CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD
PART I. THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF ALL THE
CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL (Cann. 208 - 223)
Can. 208 From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian
faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all
cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own
condition and function.
Can. 209 §1. The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are
always obliged to maintain communion with the Church.
§2. With great diligence they are to fulfill the duties which they owe to the
universal Church and the particular church to which they belong according to the
prescripts of the law.
Can. 210 All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy
life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification,
according to their own condition.
Can. 211 All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that
the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age
and in every land.
Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful
are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred
pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or
establish as rulers of the Church.
§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the
Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess,
they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors
their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make
their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to
the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and
attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Can. 213 The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the
sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of
God and the sacraments.
Can. 214 The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to
the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the
Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant
with the doctrine of the Church.
Can. 215 The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct
associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the
Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of
Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the
Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by
their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition.
Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent
of competent ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 217 Since they are called by baptism to lead a life in keeping with the
teaching of the gospel, the Christian faithful have the right to a Christian
education by which they are to be instructed properly to strive for the maturity
of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of
Can. 218 Those engaged in the sacred disciplines have a just freedom of
inquiry and of expressing their opinion prudently on those matters in which they
possess expertise, while observing the submission due to the magisterium of the
Can. 219 All the Christian faithful have the right to be free from any kind
of coercion in choosing a state of life.
Can. 220 No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which
a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her
Can. 221 §1. The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the
rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum
according to the norm of law.
§2. If they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian
faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law
applied with equity.
§3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical
penalties except according to the norm of law.
Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of
the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the
works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.
§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the
precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.
Can. 223 §1. In exercising their rights, the Christian faithful, both as
individuals and gathered together in associations, must take into account the
common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward
§2. In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the
exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful.
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF THE LAY
CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL (Cann. 224 - 231)
Can. 224 In addition to those obligations and rights which are common to all
the Christian faithful and those which are established in other canons, the lay
Christian faithful are bound by the obligations and possess the rights which are
enumerated in the canons of this title.
Can. 225 §1. Since, like all the Christian faithful, lay persons are
designated by God for the apostolate through baptism and confirmation, they are
bound by the general obligation and possess the right as individuals, or joined
in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known
and accepted by all persons everywhere in the world. This obligation is even
more compelling in those circumstances in which only through them can people
hear the gospel and know Christ.
§2. According to each one’s own condition, they are also bound by a
particular duty to imbue and perfect the order of temporal affairs with the
spirit of the gospel and thus to give witness to Christ, especially in carrying
out these same affairs and in exercising secular functions.
Can. 226 §1. According to their own vocation, those who live in the marital
state are bound by a special duty to work through marriage and the family to
build up the people of God.
§2. Since they have given life to their children, parents have a most grave
obligation and possess the right to educate them. Therefore, it is for Christian
parents particularly to take care of the Christian education of their children
according to the doctrine handed on by the Church.
Can. 227 The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that
freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. When using
that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued
with the spirit of the gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the
magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid
setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church.
Can. 228 §1. Lay persons who are found suitable are qualified to be admitted
by the sacred pastors to those ecclesiastical offices and functions which they
are able to exercise according to the precepts of the law.
§2. Lay persons who excel in necessary knowledge, prudence, and integrity are
qualified to assist the pastors of the Church as experts and advisors, even in
councils according to the norm of law.
Can. 229 §1. Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to
acquire knowledge of Christian doctrine appropriate to the capacity and
condition of each in order for them to be able to live according to this
doctrine, announce it themselves, defend it if necessary, and take their part in
exercising the apostolate.
§2. They also possess the right to acquire that fuller knowledge of the
sacred sciences which are taught in ecclesiastical universities and faculties or
in institutes of religious sciences, by attending classes there and pursuing
§3. If the prescripts regarding the requisite suitability have been observed,
they are also qualified to receive from legitimate ecclesiastical authority a
mandate to teach the sacred sciences.
Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by
decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through
the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.
Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right
to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.
§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by
temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of
commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.
§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay
persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of
their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over
liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion,
according to the prescripts of the law.
Can. 231 §1. Lay persons who permanently or temporarily devote themselves to
special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation
required to fulfill their function properly and to carry out this function
conscientiously, eagerly, and diligently.
§2. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 230, §1 and with the
prescripts of civil law having been observed, lay persons have the right to
decent remuneration appropriate to their condition so that they are able to
provide decently for their own needs and those of their family. They also have a
right for their social provision, social security, and health benefits to be
SACRED MINISTERS OR CLERICS (Cann.
232 - 293)
THE FORMATION OF CLERICS
Can. 232 The Church has the duty and the proper and exclusive right to form
those who are designated for the sacred ministries.
