable and worthy provision is made for
the upkeep of a Bishop who has resigned, bearing in mind the primary obligation which
falls on the diocese which he served.
Can. 403 ß1 When the pastoral needs of the diocese require it, one or more auxiliary
Bishops are to be appointed at the request of the diocesan Bishop. An auxiliary Bishop
does not have the right of succession.
ß2 In more serious circumstances, even of a personal nature, the diocesan Bishop may
be given an auxiliary Bishop with special faculties.
ß3 If the Holy See considers it more opportune, it can ex officio appoint a coadjutor
Bishop, who also has special faculties. A coadjutor Bishop has the right of succession.
Can. 404 ß1 The coadjutor Bishop takes possession of his office when, either
personally or by proxy, he shows the apostolic letters of appointment to the diocesan
Bishop and the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who
makes a record of the fact.
ß2 An auxiliary Bishop takes possession of his office when he shows his apostolic
letters of appointment to the diocesan Bishop, in the presence of the chancellor of the
curia, who makes a record of the fact.
ß3 If the diocesan Bishop is wholly impeded, it is sufficient that either the
coadjutor Bishop or the auxiliary Bishop show their apostolic letters of appointment to
the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia.
Can. 405 ß1 The coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishop have the obligations and the
rights which are determined by the provisions of the following canons and defined in their
letters of appointment.
ß2 The coadjutor Bishop, or the auxiliary Bishop mentioned in can. 403 ß2, assists
the diocesan Bishop in the entire governance of the diocese, and takes his place when he
is absent or impeded.
Can. 406 ß1 The coadjutor Bishop, and likewise the auxiliary Bishop mentioned in can.
403 ß2, is to be appointed a Vicar general by the diocesan Bishop. The diocesan Bishop is
to entrust to him, in preference to others, those things which by law require a special
ß2 Unless the apostolic letters provide otherwise, and without prejudice to the
provision of ß1, the diocesan Bishop is to appoint his auxiliary or auxiliaries as Vicar
general or at least episcopal Vicar, in dependence solely on his authority, or on that of
the coadjutor Bishop or of the auxiliary Bishop mentioned in can. 403 ß2.
Can. 407 ß1 For the greatest present and future good of the diocese, the diocesan
Bishop, the coadjutor and the auxiliary Bishop mentioned in can. 403 ß2, are to consult
with each other on matters of greater importance.
ß2 In assessing matters of greater importance, particularly those of a pastoral
nature, the diocesan Bishop is to consult the auxiliary Bishop before all others.
ß3 The coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishop, since they are called to share in
the cares of the diocesan Bishop, should so exercise their office that they act and think
in accord with him.
Can. 408 ß1 As often as they are requested to do so by the diocesan Bishop, a
coadjutor Bishop and an auxiliary Bishop who are not lawfully impeded, are obliged to
perform those pontifical and other functions to which the diocesan Bishop is bound.
ß2 Those episcopal rights and functions which the coadjutor can exercise are not
habitually to be entrusted to another by the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 409 ß1 When the episcopal see falls vacant, the coadjutor immediately becomes the
Bishop of the diocese for which he was appointed, provided he has lawfully taken
ß2 Unless the competent authority has provided otherwise, when the episcopal see is
vacant and until the new Bishop takes possession of the see, the auxiliary Bishop retains
all and only those powers and faculties which he had as Vicar general or as episcopal
Vicar when the see was occupied. If he is not appointed to the office of diocesan
Administrator, he is to exercise this same power of his, conferred by the law, under the
authority of the diocesan Administrator, who governs the diocese.
Can. 410 The coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishop are bound, like the diocesan
Bishop, to reside in the diocese. Other than for the fulfillment of some duty outside the
diocese, or for holidays, which are not to be longer than one month, they may not be away
from the diocese except for a brief period.
Can. 411 The provisions of canon 401 and 402 ß2, concerning resignation from office,
apply also to a coadjutor and an auxiliary Bishop.
Can. 412 The episcopal see is understood to be impeded if the diocesan
Bishop is completely prevented from exercising the pastoral office in the diocese by
reason of imprisonment, banishment, exile or incapacity, so that he is unable to
communicate, even by letter, with the people of his diocese.
Can. 413 ß1 Unless the Holy See has provided otherwise, when a see is impeded, the
governance of the diocese devolves on the coadjutor Bishop, if there is one. If there is
no coadjutor, or if he is impeded, it devolves upon the auxiliary Bishop, or the Vicar
general, or the episcopal Vicar, or another priest: the order of persons to be followed is
to be that determined in the list which the diocesan Bishop is to draw up as soon as
possible after taking possession of his diocese. This list, which is to be communicated to
the Metropolitan, is to be revised at least every three years, and kept under secrecy by
ß2 If there is no coadjutor Bishop or if he is impeded, and the list mentioned in ß1
is not at hand, it is the responsibility of the college of consultors to elect a priest
who will govern the diocese.
ß3 The person who undertakes the governance of the diocese according to the norms of
ßß1 or 2, is to notify the Holy See as soon as possible that the see is impeded and that
he has undertaken the office.
Can. 414 Whoever is called, in accordance with can. 413, to exercise the pastoral care
of the diocese for the time being, that is, only for the period during which the see is
impeded, is in his pastoral care of the diocese bound by the obligations, and has the
power, which by law belong to the diocesan Administrator.
Can. 415 If the diocesan Bishop is prohibited from exercising his office by reason of
an ecclesiastical penalty, the Metropolitan is to refer the matter at once to the Holy
See, so that it may make provision; if there is no Metropolitan, or if he is the one
affected by the penalty, it is the suffragan senior by promotion who is to refer the
Can. 416 The episcopal see becomes vacant by the death of the diocesan Bishop, by his
resignation accepted by the Holy See, by transfer, or by deprivation notified to the
Can. 417 Until they have received certain notification of the Bishop's death, all
actions taken by the Vicar general or the episcopal Vicar have effect. Until they have
received certain notification of the aforementioned papal acts, the same is true of
actions taken by the diocesan Bishop, the Vicar general or the episcopal Vicar.
Can. 418 ß1 Within two months of receiving certain notification of transfer, the
Bishop must proceed to the diocese to which he has been transferred and take canonical
possession of it. On the day on which he takes possession of the new diocese, the diocese
from which he has been transferred becomes vacant.
ß2 In the period between receiving certain notification of the transfer and taking
possession of the new diocese, in the diocese from which he is being transferred the
1ƒ has the power, and is bound by the obligations, of a diocesan Administrator; all
powers of the Vicar general and of the episcopal Vicar cease, without prejudice to can.
2ƒ receives the full remuneration proper to the office.
Can. 419 While the see is vacant and until the appointment of a diocesan Administrator,
the governance of the diocese devolves upon the auxiliary Bishop. If there are a number of
auxiliary Bishops, it devolves upon the senior by promotion. If there is no auxiliary
Bishop, it devolves upon the college of consultors, unless the Holy See has provided
otherwise. The one who thus assumes the governance of the diocese must without delay
convene the college which is competent to appoint a diocesan Administrator.
Can. 420 Unless the Holy See has prescribed otherwise, when the see is vacant in a
vicariate or a prefecture apostolic, the governance is assumed by the Pro‚Vicar or
Pro‚Prefect who was designated for this sole purpose by the Vicar or Prefect immediately
upon taking possession.
Can. 421 ß1 Within eight days of receiving notification of the vacancy of an episcopal
see, a diocesan Administrator is to be elected by the college of consultors, to govern the
diocese for the time being, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 502 ß3.
ß2 If, for any reason, the diocesan Administrator is not lawfully elected within the
prescribed time, his appointment devolves upon the Metropolitan. If the metropolitan see
is itself vacant, or if both the metropolitan see and a suffragan see are vacant, the
appointment devolves on the suffragan who is senior by promotion.
Can. 422 The auxiliary Bishop or, if there is none, the college of consultors, must as
soon as possible notify the Apostolic See of the death of the Bishop. The person elected
as diocesan Administrator must as soon as possible notify the Apostolic See of his
Can. 423 ß1 Only one diocesan Administrator is to be appointed, contrary customs being
reprobated; otherwise the election is invalid.
