CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD
ORDERING OF PARTICULAR CHURCHES (Cann. 460 - 572)
THE DIOCESAN SYNOD
Can. 460 A diocesan synod is a group of selected priests
and other members of the Christian faithful of a particular church who offer
assistance to the diocesan bishop for the good of the whole diocesan community
according to the norm of the following canons.
Can. 461 §1. A diocesan synod is to be celebrated in
individual particular churches when circumstances suggest it in the judgment of
the diocesan bishop after he has heard the presbyteral council.
§2. If a bishop has the care of several dioceses or has the
care of one as the proper bishop but of another as administrator, he can convoke
one diocesan synod for all the dioceses entrusted to him.
Can. 462 §1. The diocesan bishop alone convokes a diocesan
synod, but not one who temporarily presides over a diocese.
§2. The diocesan bishop presides over a diocesan synod. He
can, however, delegate a vicar general or episcopal vicar to fulfill this
responsibility for individual sessions of the synod.
Can. 463 §1. The following must be called to a diocesan
synod as members of the synod and are obliged to participate in it:
1/ a coadjutor bishop and auxiliary bishops;
2/ vicars general, episcopal vicars, and the judicial vicar;
3/ canons of the cathedral church;
4/ members of the presbyteral council;
5/ lay members of the Christian faithful, even members of
institutes of consecrated life, chosen by the pastoral council in a manner and
number to be determined by the diocesan bishop or, where this council does not
exist, in a manner determined by the diocesan bishop;
6/ the rector of the diocesan major seminary;
7/ vicars forane;
8/ at least one presbyter from each vicariate forane,
chosen by all those who have the care of souls there; also another presbyter
must be chosen who, if the first is impeded, is to take his place;
9/ some superiors of religious institutes and of societies
of apostolic life which have a house in the diocese, chosen in a number and
manner determined by the diocesan bishop.
§2. The diocesan bishop can also call others to a diocesan
synod as members of the synod; they can be clerics, members of institutes of
consecrated life, or lay members of the Christian faithful.
§3. If the diocesan bishop has judged it opportune, he can
invite as observers to the diocesan synod other ministers or members of Churches
or ecclesial communities which are not in full communion with the Catholic
Can. 464 If a member of the synod is prevented by a
legitimate impediment, the member cannot send a proxy to attend it in his or her
name. The member, however, is to inform the diocesan bishop of this impediment.
Can. 465 All proposed questions are subject to the free
discussion of the members during sessions of the synod.
Can. 466 The only legislator in a diocesan synod is the
diocesan bishop; the other members of the synod possess only a consultative
vote. Only he signs the synodal declarations and decrees, which can be published
by his authority alone.
Can. 467 The diocesan bishop is to communicate the texts of
the synodal declarations and decrees to the metropolitan and the conference of
Can. 468 §1. The diocesan bishop is competent to suspend or
dissolve a diocesan synod according to his prudent judgment.
§2. When an episcopal see is vacant or impeded, a diocesan
synod is interrupted by the law itself until the succeeding diocesan bishop has
decided that it is to be continued or has declared it terminated.
THE DIOCESAN CURIA
Can. 469 The diocesan curia consists of those institutions
and persons which assist the bishop in the governance of the whole diocese,
especially in guiding pastoral action, in caring for the administration of the
diocese, and in exercising judicial power.
Can. 470 The appointment of those who exercise offices in
the diocesan curia pertains to the diocesan bishop.
Can. 471 All those who are admitted to offices in the curia
1/ promise to fulfill their function faithfully according
to the manner determined by law or by the bishop;
2/ observe secrecy within the limits and according to the
manner determined by law or by the bishop.
Can. 472 The prescripts of Book VII, Processes, are to be
observed regarding cases and persons which belong to the exercise of judicial
power in the curia. The prescripts of the following canons, however, are to be
observed regarding those things which pertain to the administration of the
Can. 473 §1. A diocesan bishop must take care that all the
affairs which belong to the administration of the whole diocese are duly
coordinated and are ordered to attain more suitably the good of the portion of
the people of God entrusted to him.
§2. It is for the diocesan bishop himself to coordinate the
pastoral action of the vicars general or episcopal vicars. Where it is expedient,
a moderator of the curia can be appointed who must be a priest and who, under
the authority of the bishop, is to coordinate those things which pertain to the
treatment of administrative affairs and to take care that the other members of
the curia properly fulfill the office entrusted to them.
§3. Unless in the judgment of the bishop local
circumstances suggest otherwise, the vicar general or if there are several, one
of the vicars general, is to be appointed moderator of the curia.
§4. Where the bishop has judged it expedient, he can
establish an episcopal council, consisting of the vicars general and episcopal
vicars, to foster pastoral action more suitably.
Can. 474 For validity, acts of the curia which are to have
juridic effect must 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,
moreover, is bound to inform the moderator of the curia concerning such acts.
VICARS GENERAL AND EPISCOPAL VICARS
Can. 475 §1. In each diocese the diocesan bishop must
appoint a vicar general who is provided with ordinary power according to the
norm of the following canons and who is to assist him in the governance of the
§2. 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 Whenever the correct governance of a diocese
requires it, the diocesan bishop can also appoint one or more episcopal vicars,
namely, those who in a specific part of the diocese or in a certain type of
affairs or over the faithful of a specific rite or over certain groups of
persons possess the same ordinary power which a vicar general has by universal
law, according to the norm of the following canons.
