CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK IV. FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH
SACRED PLACES AND TIMES
SACRED PLACES (Cann. 1205 - 1243)
Can. 1205 Sacred places are those which are designated for divine worship or for the burial of the faithful by a dedication or a blessing which the liturgical books prescribe for this purpose.
Can. 1206 The dedication of any place belongs to the diocesan bishop and to those equivalent to him by law; they can entrust the function of carrying out a dedication in their territory to any bishop or, in exceptional cases, to a presbyter.
Can. 1207 Sacred places are blessed by the ordinary; the blessing of churches, however, is reserved to the diocesan bishop. Either of them, moreover, can delegate another priest for this purpose.
Can. 1208 When the dedication or blessing of a church or the blessing of a cemetery has been completed, a document is to be drawn up, one copy of which is to be kept in the diocesan curia and another in the archive of the church.
Can. 1209 The dedication or blessing of any place is sufficiently proven by one witness who is above suspicion, provided that no harm is done to anyone.
Can. 1210 Only those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety, or religion are permitted in a sacred place; anything not consonant with the holiness of the place is forbidden. In an individual case, however, the ordinary can permit other uses which are not contrary to the holiness of the place.
Can. 1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.
Can. 1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.
Can. 1213 The ecclesiastical authority freely exercises its powers and functions in sacred places.
Can. 1214 By the term church is understood a sacred building designated for divine worship to which the faithful have the right of entry for the exercise, especially the public exercise, of divine worship.
Can. 1215 §1. No church is to be built without the express written consent of the diocesan bishop.
§2. The diocesan bishop is not to give consent unless, after having heard the presbyteral council and the rectors of the neighboring churches, he judges that the new church can serve the good of souls and that the means necessary for building the church and for divine worship will not be lacking.
§3. Although religious institutes have received from the diocesan bishop consent to establish a new house in the diocese or the city, they must also obtain his permission before building a church in a certain and determined place.
Can. 1216 In the building and repair of churches, the principles and norms of the liturgy and of sacred art are to be observed, after the advice of experts has been taken into account.
Can. 1217 §1. After construction has been completed properly, a new church is to be dedicated or at least blessed as soon as possible; the laws of the sacred liturgy are to be observed.
§2. Churches, especially cathedrals and parish churches, are to be dedicated by the solemn rite.
Can. 1218 Each church is to have its own title which cannot be changed after the church has been dedicated.
Can. 1219 In a church that has legitimately been dedicated or blessed, all acts of divine worship can be performed, without prejudice to parochial rights.
Can. 1220 §1. All those responsible are to take care that in churches such cleanliness and beauty are preserved as befit a house of God and that whatever is inappropriate to the holiness of the place is excluded.
§2. Ordinary care for preservation and fitting means of security are to be used to protect sacred and precious goods.
Can. 1221 Entry to a church is to be free and gratuitous during the time of sacred celebrations.
Can. 1222 §1. If a church cannot be used in any way for divine worship and there is no possibility of repairing it, the diocesan bishop can relegate it to profane but not sordid use.
§2. Where other grave causes suggest that a church no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan bishop, after having heard the presbyteral council, can relegate it to profane but not sordid use, with the consent of those who legitimately claim rights for themselves in the church and provided that the good of souls suVers no detriment thereby.
ORATORIES AND PRIVATE CHAPELS
Can. 1223 By the term oratory is understood a place for divine worship designated by permission of the ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful who gather in it and to which other members of the faithful can also come with the consent of the competent superior.
Can. 1224 §1. The ordinary is not to grant the permission required to establish an oratory unless he has first visited the place destined for the oratory personally or through another and has found it properly prepared.
§2. After permission has been given, however, an oratory cannot be converted to profane use without the authority of the same ordinary.
Can. 1225 All sacred celebrations can be performed in legitimately established oratories except those which the law or a prescript of the local ordinary excludes or the liturgical norms prohibit.
Can. 1226 By the term private chapel is understood a place for divine worship designated by permission of the local ordinary for the benefit of one or more physical persons.
Can. 1227 Bishops can establish a private chapel for themselves which possesses the same rights as an oratory.
Can. 1228 Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1227, the permission of the local ordinary is required for Mass or other sacred celebrations to take place in any private chapel.
Can. 1229 It is fitting for oratories and private chapels to be blessed according to the rite prescribed in the liturgical books. They must, however, be reserved for divine worship alone and free from all domestic uses.
Can. 1230 By the term shrine is understood a church or other sacred place to which numerous members of the faithful make pilgrimage for a special reason of piety, with the approval of the local ordinary.
Can. 1231 For a shrine to be called a national shrine, the conference of bishops must give its approval; for it to be called an international shrine, the approval of the Holy See is required.
Can. 1232 §1. The local ordinary is competent to approve the statutes of a diocesan shrine; the conference of bishops for the statutes of a national shrine; the Holy See alone for the statutes of an international shrine.
§2. The statutes are to determine especially the purpose, the authority of the rector, and the ownership and administration of goods.
Can. 1233 Certain privileges can be granted to shrines whenever local circumstances, the large number of pilgrims, and especially the good of the faithful seem to suggest it.
Can. 1234 §1. At shrines the means of salvation are to be supplied more abundantly to the faithful by the diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life especially through the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety.
§2. Votive offerings of popular art and piety are to be kept on display in the shrines or nearby places and guarded securely.
Can. 1235 §1. An altar, or a table upon which the eucharistic sacrifice is celebrated, is called fixed if it is so constructed that it adheres to the floor and thus cannot be moved; it is called movable if it can be removed.
§2. It is desirable to have a fixed altar in every church, but a fixed or a movable altar in other places designated for sacred celebrations.
Can. 1236 §1. According to the traditional practice of the Church, the table of a fixed altar is to be of stone, and indeed of a single natural stone. Nevertheless, another worthy and solid material can also be used in the judgment of the conference of bishops. The supports or base, however, can be made of any material.
§2. A movable altar can be constructed of any solid material suitable for liturgical use.
Can. 1237 §1. Fixed altars must be dedicated, and movable altars must be dedicated or blessed, according to the rites prescribed in the liturgical books.
§2. The ancient tradition of placing relics of martyrs or other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved, according to the norms given in the liturgical books.
Can. 1238 §1. An altar loses its dedication or blessing according to the norm of can. 1212.
§2. Altars, whether fixed or movable, do not lose their dedication or blessing if the church or other sacred place is relegated to profane uses.
Can. 1239 §1. An altar, whether fixed or movable, must be reserved for divine worship alone, to the absolute exclusion of any profane use.
§2. A body is not to be buried beneath an altar; otherwise, it is not permitted to celebrate Mass on the altar.
Can. 1240 §1. Where possible, the Church is to have its own cemeteries or at least areas in civil cemeteries that are designated for the deceased members of the faithful and properly blessed.
§2. If this cannot be achieved, however, then individual graves are to be properly blessed.
Can. 1241 §1. Parishes and religious institutes can have their own cemetery.
§2. Other juridic persons or families can also have a special cemetery or tomb, to be blessed according to the judgment of the local ordinary.
Can. 1242 Bodies are not to be buried in churches unless it is a question of burying in their own church the Roman Pontiff, cardinals, or diocesan bishops, including retired ones.
Can. 1243 Particular law is to establish appropriate norms about the discipline to be observed in cemeteries, especially with regard to protecting and fostering their sacred character.