ß2 The diocesan Administrator is not to be at the same time the financial
administrator. Accordingly, if the financial administrator of the diocese is elected
Administrator, the finance committee is to elect another temporary financial
Can. 424 The diocesan Administrator is to be elected according to the norms of
Can. 425 ß1 Only a priest who has completed his thirty‚fifth year of age, and has not
already been elected, appointed or presented for the same see, can validly be deputed to
the office of diocesan Administrator.
ß2 As diocesan Administrator a priest is to be elected who is outstanding for doctrine
ß3 If the conditions prescribed in ß1 have not been observed, the Metropolitan or, if
the metropolitan see itself is vacant, the suffragan senior by promotion, having verified
the truth of the matter, is to appoint an Administrator for that occasion. The acts of a
person elected contrary to the provisions of ß1 are by virtue of the law itself invalid.
Can. 426 Whoever governs the diocese before the appointment of the diocesan
Administrator, has the power which the law gives to a Vicar general.
Can. 427 ß1 The diocesan Administrator is bound by the obligations and enjoys the
power of a diocesan Bishop, excluding those matters which are excepted by the nature of
things or by the law itself.
ß2 The diocesan Administrator obtains his power on his acceptance of the election,
without the need of confirmation from anyone, but without prejudice to the provision of
can. 833, n. 4.
Can. 428 ß1 While the see is vacant, no innovation is to be made.
ß2 Those who have the interim governance of the diocese are forbidden to do anything
which could in any way prejudice the rights of the diocese or of the Bishop. Both they,
and in like manner any other persons, are specifically forbidden to remove, destroy or in
any way alter documents of the diocesan curia, either personally or through another.
Can. 429 The diocesan Administrator is bound by the obligations of residing in the
diocese, and of applying the Mass for the people in accordance with can. 388.
Can. 430 ß1 The office of the diocesan Administrator ceases when the new Bishop takes
possession of the diocese.
ß2 Removal of the diocesan Administrator is reserved to the Holy See. Should he
perchance resign, the resignation is to be submitted in authentic form to the college
which is competent to elect, but it does not require acceptance by the college. If the
diocesan Administrator is removed, resigns or dies, another diocesan Administrator is to
be elected in accordance with can. 421.
Can. 431 Neighboring particular Churches are to be grouped into ecclesiastical
provinces, with a certain defined territory. The purpose of this grouping is to promote,
according to the circumstances of persons and place, a common pastoral action of various
neighboring dioceses, and the more closely to foster relations between diocesan Bishops.
ß2 From now onwards, as a rule, there are to be no exempt dioceses. Accordingly,
individual dioceses and other particular Churches which exist within the territory of an
ecclesiastical province, must be included in that ecclesiastical province.
ß3 It is the exclusive prerogative of the supreme authority in the Church, after
consulting the Bishops concerned, to establish, suppress or alter ecclesiastical
Can. 432 ß1 The provincial council and the Metropolitan have authority over the
ecclesiastical province, in accordance with the law.
ß2 By virtue of the law, an ecclesiastical province has juridical personality.
Can. 433 ß1 If it seems advantageous, especially in countries where there are very
many particular Churches, the Holy See can, on the proposal of the Episcopal Conference,
join together neighboring provinces into ecclesiastical regions.
ß2 An ecclesiastical region can be constituted a juridical person.
Can. 434 It is for a meeting of the Bishops of an ecclesiastical region to foster
cooperation and common pastoral action in the region. However the powers given to
Episcopal Conferences in the canons of this Code do not belong to such a meeting, unless
some of these powers have been specially granted to it by the Holy See.
Can. 435 An ecclesiastical province is presided over by a Metropolitan, who is
Archbishop in his own diocese. The office of Metropolitan is linked to an episcopal see,
determined or approved by the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 436 ß1 Within the suffragan dioceses, the Metropolitan is competent:
1ƒ to see that faith and ecclesiastical discipline are carefully observed and to
notify the Roman Pontiff if there be any abuses;
2ƒ for a reason approved beforehand by the Apostolic See, to conduct a canonical
visitation if the suffragan Bishop has neglected it;
3ƒ to appoint a diocesan Administrator in accordance with canon 421 ß2 and 425 ß3.
ß2 Where circumstances require it, the Apostolic See can give the Metropolitan special
functions and power, to be determined in particular law.
ß3 The Metropolitan has no other power of governance over suffragan dioceses. He can,
however, celebrate sacred functions in all churches as if he were a Bishop in his own
diocese, provided, if it is the cathedral church, the diocesan Bishop has been previously
Can. 437 ß1 The Metropolitan is obliged to request the pallium from the Roman Pontiff,
either personally or by proxy, within three months of his episcopal consecration or, if he
has already been consecrated, of his canonical appointment. The pallium signifies the
power which, in communion with the Roman Church, the Metropolitan possesses by law in his
ß2 The Metropolitan can wear the pallium, in accordance with the liturgical laws, in
any church of the ecclesiastical province over which he presides, but not outside the
province, not even with the assent of the diocesan Bishop.
ß3 If the Metropolitan is transferred to another metropolitan see, he requires a new
Can. 438 The title of Patriarch or Primate gives a prerogative of honor, but in the
Latin Church does not carry with it any power of governance, except in certain matters
where an apostolic privilege or approved custom establishes otherwise.
Can. 439 ß1 A plenary council for all the particular Churches of the same Episcopal
Conference is to be celebrated as often as the Episcopal Conference, with the approval of
the Apostolic See, considers it necessary or advantageous.
ß2 The norm laid down in ß1 is valid also for a provincial council to be celebrated
in an ecclesiastical province whose boundaries coincide with the boundaries of the
Can. 440 ß1 A provincial council, for the various particular Churches of the same
ecclesiastical province, is celebrated as often as, in the judgment of the majority of
the diocesan Bishops of the province, it is considered opportune, without prejudice to
can. 439 ß2.
ß2 A provincial council may not be called while the metropolitan see is vacant.
Can. 441 It is the responsibility of the Episcopal Conference:
1ƒ to convene a plenary council;
2ƒ to choose a place within the territory of the Episcopal Conference for the
celebration of the council;
3ƒ to elect from among the diocesan Bishops a president of the plenary council, who is
to be approved by the Apostolic See;
4ƒ to determine the order of business and the matters to be considered, to announce
when the plenary council is to begin and how long it is to last, and to transfer, prorogue
and dissolve it.
Can. 442 ß1 It is the responsibility of the Metropolitan, with the consent of the
majority of the suffragan Bishops:
1ƒ to convene a provincial council
2ƒ to choose a place within the territory of the province for the celebration of the
3ƒ to determine the order of business and the matters to be considered, to announce
when the provincial council is to begin and how long it is to last, and to transfer,
prorogue and dissolve it.
ß2 It is the prerogative of the Metropolitan to preside over the provincial council.
If he is lawfully impeded from doing so, it is the prerogative of a suffragan Bishop
elected by the other suffragan Bishops.
Can. 443 ß1 The following have the right to be summoned to particular councils and
have the right to a deliberative vote:
1ƒ diocesan Bishops;
2ƒ coadjutor and auxiliary Bishops
3ƒ other titular Bishops who have been given a special function in the territory,
either by the Apostolic See or by the Episcopal Conference.
ß2 Other titular Bishops who are living in the territory, even if they are retired,
may be invited to particular councils; they have the right to a deliberative vote.
ß3 The following are to be invited to particular councils, but with only a
1ƒ Vicars general and episcopal Vicars of all the particular Churches in the
2ƒ the major Superiors of religious institutes and societies of apostolic life. Their
number, for both men and women, is to be determined by the Episcopal Conference or the
Bishops of the province, and they are to be elected respectively by all the major
Superiors of institutes and societies which have a center in the territory;
3ƒ the rectors of ecclesiastical and catholic universities which have a center
territory, together with the deans of their faculties of theology and canon law;
4ƒ some rectors of major seminaries, their number being determined as in no. 2; they
are to be elected by the rectors of seminaries situated in the territory.
ß4 Priests and others of Christ's faithful may also be invited to particular councils,
but have only a consultative vote; their number is not to exceed half of those mentioned
ß5 The cathedral chapter, the council of priests and the pastoral council of each
particular Church are to be invited to provincial councils, but in such a way that each is
to send two members, designated in a collegial manner. They have only a consultative vote.
ß6 Others may be invited to particular councils as guests, if this is judged expedient
by the Episcopal Conference for a plenary council, or by the Metropolitan with the
suffragan Bishops for a provincial council.
Can. 444 ß1 All who are summoned to particular councils must attend, unless they are
prevented by a just impediment, of whose existence they are obliged to notify the
president of the council.