Can. 477 §1. The diocesan bishop freely appoints a vicar
general and an episcopal vicar and can freely remove them, without prejudice to
the prescript of can.
406. An episcopal vicar who is not an auxiliary bishop is to be appointed only
for a time to be determined in the act of appointment.
§2. When a vicar general is absent or legitimately impeded,
a diocesan bishop can appoint another to take his place; the same norm applies
to an episcopal vicar.
Can. 478 §1. A vicar general and an episcopal vicar are to
be priests not less than thirty years old, doctors or licensed in canon law or
theology or at least truly expert in these disciplines, and recommended by sound
doctrine, integrity, prudence, and experience in handling matters.
§2. The function of vicar general and episcopal vicar can
neither be coupled with the function of canon penitentiary nor be entrusted to
blood relatives of the bishop up to the fourth degree.
Can. 479 §1. By virtue of office, the vicar general has the
executive power over the whole diocese which belongs to the diocesan bishop by
law, namely, the power to place all administrative acts except those, however,
which the bishop has reserved to himself or which require a special mandate of
the bishop by law.
§2. By the law itself an episcopal vicar has the same power
mentioned in §1 but only over the specific part of the territory or the type of
affairs or the faithful of a specific rite or group for which he was appointed,
except those cases which the bishop has reserved to himself or to a vicar
general or which require a special mandate of the bishop by law.
§3. Within the limit of their competence, the habitual
faculties granted by the Apostolic See to the bishop and the execution of
rescripts also pertain to a vicar general and an episcopal vicar, unless it has
been expressly provided otherwise or the personal qualifications of the diocesan
bishop were chosen.
Can. 480 A vicar general and an episcopal vicar must report
to the diocesan bishop concerning the more important affairs which are to be
handled or have been handled, and they are never to act contrary to the
intention and mind of the diocesan bishop.
Can. 481 §1. The power of a vicar general and an episcopal
vicar ceases at the expiration of the time of the mandate, by resignation, by
removal made known to them by the diocesan bishop, without prejudice to cann.
406 and 409,
and at the vacancy of the episcopal see.
§2. When the function of the diocesan bishop is suspended,
the power of a vicar general and an episcopal vicar is suspended also unless
they are bishops.
THE CHANCELLOR, OTHER NOTARIES, AND THE ARCHIVES
Can. 482 §1. In every curia a chancellor is to be appointed
whose principal function, unless particular law establishes otherwise, is to
take care that acts of the curia are gathered, arranged, and safeguarded in the
archive of the curia.
§2. If it seems necessary, the chancellor can be given an
assistant whose title is to be vice-chancellor.
§3. By reason of being chancellor and vice-chancellor they
are notaries and secretaries of the curia.
Can. 483 §1. Besides the chancellor, other notaries can be
appointed whose writing or signature establishes authenticity for any acts, for
judicial acts only, or for acts of a certain case or affair only.
§2. The chancellor and notaries must be of unimpaired
reputation and above all suspicion. In cases in which the reputation of a priest
can be called into question, the notary must be a priest.
Can. 484 It is the duty of notaries:
1/ to draw up the acts and instruments regarding decrees,
dispositions, obligations, or other things which require their action;
2/ to record faithfully in writing what has taken place and
to sign it with a notation of the place, day, month, and year;
3/ having observed what is required, to furnish acts or
instruments to one who legitimately requests them from the records and to
declare copies of them to be in conformity with the original.
Can. 485 The chancellor and other notaries can be freely
removed from office by the diocesan bishop, but not by a diocesan administrator
except with the consent of the college of consultors.
Can. 486 §1. All documents which regard the diocese or
parishes must be protected with the greatest care.
§2. In every curia there is to be erected in a safe place a
diocesan archive, or record storage area, in which instruments and written
documents which pertain to the spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese are
to be safeguarded after being properly filled and diligently secured.
§3. An inventory, or catalog, of the documents which are
contained in the archive is to be kept with a brief synopsis of each written
Can. 487 §1. The archive must be locked and only the bishop
and chancellor are to have its key. No one is permitted to enter except with the
permission either of the bishop or of both the moderator of the curia and the
§2. Interested parties have the right to obtain personally
or through a proxy an authentic written copy or photocopy of documents which by
their nature are public and which pertain to their personal status.
Can. 488 It is not permitted to remove documents from the
archive except for a brief time only and with the consent either of the bishop
or of both the moderator of the curia and the chancellor.
Can. 489 §1. In the diocesan curia there is also to be a
secret archive, or at least in the common archive there is to be a safe or
cabinet, completely closed and locked, which cannot be removed; in it documents
to be kept secret are to be protected most securely.
§2. Each year documents of criminal cases in matters of
morals, in which the accused parties have died or ten years have elapsed from
the condemnatory sentence, are to be destroyed. A brief summary of what occurred
along with the text of the definitive sentence is to be retained.
Can. 490 §1. Only the bishop is to have the key to the
§2. When a see is vacant, the secret archive or safe is not
to be opened except in a case of true necessity by the diocesan administrator
§3. Documents are not to be removed from the secret archive
Can. 491 §1. A diocesan bishop is to take care that the
acts and documents of the archives of cathedral, collegiate, parochial, and
other churches in his territory are also diligently preserved and that
inventories or catalogs are made in duplicate, one of which is to be preserved
in the archive of the church and the other in the diocesan archive.