Can. 233 §1. The duty of fostering vocations rests with the entire Christian
community so that the needs of the sacred ministry in the universal Church are
provided for sufficiently. This duty especially binds Christian families,
educators, and, in a special way, priests, particularly pastors. Diocesan
bishops, who most especially are to be concerned for promoting vocations, are to
teach the people entrusted to them of the importance of the sacred ministry and
of the need for ministers in the Church and are to encourage and support
endeavors to foster vocations, especially by means of projects established for
§2. Moreover, priests, and especially diocesan bishops, are to have concern
that men of a more mature age who consider themselves called to the sacred
ministries are prudently assisted in word and deed and duly prepared.
Can. 234 §1. Minor seminaries and other similar institutions are to be
preserved, where they exist, and fostered; for the sake of fostering vocations,
these institutions provide special religious formation together with instruction
in the humanities and science. Where the diocesan bishop judges it expedient, he
is to erect a minor seminary or similar institution.
§2. Unless in certain cases circumstances indicate otherwise, young men
disposed to the priesthood are to be provided with that formation in the
humanities and science by which the youth in their own region are prepared to
pursue higher studies.
Can. 235 §1. Young men who intend to enter the priesthood are to be provided
with a suitable spiritual formation and prepared for their proper duties in a
major seminary throughout the entire time of formation or, if in the judgment of
the diocesan bishop circumstances demand it, for at least four years.
§2. The diocesan bishop is to entrust those who legitimately reside outside a
seminary to a devout and suitable priest who is to be watchful that they are
carefully formed in the spiritual life and in discipline.
Can. 236 According to the prescripts of the conference of bishops, those
aspiring to the permanent diaconate are to be formed to nourish a spiritual life
and instructed to fulfill correctly the duties proper to that order:
1/ young men are to live at least three years in some special house unless
the diocesan bishop has established otherwise for grave reasons;
2/ men of a more mature age, whether celibate or married, are to spend three
years in a program defined by the conference of bishops.
Can. 237 §1. Where it is possible and expedient, there is to be a major
seminary in every diocese; otherwise, the students who are preparing for the
sacred ministries are to be entrusted to another seminary, or an interdiocesan
seminary is to be erected.
§2. An interdiocesan seminary is not to be erected unless the conference of
bishops, if the seminary is for its entire territory, or the bishops involved
have obtained the prior approval of the Apostolic See for both the erection of
the seminary and its statutes.
Can. 238 §1. Seminaries legitimately erected possess juridic personality in
the Church by the law itself.
§2. In the handling of all affairs, the rector of the seminary represents it
unless competent authority has established otherwise for certain affairs.
Can. 239 §1. Every seminary is to have a rector who presides over it, a
vice-rector if one is needed, a finance officer, and, if the students pursue
their studies in the seminary itself, teachers who give instruction in various
disciplines coordinated in an appropriate manner.
§2. Every seminary is to have at least one spiritual director, though the
students remain free to approach other priests who have been designated for this
function by the bishop.
§3. The statutes of a seminary are to provide ways through which the other
moderators, the teachers, and even the students themselves participate in the
responsibility of the rector, especially in maintaining discipline.
Can. 240 §1. In addition to ordinary confessors, other confessors are to come
regularly to the seminary. Without prejudice to the discipline of the seminary,
students are always free to approach any confessor, whether in the seminary or
§2. When decisions are made about admitting students to orders or dismissing
them from the seminary, the opinion of the spiritual director and confessors can
never be sought.
Can. 241 §1. A diocesan bishop is to admit to a major seminary only those who
are judged qualified to dedicate themselves permanently to the sacred
ministries; he is to consider their human, moral, spiritual, and intellectual
qualities, their physical and psychic health, and their correct intention.
§2. Before they are accepted, they must submit documents of the reception of
baptism and confirmation and any other things required by the prescripts of the
program of priestly formation.
§3. If it concerns admitting those who were dismissed from another seminary
or religious institute, testimony of the respective superior is also required,
especially concerning the cause for their dismissal or departure.
Can. 242 §1. Each nation is to have a program of priestly formation which is
to be established by the conference of bishops, attentive to the norms issued by
the supreme authority of the Church, and which is to be approved by the Holy
See. This program is to be adapted to new circumstances, also with the approval
of the Holy See, and is to define the main principles of the instruction to be
given in the seminary and general norms adapted to the pastoral needs of each
region or province.
§2. All seminaries, both diocesan and interdiocesan, are to observe the norms
of the program mentioned in §1.
Can. 243 In addition, each seminary is to have its own rule, approved by the
diocesan bishop, or, if it is an interdiocesan seminary, by the bishops
involved, which is to adapt the norms of the program of priestly formation to
particular circumstances and especially to determine more precisely the points
of discipline which pertain to the daily life of the students and the order of
the entire seminary.
Can. 244 The spiritual formation and doctrinal instruction of the students in
a seminary are to be arranged harmoniously and so organized that each student,
according to his character, acquires the spirit of the gospel and a close
relationship with Christ along with appropriate human maturity.
