CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK I. GENERAL NORMS
TITLE IX. ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICES (Cann. 145 - 196)
Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable
manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual
§2. The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices
are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the
decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time
constituted and conferred.
PROVISION OF ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICE
Can. 146 An ecclesiastical office cannot be acquired validly without
Can. 147 The provision of an ecclesiastical office is made: through free
conferral by a competent ecclesiastical authority; through installation by the
same authority if presentation preceded it; through confirmation or admission
granted by the same authority if election or postulation preceded it; finally,
through simple election and acceptance by the one elected if the election does
not require confirmation.
Can. 148 The provision of offices is also the competence of the authority to
whom it belongs to erect, change, and suppress them unless the law establishes
Can. 149 §1. To be promoted to an ecclesiastical office, a person must be in
the communion of the Church as well as suitable, that is, endowed with those
qualities which are required for that office by universal or particular law or
by the law of the foundation.
§2. Provision of an ecclesiastical office made to one who lacks the requisite
qualities is invalid only if the qualities are expressly required for the
validity of the provision by universal or particular law or by the law of the
foundation. Otherwise it is valid but can be rescinded by decree of competent
authority or by sentence of an administrative tribunal.
§3. Provision of an office made as a result of simony is invalid by the law
Can. 150 An office which entails the full care of souls and for whose
fulfillment the exercise of the priestly order is required cannot be conferred
validly on one who is not yet a priest.
Can. 151 The provision of an office which entails the care of souls is not to
be deferred without a grave cause.
Can. 152 Two or more incompatible offices, that is, offices which together
cannot be fulfilled at the same time by the same person, are not to be conferred
upon one person.
Can. 153 §1. The provision of an office which by law is not vacant is by that
fact invalid and is not validated by subsequent vacancy.
§2. Nevertheless, if it concerns an office which by law is conferred for a
determined period of time, provision can be made within six months before the
expiration of this time and takes effect from the day of the vacancy of the
§3. A promise of some office, no matter by whom it is made, produces no
Can. 154 An office vacant by law, which may still be possessed illegitimately
by someone, can be conferred provided that it has been declared properly that
the possession is not legitimate and mention of this declaration is made in the
letter of conferral.
Can. 155 A person who confers an office in the place of another who is
negligent or impeded acquires no power thereafter over the person upon whom the
office was conferred. The juridic condition of that person, however, is
established just as if the provision had been completed according to the
ordinary norm of law.
Can. 156 The provision of any office is to be put in writing.
Can. 157 Unless the law explicitly establishes otherwise, it is for the
diocesan bishop to provide for ecclesiastical offices in his own particular
church by free conferral.
Can. 158 §1. Presentation for an ecclesiastical office by a person who has
the right of presentation must be made to the authority to whom it belongs to
install in that office. Moreover, this must be done within three months from
notice of the vacancy of the office unless other provision has been made
§2. If some college or group of persons has the right of presentation, the
person to be presented is to be designated according to the prescripts of cann.
Can. 159 No one is to be presented unwillingly; therefore, a person who is
proposed for presentation and questioned about his or her intention can be
presented unless the person declines within eight useful days.
Can. 160 §1. The person who possesses the right of presentation can present
one or even several persons, either at the same time or successively.
§2. No one can present oneself; a college or group of persons, however, can
present one of its own members.
Can. 161 §1. Unless the law establishes otherwise, a person who has presented
one found unsuitable can present another candidate within a month, but once more
§2. If the person presented renounces or dies before the installation, the
one who has the right of presentation can exercise this right again within a
month from the notice of the renunciation or death.
Can. 162 A person who has not made presentation within the useful time
according to the norm of can. 158, §1 and can. 161 as well as one who has twice
presented an unsuitable person loses the right of presentation for that case.
The authority to whom it belongs to install freely provides for the vacant
office, with the assent, however, of the proper ordinary of the person
Can. 163 The authority competent to install the person presented according to
the norm of law is to install the one legitimately presented whom the authority
has found suitable and who has accepted. If several persons legitimately
presented have been found suitable, the authority must install one of them.
Can. 164 Unless the law has provided otherwise, the prescripts of the
following canons are to be observed in canonical elections.
Can. 165 Unless the law or the legitimate statutes of a college or group have
provided otherwise, if a college or group of persons has the right of election
to office, the election is not to be delayed beyond three months of useful time
computed from the notice of the vacancy of the office. If this limit has passed
without action, the ecclesiastical authority who has the right of confirming the
election or the right of providing for the office successively is to make
provision freely for the vacant office.
Can. 166 §1. The person presiding over a college or group is to convoke all
those belonging to the college or group; the notice of convocation, however,
when it must be personal, is valid if it is given in the place of domicile or
quasi-domicile or in the place of residence.
