CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK I. GENERAL NORMS
THE POWER OF GOVERNANCE (Cann. 129 -
Can. 129 §1. Those who have received sacred orders are qualified, according
to the norm of the prescripts of the law, for the power of governance, which
exists in the Church by divine institution and is also called the power of
§2. Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of
this same power according to the norm of law.
Can. 130 Of itself, the power of governance is exercised for the external
forum; sometimes, however, it is exercised for the internal forum alone, so that
the effects which its exercise is meant to have for the external forum are not
recognized there, except insofar as the law establishes it in determined cases.
Can. 131 §1. The ordinary power of governance is that which is joined to a
certain office by the law itself; delegated, that which is granted to a person
but not by means of an office.
§2. The ordinary power of governance can be either proper or vicarious.
§3. The burden of proving delegation rests on the one who claims to have been
Can. 132 §1. Habitual faculties are governed by the prescripts for delegated
§2. Nevertheless, unless the grant expressly provides otherwise or the
ordinary was chosen for personal qualifications, a habitual faculty granted to
an ordinary is not withdrawn when the authority of the ordinary to whom it was
granted expires, even if he has begun to execute it, but the faculty transfers
to any ordinary who succeeds him in governance.
Can. 133 §1. A delegate who exceeds the limits of the mandate with respect to
either matters or persons does not act at all.
§2. A delegate who carries out those things for which the person was
delegated in some manner other than that determined in the mandate is not
considered to exceed the limits of the mandate unless the manner was prescribed
for validity by the one delegating.
Can. 134 §1. In addition to the Roman Pontiff, by the title of ordinary are
understood in the law diocesan bishops and others who, even if only temporarily,
are placed over some particular church or a community equivalent to it
according to the norm of can. 368 as well as those who possess general ordinary
executive power in them, namely, vicars general and episcopal vicars; likewise,
for their own members, major superiors of clerical religious institutes of
pontifical right and of clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right
who at least possess ordinary executive power.
§2. By the title of local ordinary are understood all those mentioned in §1
except the superiors of religious institutes and of societies of apostolic life.
§3. Within the context of executive power, those things which in the canons
are attributed by name to the diocesan bishop are understood to belong only to a
diocesan bishop and to the others made equivalent to him in can. 381, §2,
excluding the vicar general and episcopal vicar except by special mandate.
Can. 135 §1. The power of governance is distinguished as legislative,
executive, and judicial.
§2. Legislative power must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law; that
which a legislator below the supreme authority possesses in the Church cannot be
validly delegated unless the law explicitly provides otherwise. A lower
legislator cannot validly issue a law contrary to higher law.
§3. Judicial power, which judges or judicial colleges possess, must be
exercised in the manner prescribed by law and cannot be delegated except to
perform acts preparatory to some decree or sentence.
§4. In what pertains to the exercise of executive power, the prescripts of
the following canons are to be observed.
Can. 136 Unless the nature of the matter or a prescript of law establishes
otherwise, a person is able to exercise executive power over his subjects, even
when he or they are outside his territory; he is also able to exercise this
power over travelers actually present in the territory if it concerns granting
favors or executing universal laws or particular laws which bind them according
to the norm of can. 13, §2, n. 2.
Can. 137 §1. Ordinary executive power can be delegated both for a single act
and for all cases unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
§2. Executive power delegated by the Apostolic See can be subdelegated for a
single act or for all cases unless the delegate was chosen for personal
qualifications or subdelegation was expressly forbidden.
§3. Executive power delegated by another authority who has ordinary power can
be subdelegated only for individual cases if it was delegated for all cases. If
it was delegated for a single act or for determined acts, however, it cannot be
subdelegated except by express grant of the one delegating.
§4. No subdelegated power can be subdelegated again unless the one delegating
has expressly granted this.
Can. 138 Ordinary executive power as well as power delegated for all cases
must be interpreted broadly; any other, however, must be interpreted strictly.
Nevertheless, one who has delegated power is understood to have been granted
also those things without which the delegate cannot exercise this power.
Can. 139 §1. Unless the law determines otherwise, the fact that a person
approaches some competent authority, even a higher one, does not suspend the
executive power, whether ordinary or delegated, of another competent authority.
§2. Nevertheless, a lower authority is not to become involved in cases
submitted to a higher authority except for a grave and urgent cause; in this
case, the lower authority is immediately to notify the higher concerning the
Can. 140 §1. When several persons have been delegated in solidum to transact
the same affair, the one who first begins to deal with it excludes the others
from doing so unless that person subsequently was impeded or did not wish to
proceed further in carrying it out.
§2. When several persons have been delegated collegially to transact an
affair, all must proceed according to the norm of can. 119 unless the mandate
has provided otherwise.
§3. Executive power delegated to several persons is presumed to be delegated
to them in solidum.
Can. 141 When several persons have been delegated successively, that person
is to take care of the affair whose mandate is the earlier and has not been
Can. 142 §1. Delegated power ceases: by fulfillment of the mandate; by
expiration of the time or completion of the number of cases for which it was
granted; by cessation of the purpose for the delegation; by revocation of the
one delegating directly communicated to the delegate as well as by resignation
of the delegate made known to and accepted by the one delegating. It does not
cease, however, when the authority of the one delegating expires unless this
appears in attached clauses.
§2. Nevertheless, an act of delegated power which is exercised for the
internal forum alone and is placed inadvertently after the lapse of the time
limit of the grant is valid.
Can. 143 §1. Ordinary power ceases by loss of the office to which it is
§2. Unless the law provides otherwise, ordinary power is suspended if,
legitimately, an appeal is made or a recourse is lodged against privation of or
removal from office.
Can. 144 §1. In factual or legal common error and in positive and probable
doubt of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for
both the external and internal forum.
§2. The same norm is applied to the faculties mentioned in
cann. 882, 883, 966, and 1111, §1.