ß2 Those who are summoned to a particular council in which they have a deliberative
vote, but who are prevented from attending because of a just impediment, can send a proxy.
The proxy, however, has only a consultative vote.
Can. 445 A particular council is to ensure that the pastoral needs of the people of God
in its territory are provided for. While it must always respect the universal law of the
Church, it has power of governance, especially legislative power. It can, therefore,
determine whatever seems opportune for an increase of faith, for the ordering of common
pastoral action, for the direction of morality and for the preservation, introduction and
defense of a common ecclesiastical discipline.
Can. 446 When a particular council has concluded, the president is to ensure that all
the acts of the council are sent to the Apostolic See. The decrees drawn up by the council
are not to be promulgated until they have been reviewed by the Apostolic See. The council
has the responsibility of defining the manner in which the decrees will be promulgated and
the time when the promulgated decrees will begin to oblige.
Can. 447 The Episcopal Conference, a permanent institution, is the assembly of the
Bishops of a country or of a certain territory, exercising together certain pastoral
offices for Christ's faithful of that territory. By forms and means of apostolate suited
to the circumstances of time and place, it is to promote, in accordance with the law, that
greater good which the Church offers to all people.
Can. 448 ß1 As a general rule, the Episcopal Conference includes those who preside
over all the particular Churches of the same country, in accordance with can. 450.
ß2 An Episcopal Conference can, however, be established for a territory of greater or
less extent if the Apostolic See, after consultation with the diocesan Bishops concerned,
judges that circumstances suggest this. Such a Conference would include only the Bishops
of some particular Churches in a certain territory, or those who preside over particular
Churches in different countries. It is for the Apostolic See to lay down special norms for
Can. 449 ß1 It is for the supreme authority of the Church alone, after consultation
with the Bishops concerned, to establish, suppress, or alter Episcopal Conferences.
ß2 An Episcopal Conference lawfully established has juridical personality by virtue of
the law itself.
Can. 450 ß1 By virtue of the law, the following persons in the territory belong to the
Episcopal Conference: all diocesan Bishops and those equivalent to them in law; all
coadjutor Bishops, auxiliary Bishops and other titular Bishops who exercise in the
territory a special office assigned to them by the Apostolic See or by the Episcopal
Conference. Ordinaries of another rite may be invited, but have only a consultative vote,
unless the statutes of the Episcopal Conference decree otherwise.
ß2 The other titular Bishops and the Legate of the Roman Pontiff are not by law
members of the Episcopal Conference.
Can. 451 Each Episcopal Conference is to draw up its own statutes, to be reviewed by
the Apostolic See. In these, among other things, arrangements for the plenary meetings of
the Conference are to be set out, and provision is to be made for a permanent committee of
Bishops, and a general secretary of the Conference, and for other offices and commissions
by which, in the judgment of the Conference, its purpose can more effectively be
Can. 452 ß1 Each Episcopal Conference is to elect its president and determine who, in
the lawful absence of the president, will exercise the function of vice-president. It is
also to designate a general secretary, in accordance with the statutes.
ß2 The president of the Conference or, when he is lawfully impeded, the vice-president, presides not only over the general meetings of the Conference but also
over the permanent committee.
Can. 453 Plenary meetings of the Episcopal Conference are to be held at least once a
year, and moreover as often as special circumstances require, in accordance with the
provisions of the statutes.
Can. 454 ß1 By virtue of the law diocesan Bishops, those equivalent to them in law and
coadjutor Bishops have a deliberative vote in plenary meetings of the Episcopal
ß2 Auxiliary Bishops and other titular Bishops who belong to the Episcopal Conference
have a deliberative or consultative vote according to the provisions of the statutes of
the Conference. Only those mentioned in ß1, however, have a deliberative vote in the
making or changing of the statutes.
Can. 455 ß1 The Episcopal Conference can make general decrees only in cases where the
universal law has so prescribed, or by special mandate of the Apostolic See, either on its
own initiative or at the request of the Conference itself.
ß2 For the decrees mentioned in ß1 validly to be enacted at a plenary meeting, they
must receive two thirds of the votes of those who belong to the Conference with a
deliberative vote. These decrees do not oblige until they have been reviewed by the
Apostolic See and lawfully promulgated.
ß3 The manner of promulgation and the time they come into force are determined by the
ß4 In cases where neither the universal law nor a special mandate of the Apostolic See
gives the Episcopal Conference the power mentioned in ß1, the competence of each diocesan
Bishop remains intact. In such cases, neither the Conference nor its president can act in
the name of all the Bishops unless each and every Bishop has given his consent.
Can. 456 When a plenary meeting of the Episcopal Conference has been concluded, its
minutes are to be sent by the president to the Apostolic See for information, and its
decrees, if any, for review.
Can. 457 The permanent committee of Bishops is to prepare the agenda for the plenary
meetings of the Conference, and it is to ensure that the decisions taken at those meetings
are duly executed. It is also to conduct whatever other business is entrusted to it in
accordance with the statutes.
Can. 458 The general secretary is to:
1ƒ prepare an account of the acts and decrees of the plenary meetings of the
Conference, as well as the acts of the permanent committee of Bishops and to communicate
these to all members of the Conference; also to record whatever other acts are entrusted
to him by the president or the permanent committee;
2ƒ to communicate to neighboring Episcopal Conferences such acts and documents as the
Conference at a plenary meeting or the permanent committee of Bishops decides to send to
Can. 459 ß1 Relations are to be fostered between Episcopal Conferences, especially
neighboring ones, in order to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.
ß2 The Apostolic See must be consulted whenever actions or affairs undertaken by
Conferences have an international character.
Can. 460 The diocesan synod is an assembly of selected priests and other members of
Christ's faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan
community, assists the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the following canons.
Can. 461 ß1 The diocesan synod is to be held in each particular Church when the
diocesan Bishop, after consulting the council of priests, judges that the circumstances
ß2 If a Bishop is responsible for a number of dioceses, or has charge of one as his
own and of another as Administrator, he may convene one diocesan synod for all the
dioceses entrusted to him.
Can. 462 ß1 Only the diocesan Bishop can convene a diocesan synod. A person who has
interim charge of a diocese cannot do so.
ß2 The diocesan Bishop presides over the diocesan synod. He may however, delegate a
Vicar general or an episcopal Vicar to fulfill this office at individual sessions of the
Can. 463 ß1 The following are to be summoned to the diocesan synod as members and they
are obliged to participate in it:
1ƒ the coadjutor Bishop and the auxiliary Bishops;
2ƒ the Vicars general and episcopal Vicars, and the judicial Vicar
3ƒ the canons of the cathedral church;
4ƒ the members of the council of priests;
5ƒ lay members of Christ's faithful, not excluding members of institutes of
consecrated life, to be elected by the pastoral council in the manner and the number to be
determined by the diocesan Bishop or, where this council does not exist, on a basis
determined by the diocesan Bishop;
6ƒ the rector of the major seminary of the diocese;
7ƒ the vicars forane;
8ƒ at least one priest from each vicariate forane to be elected by all those who have
the care of souls there; another priest is also to be elected, to take the place of the
first if he is prevented from attending;
9ƒ some Superiors of religious institutes and of societies of apostolic life which
have a house in the diocese: these are to be elected in the number and the manner
determined by the diocesan Bishop.
ß2 The diocesan Bishop may also invite others to be members of the diocesan synod,
whether clerics or members of institutes of consecrated life or lay members of the
ß3 If the diocesan Bishop considers it opportune, he may invite to the diocesan Synod
as observers some ministers or members of Churches or ecclesial communities which are not
in full communion with the catholic Church.
Can. 464 A member of the synod who is lawfully impeded from attending, cannot send a
proxy to attend in his or her place, but is to notify the diocesan Bishop of the reason
for not attending.
Can. 465 All questions proposed are to be subject to the free discussion of the members
in the sessions of the synod.
Can. 466 The diocesan Bishop is the sole legislator in the diocesan synod. Other
members of the synod have only a consultative vote. The diocesan Bishop alone signs the
synodal declarations and decrees, and only by his authority may these be published.
Can. 467 The diocesan Bishop is to communicate the text of the declarations and decrees
of the synod to the Metropolitan and to the Episcopal Conference.
