The ruling function of the church


A bishop of a particular Church has all the authority he needs to exercise his pastoral functions. The bishop exercises legislative authority personally, but he can exercise executive and judicial authority either personally or through vicars. Bishops sometimes exercise legislative authority collegially in synods, particular councils and episcopal conferences. Priests and deacons cooperate with bishops in the exercise of this governing function in particular Churches, especially in councils and other offices. Likewise the faithful may be called upon to share in the bishop’s governing function in various offices.

The Church has the right to care for the spiritual governance of the faithful and its own hierarchical order without interference from any other authority. It must be free to select and prepare its ministers, to name and transfer its bishops, and to communicate freely with the Holy See and with the faithful. The Church sponsors and organizes works of charity and mercy for the needy and sick as well as other kinds of mutual assistance. And the Church has the right to acquire and administer temporal property to be used for worship, the support of its ministers, and its charitable and apostolic efforts.

All associations of Christ’s faithful are subject to the supervision of the competent ecclesiastical authority. This authority is to ensure that integrity of faith and morals is maintained in them and that abuses in ecclesiastical discipline do not creep in. The competent authority has therefore the duty and the right to visit these associations, in accordance with the law and the statutes. Associations are also subject to the governance of the same authority in accordance with the laws of the Church.

Associations of every kind are subject to the supervision of the Holy See. Diocesan associations are subject to the supervision of the local Ordinary, as are other associations to the extent that they work in the diocese.

Although private associations of Christ’s faithful enjoy their own autonomy, they are subject to the supervision of the ecclesiastical authority and also to the governance of the same authority.

It is also the responsibility of ecclesiastical authority, with due respect for the autonomy of private associations, to oversee and ensure that there is no dissipation of their forces, and that the exercise of their apostolate is directed to the common good.

A private association of Christ’s faithful is extinguished in accordance with the norms of the statutes. It can also be suppressed by the competent authority if its activity gives rise to grave harm to ecclesiastical teaching or discipline, or is a scandal to the faithful.

Moderators of lay associations are to ensure that the members receive due formation, so that they may carry out the apostolate which is proper to the laity.