§2. A diocesan bishop is also to take care that there is an
historical archive in the diocese and that documents having historical value are
diligently protected and systematically ordered in it.
§3. In order to inspect or remove the acts and documents
mentioned in §§1 and 2, the norms established by the diocesan bishop are to be
THE FINANCE COUNCIL AND THE FINANCE OFFICER
Can. 492 §1. In every diocese a Finance council is to be
established, over which the diocesan bishop himself or his delegate presides
and which consists of at least three members of the Christian faithful truly
expert in Financial affairs and civil law, outstanding in integrity, and
appointed by the bishop.
§2. Members of the Finance council are to be appointed for
Five years, but at the end of this period they can be appointed for other Five
§3. Persons who are related to the bishop up to the fourth
degree of consanguinity or affnity are excluded from the Finance council.
Can. 493 In addition to the functions entrusted to it in
Book V, The Temporal Goods of the Church, the Finance council prepares each year,
according to the directions of the diocesan bishop, a budget of the income and
expenditures which are foreseen for the entire governance of the diocese in the
coming year and at the end of the year examines an account of the revenues and
Can. 494 §1. In every diocese, after having heard the
college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a
Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely
distinguished for honesty.
§2. The Finance officer is to be appointed for a Five year
term but can be appointed for other Five year terms at the end of this period.
The finance officer is not to be removed while in this function except for a
grave cause to be assessed by the bishop after he has heard the college of
consultors and the Finance council.
§3. It is for the Finance officer to administer the goods
of the diocese under the authority of the bishop in accord with the budget
determined by the Finance council and, from the income of the diocese, to meet
expenses which the bishop or others designated by him have legitimately
§4. At the end of the year, the Finance officer must render
an account of receipts and expenditures to the Finance council.
THE PRESBYTERAL COUNCIL AND THE COLLEGE OF CONSULTORS
Can. 495 §1. In each diocese a presbyteral council is to be
established, that is, a group of priests which, representing the presbyterium,
is to be like a senate of the bishop and which assists the bishop in the
governance of the diocese according to the norm of law to promote as much as
possible the pastoral good of the portion of the people of God entrusted to him.
§2. In apostolic vicariates and prefectures, the vicar or
prefect is to establish a council of at least three missionary presbyters whose
opinion, even by letter, he is to hear in more serious matters.
Can. 496 The presbyteral council is to have its own
statutes approved by the diocesan bishop, attentive to the norms issued by the
conference of bishops.
Can. 497 In what pertains to the designation of members of
the presbyteral council:
1/ the priests themselves are freely to elect about half,
according to the norm of the following canons and of the statutes;
2/ according to the norm of the statutes, some priests must
be ex officio members, that is, members who are to belong to the council by
reason of the office entrusted to them;
3/ the diocesan bishop is freely entitled to appoint others.
Can. 498 §1. The following have the right of election, both
active and passive, in constituting a presbyteral council:
1/ all secular priests incardinated in the diocese;
2/ secular priests not incardinated in the diocese and
priests who are members of some religious institute or society of apostolic
life, who reside in the diocese and exercise some office for the good of the
§2. To the extent that the statutes provide for it, the
same right of election can be conferred on other priests who have a domicile or
quasi-domicile in the diocese.
Can. 499 The manner of electing members of the presbyteral
council must be determined in the statutes in such a way that, insofar as
possible, the priests of the presbyterium are represented, taking into account
especially the different ministries and various regions of the diocese.
Can. 500 §1. It is for the diocesan bishop to convoke the
presbyteral council, preside over it, and determine the questions to be treated
by it or receive proposals from the members.
§2. The presbyteral council possesses only a consultative
vote; the diocesan bishop is to hear it in affairs of greater importance but
needs its consent only in cases expressly defined by law.
§3. The presbyteral council is not able to act without the
diocesan bishop who alone has charge of making public those things which have
been established according to the norm of §2.
Can. 501 §1. Members of the presbyteral council are to be
designated for a time determined in the statutes, in such a way, however, that
the entire council or some part of it is renewed within five years.
§2. When a see is vacant, the presbyteral council ceases
and the college of consultors fulfills its functions.
Within a year of taking possession, a bishop must establish
the presbyteral council anew.
§3. If the presbyteral council does not fulfill the
function entrusted to it for the good of the diocese or gravely abuses it, the
diocesan bishop, after having consulted with the metropolitan, or, if it
concerns the metropolitan see itself, with the suffragan bishop senior in
promotion, can dissolve it but must establish it anew within a year.
Can. 502 §1. From among the members of the presbyteral
council and in a number not less than six nor more than twelve, the diocesan
bishop freely appoints some priests who are to constitute for five years a
college of consultors, to which belongs the functions determined by law. When
the five years elapse, however, it continues to exercise its proper functions
until a new college is established.
§2. The diocesan bishop presides over the college of
consultors. When a see is impeded or vacant, however, the one who temporarily
takes the place of the bishop or, if he has not yet been appointed, the priest
who is senior in ordination in the college of consultors presides.
§3. The conference of bishops can establish that the
functions of the college of consultors are to be entrusted to the cathedral
§4. In an apostolic vicariate and prefecture, the council
of the mission mentioned in can.