Can. 245 §1. Through their spiritual formation, students are to become
equipped to exercise the pastoral ministry fruitfully and are to be formed in a
missionary spirit; they are to learn that ministry always carried out in living
faith and charity fosters their own sanctification. They also are to learn to
cultivate those virtues which are valued highly in human relations so that they
are able to achieve an appropriate integration between human and supernatural
§2. Students are so to be formed that, imbued with love of the Church of
Christ, they are bound by humble and filial charity to the Roman Pontiff, the
successor of Peter, are attached to their own bishop as faithful coworkers, and
work together with their brothers. Through common life in the seminary and
through relationships of friendship and of association cultivated with others,
they are to be prepared for fraternal union with the diocesan presbyterium whose
partners they will be in the service of the Church.
Can. 246 §1. The eucharistic celebration is to be the center of the entire
life of a seminary in such a way that, sharing in the very love of Christ, the
students daily draw strength of spirit for apostolic work and for their
spiritual life especially from this richest of sources.
§2. They are to be formed in the celebration of the liturgy of the hours by
which the ministers of God pray to God in the name of the Church for all the
people entrusted to them, and indeed, for the whole world.
§3. The veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the marian rosary,
mental prayer, and other exercises of piety are to be fostered; through these,
students are to acquire a spirit of prayer and gain strength in their vocation.
§4. Students are to become accustomed to approach the sacrament of penance
frequently; it is also recommended that each have a director of his spiritual
life whom he has freely chosen and to whom he can confidently open his
§5. Each year students are to make a spiritual retreat.
Can. 247 §1. Students are to be prepared through suitable education to
observe the state of celibacy and are to learn to honor it as a special gift of
§2. They are duly to be informed of the duties and burdens which are proper
to sacred ministers of the Church; no difficulty of the priestly life is to be
Can. 248 The doctrinal instruction given is to be directed so that students
acquire an extensive and solid learning in the sacred disciplines along with a
general culture appropriate to the necessities of place and time, in such way
that, grounded in their own faith and nourished thereby, they are able to
announce in a suitable way the teaching of the gospel to the people of their own
time in a manner adapted to their understanding.
Can. 249 The program of priestly formation is to provide that students not
only are carefully taught their native language but also understand Latin well
and have a suitable understanding of those foreign languages which seem
necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of pastoral
Can. 250 The philosophical and theological studies which are organized in the
seminary itself can be pursued either successively or conjointly, in accord with
the program of priestly formation. These studies are to encompass at least six
full years in such a way that the time dedicated to philosophical disciplines
equals two full years and to theological studies four full years.
Can. 251 Philosophical instruction must be grounded in the perennially valid
philosophical heritage and also take into account philosophical investigation
over the course of time. It is to be taught in such a way that it perfects the
human development of the students, sharpens their minds, and makes them better
able to pursue theological studies.
Can. 252 §1. Theological instruction is to be imparted in the light of faith
and under the leadership of the magisterium in such a way that the students
understand the entire Catholic doctrine grounded in divine revelation, gain
nourishment for their own spiritual life, and are able properly to announce and
safeguard it in the exercise of the ministry.
§2. Students are to be instructed in sacred scripture with special diligence
in such a way that they acquire a comprehensive view of the whole of sacred
§3. There are to be classes in dogmatic theology, always grounded in the
written word of God together with sacred tradition; through these, students are
to learn to penetrate more intimately the mysteries of salvation, especially
with St. Thomas as a teacher. There are also to be classes in moral and pastoral
theology, canon law, liturgy, ecclesiastical history, and other auxiliary and
special disciplines, according to the norm of the prescripts of the program of
Can. 253 §1. The bishop or bishops concerned are to appoint to the function
of teacher in philosophical, theological, and juridic disciplines only those who
are outstanding in virtue and have obtained a doctorate or licentiate from a
university or faculty recognized by the Holy See.
§2. Care is to be taken that diVerent teachers are appointed to teach sacred
scripture, dogmatic theology, moral theology, liturgy, philosophy, canon law,
ecclesiastical history, and other disciplines which must be taught according to
their proper methodology.
§3. The authority mentioned in §1 is to remove a teacher who is gravely
deficient in his or her function.
Can. 254 §1. In giving instruction in their disciplines, teachers are to have
a constant concern for the intimate unity and harmony of the entire doctrine of
the faith so that students find that they learn one science. For this to be
realized more suitably, there is to be someone in the seminary who directs the
entire curriculum of studies.
§2. Students are to be instructed in such a way that they also become
qualified to examine questions by their own appropriate research and with
scientific methodology; therefore, there are to be assignments in which the
students learn to pursue certain studies through their own efforts under the
direction of the teachers.
Can. 255 Although the entire formation of students in the seminary has a
pastoral purpose, strictly pastoral instruction is to be organized through which
students learn the principles and skills which, attentive also to the needs of
place and time, pertain to the exercise of the ministry of teaching,
sanctifying, and governing the people of God.
