BOOK II: THE PEOPLE OF GOD
PART II : THE HIERARCHICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH
SECTION I: THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER I : THE ROMAN PONTIFF AND THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS
The Supreme Authority
Can. 330 Just as,
by the decree of the Lord, Saint Peter and the rest of the
Apostles form one College, so for a like reason the Roman
Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the Bishops, the successors
of the Apostles, are united together in one.
ARTICLE 1: THE ROMAN PONTIFF
Can. 331 The office uniquely committed by the Lord to Peter, the first of the
Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, abides in the
Bishop of the Church of Rome. He is the head of the College of
Bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the universal
Church here on earth. Consequently, by virtue of his office, he
has supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the
Church, and he can always freely exercise this power.
Can. 332 §1 The
Roman Pontiff acquires full and supreme power in the Church when,
together with episcopal consecration, he has been lawfully
elected and has accepted the election. Accordingly, if he already
has the episcopal character, he receives this power from the
moment he accepts election to the supreme pontificate. If he does
not have the episcopal character, he is immediately to be
§2 Should it
happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is
required for validity that the resignation be freely made and
properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted
Can. 333 §1 By
virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only has power over
the universal Church, but also has pre-eminent ordinary power
over all particular Churches and their groupings. This reinforces
and defends the proper, ordinary and immediate power which the
Bishops have in the particular Churches entrusted to their care.
§2 The Roman
Pontiff, in fulfilling his office as supreme Pastor of the
Church, is always joined in full communion with the other
Bishops, and indeed with the whole Church. He has the right,
however, to determine, according to the needs of the Church,
whether this office is to be exercised in a personal or in a
§3 There is
neither appeal nor recourse against a judgement or a decree of
the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 334 The
Bishops are available to the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his
office, to cooperate with him in various ways, among which is the
synod of Bishops. Cardinals also assist him, as do other persons
and, according to the needs of the time, various institutes; all
these persons and institutes fulfil their offices in his name and
by his authority, for the good of all the Churches, in accordance
with the norms determined by law.
Can. 335 When the
Roman See is vacant, or completely impeded, no innovation is to
be made in the governance of the universal Church. The special
laws enacted for these circumstances are to be observed.
ARTICLE 2: THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS
Can. 336 The head
of the College of Bishops is the Supreme Pontiff, and its members
are the Bishops by virtue of their sacramental consecration and
hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its
members. This College of Bishops, in which the apostolic body
abides in an unbroken manner, is, in union with its head and
never without this head, also the subject of supreme and full
power over the universal Church.
Can. 337 §1 The
College of Bishops exercises its power over the universal Church
in solemn form in an Ecumenical Council.
§2 It exercises
this same power by the united action of the Bishops dispersed
throughout the world, when this action is as such proclaimed or
freely accepted by the Roman Pontiff, so that it becomes a truly
§3 It belongs to
the Roman Pontiff to select and promote, according to the needs
of the Church, ways in which the College of Bishops can exercise
its office in respect of the universal Church in a collegial
Can. 338 §1 It is
the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff alone to summon an
Ecumenical Council, to preside over it personally or through
others, to transfer, suspend or dissolve the Council, and to
approve its decrees.
§2 It is also the
prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to determine the matters to be
dealt with in the Council, and to establish the order to be
observed. The Fathers of the Council may add other matters to
those proposed by the Roman Pontiff, but these must be approved
by the Roman Pontiff .
Can. 339 §1 All
Bishops, but only Bishops who are members of the College of
Bishops, have the right and the obligation to be present at an
Ecumenical Council with a deliberative vote.
§2 Some others
besides, who do not have the episcopal dignity, can be summoned
to an Ecumenical Council by the supreme authority in the Church,
to whom it belongs to determine what part they take in the
Can. 340 If the
Apostolic See should become vacant during the celebration of the
Council, it is by virtue of the law itself suspended until the
new Supreme Pontiff either orders it to continue or dissolves it.
Can. 341 §1 The
decrees of an Ecumenical Council do not oblige unless they are
approved by the Roman Pontiff as well as by the Fathers of the
Council, confirmed by the Roman Pontiff and promulgated by his
§2 If they are to
have binding force, the same confirmation and promulgation is
required for decrees which the College of Bishops issues by truly
collegial actions in another manner introduced or freely accepted
by the Roman Pontiff.