495, §2 has the functions of the college of consultors unless the law
CHAPTERS OF CANONS
Can. 503 A chapter of canons, whether cathedral or
collegial, is a college of priests which performs more solemn liturgical
functions in a cathedral or collegial church. In addition, it is for the
cathedral chapter to fulfill the functions which the law or the diocesan bishop
entrusts to it.
Can. 504 The erection, alteration, or suppression of a
cathedral chapter is reserved to the Apostolic See.
Can. 505 Each and every chapter, whether cathedral or
collegial, is to have its own statutes, drawn up through a legitimate capitular
act and approved by the diocesan bishop. These statutes are neither to be
changed nor abrogated except with the approval of the same diocesan bishop.
Can. 506 §1. The statutes of a chapter are to determine the
constitution of the chapter and the number of canons, always without prejudice
to the laws of its foundation. They are to define those things which the chapter
and individual canons are to do in the performance of divine worship and
ministry. They are to determine the meetings in which the affairs of the chapter
are handled and establish the conditions required for the validity and liceity
of those affairs, without prejudice to the prescripts of universal law.
§2. The statutes are also to define the compensation,
whether stable or to be given on the occasion of the performance of some
function, and, attentive to the norms issued by the Holy See, the insignia of
Can. 507 §1. One of the canons is to preside over the
chapter; other offices are also to be constituted according to the norm of the
statutes, after the practice prevailing in the region has been taken into
§2. Other offices can be entrusted to clerics who do not
belong to the chapter; through these offices they assist the canons according to
the norm of the statutes.
Can. 508 §1. By virtue of office, the canon penitentiary of
a cathedral church and of a collegial church has the ordinary faculty, which he
cannot delegate to others, of absolving in the sacramental forum outsiders
within the diocese and members of the diocese even outside the territory of the
diocese from undeclared latae sentential censures not reserved to the Apostolic
§2. Where there is no chapter, the diocesan bishop is to
appoint a priest to fulfill the same function.
Can. 509 §1. After having heard the chapter, it is for the
diocesan bishop, but not a diocesan administrator, to confer each and every
canonry, both in a cathedral church and in a collegial church; every contrary
privilege is revoked.
It is for the same bishop to confirm the person elected by
the chapter to preside over it.
§2. A diocesan bishop is to confer canonries only upon
priests outstanding in doctrine and integrity of life, who have laudably
exercised the ministry.
Can. 510 §1. Parishes are no longer to be joined to a
chapter of canons; the diocesan bishop is to separate from a chapter those
parishes which are united to it.
§2. In a church which is at the same time parochial and
capitular, a pastor is to be designated, whether chosen from among the members
of the chapter or not. This pastor is bound by all the duties and possesses the
rights and faculties which are proper to a pastor according to the norm of law.
§3. It is for the diocesan bishop to establish definite
norms which fittingly integrate the pastoral duties of the pastor and the
functions proper to the chapter, taking care that the pastor is not a hindrance
to capitular functions nor the chapter to parochial functions. The diocesan
bishop, who above all is to take care that the pastoral needs of the faithful
are aptly provided for, is to resolve conflicts if they occur.
§4. Alms given to a church which is at the same time
parochial and capitular are presumed given to the parish unless it is otherwise
THE PASTORAL COUNCIL
Can. 511 In every diocese and to the extent that pastoral
circumstances suggest it, a pastoral council is to be constituted which under
the authority of the bishop investigates, considers, and proposes practical
conclusions about those things which pertain to pastoral works in the diocese.
Can. 512 §1. A pastoral council consists of members of the
Christian faithful who are in full communion with the Catholic Church—clerics,
members of institutes of consecrated life, and especially laity—who are
designated in a manner determined by the diocesan bishop.
§2. The Christian faithful who are designated to a pastoral
council are to be selected in such a way that they truly reflect the entire
portion of the people of God which constitutes the diocese, with consideration
given to the different areas of the diocese, social conditions and professions,
and the role which they have in the apostolate whether individually or joined
§3. No one except members of the Christian faithful
outstanding in firm faith, good morals, and prudence is to be designated to a
Can. 513 §1. A pastoral council is constituted for a period
of time according to the prescripts of the statutes which are issued by the
§2. When the see is vacant, a pastoral council ceases.
Can. 514 §1. A pastoral council possesses only a
consultative vote. It belongs to the diocesan bishop alone to convoke it
according to the needs of the apostolate and to preside over it; it also belongs
to him alone to make public what has been done in the council.
§2. The pastoral council is to be convoked at least once a
PARISHES, PASTORS, AND PAROCHIAL VICARS
Can. 515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the
Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral
care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor)
under the authority of the diocesan bishop.
§2. It is only for the diocesan bishop to erect, suppress,
or alter parishes. He is neither to erect, suppress, nor alter notably parishes,
unless he has heard the presbyteral council.
§3. A legitimately erected parish possesses juridic
personality by the law itself.
Can. 516 §1. Unless the law provides otherwise, a
quasi-parish is equivalent to a parish; a quasi-parish is a definite community
of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its
proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular
§2. When certain communities cannot be erected as parishes
or quasi-parishes, the diocesan bishop is to provide for their pastoral care in
Can. 517 §1. When circumstances require it, the pastoral
care of a parish or of different parishes together can be entrusted to several
priests in solidum, with the requirement, however, that in exercising
pastoral care one of them must be the moderator, namely, the one who is to
direct the joint action and to answer for it to the bishop.