Can. 256 §1. Students are to be instructed diligently in those things which
in a particular manner pertain to the sacred ministry, especially in
catechetical and homiletic skills, in divine worship and particularly the
celebration of the sacraments, in relationships with people, even non-Catholics
or non-believers, in the administration of a parish, and in the fulfillment of
§2. Students are to be instructed about the needs of the universal Church in
such a way that they have solicitude for the promotion of vocations and for
missionary, ecumenical, and other more urgent questions, including social ones.
Can. 257 §1. The instruction of students is to provide that they have
solicitude not only for the particular church in whose service they are to be
incardinated but also for the universal Church, and that they show themselves
prepared to devote themselves to particular churches which are in grave need.
§2. The diocesan bishop is to take care that clerics intending to move from
their own particular church to a particular church of another region are
suitably prepared to exercise the sacred ministry there, that is, that they
learn the language of the region and understand its institutions, social
conditions, usages, and customs.
Can. 258 In order that students also learn the art of exercising the
apostolate in practice, during the course of studies and especially during times
of vacation they are to be initiated into pastoral practice by means of
appropriate activities, determined by judgment of the ordinary, adapted to the
age of the students and the conditions of the places, and always under the
direction of a skilled priest.
Can. 259 §1. The diocesan bishop or, for an interdiocesan seminary, the
bishops involved are competent to decide those things which pertain to the
above-mentioned governance and administration of the seminary.
§2. The diocesan bishop or, for an interdiocesan seminary, the bishops
involved are to visit the seminary frequently, to watch over the formation of
their own students as well as the philosophical and theological instruction
taught in the seminary, and to keep themselves informed about the vocation,
character, piety, and progress of the students, especially with a view to the
conferral of sacred ordination.
Can. 260 In carrying out their proper functions, all must obey the rector, to
whom it belongs to care for the daily supervision of the seminary according to
the norm of the program of priestly formation and of the rule of the seminary.
Can. 261 §1. The rector of a seminary and, under his authority, the
moderators and teachers for their part are to take care that the students
observe exactly the norms prescribed by the program of priestly formation and by
the rule of the seminary.
§2. The rector of a seminary and the director of studies are carefully to
provide that the teachers properly perform their function according to the
prescripts of the program of priestly formation and of the rule of the seminary.
Can. 262 A seminary is to be exempt from parochial governance. The rector of
the seminary or his delegate fulfills the office of pastor for all those who are
in the seminary, except for matrimonial matters and without prejudice to the
prescript of can.
Can. 263 The diocesan bishop or, for an interdiocesan seminary, the bishops
involved in a way determined by them through common counsel must take care that
provision is made for the establishment and maintenance of the seminary, the
support of the students, the remuneration of the teachers, and the other needs
of the seminary.
Can. 264 §1. In addition to the offering mentioned in can. 1266, a bishop can
impose a tax in the diocese to provide for the needs of the seminary.
§2. All ecclesiastical juridic persons, even private ones, which have a seat
in the diocese are subject to the tax for the seminary unless they are sustained
by alms alone or in fact have a college of students or teachers to promote the
common good of the Church. A tax of this type must be general, in proportion to
the revenues of those who are subject to it, and determined according to the
needs of the seminary.
THE ENROLLMENT, OR INCARDINATION, OF CLERICS
Can. 265 Every cleric must be incardinated either in a particular church or
personal prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or society endowed
with this faculty, in such a way that unattached or transient clerics are not
allowed at all.
Can. 266 §1. Through the reception of the diaconate, a person becomes a
cleric and is incardinated in the particular church or personal prelature for
whose service he has been advanced.
§2. Through the reception of the diaconate, a perpetually professed religious
or a definitively incorporated member of a clerical society of apostolic life is
incardinated as a cleric in the same institute or society unless, in the case of
societies, the constitutions establish otherwise.
§3. Through the reception of the diaconate, a member of a secular institute
is incardinated in the particular church for whose service he has been advanced
unless he is incardinated in the institute itself by virtue of a grant of the
Can. 267 §1. For a cleric already incardinated to be incardinated validly in
another particular church, he must obtain from the diocesan bishop a letter of
excardination signed by the same bishop and a letter of incardination from the
diocesan bishop of the particular church in which he desires to be incardinated
signed by that bishop.
§2. Excardination thus granted does not take effect unless incardination in
another particular church has been obtained.
Can. 268 §1. A cleric who has legitimately moved from his own particular
church to another is incardinated in the latter particular church by the law
itself after Five years if he has made such a desire known in writing both to
the diocesan bishop of the host church and to his own diocesan bishop and
neither of them has expressed opposition in writing to him within four months of
receiving the letter.
§2. Through perpetual or definitive admission into an institute of
consecrated life or into a society of apostolic life, a cleric who is
incardinated in the same institute or society according to the norm of can.
266, §2 is excardinated from his own particular church.