CHAPTER II : THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
Can. 342 The synod of Bishops is a group of Bishops selected from different parts of
the world, who meet together at specified times to promote the
close relationship between the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops.
These Bishops, by their counsel, assist the Roman Pontiff in the
defence and development of faith and morals and in the
preservation and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline. They
also consider questions concerning the mission of the Church in
Can. 343 The
function of the synod of Bishops is to discuss the matters
proposed to it and set forth recommendations. It is not its
function to settle matters or to draw up decrees, unless the
Roman Pontiff has given it deliberative power in certain cases;
in this event, it rests with the Roman Pontiff to ratify the
decisions of the synod.
Can. 344 The synod
of Bishops is directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff,
whose prerogative it is:
1° to convene the
synod, as often as this seems opportune to him, and to designate
the place where the meetings are to be held
2° to ratify the
election of those who, in accordance with the special law of the
synod, are to be elected, and to designate and appoint other
3° at a suitable
time before the celebration of the synod, to prescribe the
outlines of the questions to be discussed, in accordance with the
4° to determine
5° to preside over
the synod personally or through others;
6° to conclude,
transfer, suspend or dissolve the synod.
Can. 345 The synod
of Bishops can meet in general assembly, in which matters are
dealt with which directly concern the good of the universal
Church; such an assembly is either ordinary or extraordinary. It
can also meet in special assembly, to deal with matters directly
affecting a determined region or regions.
Can. 346 §1 The
synod of Bishops meeting in ordinary general assembly is
comprised, for the most part, of Bishops elected for each
assembly by the Episcopal Conferences, in accordance with the
norms of the special law of the synod. Other members are
designated according to the same law; others are directly
appointed by the Roman Pontiff. Added to these are some members
of clerical religious institutes, elected in accordance with the
same special law.
§2 The synod of
Bishops meeting in extraordinary general assembly for the purpose
of dealing with matters which require speedy resolution, is
comprised for the most part, of Bishops who, by reason of the
office they hold, are designated by the special law of the synod;
others are appointed directly by the Roman Pontiff. Added to
these are some members of clerical religious institutes, elected
in accordance with the same law.
§3 The synod of
Bishops which meets in special assembly is comprised of members
chosen principally from those regions for which the synod was
convened, in accordance with the special law by which the synod
Can. 347 §1 When
the meeting of the synod of Bishops is concluded by the Roman
Pontiff, the function entrusted in it to the Bishops and other
§2 If the
Apostolic See becomes vacant after the synod has been convened or
during its celebration, the meeting of the synod, and the
function entrusted in it to the members, is by virtue of the law
itself suspended, until the new Pontiff decrees either that the
assembly is to be dissolved or that it is to continue.
Can. 348 §1 There
is to be a permanent general secretariat of the synod, presided
over by a Secretary general appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The
Secretary is to have the assistance of a council of the
secretariat, composed of Bishops, some elected by the synod of
Bishops itself in accordance with the special law, others
appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The function of all these persons
ceases with the beginning of a new general assembly.
§2 For each
assembly of the synod of Bishops there are one or more special
secretaries, who are appointed by the Roman Pontiff. They remain
in office only until the end of the synod assembly.
CHAPTER III : THE CARDINALS OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH
Can. 349 The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a special
College, whose prerogative it is to elect the Roman Pontiff in accordance with
the norms of a special law. The Cardinals are also available to
the Roman Pontiff, either acting collegially, when they are
summoned together to deal with questions of major importance, or
acting individually, that is, in the offices which they hold in
assisting the Roman Pontiff especially in the daily care of the
Can. 350 §1 The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders: the episcopal
order, to which belong those Cardinals to whom the Roman Pontiff
assigns the title of a suburbicarian Church, and eastern-rite
Patriarchs who are made members of the College of Cardinals; the
presbyteral order, and the diaconal order.
§2 Cardinal priests and Cardinal deacons are each assigned a title or a
deaconry in Rome by the Roman Pontiff.
§3 Eastern Patriarchs within the College of Cardinals have their patriarchal
see as a title.