Can. 468 ß1 If he judges it prudent, the diocesan Bishop can suspend or dissolve the
ß2 Should the episcopal see become vacant or impeded, the diocesan synod is by virtue
of the law itself suspended, until such time as the diocesan Bishop who succeeds to the
see decrees that it be continued or declares it terminated.
Can. 469 The diocesan curia is composed of those institutes and persons who assist the
Bishop in governing the entire diocese, especially in directing pastoral action, in
providing for the administration of the diocese, and in exercising judicial power.
Can. 470 The appointment of those who fulfill an office in the diocesan curia belongs to
the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 471 All who are admitted to an office in the curia must:
1ƒ promise to fulfill their office faithfully, as determined by law or by the Bishop;
2ƒ observe secrecy within the limits and according to the manner determined by law or
by the Bishop.
Can. 472 The provisions of Book VII on 'Processes' are to be observed concerning cases
and persons involved in the exercise of judicial power in the curia. The following canons
are to be observed in what concerns the administration of the diocese.
Can. 473 ß1 The diocesan Bishop must ensure that everything concerning the
administration of the whole diocese is properly coordinated and is directed in the way
that will best achieve the good of that portion of the people of God entrusted to his
ß2 The diocesan Bishop has the responsibility of coordinating the pastoral action of
the Vicars general and episcopal Vicars. Where it is useful, he may appoint a Moderator of
the curia, who must be a priest Under the Bishop's authority, the Moderator is to
coordinate activities concerning administrative matters and to ensure that the others who
belong to the curia properly fulfill the offices entrusted to them.
ß3 Unless in the Bishop's judgment local conditions suggest otherwise, the Vicar
general is to be appointed Moderator of the curia or, if there are several Vicars general,
one of them.
ß4 Where the Bishop judges it useful for the better promotion of pastoral action, he
can establish an episcopal council, comprising the Vicars general and episcopal Vicars.
Can. 474 Acts of the curia which of their nature are designed to have a juridical
effect must, as a requirement for validity, be signed by the
Ordinary from whom they emanate. They must also be signed by the chancellor of the
curia or a notary. The chancellor is bound to notify the Moderator of the curia about
Can. 475 ß1 In each diocese the diocesan Bishop is to appoint a Vicar general to
assist him in the governance of the whole diocese. The Vicar ‚general has ordinary power,
in accordance with the following canons.
ß2 As a general rule, one Vicar general is to be appointed, unless the size of the
diocese, the number of inhabitants, or other pastoral reasons suggest otherwise.
Can. 476 As often as the good governance of the diocese requires it, the diocesan
Bishop can also appoint one or more episcopal Vicars. These have the same ordinary power
as the universal law gives to a Vicar general, in accordance with the following canons.
The competence of an episcopal Vicar, however, is limited to a determined part of the
diocese, or to a specific type of activity, or to the faithful of a particular rite, or to
certain groups of people.
Can. 477 ß1 The Vicar general and the episcopal Vicar are freely appointed by the
diocesan Bishop, and can be freely removed by him, without prejudice to can. 406. An
episcopal Vicar who is not an auxiliary Bishop, is to be appointed for a period of time,
which is to be specified in the act of appointment.
ß2 If the Vicar general is absent or lawfully impeded, the diocesan Bishop can appoint
another to take his place. The same norm applies in the case of an episcopal Vicar.
Can. 478 ß1 The Vicar general and the episcopal Vicar are to be priests of not less
than thirty years of age, with a doctorate or licentiate in canon law or theology, or at
least well versed in these disciplines. They are to be known for their sound doctrine,
integrity, prudence and practical experience.
ß2 The office of Vicar general or episcopal Vicar may not be united with the office of
canon penitentiary, nor may the office be given to blood relations of the Bishop up to the
Can. 479 ß1 In virtue of his office, the Vicar general has the same executive power
throughout the whole diocese as that which belongs by law to the diocesan Bishop: that is,
he can perform all administrative acts, with the exception however of those which the
Bishop has reserved to himself, or which by law require a special mandate of the Bishop.
ß2 By virtue of the law itself, the episcopal Vicar has the same power as that
mentioned in ß1, but only for the determined part of the territory or type of activity,
or for the faithful of the determined rite or group, for which he was appointed; matters
which the Bishop reserves to himself or to the Vicar general, or which by law require a
special mandate of the Bishop, are excepted.
ß3 Within the limits of their competence, the Vicar general and the episcopal Vicar
have also those habitual faculties which the Apostolic See has granted to the Bishop. They
may also execute rescripts, unless it is expressly provided otherwise, or unless the
execution was entrusted to the Bishop on a personal basis.
Can. 480 The Vicar general and episcopal Vicar must give a report to the diocesan
Bishop concerning more important matters, both those yet to be attended to and those
already dealt with. They are never to act against the will and mind of the diocesan
Can. 481 ß1 The power of the Vicar general or episcopal Vicar ceases when the period
of their mandate expires, or by resignation. In addition, but without prejudice to
canon 406 and 409, it ceases when they are notified of their removal by the diocesan Bishop, or
when the episcopal see falls vacant.
ß2 When the office of the diocesan Bishop is suspended, the power of the Vicar general
and of the episcopal Vicar is suspended, unless they are themselves Bishops.
Can. 482 ß1 In each curia a chancellor is to be appointed, whose principal office,
unless particular law states otherwise, is to ensure that the acts of the curia are drawn
up and dispatched, and that they are kept safe in the archive of the curia.
ß2 If it is considered necessary, the chancellor may be given an assistant, who is to
be called the vice‚chancellor.
ß3 The chancellor and vice‚chancellor are automatically notaries and secretaries of
Can. 483 ß1 Besides the chancellor, other notaries may be appointed, whose writing or
signature authenticates public documents. These notaries may be appointed for all acts, or
for judicial acts alone, or only for acts concerning a particular issue or business.
ß2 The chancellor and notaries must be of unblemished reputation and above suspicion.
In cases which could involve the reputation of a priest, the notary must be a priest.
Can. 484 The office of notary involves:
1ƒ writing acts and documents concerning decrees, arrangements, obligations, and other
matters which require their intervention;
2ƒ faithfully recording in writing what is done, and signing the document, with a note
of the place, the day, the month and the year;
3ƒ while observing all that must be observed, showing acts or documents from the
archives to those who lawfully request them, and verifying that copies conform to the
Can. 485 The chancellor and the other notaries can be freely removed by the diocesan
Bishop. They can be removed by a diocesan Administrator only with the consent of the
college of consultors.
Can. 486 ß1 All documents concerning the diocese or parishes must be kept with the
greatest of care.
ß2 In each curia there is to be established in a safe place a diocesan archive where
documents and writings concerning both the spiritual and the temporal affairs of the
diocese are to be properly filed and carefully kept under lock and key.
ß3 An inventory or catalogue is to be made of documents kept in the archive, with a
short synopsis of each document.
Can. 487 ß1 The archive must be locked, and only the Bishop and the chancellor are to
have the key; no one may be allowed to enter unless with the permission of the Bishop, or
with the permission of both the Moderator of the curia and the chancellor.
ß2 Persons concerned have the right to receive, personally or by proxy, an authentic
written or photostat copy of documents which are of their nature public and which concern
their own personal status.
Can. 488 It is not permitted to remove documents from the archive, except for a short
time and with the permission of the Bishop or of both the Moderator of the curia and the
Can. 489 ß1 In the diocesan curia there is also to be a secret archive, or at least in
the ordinary archive there is to be a safe or cabinet, which is securely closed and bolted
and which cannot be removed. In this archive documents which are to be kept under secrecy
are to be most carefully guarded.
ß2 Each year documents of criminal cases concerning moral matters are to be destroyed
whenever the guilty parties have died, or ten years have elapsed since a condemnatory
sentence concluded the affair. A short summary of the facts is to be kept, together with
the text of the definitive judgment.
Can. 490 ß1 Only the Bishop is to have the key of the secret archive.
ß2 When the see is vacant, the secret archive or safe is not to be opened except in a
case of real necessity, and then by the diocesan Administrator personally.
ß3 Documents are not to be removed from the secret archive or safe.
Can. 491 ß1 The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that the acts and documents of the
archives of cathedral, collegiate, parochial and other churches in his territory are
carefully kept and that two copies are made of inventories or catalogues. One of these
copies is to remain in its own archive, the other is to be kept in the diocesan archive.