§2. If, because of a lack of priests, the diocesan bishop
has decided that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish
is to be entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a
community of persons, he is to appoint some priest who, provided with the powers
and faculties of a pastor, is to direct the pastoral care.
Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial,
that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory.
When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established
determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian
faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason.
Can. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor
(pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of
the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in
whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same
community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing,
also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance
of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law.
Can. 520 §1. A juridic person is not to be a pastor. With
the consent of the competent superior, however, a diocesan bishop, but not a
diocesan administrator, can entrust a parish to a clerical religious institute
or clerical society of apostolic life, even by erecting it in a church of the
institute or society, with the requirement, however, that one presbyter is to be
the pastor of the parish or, if the pastoral care is entrusted to several in
solidum, the moderator as mentioned in can.
§2. The entrusting of a parish mentioned in §1 can be made
either perpetually or for a specific, predetermined time. In either case it is
to be made by means of a written agreement between the diocesan bishop and the
competent superior of the institute or society, which expressly and accurately
defines, among other things, the work to be accomplished, the persons to be
assigned to the parish, and the Financial arrangements.
Can. 521 §1. To become a pastor validly, one must be in the
sacred order of the presbyterate.
§2. Moreover, he is to be outstanding in sound doctrine and
integrity of morals and endowed with zeal for souls and other virtues; he is
also to possess those qualities which are required by universal or particular
law to care for the parish in question.
§3. For the office of pastor to be conferred on someone,
his suitability must be clearly evident by some means determined by the diocesan
bishop, even by means of an examination.
Can. 522 A pastor must possess stability and therefore is
to be appointed for an indefinite period of time. The diocesan bishop can
appoint him only for a specific period if the conference of bishops has
permitted this by a decree.
Can. 523 Without prejudice to the prescript of can.
682, §1, the provision of the office of pastor belongs to the diocesan bishop,
and indeed by free conferral, unless someone has the right of presentation or
Can. 524 A diocesan bishop is to entrust a vacant parish to
the one whom he considers suited to fulfill its parochial care, after weighing
all the circumstances and without any favoritism. To make a judgment about
suitability, he is to hear the vicar forane and conduct appropriate
investigations, having heard certain presbyters and lay members of the Christian
faithful, if it is warranted.
Can. 525 When a see is vacant or impeded, it belongs to the
diocesan administrator or another who governs the diocese temporarily:
1/ to install or confirm presbyters who have been
legitimately presented or elected for a parish;
2/ to appoint pastors if the see has been vacant or impeded
for a year.
Can. 526 §1. A pastor is to have the parochial care of only
one parish; nevertheless, because of a lack of priests or other circumstances,
the care of several neighboring parishes can be entrusted to the same pastor.
§2. In the same parish there is to be only one pastor or
moderator in accord with the norm of can.
517, §1; any contrary custom is reprobated and any contrary privilege whatsoever
Can. 527 §1. The person who has been promoted to carry out
the pastoral care of a parish obtains this care and is bound to exercise it from
the moment of taking possession.
§2. The local ordinary or a priest delegated by him places
the pastor in possession; he is to observe the method accepted by particular law
or legitimate custom. The same ordinary, however, can dispense from that method
for a just cause; in this case, the notification of the dispensation to the
parish replaces the taking of possession.
§3. The local ordinary is to prescribe the time within
which possession of a parish must be taken. When this has elapsed without
action, he can declare the parish vacant unless there was a just impediment.
Can. 528 §1. A pastor is obliged to make provision so that
the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish; for
this reason, he is to take care that the lay members of the Christian faithful
are instructed in the truths of the faith, especially by giving a homily on
Sundays and holy days of obligation and by offering catechetical instruction. He
is to foster works through which the spirit of the gospel is promoted, even in
what pertains to social justice. He is to have particular care for the Catholic
education of children and youth. He is to make every effort, even with the
collaboration of the Christian faithful, so that the message of the gospel comes
also to those who have ceased the practice of their religion or do not profess
the true faith.
§2. The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist
is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful.
He is to work so that the Christian faithful are nourished
through the devout celebration of the sacraments and, in a special way, that
they frequently approach the sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and penance.
He is also to endeavor that they are led to practice prayer even as families and
take part consciously and actively in the sacred liturgy which, under the
authority of the diocesan bishop, the pastor must direct in his own parish and
is bound to watch over so that no abuses creep in.
Can. 529 §1. In order to fulfill his office diligently, a
pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care.
Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in
the cares, anxieties, and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the
Lord, and prudently correcting them if they are failing in certain areas. With
generous love he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by
refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to
God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the
lonely, those exiled from their country, and similarly those weighed down by
special difficulties. He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in
fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the
§2. A pastor is to recognize and promote the proper part
which the lay members of the Christian faithful have in the mission of the
Church, by fostering their associations for the purposes of religion. He is to
cooperate with his own bishop and the presbyterium of the diocese, also working
so that the faithful have concern for parochial communion, consider themselves
members of the diocese and of the universal Church, and participate in and
sustain efforts to promote this same communion.