§2. If anyone of those to be convoked was overlooked and for that reason was
absent, the election is valid. Nevertheless, at the instance of that same person
and when the oversight and absence have been proved, the election must be
rescinded by the competent authority even if it has been confirmed, provided
that it is evident juridically that recourse had been made at least within three
days from the notice of the election.
§3. If more than one-third of the electors were overlooked, however, the
election is null by the law itself unless all those overlooked were in fact
Can. 167 §1. When the notice of the convocation has been given legitimately,
those present on the day and at the place determined in the same notice have the
right to vote. The faculty of voting by letter or proxy is excluded unless the
statutes legitimately provide otherwise.
§2. If one of the electors is present in the house where the election occurs
but cannot be present at the election due to ill health, his or her written vote
is to be sought by the tellers.
Can. 168 Even if a person has the right to vote in his or her own name under
several titles, the person can vote only once.
Can. 169 For an election to be valid, no one can be admitted to vote who does
not belong to the college or group.
Can. 170 An election whose freedom actually has been impeded in any way is
invalid by the law itself.
Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:
1/ a person incapable of a human act;
2/ a person who lacks active voice;
3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial
sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.
§2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the
election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one
elected did not receive the required number of votes.
Can. 172 §1. To be valid, a vote must be:
1/ free; therefore the vote of a person who has been coerced directly or
indirectly by grave fear or malice to vote for a certain person or different
persons separately is invalid;
2/ secret, certain, absolute, determined.
§2. Conditions attached to a vote before the election are to be considered as
not having been added.
Can. 173 §1. Before an election begins, at least two tellers are to be
designated from the membership of the college or group.
§2. The tellers are to collect the votes, to examine in the presence of the
one presiding over the election whether the number of ballots corresponds to
the number of electors, to count the votes themselves, and to announce openly
how many votes each person has received.
§3. If the number of votes exceeds the number of electors, the voting is
§4. All the acts of an election are to be transcribed accurately by the
secretary and are to be preserved carefully in the archive of the college after
they have been signed at least by the same secretary, the one presiding, and the
Can. 174 §1. Unless the law or the statutes provide otherwise, an election
can also be done by compromise, provided that the electors, by unanimous and
written consent, transfer the right to elect on that occasion to one or more
suitable persons, whether from among the membership or outside it, who are to
elect in the name of all by virtue of the faculty received.
§2. If it concerns a college or group composed of clerics alone, those
commissioned must be ordained; otherwise the election is invalid.
§3. Those commissioned must observe the prescripts of the law concerning
elections and, for the validity of the election, the conditions attached to the
compromise agreement which are not contrary to the law; conditions contrary to
the law, however, are to be considered as not having been attached.
Can. 175 The compromise ceases and the right to vote returns to those
authorizing the compromise:
1/ by revocation by the college or group before any action was taken;
2/ if some condition attached to the compromise agreement was not fulfilled;
3/ if the election had been completed but was null.
Can. 176 Unless the law or the statutes provide otherwise, the person who has
received the required number of votes according to the norm of can. 119, n. 1 is
considered elected and is to be announced as such by the one presiding over the
college or group.
Can. 177 §1. An election must be communicated immediately to the person
elected who must inform the one presiding over the college or group whether or
not he or she accepts the election within eight useful days after receiving the
notification; otherwise, the election has no effect.
§2. If the one elected has not accepted, the person loses every right
deriving from the election and does not regain any right by subsequent
acceptance but can be elected again. A college or group, however, must proceed
to a new election within a month from notifcation of non-acceptance.
Can. 178 The person elected who has accepted an election which does not need
confirmation obtains the office in full right immediately; otherwise, the person
acquires only the right to the office.
Can. 179 §1. If the election requires confirmation, the person elected must
personally or through another seek confirmation from the competent authority
within eight useful days from the day of acceptance of election; otherwise, the
person is deprived of every right unless it has been proved that the person was
prevented from seeking confirmation by a just impediment.
§2. The competent authority cannot deny confirmation if the person elected
has been found suitable according to the norm of can.
149, §1, and the election was conducted according to the norm of law.
§3. Confirmation must be given in writing.
§4. Before being notified of confirmation, the person elected is not
permitted to become involved in the administration of the office, whether in
matters spiritual or temporal, and acts possibly placed by the person are null.
§5. Once notified of the confirmation, the one elected obtains the office in
full right unless the law provides otherwise.
Can. 180 §1. If a canonical impediment from which a dispensation can be and
customarily is granted prevents the election of a person whom the electors
believe to be more suitable and whom they prefer, by their votes they can
postulate that person from the competent authority unless the law provides
§2. Those commissioned to elect in virtue of a compromise cannot postulate
unless this was expressed in the compromise.