ß2 The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that there is an historical archive in the
diocese, and that documents which have an historical value are carefully kept in it and
ß3 In order that the acts and documents mentioned in ßß1 and 2 may be inspected or
removed, the norms laid down by the diocesan Bishop are to be observed.
Can. 492 ß1 In each diocese a finance committee is to be established, presided over by
the diocesan Bishop or his delegate. It is to be composed of at least three of the
faithful, expert in financial affairs and civil law, of outstanding integrity, and
appointed by the Bishop.
ß2 The members of the finance committee are appointed for five years but when this
period has expired they may be appointed for further terms of five years.
ß3 Persons related to the Bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity
are excluded from the finance committee.
Can. 493 Besides the functions entrusted to it in Book V on 'The Temporal Goods of the
Church', it is the responsibility of the finance committee to prepare each year a budget
of income and expenditure over the coming year for the governance of the whole diocese, in
accordance with the direction of the diocesan Bishop. It is also the responsibility of the
committee to account at the end of the year for income and expenditure.
Can. 494 ß1 In each diocese a financial administrator is to be appointed by the
Bishop, after consulting the college of consultors and the finance committee. The
financial administrator is to be expert in financial matters and of truly outstanding
ß2 The financial administrator is to be appointed for five years, but when this period
has expired, may be appointed for further terms of five years. While in office he or she
is not to be removed except for a grave reason, to be estimated by the Bishop after
consulting the college of consultors and the finance committee.
ß3 It is the responsibility of the financial administrator, under the authority of the
Bishop, to administer the goods of the diocese in accordance with the plan of the finance
committee, and to make those payments from diocesan funds which the Bishop or his
delegates have lawfully authorized.
ß4 At the end of the year the financial administrator must give the finance committee
an account of income and expenditure.
Can. 495 ß1 In each diocese there is to be established a council of priests, that is,
a group of priests who represent the presbyterium and who are to be, as it were, the
Bishop's senate. The council's role is to assist the Bishop, in accordance with the law,
in the governance of the diocese, so that the pastoral welfare of that portion of the
people of God entrusted to the Bishop may be most effectively promoted.
ß2 In vicariates and prefectures apostolic, the Vicar or Prefect is to appoint a
council composed of at least three missionary priests, whose opinion, even by letter, he
is to hear in the more serious affairs.
Can. 496 The council of priests is to have its own statutes. These are to be approved
by the diocesan Bishop, having taken account of the norms laid down by the Episcopal
Can. 497 As far as the designation of the members of the council of priests is
1ƒ about half are to be freely elected by the priests themselves in accordance with
the canons which follow and with the statutes;
2ƒ some priests must, in accordance with the statutes, be members ex officio, that is
belong to the council by reason of the office they hold;
3ƒ the diocesan Bishop may freely appoint some others.
Can. 498 ß1 The following have the right to both an active and a passive voice in an
election to the council of priests:
1ƒ all secular priests incardinated in the diocese;
2ƒ priests who are living in the diocese and exercise some useful office there,
whether they be secular priests not incardinated in the diocese, or priest members of
religious institutes or of societies of apostolic life.
ß2 Insofar as the statutes so provide, the same right of election may be given to
other priests who have a domicile or quasi‚domicile in the diocese.
Can. 499 The manner of electing the members of the council of priests is to be
determined by the statutes, and in such a way that as far as possible the priests of the
presbyterium are represented, with special regard to the diversity of ministries and to
the various regions of the diocese.
Can. 500 ß1 It is the prerogative of the diocesan Bishop to convene the council of
priests, to preside over it, and to determine the matters to be discussed in it or to
accept items proposed by the members.
ß2 The council of priests has only a consultative vote. The diocesan Bishop is to
consult it in matters of more serious moment, but he requires its consent only in the
cases expressly defined in the law.
ß3 The council of priests can never act without the diocesan Bishop. He alone can make
public those things which have been decided in accordance with ß2.
Can. 501 ß1 The members of the council of priests are to be designated for a period
specified in the statutes, subject however to the condition that over a five year period
the council is renewed in whole or in part.
ß2 When the see is vacant, the council of priests lapses and its functions are
fulfilled by the college of consultors. The Bishop must reconstitute the council of
priests within a year of taking possession.
ß3 If the council of priests does not fulfill the office entrusted to it for the
welfare of the diocese, or if it gravely abuses that office, it can be dissolved by the
diocesan Bishop, after consultation with the Metropolitan, in the case of a metropolitan
see, the Bishop must first consult with the suffragan Bishop who is senior by promotion.
Within a year, however, the diocesan Bishop must reconstitute the council.
Can. 502 ß1 From among the members of the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop
freely appoints not fewer than six and not more than twelve priests, who are for five
years to constitute the college of consultors. To it belong the functions determined by
law; on the expiry of the five year period, however, it continues to exercise its
functions until the new college is constituted.
ß2 The diocesan Bishop presides over the college of consultors. If, however, the see
is impeded or vacant, that person presides who in the interim takes the Bishop's place or,
if he has not yet been appointed, then the priest in the college of consultors who is
senior by ordination.
ß3 The Episcopal Conference can determine that the functions of the college of
consultors be entrusted to the cathedral chapter.
ß4 Unless the law provides otherwise, in a vicariate or prefecture apostolic the
functions of the college of consultors belong to the council of the mission mentioned in
can. 495 ß2.
Can. 503 A chapter of canons, whether cathedral or collegiate, is a college of priests,
whose role is to celebrate the more solemn liturgical functions in a cathedral or a
collegiate church. It is for the cathedral chapter, besides, to fulfill those roles
entrusted to it by law or by the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 504 The establishment, alteration or suppression of a cathedral chapter is
reserved to the Apostolic See.
Can. 505 Every chapter, whether cathedral or collegiate, is to have its own statutes,
established by lawful capitular act and approved by the diocesan Bishop. These statutes
are not to be changed or abrogated except with the approval of the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 506 ß1 The statutes of a chapter, while preserving always the laws of the
foundation, are to determine the nature of the chapter and the number of canons. They are
to define what the chapter and the individual canons are to do in carrying out divine
worship and their ministry. They are to decide the meetings at which chapter business is
conducted and, while observing the provisions of the universal law, they are to prescribe
the conditions required for the validity and for the lawfulness of the proceedings.
ß2 In the statutes the remuneration is also to be defined, both the fixed salary and
the amounts to be paid on the occasion of discharging the office, so too, having taken
account of the norms laid down by the Holy See, the insignia of the canons.
Can. 507 ß1 Among the canons there is to be one who presides over the chapter. In
accordance with the statutes other offices are also to be established, account having been
taken of the practice prevailing in the region.
ß2 Other offices may be allotted to clerics not belonging to the chapter, so that, in
accordance with the statutes, they may provide assistance to the canons.
Can. 508 ß1 The canon penitentiary both of a cathedral church and of a collegiate
church has by law ordinary faculties, which he cannot however delegate to others, to
absolve in the sacramental forum from latae sententiae censures which have not been
declared and are not reserved to the Holy See. Within the diocese he can absolve not only
diocesans but outsiders also, whereas he can absolve diocesans even outside the diocese.
ß2 Where there is no chapter, the diocesan Bishop is to appoint a priest to fulfill
Can. 509 ß1 It belongs to the diocesan Bishop, after consultation with the chapter,
but not to the diocesan Administrator, to bestow each and every canonry both in the
cathedral church and in a collegiate church, any privilege to the contrary is revoked. It
is also for the diocesan Bishop to confirm the person elected by the chapter to preside
ß2 The diocesan Bishop is to appoint to canonries only priests who are of sound
doctrine and life and who have exercised a praiseworthy ministry.
Can. 510 ß1 Parishes are no longer to be united with chapters of canons. Those which
are united to a chapter are to be separated from it by the diocesan Bishop.
ß2 In a church which is at the same time a parochial and a capitular church, a parish
priest is to be appointed, whether chosen from the chapter or not. He is bound by all the
obligations and he enjoys all the rights and faculties which by law belong to a parish
ß3 The diocesan Bishop is to establish certain norms whereby the pastoral duties of
the parish priest and the roles proper to the chapter are duly harmonized, so that the
parish priest is not a hindrance to capitular functions, nor the chapter to those of the
parish. Any conflicts which may arise are to be settled by the diocesan Bishop, who is to
ensure above all that the pastoral needs of the faithful are suitably provided for.
ß4 Alms given to a church which is at the same time a parochial and a capitular
church, are presumed to be given to the parish, unless it is otherwise established.