Can. 530 The following functions are especially entrusted
to a pastor:
1/ the administration of baptism;
2/ the administration of the sacrament of confirmation to
those who are in danger of death, according to the norm of can.
883, n. 3;
3/ the administration of Viaticum and of the anointing of
the sick, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
1003, §§2 and 3, and the imparting of the apostolic blessing;
4/ the assistance at marriages and the nuptial blessing;
5/ the performance of funeral rites;
6/ the blessing of the baptismal font at Easter time, the
leading of processions outside the church, and solemn blessings outside the
7/ the more solemn eucharistic celebration on Sundays and
holy days of obligation.
Can. 531 Although another person has performed a certain
parochial function, that person is to put the offerings received from the
Christian faithful on that occasion in the parochial account, unless in the case
of voluntary openings the contrary intention of the donor is certain. The
diocesan bishop, after having heard the presbyteral council, is competent to
establish prescripts which provide for the allocation of these openings and the
remuneration of clerics fulfilling the same function.
Can. 532 In all juridic affairs the pastor represents the
parish according to the norm of law. He is to take care that the goods of the
parish are administered according to the norm of cann.
Can. 533 §1. A pastor is obliged to reside in a rectory
near the church. Nevertheless, in particular cases and if there is a just cause,
the local ordinary can permit him to reside elsewhere, especially in a house
shared by several presbyters, provided that the performance of parochial
functions is properly and suitably provided for.
§2. Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, a
pastor is permitted to be absent from the parish each year for vacation for at
most one continuous or interrupted month; those days which the pastor spends
once a year in spiritual retreat are not computed in the time of vacation. In
order to be absent from the parish for more than a week, however, a pastor is
bound to inform the local ordinary.
§3. It is for the diocesan bishop to establish norms which
see to it that during the absence of the pastor, a priest endowed with the
necessary faculties provides for the care of the parish.
Can. 534 §1. After a pastor has taken possession of his
parish, he is obliged to apply a Mass for the people entrusted to him on each
Sunday and holy day of obligation in his diocese. If he is legitimately impeded
from this celebration, however, he is to apply it on the same days through
another or on other days himself.
§2. A pastor who has the care of several parishes is bound
to apply only one Mass for the entire people entrusted to him on the days
mentioned in §1.
§3. A pastor who has not satisfied the obligation mentioned
in §§1 and 2 is to apply as soon as possible as many Masses for the people as he
Can. 535 §1. Each parish is to have parochial registers,
that is, those of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and others as prescribed by the
conference of bishops or the diocesan bishop. The pastor is to see to it that
these registers are accurately inscribed and carefully preserved.
§2. In the baptismal register are also to be noted
confirmation and those things which pertain to the canonical status of the
Christian faithful by reason of marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
1133, of adoption, of the reception of sacred orders, of perpetual profession
made in a religious institute, and of change of rite. These notations are always
to be noted on a baptismal certificate.
§3. Each parish is to have its own seal. Documents
regarding the canonical status of the Christian faithful and all acts which can
have juridic importance are to be signed by the pastor or his delegate and
sealed with the parochial seal.
§4. In each parish there is to be a storage area, or
archive, in which the parochial registers are protected along with letters of
bishops and other documents which are to be preserved for reason of necessity or
advantage. The pastor is to take care that all of these things, which are to be
inspected by the diocesan bishop or his delegate at the time of visitation or at
some other opportune time, do not come into the hands of outsiders.
§5. Older parochial registers are also to be carefully
protected according to the prescripts of particular law.
Can. 536 §1. If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune
after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be
established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and in which the
Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of
their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity.
§2. A pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only
and is governed by the norms established by the diocesan bishop.
Can. 537 In each parish there is to be a finance council
which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan
bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same
norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the
parish, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
Can. 538 §1. A pastor ceases from office by removal or
transfer carried out by the diocesan bishop according to the norm of law, by
resignation made by the pastor himself for a just cause and accepted by the same
bishop for validity, and by lapse of time if he had been appointed for a
definite period according to the prescripts of particular law mentioned in can.
§2. A pastor who is a member of a religious institute or is
incardinated in a society of apostolic life is removed according to the norm of can.
§3. When a pastor has completed seventy-Five years of age,
he is requested to submit his resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who
is to decide to accept or defer it after he has considered all the circumstances
of the person and place. Attentive to the norms established by the conference of
bishops, the diocesan bishop must provide suitable support and housing for a
Can. 539 When a parish becomes vacant or when a pastor is
prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish by reason of
captivity, exile or banishment, incapacity or ill health, or some other cause,
the diocesan bishop is to designate as soon as possible a parochial
administrator, that is, a priest who takes the place of the pastor according to
the norm of can.
Can. 540 §1. A parochial administrator is bound by the same
duties and possesses the same rights as a pastor unless the diocesan bishop
§2. A parochial administrator is not permitted to do
anything which prejudices the rights of the pastor or can harm parochial goods.
§3. After he has completed his function, a parochial
administrator is to render an account to the pastor.
Can. 541 §1. When a parish becomes vacant or a pastor has
been impeded from exercising his pastoral function and before the appointment of
a parochial administrator, the parochial vicar is to assume the governance of
the parish temporarily. If there are several vicars, the one who is senior in
appointment or, if there are no vicars, a pastor determined by particular law
assumes this governance.
