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Code of Canon Law
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Can. 298 §1 In the Church there are associations which are distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life. In these associations, Christ's faithful, whether clerics or laity, or clerics and laity together, strive with a common effort to foster a more perfect life, or to promote public worship or christian teaching. They may also devote themselves to other works of the apostolate, such as initiatives for evangelisation, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with the christian spirit.
Can. 299 §1 By private agreement among themselves, Christ's faithful have the right to constitute associations for the purposes mentioned in can. 298 §1, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 301 §1.
Can. 301 §1 It is for the competent ecclesiastical authority alone to establish associations of Christ's faithful which intend to impart Christian teaching in the name of the Church, or to promote public worship, or which are directed to other ends whose pursuit is of its nature reserved to the same ecclesiastical authority.
§2 The competent ecclesiastical authority, if it judges it expedient, can also establish associations of Christ's faithful to pursue, directly or indirectly, other spiritual ends whose attainment is not adequately provided for by private initiatives.
Can. 302 Associations of Christ's faithful are called clerical when they are under the direction of clerics, presuppose the exercise of sacred orders, and are acknowledged as such by the competent authority.
Can. 303 Associations whose members live in the world but share in the spirit of some religious institute, under the overall direction of the same institute, and who lead an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection, are known as third orders, or are called by some other suitable title.
Can. 304 §1 All associations of Christ's faithful, whether public or private, by whatever title or name they are called, are to have their own statutes. These are to define the purpose or social objective of the association, its centre, its governance and the conditions of membership. They are also to specify the manner of action of the association, paying due regard to what is necessary or useful in the circumstances of the time and place.
Can. 305 §1 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 provisions of the canons which follow.
§2 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.
Can. 306 To enjoy the rights and privileges, indulgences and other spiritual favours granted to an association, it is necessary and sufficient that a person be validly received into the association in accordance with the provisions of the law and with the association's own statutes, and be not lawfully dismissed from it.
Can. 309 Associations that are lawfully established have the right, in accordance with the law and the statutes, to make particular norms concerning the association, for the holding of meetings, and for the appointment of moderators, officials, ministers and administrators of goods.
Can. 310 A private association which has not been constituted a juridical person cannot, as such, be the subject of duties and rights. However the faithful who are joined together in it can jointly contract obligations. As joint owners and joint possessors they can acquire and possess rights and goods. They can exercise these rights and obligations through a delegate or a proxy.
Can. 311 Members of institutes of consecrated life who preside over or assist associations which are joined in some way to their institute, are to ensure that these associations help the apostolic works existing in the diocese. They are especially to cooperate, under the direction of the local Ordinary, with associations which are directed to the exercise of the apostolate in the diocese.
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