Can. 511 In each diocese, in so far as pastoral circumstances suggest, a pastoral
council is to be established. Its function, under the authority of the Bishop, is to study
and weigh those matters which concern the pastoral works in the diocese, and to propose
practical conclusions concerning them.
Can. 512 ß1 A pastoral council is composed of members of Christ's faithful who are in
full communion with the catholic Church: clerics, members of institutes of consecrated
life, and especially lay people. They are designated in the manner determined by the
ß2 The members of Christ's faithful assigned to the pastoral council are to be
selected in such a way that the council truly reflects the entire portion of the people of
God which constitutes the diocese, taking account of the different regions of the diocese,
of social conditions and professions, and of the part played in the apostolate by the
members, whether individually or in association with others.
ß3 Only those members of Christ's faithful who are outstanding in firm faith, high
moral standards and prudence are to be assigned to the pastoral council.
Can. 513 ß1 The pastoral council is appointed for a determinate period, in accordance
with the provisions of the statutes drawn up by the Bishop.
ß2 When the see is vacant, the pastoral council lapses.
Can. 514 ß1 The pastoral council has only a consultative vote. It is for the diocesan
Bishop alone to convene it, according to the needs of the apostolate, and to preside over
it. He alone has the right to make public the matters dealt with in the council.
ß2 It is to be convened at least once a year.
Can. 515 ß1 A parish is a certain community of Christ's faithful stably established
within a particular Church, whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan
Bishop, is entrusted to a parish priest as its proper pastor.
ß2 The diocesan Bishop alone can establish, suppress or alter parishes. He is not to
establish, suppress or notably alter them unless he has consulted the council of priests.
ß3 A lawfully established parish has juridical personality by virtue of the law
Can. 516 ß1 Unless the law provides otherwise, a quasi‚parish is equivalent to a
parish. A quasi‚parish is a certain community of Christ's faithful within a particular
Church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor, but because of special circumstances
not yet established as a parish.
ß2 Where some communities cannot be established as parishes or quasi‚parishes, the
diocesan Bishop is to provide for their spiritual care in some other way.
Can. 517 ß1 Where circumstances so require, the pastoral care of a parish, or of a
number of parishes together, can be entrusted to several priests jointly, but with the
stipulation that one of the priests is to be the moderator of the pastoral care to be
exercised. This moderator is to direct the joint action and to be responsible for it to
ß2 If, because of a shortage of priests, the diocesan Bishop has judged that a deacon,
or some other person who is not a priest, or a community of persons, should be entrusted
with a share in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish, he is to appoint some
priest who, with the powers and faculties of a parish priest, will direct the pastoral
Can. 518 As a general rule, a parish is to be territorial, that is, it is to embrace
all Christ's faithful of a given territory. Where it is useful however, personal parishes
are to be established, determined by reason of the rite, language or nationality of the
faithful of a certain territory, or on some other basis.
Can. 519 The parish priest is the proper pastor of the parish entrusted to him. He
exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the
diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this
community he may carry out the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the
cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of Christ's
faithful, in accordance with the law.
Can. 520 ß1 A juridical person may not be a parish priest. However, the diocesan
Bishop, but not the diocesan Administrator, can, with the consent of the competent
Superior, entrust a parish to a clerical religious institute or to a clerical society of
apostolic life, even by establishing it in the church of the institute or society, subject
however to the rule that one priest be the parish priest or, if the pastoral care is
entrusted to several priests jointly, that there be a moderator as mentioned in can. 517
ß2 The entrustment of a parish, as in ß1, may be either in perpetuity or for a
specified time. In either case this is to be done by means of a written agreement made
between the diocesan Bishop and the competent Superior of the institute or society. This
agreement must expressly and accurately define, among other things, the work to be done,
the persons to be assigned to it and the financial arrangements.
Can. 521 ß1 To be validly appointed a parish priest, one must be in the sacred order
ß2 He is also to be outstanding in sound doctrine and uprightness of character,
endowed with zeal for souls and other virtues, and possessed of those qualities which by
universal or particular law are required for the care of the parish in question.
ß3 In order that one be appointed to the office of parish priest, his suitability must
be clearly established, in a manner determined by the diocesan Bishop, even by
Can. 522 It is necessary that a parish priest have the benefit of stability, and
therefore he is to be appointed for an indeterminate period of time. The diocesan Bishop
may appoint him for a specified period of time only if the Episcopal Conference has by
decree allowed this.
Can. 523 Without prejudice to can. 682, appointment to the office of parish priest
belongs to the diocesan Bishop, who is free to confer it on whomsoever he wishes, unless
someone else has a right of presentation or election.
Can. 524 The diocesan Bishop is to confer a vacant parish on the one whom, after
consideration of all the circumstances, he judges suitable for the parochial care of that
parish, without any preference of persons. In order to assess suitability, he is to
consult the vicar forane, conduct suitable enquiries and, if it is appropriate, seek the
view of some priests and lay members of Christ's faithful.
Can. 525 When a see is vacant or impeded, it is for the diocesan Administrator or
whoever governs the diocese in the interim:
1ƒ to institute priests lawfully presented for a parish or to confirm those lawfully
elected to one;
2ƒ to appoint parish priests if the see has been vacant or impeded for a year.
Can. 526 ß1 A parish priest is to have the parochial care of one parish only. However,
because of a shortage of priests or other circumstances, the care of a number of
neighboring parishes can be entrusted to the one parish priest.
ß2 In any one parish there is to be only one parish priest, or one moderator in
accordance with can. 517 ß1; any contrary custom is reprobated and any contrary privilege
Can. 527 ß1 One who is promoted to exercise the pastoral care of a parish obtains this
care and is bound to exercise it from the moment he takes possession.
ß2 The local Ordinary or a priest delegated by him puts the parish priest into
possession, in accordance with the procedure approved by particular law or by lawful
custom. For a just reason, however, the same Ordinary can dispense from this procedure, in
which case the communication of the dispensation to the parish replaces the taking of
ß3 The local Ordinary is to determine the time within which the parish priest must
take possession of the parish. If, in the absence of a lawful impediment, he has not taken
possession within this time, the local Ordinary can declare the parish vacant.
Can. 528 ß1 The parish priest has the obligation of ensuring that the word of God is
proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish. He is therefore to see to it
that the lay members of Christ's faithful are instructed in the truths of faith,
especially by means of the homily on Sundays and holydays of obligation and by
catechetical formation. He is to foster works which promote the spirit of the Gospel,
including its relevance to social justice. He is to have a special care for the catholic
education of children and young people. With the collaboration of the faithful, he is to
make every effort to bring the gospel message to those also who have given up religious
practice or who do not profess the true faith.
ß2 The parish priest is to take care that the blessed Eucharist is the center
parish assembly of the faithful. He is to strive to ensure that the faithful are nourished
by the devout celebration of the sacraments, and in particular that they frequently
approach the sacraments of the blessed Eucharist and penance. He is to strive to lead them
to prayer, including prayer in their families, and to take a live and active part in the
sacred liturgy. Under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, the parish priest must direct
this liturgy in his own parish, and he is bound to be on guard against abuses.
Can. 529 ß1 So that he may fulfill his office of pastor diligently, the parish priest
is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. He is therefore to visit their
families, sharing in their cares and anxieties and, in a special way, their sorrows,
comforting them in the Lord. If in certain matters they are found wanting, he is prudently
to correct them. He is to help the sick and especially the dying in great charity,
solicitously restoring them with the sacraments and commending their souls to God. He is
to be especially diligent in seeking out the poor, the suffering, the lonely, those who
are exiled from their homeland, and those burdened with special difficulties. He is to
strive also to ensure that spouses and parents are sustained in the fulfillment of their
proper duties, and to foster the growth of Christian life in the family.
ß2 The parish priest is to recognize and promote the specific role which the lay
members of Christ's faithful have in the mission of the Church, fostering their
associations which have religious purposes. He is to cooperate with his proper Bishop and
with the presbyterium of the diocese. Moreover, he is to endeavor to ensure that the
faithful are concerned for the community of the parish, that they feel themselves to be
members both of the diocese and of the universal Church, and that they take part in and
sustain works which promote this community.