§2. The one who has assumed the governance of a parish
according to the norm of §1 is immediately to inform the local ordinary about
the vacancy of the parish.
Can. 542 Priests to whom the pastoral care of some parish
or of different parishes together is entrusted in solidum according to the norm
1/ must be endowed with the qualities mentioned in can.
2/ are to be appointed or installed according to the norm
of the prescripts of cann. 522 and 524;
3/ obtain pastoral care only from the moment of taking
possession; their moderator is placed in possession according to the norm of the
prescripts of can.
527, §2; for the other priests, however, a legitimately made profession of faith
replaces taking possession.
Can. 543 §1. If the pastoral care of some parish or of
different parishes together is entrusted to priests in solidum, each of them is
obliged to perform the tasks and functions of pastor mentioned in cann. 528,
529, and 530 according to the arrangement they establish. All of them have the faculty of
assisting at marriages and all the powers to dispense granted to a pastor by
law; these are to be exercised, however, under the direction of the moderator.
§2. All the priests who belong to the group:
1/ are bound by the obligation of residence;
2/ are to establish through common counsel an arrangement
by which one of them is to celebrate a Mass for the people according to the norm
3/ the moderator alone represents in juridic affairs the
parish or parishes entrusted to the group.
Can. 544 When a priest from the group mentioned in can.
517, §1 or its moderator ceases from office as well as when one of them becomes
incapable of exercising his pastoral function, the parish or parishes whose care
is entrusted to the group do not become vacant. It is for the diocesan bishop,
however, to appoint another moderator; before someone is appointed by the
bishop, the priest in the group who is senior in appointment is to fulfill this
Can. 545 §1. Whenever it is necessary or opportune in order
to carry out the pastoral care of a parish fittingly, one or more parochial
vicars can be associated with the pastor. As co-workers with the pastor and
sharers in his solicitude, they are to offer service in the pastoral ministry by
common counsel and effort with the pastor and under his authority.
§2. A parochial vicar can be assigned either to assist in
exercising the entire pastoral ministry for the whole parish, a determined part
of the parish, or a certain group of the Christian faithful of the parish, or
even to assist in fulfilling a specific ministry in different parishes together.
Can. 546 To be appointed a parochial vicar validly, one
must be in the sacred order of the presbyterate.
Can. 547 The diocesan bishop freely appoints a parochial
vicar, after he has heard, if he has judged it opportune, the pastor or pastors
of the parishes for which the parochial vicar is appointed and the vicar forane,
without prejudice to the prescript of can.
Can. 548 §1. The obligations and rights of a parochial
vicar, besides being defined in the canons of this chapter, diocesan statutes,
and the letter of the diocesan bishop, are more specifically determined in the
mandate of the pastor.
§2. Unless the letter of the diocesan bishop expressly
provides otherwise, a parochial vicar is obliged to assist the pastor in the
entire parochial ministry by reason of office, except for the application of the
Mass for the people, and to substitute for the pastor if the situation arises
according to the norm of law.
§3. A parochial vicar is to report to the pastor regularly
concerning proposed and existing pastoral endeavors in such a way that the
pastor and the vicar or vicars, through common efforts, are able to provide for
the pastoral care of the parish for which they are together responsible.
Can. 549 Unless the diocesan bishop has provided otherwise
according to the norm of can.
533, §3 and unless a parochial administrator has been appointed, the prescripts
541, §1 are to be observed when the pastor is absent. In this case, the vicar is
also bound by all the obligations of the pastor, except the obligation of
applying Mass for the people.
Can. 550 §1. A parochial vicar is obliged to reside in the
parish or, if he has been appointed for different parishes jointly, in one of
them. Nevertheless, for a just cause the local ordinary can allow him to reside
elsewhere, especially in a house shared by several presbyters, provided that
this is not detrimental to the performance of his pastoral functions.
§2. The local ordinary is to take care that some manner of
common life in the rectory is fostered between the pastor and the vicars where
this can be done.
§3. A parochial vicar possesses the same right as a pastor
concerning the time of vacation.
Can. 551 The prescripts of can.
531 are to be observed in regards to openings which the Christian faithful give
to a vicar on the occasion of the performance of pastoral ministry.
Can. 552 The diocesan bishop or diocesan administrator can
remove a parochial vicar for a just cause, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
Can. 553 §1. A vicar forane, who is also called a dean, an
archpriest, or some other name, is a priest who is placed over a vicariate
§2. Unless particular law establishes otherwise, the
diocesan bishop appoints the vicar forane, after he has heard the priests who
exercise ministry in the vicariate in question according to his own prudent
Can. 554 §1. For the office of vicar forane, which is not
tied to the office of pastor of a certain parish, the bishop is to select a
priest whom he has judged suitable, after he has considered the circumstances of
place and time.
§2. A vicar forane is to be appointed for a certain period
of time determined by particular law.
§3. The diocesan bishop can freely remove a vicar forane
from office for a just cause in accord with his own prudent judgment.
Can. 555 §1. In addition to the faculties legitimately
given to him by particular law, the vicar forane has the duty and right:
1/ of promoting and coordinating common pastoral activity
in the vicariate;
2/ of seeing to it that the clerics of his district lead a
life in keeping with their state and perform their duties diligently;
3/ of seeing to it that religious functions are celebrated
according to the prescripts of the sacred liturgy, that the beauty and elegance
of churches and sacred furnishings are maintained carefully, especially in the
eucharistic celebration and custody of the Most Blessed Sacrament, that the
parochial registers are inscribed correctly and protected appropriately, that
ecclesiastical goods are administered carefully, and finally that the rectory is
cared for with proper diligence.