Can. 269 A diocesan bishop is not to allow the incardination of a cleric
1/ the necessity or advantage of his own particular church demands it, and
without prejudice to the prescripts of the law concerning the decent support of
2/ he knows by a lawful document that excardination has been granted, and has
also obtained from the excardinating bishop, under secrecy if need be,
appropriate testimonials concerning the cleric’s life, behavior and studies;
3/ the cleric has declared in writing to the same diocesan bishop that he
wishes to be dedicated to the service of the new particular church according to
the norm of law.
Can. 270 Excardination can be licitly granted only for just causes such as
the advantage of the Church or the good of the cleric himself. It cannot be
denied, however, except for evident, grave causes. A cleric who thinks he has
been wronged and has found an accepting bishop, however, is permitted to make
recourse against the decision.
Can. 271 §1. Apart from the case of true necessity of his own particular
church, a diocesan bishop is not to deny permission to clerics, whom he knows
are prepared and considers suitable and who request it, to move to regions
laboring under a grave lack of clergy where they will exercise the sacred
ministry. He is also to make provision that the rights and duties of these
clerics are determined through a written agreement with the diocesan bishop of
the place they request.
§2. A diocesan bishop can grant permission for his clerics to move to another
particular church for a predetermined time, which can even be renewed several
times. Nevertheless, this is to be done so that these clerics remain
incardinated in their own particular church and, when they return to it, possess
all the rights which they would have had if they had been dedicated to the
sacred ministry there.
§3. For a just cause the diocesan bishop can recall a cleric who has moved
legitimately to another particular church while remaining incardinated in his
own church provided that the agreements entered into with the other bishop and
natural equity are observed; the diocesan bishop of the other particular church,
after having observed these same conditions and for a just cause, likewise can
deny the same cleric permission for further residence in his territory.
Can. 272 A diocesan administrator cannot grant excardination or incardination
or even permission to move to another particular church unless the episcopal see
has been vacant for a year and he has the consent of the college of consultors.
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF CLERICS
Can. 273 Clerics are bound by a special obligation to show reverence and
obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and their own ordinary.
Can. 274 §1. Only clerics can obtain offices for whose exercise the power of
orders or the power of ecclesiastical governance is required.
§2. Unless a legitimate impediment excuses them, clerics are bound to
undertake and fulfill faithfully a function which their ordinary has entrusted
Can. 275 §1. Since clerics all work for the same purpose, namely, the
building up of the Body of Christ, they are to be united among themselves by a
bond of brotherhood and prayer and are to strive for cooperation among
themselves according to the prescripts of particular law.
§2. Clerics are to acknowledge and promote the mission which the laity, each
for his or her part, exercise in the Church and in the world.
Can. 276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to
pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the
reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service
of His people.
§2. In order to be able to pursue this perfection:
1/ they are first of all to fulfill faithfully and tirelessly the duties of
the pastoral ministry;
2/ they are to nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of sacred
scripture and the Eucharist; therefore, priests are earnestly invited to offer
the eucharistic sacrifice daily and deacons to participate in its offering
3/ priests and deacons aspiring to the presbyterate are obliged to carry out
the liturgy of the hours daily according to the proper and approved liturgical
books; permanent deacons, however, are to carry out the same to the extent
defined by the conference of bishops;
4/ they are equally bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to
the prescripts of particular law;
5/ they are urged to engage in mental prayer regularly, to approach the
sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with
particular veneration, and to use other common and particular means of
Can. 277 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence
for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which
is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to
Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely
to the service of God and humanity.
§2. Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can
endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among
§3. The diocesan bishop is competent to establish more specific norms
concerning this matter and to pass judgment in particular cases concerning the
observance of this obligation.
Can. 278 §1. Secular clerics have the right to associate with others to
pursue purposes in keeping with the clerical state.
§2. Secular clerics are to hold in esteem especially those associations
which, having statutes recognized by competent authority, foster their holiness
in the exercise of the ministry through a suitable and properly approved rule of
life and through fraternal assistance and which promote the unity of clerics
among themselves and with their own bishop.
§3. Clerics are to refrain from establishing or participating in associations
whose purpose or activity cannot be reconciled with the obligations proper to
the clerical state or can prevent the diligent fulfillment of the function
entrusted to them by competent ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 279 §1. Even after ordination to the priesthood, clerics are to pursue
sacred studies and are to strive after that solid doctrine founded in sacred
scripture, handed on by their predecessors, and commonly accepted by the Church,
as set out especially in the documents of councils and of the Roman Pontiffs.
They are to avoid profane novelties and pseudo-science.
§2. According to the prescripts of particular law, priests are to attend
pastoral lectures held after priestly ordination and, at times established by
the same law, are also to attend other lectures, theological meetings, and
conferences which offer them the opportunity to acquire a fuller knowledge of
the sacred sciences and pastoral methods.