Can. 530 The functions especially entrusted to the parish priest are as follows:
1ƒ the administration of baptism;
2ƒ the administration of the sacrament of confirmation to those in danger of death, in
accordance with can. 883, n. 3;
3ƒ the administration of Viaticum and of the anointing of the sick, without prejudice
to can. 1003 ßß2 and 3, and the imparting of the apostolic blessing;
4ƒ the assistance at marriages and the nuptial blessing;
5ƒ the conducting of funerals;
6ƒ the blessing of the baptismal font at paschal time, the conduct of processions
outside the church, and the giving of solemn blessings outside the church;
7ƒ the more solemn celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and holydays of obligation.
Can. 531 Even though another person has performed some parochial function, he is to
give the offering he receives from the faithful on that occasion to the parish fund
unless, in respect of voluntary offerings, there is a clear contrary intention on the
donor's part; it is for the diocesan Bishop, after consulting the council of priests, to
prescribe regulations concerning the destination of these offerings and to provide for the
remuneration of clerics who fulfill such a parochial function.
Can. 532 In all juridical matters, the parish priest acts in the person of the parish,
in accordance with the law. He is to ensure that the parish goods are administered in
accordance with canon 1281‚1288.
Can. 533 ß1 The parish priest is obliged to reside in the parochial house, near the
church. In particular cases, however, where there is a just reason, the local Ordinary may
permit him to reside elsewhere, especially in a house common to several priests, provided
the carrying out of the parochial duties is properly and suitably catered for.
ß2 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, the parish priest may each year be
absent on holiday from his parish for a period not exceeding one month, continuous or
otherwise. The days which the parish priest spends on the annual spiritual retreat are not
reckoned in this period of vacation. For an absence from the parish of more than a week,
however, the parish priest is bound to advise the local Ordinary.
ß3 It is for the diocesan Bishop to establish norms by which, during the parish
priest's absence, the care of the parish is provided for by a priest with the requisite
Can. 534 ß1 When he has taken possession of his parish, the parish priest is bound on
each Sunday and holyday of obligation in his diocese to apply the Mass for the people
entrusted to him. If he is lawfully impeded from this celebration, he is to have someone
else apply the Mass on these days or apply it himself on other days.
ß2 A parish priest who has the care of several parishes is bound to apply only one
Mass on the days mentioned in ß1, for all the people entrusted to him.
ß3 A parish priest who has not discharged the obligations mentioned in ßß1 and 2, is
as soon as possible to apply for the people as many Masses as he has omitted.
Can. 535 ß1 In each parish there are to be parochial registers, that is, of baptisms,
of marriages and of deaths, and any other registers prescribed by the Episcopal Conference
or by the diocesan Bishop. The parish priest is to ensure that entries are accurately made
and that the registers are carefully preserved.
ß2 In the register of baptisms, a note is to be made of confirmation and of matters
pertaining to the canonical status of the faithful by reason of marriage, without
prejudice to the provision of can. 1133, and by reason of adoption, the reception of
sacred order, the making of perpetual profession in a religious institute, or a change of
rite. These annotations are always to be reproduced on a baptismal certificate.
ß3 Each parish is to have its own seal. Certificates concerning the canonical status
of the faithful, and all acts which can have juridical significance, are to be signed by
the parish priest or his delegate and secured with the parochial seal.
ß4 In each parish there is to be an archive, in which the parochial books are to be
kept, together with episcopal letters and other documents which it may be necessary or
useful to preserve. On the occasion of visitation or at some other opportune time, the
diocesan Bishop or his delegate is to inspect all of these matters. The parish priest is
to take care that they do not fall into unauthorized hands.
ß5 Older parochial registers are also to be carefully safeguarded, in accordance with
the provisions of particular law.
Can. 536 ß1 If, after consulting the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop considers
it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish. In this council,
which is presided over by the parish priest, Christ's faithful, together with those who by
virtue of their office are engaged in pastoral care in the parish, give their help in
fostering pastoral action.
ß2 The pastoral council has only a consultative vote, and it is regulated by the norms
laid down by the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 537 In each parish there is to be a finance committee to help the parish priest in
the administration of the goods of the parish, without prejudice to can. 532. It is ruled
by the universal law and by the norms laid down by the diocesan Bishop, and it is
comprised of members of the faithful selected according to these norms.
Can. 538 ß1 A parish priest ceases to hold office by removal or transfer effected by
the diocesan Bishop in accordance with the law; by his personal resignation, for a just
reason, which for validity requires that it be accepted by the diocesan Bishop; and by the
lapse of time if, in accordance with the particular law mentioned in can. 522, he was
appointed for a specified period of time.
ß2 A parish priest who is a member of a religious institute or is incardinated in a
society of apostolic life, is removed in accordance with can. 682 ß2.
ß3 A parish priest who has completed his seventy fifth year of age is requested to
offer his resignation from office to the diocesan Bishop who, after considering all the
circumstances of person and place, is to decide whether to accept or defer it. Having
taken account of the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference, the diocesan Bishop must
make provision for the appropriate maintenance and residence of the priest who has
Can. 539 When a parish is vacant, or when the parish priest is prevented from
exercising his pastoral office in the parish by reason of imprisonment, exile or
banishment, or by reason of incapacity or ill health or some other cause, the diocesan
Bishop is as soon as possible to appoint a parochial administrator, that is, a priest who
will take the place of the parish priest in accordance with can. 540.
Can. 540 ß1 The parochial administrator is bound by the same obligations and has the
same rights as a parish priest, unless the diocesan Bishop prescribes otherwise.
ß2 The parochial administrator may not do anything which could prejudice the rights of
the parish priest or could do harm to parochial property.
ß3 When he has discharged his office, the parochial administrator is to give an
account to the parish priest.
Can. 541 ß1 When a parish is vacant, or when the parish priest is impeded from
exercising his pastoral office, pending the appointment of a parochial administrator the
interim governance of the parish is to be undertaken by the assistant priest; if there are
a number of assistants, by the senior by appointment; if there are none, by the parish
priest determined by particular law.
ß2 The one who has undertaken the governance of the parish in accordance with ß1, is
at once to inform the local Ordinary of the parish vacancy.
Can. 542 The priests to whom, in accordance with can. 516 ß1 
,is jointly entrusted the pastoral care of a parish or of a number of parishes together:
1ƒ must possess the qualities mentioned in can. 521;
2ƒ are to be appointed in accordance with canon 522 and 524;
3ƒ obtain the pastoral care only from the moment of taking possession: their moderator
is put into possession in accordance with can. 527 ß2; for the other priests, the
profession of faith lawfully made replaces the taking of possession.
Can. 543 ß1 Each of the priests to whom the care of a parish or of a number of
parishes together is jointly entrusted, is bound to fulfill the duties and functions of a
parish priest mentioned in canon 528, 529 and 530. They are to do this according to a plan
determined among themselves. The faculty to assist at marriages, and all the faculties to
dispense which are given to a parish priest by virtue of the law itself, belong to all,
but are to be exercised under the direction of the moderator.
ß2 All the priests who belong to the group:
1ƒ are bound by the obligation of residence;
2ƒ are by common counsel to establish an arrangement by which one of them celebrates
the Mass for the people, in accordance with can. 534.
3ƒ  in juridical affairs, only the moderator acts in
the person of the parish or parishes entrusted to the group.
Can. 544 When one of the priests, or the moderator, of the group mentioned in can. 517
ß1 ceases to hold office, or when any member of it becomes incapable of exercising his
pastoral office, the parish or parishes whose care is entrusted to the group do not become
vacant. It is for the diocesan Bishop to appoint another moderator; until he is appointed
by the Bishop, the priest of the group who is senior by appointment is to fulfill
Can. 545 ß1 Whenever it is necessary or opportune for the due pastoral care of the
parish, one or more assistant priests can be joined with the parish priest. As cooperators
with the parish priest and sharers in his concern, they are, by common counsel and effort
with the parish priest and under his authority, to labor in the pastoral ministry.
ß2 An assistant priest may be appointed either to help in exercising the entire
pastoral ministry, whether in the whole parish or in a part of it or for a particular
group of the faithful within it, or even to help in carrying out a specific ministry in a
number of parishes at the same time.
Can. 546 To be validly appointed an assistant priest, one must be in the sacred order
Can. 547 The diocesan Bishop freely appoints an assistant priest; if he has judged it
opportune, he will have consulted the parish priest or parish priests of the parishes to
which the assistant is appointed, and the Vicar forane, without prejudice to can. 682 ß1.