Can. 181 §1. At least two-thirds of the votes are required for a postulation
to have force.
§2. A vote for postulation must be expressed by the words, I postulate, or
the equivalent. The formula, I elect or I postulate, or the equivalent is valid
for election if there is no impediment; otherwise it is valid for postulation.
Can. 182 §1. A postulation must be sent within eight useful days by the one
presiding to the authority competent to confirm the election, to whom it
pertains to grant the dispensation from the impediment, or, if the authority
does not have this power, to petition the dispensation from a higher authority.
If confirmation is not required, a postulation must be sent to the authority
competent to grant the dispensation.
§2. If a postulation has not been sent within the prescribed time, by that
fact it is null, and the college or group is deprived of the right of electing
or postulating for that occasion unless it is proved that the one presiding had
been prevented from sending the postulation by a just impediment or had
refrained from sending it at the opportune time by malice or negligence.
§3. The person postulated acquires no right by postulation; the competent
authority is not obliged to admit the postulation.
§4. Electors cannot revoke a postulation made to a competent authority unless
the authority consents.
Can. 183 §1. If a postulation has not been admitted by the competent
authority, the right of electing reverts to the college or group.
§2. If a postulation has been admitted, however, this is to be made known to
the person postulated, who must respond according to the norm of can. 177, §1.
§3. A person who accepts a postulation which has been admitted acquires the
office in full right immediately.
LOSS OF ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICE
Can. 184 §1. An ecclesiastical office is lost by the lapse of a predetermined
time, by reaching the age determined by law, by resignation, by transfer, by
removal, and by privation.
§2. An ecclesiastical office is not lost by the expiration in any way of the
authority of the one who conferred it unless the law provides otherwise.
§3. Loss of an office which has taken effect is to be made known as soon as
possible to all those who have some right over the provision of the office.
Can. 185 The title of emeritus can be conferred upon a person who loses an
office by reason of age or of resignation which has been accepted.
Can. 186 Loss of an office by the lapse of a predetermined time or by the
reaching of a certain age takes effect only from the moment when the competent
authority communicates it in writing.
Can. 187 Anyone responsible for oneself (sui compos) can resign from
an ecclesiastical ofWce for a just cause.
Can. 188 A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or
out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.
Can. 189 §1. To be valid, a resignation, whether it requires acceptance or
not, must be made to the authority to whom it pertains to make provision of the
office in question; this must be done either in writing, or orally in the
presence of two witnesses.
§2. The authority is not to accept a resignation which is not based on a just
and proportionate cause.
§3. A resignation which requires acceptance lacks all force if it is not
accepted within three months; one which does not require acceptance takes effect
when it has been communicated by the one resigning according to the norm of law.
§4. A resignation can be revoked by the one resigning as long as it has not
taken effect; once it has taken effect it cannot be revoked, but the one who
resigned can obtain the office by some other title.
Can. 190 §1. A transfer can be made only by a person who has the right of
providing for the office which is lost as well as for the office which is
§2. If a transfer is made when the officeholder is unwilling, a grave cause
is required and the manner of proceeding prescribed by law is to be observed,
always without prejudice to the right of proposing contrary arguments.
§3. To take effect a transfer must be communicated in writing.
Can. 191 §1. In a transfer, the prior office becomes vacant through the
canonical possession of the other office unless the law provides otherwise or
competent authority has prescribed otherwise.
§2. The person transferred receives the remuneration assigned to the prior
office until the person has taken canonical possession of the other office.
Can. 192 A person is removed from office either by a decree issued
legitimately by competent authority, without prejudice to rights possibly
acquired by contract, or by the law itself according to the norm of can. 194.
Can. 193 §1. A person cannot be removed from an office conferred for an
indefinite period of time except for grave causes and according to the manner of
proceeding defined by law.
§2. The same is valid for the removal of a person from an office conferred
for a definite period of time before this time has elapsed, without prejudice to
the prescript of can. 624, §3.
§3. A person upon whom an office is conferred at the prudent discretion of a
competent authority according to the prescripts of the law can, upon the
judgment of the same authority, be removed from that office for a just cause.
§4. To take effect, the decree of removal must be communicated in writing.
Can. 194 §1. The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the
1/ a person who has lost the clerical state;
2/ a person who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith or from the
communion of the Church;
3/ a cleric who has attempted marriage even if only civilly.
§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is
established by the declaration of a competent authority.
Can. 195 If a person is removed not by the law itself but by a decree of
competent authority from an office which provides the person’s support, the same
authority is to take care that the support is provided for a suitable period,
unless other provision is made.
Can. 196 §1. Privation from office, namely, a penalty for a delict, can be
done only according to the norm of law.
§2. Privation takes effect according to the prescripts of the canons on penal