§2. In the vicariate entrusted to him, the vicar forane:
1/ is to see to it that, according to the prescripts of
particular law and at the times stated, the clerics attend lectures, theological
meetings, or conferences according to the norm of can.
2/ is to take care that spiritual supports are available to
the presbyters of his district, and likewise to be concerned especially for
those who find themselves in more difficult circumstances or are beset by
§3. The vicar forane is to take care that the pastors of
his district whom he knows to be gravely ill do not lack spiritual and material
aids and that the funeral rites of those who have died are celebrated worthily.
He is also to make provision so that, on the occasion of illness or death, the
registers, documents, sacred furnishings, and other things which belong to the
Church are not lost or removed.
§4. A vicar forane is obliged to visit the parishes of his
district according to the determination made by the diocesan bishop.
RECTORS OF CHURCHES AND CHAPLAINS
RECTORS OF CHURCHES
Can. 556 Rectors of churches are understood here as priests
to whom is committed the care of some church which is neither parochial nor
capitular nor connected to a house of a religious community or society of
apostolic life which celebrates services in it.
Can. 557 §1. The diocesan bishop freely appoints the rector
of a church, without prejudice to the right of election or presentation if
someone legitimately has it; in that case, it is for the diocesan bishop to
confirm or install the rector.
§2. Even if a church belongs to some clerical religious
institute of pontifical right, the diocesan bishop is competent to install the
rector presented by the superior.
§3. The rector of a church which is connected with a
seminary or other college which is governed by clerics is the rector of the
seminary or college unless the diocesan bishop has determined otherwise.
Can. 558 Without prejudice to the prescript of can.
262, a rector is not permitted to perform the parochial functions mentioned in can.
530, nn. 1-6 in the church entrusted to him unless the pastor consents or, if
the matter warrants it, delegates.
Can. 559 A rector can perform liturgical celebrations, even
solemn ones, in the church entrusted to him, without prejudice to the legitimate
laws of the foundation, and provided that, in the judgment of the local ordinary,
they do not harm parochial ministry in any way.
Can. 560 When the local ordinary considers it opportune, he
can order a rector to celebrate in his church particular functions, even
parochial ones, for the people and to make the church available for certain
groups of the Christian faithful to conduct liturgical celebrations there.
Can. 561 No one is permitted to celebrate the Eucharist,
administer the sacraments, or perform other sacred functions in the church
without the permission of the rector or another legitimate superior; this
permission must be granted or denied according to the norm of law.
Can. 562 The rector of a church, under the authority of the
local ordinary and observing the legitimate statutes and acquired rights, is
obliged to see to it that sacred functions are celebrated worthily in the church
according to the liturgical norms and prescripts of the canons, that obligations
are fulfilled faithfully, that goods are administered diligently, that the
maintenance and beauty of sacred furnishings and buildings are provided for, and
that nothing whatever occurs which is in any way unfitting to the holiness of
the place and the reverence due to a house of God.
Can. 563 Without prejudice to the prescript of can.
682, §2, the local ordinary, for a just cause and according to his own prudent
judgment, can remove the rector of a church from office, even if he had been
elected or presented by others.
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
particular group of the Christian faithful, which is to be exercised according
to the norm of universal and particular law.
Can. 565 Unless the law provides otherwise or someone
legitimately has special rights, a chaplain is appointed by the local ordinary
to whom it also belongs to install the one presented or to confirm the one
Can. 566 §1. A chaplain must be provided with all the
faculties which proper pastoral care requires. In addition to those which are
granted by particular law or special delegation, a chaplain possesses by virtue
of office the faculty of hearing the confessions of the faithful entrusted to
his care, of preaching the word of God to them, of administering Viaticum and
the anointing of the sick, and of conferring the sacrament of confirmation on
those who are in danger of death.
§2. In hospitals, prisons, and on sea journeys, a chaplain,
moreover, has the faculty, to be exercised only in those places, of absolving
from latae sententiae censures which are neither reserved nor declared, without
prejudice, however, to the prescript of can.
Can. 567 §1. 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, who has the right to propose a specific priest after
the superior has heard the community.
§2. It is for the chaplain to celebrate or direct
liturgical functions; nevertheless, he is not permitted to involve himself in
the internal governance of the institute.
Can. 568 As far as possible, chaplains are to be appointed
for those who are not able to avail themselves of the ordinary care of pastors
because of the condition of their lives, such as migrants, exiles, refugees,
Can. 569 Military chaplains are governed by special laws.
Can. 570 If a non-parochial church is connected to the seat
of a community or group, the chaplain is to be the rector of that church, unless
the care of the community or of the church requires otherwise.
Can. 571 In the exercise of his pastoral function, a
chaplain is to preserve a fitting relationship with the pastor.
Can. 572 In what pertains to the removal of a chaplain, the
prescript of can.
563 is to be observed.
Cf: Apostolic Letter issued 'Motu Proprio'
“De concordia inter Codices” modifying some norms of the Code of Canon Law (31