Can. 548 ß1 The obligations and rights of assistant priests are defined not only by
the canons of this chapter, but also by the diocesan statutes, and by the letter of the
diocesan Bishop ; they are more specifically determined by the directions of the parish
ß2 Unless it is otherwise expressly provided in the letter of the diocesan Bishop, the
assistant priest is by virtue of his office bound to help the parish priest in the entire
parochial ministry, with the exception of the application of the Mass for the people.
Likewise, if the matter should arise in accordance with the law, he is bound to take the
place of the parish priest.
ß3 The assistant priest is to report regularly to the parish priest on pastoral
initiatives, both those planned and those already undertaken. In this way the parish
priest and the assistant or assistants can by their joint efforts provide a pastoral care
of the parish for which they are together answerable.
Can. 549 When the parish priest is absent, the norms of can. 541 ß1 are to be
observed, unless the diocesan Bishop has provided otherwise in accordance with can. 533
ß3, or unless a parochial administrator has been appointed. If can. 541 ß1 is applied,
the assistant priest is bound by all the obligations of the parish priest, with the
exception of the obligation to apply the Mass for the people.
Can. 550 ß1 The assistant priest is bound to reside in the parish or, if he is
appointed for a number of parishes at the same time, in one of them. For a just reason,
however, the local Ordinary may permit him to reside elsewhere, especially in a house
common to several priests, provided the carrying out of the pastoral duties does not in
any way suffer thereby.
ß2 The local Ordinary is to see to it that, where it is possible, some manner of
common life in the parochial house be encouraged between the parish priest and the
ß3 As far as holidays are concerned, the assistant priest has the same rights as the
Can. 551 The provisions of can. 531 are to be observed in respect of offerings which
Christ's faithful make to the assistant priest on the occasion of his exercise of the
Can. 552 Without prejudice to can. 682 ß2, an assistant priest may for a just reason
be removed by the diocesan Bishop or the diocesan Administrator.
Can. 553 ß1 The Vicar forane, known also as the dean or the archpriest or by some
other title, is the priest who is placed in charge of a vicariate forane.
ß2 Unless it is otherwise prescribed by particular law, the Vicar forane is appointed
by the diocesan Bishop; if he has considered it prudent to do so, he will have consulted
the priests who are exercising the ministry in the vicariate.
Can. 554 ß1 For the office of Vicar forane, which is not tied to the office of parish
priest of any given parish, the Bishop is to choose a priest whom, in view of the
circumstances of place and time, he has judged to be suitable.
ß2 The Vicar forane is to be appointed for a certain period of time, determined by
ß3 For a just reason, the diocesan Bishop may in accordance with his prudent
judgment freely remove the Vicar forane from office.
Can. 555 ß1 Apart from the faculties lawfully given to him by particular law, the
Vicar forane has the duty and the right:
1ƒ to promote and coordinate common pastoral action in the vicariate;
2ƒ to see that the clerics of his district lead a life befitting their state, and
discharge their obligations carefully
3ƒ to ensure that religious functions are celebrated according to the provisions of
the sacred liturgy; that the elegance and neatness of the churches and sacred furnishings
are properly maintained, particularly in regard to the celebration of the Eucharist and
the custody of the blessed Sacrament; that the parish registers are correctly entered and
duly safeguarded; that ecclesiastical goods are carefully administered; finally, that the
parochial house is looked after with care.
ß2 In the vicariate entrusted to him, the Vicar forane:
1ƒ is to encourage the clergy, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to
attend at the prescribed time lectures and theological meetings or conferences, in
accordance with can. 272 ß2  .
2ƒ is to see to it that spiritual assistance is available to the priests of his
district, and he is to show a particular solicitude for those who are in difficult
circumstances or are troubled by problems.
ß3 When he has come to know that parish priests of his district are seriously ill, the
Vicar forane is to ensure that they do not lack spiritual and material help. When they
die, he is to ensure that their funerals are worthily celebrated. Moreover, should any of
them fall ill or die, he is to see to it that books, documents, sacred furnishings and
other items belonging to the Church are not lost or removed.
ß4 The Vicar forane is obliged to visit the parishes of his district in accordance
with the arrangement made by the diocesan Bishop.
Can. 556 Rectors of churches are here understood to be priests to whom is entrusted the
care of some church which is neither a parochial nor a capitular church, nor a church
attached to the house of a religious community or a society of apostolic life which holds
services in it.
Can. 557 ß1 The rector of a church is freely appointed by the diocesan Bishop, without
prejudice to a right of election or presentation to which someone may lawfully have claim:
in which case the diocesan Bishop has the right to confirm or to appoint the rector.
ß2 Even if the church belongs to some clerical religious institute of pontifical
right, it is for the diocesan Bishop to appoint the rector presented by the Superior.
ß3 The rector of a church which is attached to a seminary or to a college governed by
clerics, is the rector of the seminary or college, unless the diocesan Bishop has
Can. 558 Without prejudice to can. 262, the rector of a church may not perform in his
church the parochial functions mentioned in can. 530 nn. 1‚‚6, without the consent or,
where the matter requires it, the delegation of the parish priest.
Can. 559 The rector can conduct liturgical celebrations, even solemn ones, in the
church entrusted to him, without prejudice to the legitimate laws of a foundation, and on
condition that in the judgment of the local Ordinary these celebrations do not in any way
harm the parochial ministry.
Can. 560 Where he considers it opportune, the local Ordinary may direct the rector to
celebrate in his church certain functions for the people, even parochial functions, and
also to open the church to certain groups of the faithful so that they may hold liturgical
Can. 561 Without the permission of the rector or some other lawful superior, no one may
celebrate the Eucharist, administer the sacraments, or perform other sacred functions in
the church. This permission is to be given or refused in accordance with the law.
Can. 562 Under the authority of the local Ordinary, having observed the lawful statutes
and respected acquired rights, the rector of a church is obliged to see that sacred
functions are worthily celebrated in the church, in accordance with liturgical and canon
law, that obligations are faithfully fulfilled, that the property is carefully
administered, and that the maintenance and adornment of the furnishings and buildings are
He must also ensure that nothing is done which is in any way unbecoming to the holiness
of the place and to the reverence due to the house of God.
Can. 563 For a just reason, the local Ordinary may in accordance with his prudent
judgment remove the rector of a church from office, even if he had been elected or
presented by others, but without prejudice to can. 682 ß2.
Can. 564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral
care, at least in part, of some community or special group of Christ's faithful, to be
exercised in accordance with universal and particular law.
Can. 565 Unless the law provides otherwise or unless special rights lawfully belong to
someone, a chaplain is appointed by the local Ordinary, to whom also it belongs to appoint
one who has been presented or to confirm one elected.
Can. 566 ß1 A chaplain must be given all the faculties which due pastoral care
demands. Besides those which are given by particular law or by special delegation, a
chaplain has by virtue of his office the faculty to hear the confessions of the faithful
entrusted to his care, to preach to them the word of God, to administer Viaticum and the
anointing of the sick, and to confer the sacrament of confirmation when they are in danger
ß2 In hospitals and prisons and on sea voyages, a chaplain has the further facility,
to be exercised only in those places, to absolve from latae sententiae censures which are
neither reserved nor declared, without prejudice to can. 976.
Can. 567 ß1 The local Ordinary is not to proceed to the appointment of a chaplain to a
house of a lay religious institute without consulting the Superior. The Superior has the
right, after consulting the community, to propose a particular priest.
ß2 It is the responsibility of the chaplain to celebrate or to direct liturgical
functions; he may not, however, involve himself in the internal governance of the
Can. 568 As far as possible, chaplains are to be appointed for those who, because of
their condition of life, are not able to avail themselves of the ordinary care of parish
priests, as for example, migrants, exiles, fugitives, nomads and sea‚farers.
Can. 569 Chaplains to the armed forces are governed by special laws.
Can. 570 If a non‚parochial church is attached to a center of a community or group,
the rector of the church is to be the chaplain, unless the care of the community or of the
church requires otherwise.
Can. 571 In the exercise of his pastoral office a chaplain is to maintain the due
relationship with the parish priest.
Can. 572 In regard to the removal of a chaplain, the provisions of can. 563 are to be
FOOTNOTES1 Translators' note: It would appear that this reference should read 'can. 517 1'. 2 Translators' note: It would appear that n. 3 should read ' 3'. 3 Translators' note: It would appear that this reference should read 'can. 279 2'.