§3. They are also to acquire knowledge of other sciences, especially of those
which are connected with the sacred sciences, particularly insofar as such
knowledge contributes to the exercise of pastoral ministry.
Can. 280 Some practice of common life is highly recommended to clerics; where
it exists, it must be preserved as far as possible.
Can. 281 §1. Since clerics dedicate themselves to ecclesiastical ministry,
they deserve remuneration which is consistent with their condition, taking into
account the nature of their function and the conditions of places and times, and
by which they can provide for the necessities of their life as well as for the
equitable payment of those whose services they need.
§2. Provision must also be made so that they possess that social assistance
which provides for their needs suitably if they suffer from illness, incapacity,
or old age.
§3. Married deacons who devote themselves completely to ecclesiastical
ministry deserve remuneration by which they are able to provide for the support
of themselves and their families. Those who receive remuneration by reason of a
civil profession which they exercise or have exercised, however, are to take
care of the needs of themselves and their families from the income derived from
Can. 282 §1. Clerics are to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from
all things that have a semblance of vanity.
§2. They are to wish to use for the good of the Church and works of charity
those goods which have come to them on the occasion of the exercise of
ecclesiastical office and which are left over after provision has been made for
their decent support and for the fulfillment of all the duties of their own
Can. 283 §1. Even if clerics do not have a residential office, they
nevertheless are not to be absent from their diocese for a notable period of
time, to be determined by particular law, without at least the presumed
permission of their proper ordinary.
§2. They are entitled, however, to a fitting and sufficient time of vacation
each year as determined by universal or particular law.
Can. 284 Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the
norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local
Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which
are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.
§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are
nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.
§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a
participation in the exercise of civil power.
§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the
management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an
obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety even
with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also
are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they
assume an obligation to make payment on demand.
Can. 286 Clerics are prohibited from conducting business or trade personally
or through others, for their own advantage or that of others, except with the
permission of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 287 §1. Most especially, clerics are always to foster the peace and
harmony based on justice which are to be observed among people.
§2. They are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing
labor unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the
protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good
Can. 288 The prescripts of cann. 284, 285,
§§3 and 4, 286,
§2 do not bind permanent deacons unless particular law establishes otherwise.
Can. 289 §1. Since military service is hardly in keeping with the clerical
state, clerics and candidates for sacred orders are not to volunteer for
military service except with the permission of their ordinary.
§2. Clerics are to use exemptions from exercising functions and public civil
offices foreign to the clerical state which laws and agreements or customs grant
in their favor unless their proper ordinary has decided otherwise in particular
LOSS OF THE CLERICAL STATE
Can. 290 Once validly received, sacred ordination never becomes invalid. A
cleric, nevertheless, loses the clerical state:
1/ by a judicial sentence or administrative decree, which declares the
invalidity of sacred ordination;
2/ by a penalty of dismissal legitimately imposed;
3/ by rescript of the Apostolic See which grants it to deacons only for grave
causes and to presbyters only for most grave causes.
Can. 291 Apart from the case mentioned in can.
290, n. 1, loss of the clerical state does not entail a dispensation from the
obligation of celibacy, which only the Roman Pontiff grants.
Can. 292 A cleric who loses the clerical state according to the norm of law
loses with it the rights proper to the clerical state and is no longer bound by
any obligations of the clerical state, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
291. He is prohibited from exercising the power of orders, without prejudice to
the prescript of can.
976. By the loss of the clerical state, he is deprived of all offices,
functions, and any delegated power.
Can. 293 A cleric who loses the clerical state cannot be enrolled among
clerics again except through a rescript of the Apostolic See.
PERSONAL PRELATURES (Cann. 294 - 297)
Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the
Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and
deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters
or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or
for different social groups.
Can. 295 §1. The statutes established by the Apostolic See govern a personal
prelature, and a prelate presides over it as the proper ordinary; he has the
right to erect a national or international seminary and even to incardinate
students and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.
§2. The prelate must see to both the spiritual formation and decent support
of those whom he has promoted under the above-mentioned title.
Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a
personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes,
however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and
the principal duties and rights connected to it.
Can. 297 The statutes likewise are to define the relations of the personal
prelature with the local ordinaries in whose particular churches the prelature
itself exercises or desires to exercise its pastoral or missionary works, with
the previous consent of the diocesan bishop.
ASSOCIATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN
FAITHFUL (Cann. 298 - 329)
Can. 298 §1. In the Church there are associations distinct from institutes of
consecrated life and societies of apostolic life; in these associations the
Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons
together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote
public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the
apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and
those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.
§2. The Christian faithful are to join especially those associations which
competent ecclesiastical authority has erected, praised, or commended.
Can. 299 §1. By means of a private agreement made among themselves, the
Christian faithful are free to establish associations to pursue the purposes
mentioned in can.
298, §1, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
§2. Even if ecclesiastical authority praises or commends them, associations
of this type are called private associations.