§4 The Cardinal Dean has the title of the diocese of Ostia, together with that of
any other Church to which he already has a title.
§5 By a choice made in Consistory and approved by the Supreme Pontiff, Cardinal
priests may transfer to another title; Cardinal deacons may
transfer to another deaconry and, if they have been a full ten
years in the diaconal order, to the presbyteral order: priority
of order and of promotion is to be observed.
§6 A Cardinal who
by choice transfers from the diaconal to the presbyteral order,
takes precedence over all Cardinal priests who were promoted to
the Cardinalate after him.
Can. 351 §1 Those
to be promoted Cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman
Pontiff, who are at least in the order of priesthood and are
truly outstanding in doctrine, virtue, piety and prudence in
practical matters; those who are not already Bishops must receive
§2 Cardinals are created by decree of the Roman Pontiff, which in fact is
published in the presence of the College of Cardinals. From the
moment of publication, they are bound by the obligations and they
enjoy the rights defined in the law.
§3 A person promoted to the dignity of Cardinal, whose creation the Roman
Pontiff announces, but whose name he reserves in petto, is not at
that time bound by the obligations nor does he enjoy the rights
of a Cardinal. When his name is published by the Roman Pontiff,
however, he is bound by these obligations and enjoys these
rights, but his right of precedence dates from the day of the
reservation in petto.
Can. 352 §1 The Dean presides over the College of Cardinals. When he is unable to
do so, the sub-Dean takes his place. The Dean, or the sub-Dean,
has no power of governance over the other Cardinals, but is
considered as first among equals.
§2 When the office of Dean is vacant, those Cardinals who have a suburbicarian
title, and only those, under the presidency of the sub-Dean if he
is present, or of the oldest member, elect one of their number to
act as Dean of the College. They are to submit his name to the
Roman Pontiff, to whom it belongs to approve the person elected.
§3 In the same way as set out in §2, the sub-Dean is elected, with the Dean
presiding. It belongs to the Roman Pontiff to approve also the
election of the sub-Dean.
§4 If the Dean and sub-Dean do not already have a domicile in Rome, they acquire it
Can. 353 §1 Cardinals assist the Supreme Pastor of the Church in collegial
fashion particularly in Consistories, in which they are gathered
by order of the Roman Pontiff and under his presidency.
Consistories are either ordinary or extraordinary.
§2 In an ordinary
Consistory all Cardinals, or at least those who are in Rome, are
summoned for consultation on certain grave matters of more
frequent occurrence, or for the performance of especially solemn
§3 All Cardinals are summoned to an extraordinary Consistory, which takes place
when the special needs of the Church and more serious matters
§4 Only an
ordinary Consistory in which certain solemnities are celebrated,
can be public, that is when, in addition to the Cardinals,
Prelates, representatives of civil states and other invited
persons are admitted.
Can. 354 Cardinals
who head the departments and other permanent sections of the
Roman Curia and of Vatican City, who have completed their
seventy-fifth year, are requested to offer their resignation from
office to the Roman Pontiff, who will consider all the
circumstances and make provision accordingly.
Can. 355 §1 It belongs to the Cardinal Dean to ordain the elected Roman Pontiff
a Bishop, if he is not already ordained. If the Dean is prevented
from doing so, the same right belongs to the sub-Dean or, if he
is prevented, to the senior Cardinal of the episcopal order.
§2 The senior Cardinal Deacon announces the name of the newly elected Supreme
Pontiff to the people. Acting in place of the Roman Pontiff, he
also confers the pallium on metropolitan Bishops or gives the
pallium to their proxies.
Can. 356 Cardinals have the obligation of cooperating closely with the Roman
Pontiff. For this reason, Cardinals who have any office in the
Curia and are not diocesan Bishops, are obliged to reside in
Rome. Cardinals who are in charge of a diocese as diocesan
Bishops, are to go to Rome whenever summoned by the Roman
Can. 357 §1 When a Cardinal has taken possession of a suburbicarian Church or of a
titular Church in Rome, he is to further the good of the diocese
or church by counsel and patronage. However, he has no power of
governance over it, and he should not for any reason interfere in
matters concerning the administration of its goods, or its
discipline, or the service of the church.
