Summary of References to Statutes in the Code of Canon Law
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Prepared by Fr. Jason Gray, February 3, 2006
Copyright © 2006 by Fr. Jason Gray
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Gray, Jason A., Summary of References to Statutes in the Code of Canon Law; available from https://www.jgray.org/docs/statute_summary.html; Internet; accessed 1 January 2006.
Statutes are required for juridic persons and associations as well as some other entities such as a presbyteral council or diocesan pastoral council. Nevertheless, it may be difficult to know what information should be contained in statutes when they must be composed.
The following list represents a summary of the many important elements that should be considered when composing statutes. This list is gleaned from the many references to statutes in the Code of Canon Law.
Consideration of these factors can help insure that newly composed statutes are well crafted and comprehensively address these essential elements for an ecclesiastical entity. The elements are grouped so that they may be easily considered, especially when composing statutes.
Because statutes are used by a variety of ecclesiastical entities, the general term "group" will be used when referring to these entities. Although this is not a technical term, it should be understood as applying to juridic persons, associations, and other entities requiring statutes.
The purpose of the group
The constitutive elements of the group
- The purpose must be in keeping with the mission of the Church.
- The purpose must serve a truly useful purpose in the Church.
- Is the purpose a work of piety, a work of the apostolate, or a work of charity?
- Is the group fundamentally spiritual, or does it manage temporal goods toward a spiritual end?
- Does it have a social objective?
The role of ecclesiastical authority
- What is the name of the group?
- Where is the seat of the group, if there is one?
- What must the group have to attain its purpose?
- The norms of the statutes help shape and direct the group, but should not be multiplied without cause. The statutes serve to protect the interests and integrity of the group.
The government of the group
- Who is the ecclesiastical authority competent to review, approve, or issues the statutes? (The statutes of private associations are reviewed. However, the statutes of any associations that are juridic persons are approved.)
- Does the group have the right to present the statutes and propose any amendments, or does the ecclesiastical authority simply issue the statutes?
- How is the group accountable to the ecclesiastical authority?
- How does this accountability recognize the ecclesiastical authority’s right of vigilance in faith and morals?
- How is this accountability expressed in matters of financial administration?
- Beyond the role of the competent ecclesiastical authority, are they are special norms that govern the group that must be considered before composing or amending statutes?
The selection of officers
- Who governs the group? (If this is defined in law, it should be reflected in the statutes.)
- Is the governance of the group exercised by one person or by a group of persons? (If the members participate in the governance of the group, it is called a collegial group.)
- Who has the authority to act in the name of the group? (This is frequently the one who governs the group.)
- If the group is an aggregate of things, who directs the assets?
- Which officers govern the group?
- Does the group have a chaplain?
- What groups, councils, committees or other bodies compose the government of the group? (This could be a finance council, an ad hoc committee, or similar.)
- For each of these governmental bodies, what is its membership and role?
- How does each of these governmental bodies relate to other governmental structures within the group?
The roles of officers
- How are officers designated: by appointment, by election, or by nomination?
- Who has the right to appoint, elect, or nominate officers?
- Are any officers designated ex officio?
- Who must confirm or approve a selection of an officer, if anyone?
- What rules govern elections?
- Who is allowed to vote for an officer?
- Who is qualified to be elected as an officer?
- May a person who does not belong to the group assume an office or function, such as finance officer?
- What are the terms of office?
- May an officer be re-elected more than once?
- May an election be conducted by compromise?
- For what reasons may an officer be removed and what procedure is followed?
Methods of decision-making
- What are the roles of each officer?
- Who may act in place if another officer who is prevented from acting?
- Does a vice-moderator have all the rights of the moderator in his or her absence?
- Are any officers compensated for their service or barred from compensation?
- What are the rights and obligations of the officers?
The administration of goods
- Does the group operate collegially or non-collegially?
- How is the group guided and directed? Actions should conform to the norm of the statutes and the character of the group.
- How are norms issued?
- When are ordinary and extraordinary meetings held?
- Who holds a deliberative vote and who holds a consultative vote?
- What matters are decided by vote?
- What margin of voting is required for the approval of an action?
- May votes be conducted in writing or by proxy?
- In what ways may the membership of the group, who are not officers, participate in the governance of the group?
- How does the group interact with other groups or structures outside itself?
The membership of the group
- Who administrates the temporal goods?
- Is the administrator of the goods the same person as the moderator of the group?
- How is the administrator of assets bound by the statutes?
- How are goods acquired, retained, administered, and alienated?
- Do the statutes reflect the requirements in law governing the administration of temporal goods? (This is particularly necessary when the group is a public juridic person.)
- How is the group accountable to its membership or to ecclesiastical authority for its management of its assets?
- Do the statutes need to clarify the ownership of assets?
- Does the group have a finance council?
- What are the limits of ordinary administration?
- What procedures must be followed to place acts of extraordinary administration?
- What requirements for extraordinary administration for liceity or validity?
- Who must be consulted and who must give consent before an act is placed?
- What special procedures govern acts of alienation? (A public juridic person is bound by canons 1291-1294).
Other miscellaneous provisions
- What are the conditions for membership?
- How is a member received into the group?
- What are the rights and obligations of membership?
- How do members act as a part of the group in pursuit of the goals of the group?
- How are members bound by the requirements of the statutes?
- Is there a program of formation or continuing education for members?
- What reasons may lead to the dismissal of a member? Excommunication or defection from the faith is often among the causes for dismissal.
- What is the procedure for dismissing a member?
- Does the process of dismissal provide the opportunity for presenting a defense and appealing a decision of dismissal?
The division or the dissolution of the group
- Does the nature of the group require that liturgical norms be included in the statutes?
- Is an oath or profession of faith required for an officer before assuming office or for a member before joining the group?
- If the need to divide the group into parts is anticipated, how does this division take place?
- How is the membership affected if the group divides into parts?
- How are the assets separated if the group divides into parts?
- How is the group extinguished? (The methods of extinction in law should be incorporated into the statutes.)
- What circumstances may lead to the dissolution of the group?
- How is a decision made to dissolve the group?
- What happens to the assets of the group upon dissolution?