§3. No private association of the Christian faithful is recognized in the
Church unless competent authority reviews its statutes.
Can. 300 No association is to assume the name Catholic without the consent of
competent ecclesiastical authority according to the norm of can.
Can. 301 §1. It is for the competent ecclesiastical authority alone to erect
associations of the Christian faithful which propose to hand on Christian
doctrine in the name of the Church or to promote public worship, or which intend
other purposes whose pursuit is of its nature reserved to the same
§2. Competent ecclesiastical authority, if it has judged it expedient, can
also erect associations of the Christian faithful to pursue directly or
indirectly other spiritual purposes whose accomplishment has not been
sufficiently provided for through the initiatives of private persons.
§3. Associations of the Christian faithful which are erected by competent
ecclesiastical authority are called public associations.
Can. 302 Those associations of the Christian faithful are called clerical
which are under the direction of clerics, assume the exercise of sacred orders,
and are recognized as such by competent authority.
Can. 303 Associations whose members share in the spirit of some religious
institute while in secular life, lead an apostolic life, and strive for
Christian perfection under the higher direction of the same institute are called
third orders or some other appropriate name.
Can. 304 §1. All public or private associations of the Christian faithful, by
whatever title or name they are called, are to have their own statutes which
define the purpose or social objective of the association, its seat, government,
and conditions required for membership and which determine the manner of its
acting, attentive, however, to the necessity or advantage of time and place.
§2. They are to choose a title or name for themselves adapted to the usage of
time and place, selected above all with regard to their intended purpose.
Can. 305 §1. All associations of the Christian faithful are subject to the
vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority which is to take care that the
integrity of faith and morals is preserved in them and is to watch so that abuse
does not creep into ecclesiastical discipline. This authority therefore has the
duty and right to inspect them according to the norm of law and the statutes.
These associations are also subject to the governance of this same authority
according to the prescripts of the canons which follow.
§2. Associations of any kind are subject to the vigilance of the Holy See;
diocesan associations and other associations to the extent that they work in the
diocese are subject to the vigilance of the local ordinary.
Can. 306 In order for a person to possess the rights and privileges of an
association and the indulgences and other spiritual favors granted to the same
association, it is necessary and sufficient that the person has been validly
received into it and has not been legitimately dismissed from it according to
the prescripts of law and the proper statutes of the association.
Can. 307 §1. The reception of members is to be done according to the norm of
law and the statutes of each association.
§2. The same person can be enrolled in several associations.
§3. Members of religious institutes can join associations according to the
norm of their proper law with the consent of their superior.
Can. 308 No one legitimately enrolled is to be dismissed from an association
except for a just cause according to the norm of law and the statutes.
Can. 309 According to the norm of law and the statutes, legitimately
established associations have the right to issue particular norms respecting the
association itself, to hold meetings, and to designate moderators, officials,
other officers, and administrators of goods.
Can. 310 A private association which has not been established as a juridic
person cannot, as such, be a subject of obligations and rights. Nevertheless,
the members of the Christian faithful associated together in it can jointly
contract obligations and can acquire and possess rights and goods as co-owners
and co-possessors; they are able to exercise these rights and obligations
through an agent or a proxy.
Can. 311 Members of institutes of consecrated life who preside over or
assist associations in some way united to their institute are to take care that
these associations give assistance to the works of the apostolate which already
exist in a diocese, especially cooperating, under the direction of the local
ordinary, with associations which are ordered to the exercise of the apostolate
in the diocese.
PUBLIC ASSOCIATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL
Can. 312 §1. The authority competent to erect public associations is:
1/ the Holy See for universal and international associations;
2/ the conference of bishops in its own territory for national associations,
that is, those which from their founding are directed toward activity throughout
the whole nation;
3/ the diocesan bishop in his own territory, but not a diocesan
administrator, for diocesan associations, except, however, for those
associations whose right of erection has been reserved to others by apostolic
§2. Written consent of the diocesan bishop is required for the valid erection
of an association or section of an association in a diocese even if it is done
by virtue of apostolic privilege. Nevertheless, the consent given by a diocesan
bishop for the erection of a house of a religious institute is also valid for
the erection in the same house or church attached to it of an association which
is proper to that institute.
Can. 313 Through the same decree by which the competent ecclesiastical
authority according to the norm of can.
312 erects it, a public association and even a confederation of public
associations is constituted a juridic person and, to the extent it is required,
receives a mission for the purposes which it proposes to pursue in the name of
Can. 314 The statutes of each public association and their revision or change
need the approval of the ecclesiastical authority competent to erect the
association according to the norm of can.
Can. 315 Public associations are able on their own initiative to undertake
endeavors in keeping with their own character. These endeavors are governed
according to the norm of the statutes, though under the higher direction of the
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can.
Can. 316 §1. A person who has publicly rejected the Catholic faith, has
defected from ecclesiastical communion, or has been punished by an imposed or
declared excommunication cannot be received validly into public associations.