§2 Cardinals living outside Rome and outside their own diocese, are exempt in
what concerns their person from the power of governance of the
Bishop of the diocese in which they are residing.
Can. 358 A Cardinal may be deputed by the Roman Pontiff to represent him in some
solemn celebration or assembly of persons as a 'Legatus a latere', that is, as his alter ego; or he may, as a special
emissary, be entrusted with a particular pastoral task. A
Cardinal thus nominated is entitled to deal only with those
affairs which have been entrusted to him by the Roman Pontiff himself.
Can. 359 When the Apostolic See is vacant, the College of Cardinals has only that
power in the Church which is granted to it by special law.
CHAPTER IV : THE ROMAN CURIA
Can. 360 The Supreme Pontiff usually conducts the business of the universal
Church through the Roman Curia, which acts in his name and with
his authority for the good and for the service of the Churches.
The Curia is composed of the Secretariat of State or Papal
Secretariat, the Council for the public affairs of the Church,
the Congregations, the Tribunals and other Institutes. The
constitution and competence of all these is defined by special
Can. 361 In this Code the terms Apostolic See or Holy See mean not only the Roman
Pontiff, but also, unless the contrary is clear from the nature
of things or from the context, the Secretariat of State, the
Council for the public affairs of the Church, and the other
Institutes of the Roman Curia.
CHAPTER V : PAPAL LEGATES
Can. 362 The Roman Pontiff has an inherent and independent right to appoint Legates
and to send them either to particular Churches in various
countries or regions, or at the same time to States and to public
Authorities. He also has the right to transfer or recall them, in
accordance with the norms of international law concerning the
mission and recall of representatives accredited to States.
Can. 363 §1 To Legates of the Roman Pontiff is entrusted the office of
representing in a stable manner the person of the Roman Pontiff
in the particular Churches, or also in the States and public
Authorities, to whom they are sent.
§2 Those also represent the Apostolic See who are appointed to pontifical
Missions as Delegates or Observers at international Councils or
at Conferences and Meetings.
Can. 364 The principal task of a Papal Legate is continually to make more firm
and effective the bonds of unity which exist between the Holy See
and the particular Churches. Within the territory assigned to
him, it is therefore the responsibility of a Legate:
1° to inform the Apostolic See about the conditions in which the particular
Churches find themselves, as well as about all matters which
affect the life of the Church and the good of souls;
2° to assist the Bishops by action and advice, while leaving intact the exercise
of their lawful power;
3° to foster close relations with the Episcopal Conference, offering it every
4° in connection with the appointment of Bishops, to send or propose names of
candidates to the Apostolic See, as well as to prepare the
informative process about those who may be promoted, in
accordance with the norms issued by the Apostolic See;
5° to take pains to promote whatever may contribute to peace, progress and the
united efforts of peoples;
6° to work with the Bishops to foster appropriate exchanges between the Catholic
Church and other Churches or ecclesial communities, and indeed
with non-christian religions;
7° to work with the Bishops to safeguard, so far as the rulers of the State are
concerned, those things which relate to the mission of the Church
and of the Apostolic See;
8° to exercise the
faculties and carry out the other instructions which are given to
him by the Apostolic See.
Can. 365 §1 A papal Legate who at the same time acts as envoy to the State
according to international law, has in addition the special role:
1° of promoting
and fostering relationships between the Apostolic See and the
Authorities of the State;
2° of dealing with
questions concerning relations between Church and State,
especially, of drawing up concordats and other similar
agreements, and giving effect to them.
§2 As circumstances suggest, in the matters mentioned in §1, the papal
Legate is not to omit to seek the opinion and counsel of the
Bishops of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and to keep them
informed of the course of events.
Can. 366 Given the special nature of a Legate's role:
1° the papal Legation is exempt from the power of governance of the local
Ordinary, except for the celebration of marriages;
2° the papal Legate has the right to perform liturgical celebrations, even in
pontificalia, in all churches of the territory of his legation;
as far as it is possible, he is to give prior notice to the local
Can. 367 The office of papal Legate does not cease when the Apostolic See is vacant,
unless otherwise specified in the pontifical Letters - it does
cease, however, on the expiry of the mandate, on receipt by him
of notification of recall, and on acceptance of his resignation
by the Roman Pontiff.
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