§2. Those enrolled legitimately who fall into the situation mentioned in §1,
after being warned, are to be dismissed from the association, with due regard
for its statutes and without prejudice to the right of recourse to the
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can.
Can. 317 §1. Unless the statutes provide otherwise, it is for the
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can.
312, §1 to confirm the moderator of a public association elected by the public
association itself, install the one presented, or appoint the moderator in his
own right. The same ecclesiastical authority also appoints the chaplain or
ecclesiastical assistant, after having heard the major officials of the
association, when it is expedient.
§2. The norm stated in §1 is also valid for associations which members of
religious institutes erect outside their own churches or houses in virtue of
apostolic privilege. In associations which members of religious institutes erect
in their own church or house, however, the nomination or confirmation of the
moderator and chaplain pertains to the superior of the institute, according to
the norm of the statutes.
§3. In associations which are not clerical, lay persons are able to exercise
the function of moderator. A chaplain or ecclesiastical assistant is not to
assume that function unless the statutes provide otherwise.
§4. Those who exercise leadership in political parties are not to be
moderators in public associations of the Christian faithful which are ordered
directly to the exercise of the apostolate.
Can. 318 §1. In special circumstances and where grave reasons require it, the
ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Can.
312, §1 can designate a trustee who is to direct the association for a time in
§2. The person who appointed or confirmed the moderator of a public
association can remove the moderator for a just cause, after the person has
heard, however, the moderator and the major officials of the association
according to the norm of the statutes. The person who appointed a chaplain can
remove him according to the norm of cann.
Can. 319 §1. Unless other provision has been made, a legitimately erected
public association administers the goods which it possesses according to the
norm of the statutes under the higher direction of the ecclesiastical authority
mentioned in can.
312, §1, to which it must render an account of administration each year.
§2. It must also render to the same authority a faithful account of the
expenditure of the offerings and alms which it has collected.
Can. 320 §1. Only the Holy See can suppress associations it has erected.
§2. For grave causes, a conference of bishops can suppress associations it
has erected. A diocesan bishop can suppress associations he has erected and also
associations which members of religious institutes have erected through
apostolic indult with the consent of the diocesan bishop.
§3. The competent authority is not to suppress a public association unless
the authority has heard its moderator and other major officials.
PRIVATE ASSOCIATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL
Can. 321 The Christian faithful guide and direct private associations
according to the prescripts of the statutes.
Can. 322 §1. A private association of the Christian faithful can acquire
juridic personality through a formal decree of the competent ecclesiastical
authority mentioned in can.
§2. No private association of the Christian faithful can acquire juridic
personality unless the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can.
312, §1 has approved its statutes. Approval of the statutes, however, does not
change the private nature of the association.
Can. 323 §1. Although private associations of the Christian faithful possess
autonomy according to the norm of can.
321, they are subject to the vigilance of ecclesiastical authority according
to the norm of can.
305 and even to the governance of the same authority.
§2. It also pertains to ecclesiastical authority, while respecting the
autonomy proper to private associations, to be watchful and careful that
dissipation of their energies is avoided and that their exercise of the
apostolate is ordered to the common good.
Can. 324 §1. A private association of the Christian faithful freely
designates its moderator and officials according to the norm of the statutes.
§2. A private association of the Christian faithful can freely choose a
spiritual advisor, if it desires one, from among the priests exercising ministry
legitimately in the diocese; nevertheless, he needs the confirmation of the
Can. 325 §1. A private association of the Christian faithful freely
administers those goods it possesses according to the prescripts of the
statutes, without prejudice to the right of competent ecclesiastical authority
to exercise vigilance so that the goods are used for the purposes of the
§2. A private association is subject to the authority of the local ordinary
according to the norm of can.
1301 in what pertains to the administration and distribution of goods which have
been donated or left to it for pious causes.
Can. 326 §1. A private association of the Christian faithful ceases to exist
according to the norm of its statutes. The competent authority can also suppress
it if its activity causes grave harm to ecclesiastical doctrine or discipline or
is a scandal to the faithful.
§2. The allocation of the goods of an association which has ceased to exist
must be determined according to the norm of its statutes, without prejudice to
acquired rights and the intention of the donors.
SPECIAL NORMS FOR ASSOCIATIONS OF THE LAITY
Can. 327 Lay members of the Christian faithful are to hold in esteem
associations established for the spiritual purposes mentioned in can.
298, especially those which propose to animate the temporal order with the
Christian spirit and in this way greatly foster an intimate union between faith
Can. 328 Those who preside over associations of the laity, even those which
have been erected by virtue of apostolic privilege, are to take care that their
associations cooperate with other associations of the Christian faithful where
it is expedient and willingly assist various Christian works, especially those
in the same territory.
Can. 329 Moderators of associations of the laity are to take care that the
members of the association are duly formed to exercise the apostolate proper to