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Code of Canon Law

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  • BOOK II : THE PEOPLE OF GOD
    • PART II : THE HIERARCHICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH
      • SECTION II :PARTICULAR CHURCHES AND THEIR GROUPINGS
        • TITLE II: GROUPINGS OFPARTICULAR CHURCHES (Cann. 431 - 459)
          • CHAPTER IV : EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES
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CHAPTER IV : EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES

Can. 447 The Episcopal Conference, a permanent institution, is the assembly of the Bishops of a country or of a certain territory, exercising together certain pastoral offices for Christ's faithful of that territory. By forms and means of apostolate suited to the circumstances of time and place, it is to promote, in accordance with the law, that greater good which the Church offers to all people.

Can. 448 §1 As a general rule, the Episcopal Conference includes those who preside over all the particular Churches of the same country, in accordance with can. 450.

§2 An Episcopal Conference can, however, be established for a territory of greater or less extent if the Apostolic See, after consultation with the diocesan Bishops concerned, judges that circumstances suggest this. Such a Conference would include only the Bishops of some particular Churches in a certain territory, or those who preside over particular Churches in different countries. It is for the Apostolic See to lay down special norms for each case.

Can. 449 §1 It is for the supreme authority of the Church alone, after consultation with the Bishops concerned, to establish, suppress, or alter Episcopal Conferences.

§2 An Episcopal Conference lawfully established has juridical personality by virtue of the law itself.

Can. 450 §1 By virtue of the law, the following persons in the territory belong to the Episcopal Conference: all diocesan Bishops and those equivalent to them in law; all coadjutor Bishops, auxiliary Bishops and other titular Bishops who exercise in the territory a special office assigned to them by the Apostolic See or by the Episcopal Conference. Ordinaries of another rite may be invited, but have only a consultative vote, unless the statutes of the Episcopal Conference decree otherwise.

§2 The other titular Bishops and the Legate of the Roman Pontiff are not by law members of the Episcopal Conference.

Can. 451 Each Episcopal Conference is to draw up its own statutes, to be reviewed by the Apostolic See. In these, among other things, arrangements for the plenary meetings of the Conference are to be set out, and provision is to be made for a permanent committee of Bishops, and a general secretary of the Conference, and for other offices and commissions by which, in the judgement of the Conference, its purpose can more effectively be achieved.

Can. 452 §1 Each Episcopal Conference is to elect its president and determine who, in the lawful absence of the president, will exercise the function of vice-president. It is also to designate a general secretary, in accordance with the statutes.

§2 The president of the Conference or, when he is lawfully impeded, the vice-president, presides not only over the general meetings of the Conference but also over the permanent committee.

Can. 453 Plenary meetings of the Episcopal Conference are to be held at least once a year, and moreover as often as special circumstances require, in accordance with the provisions of the statutes.

Can. 454 §1 By virtue of the law diocesan Bishops, those equivalent to them in law and coadjutor Bishops have a deliberative vote in plenary meetings of the Episcopal Conference.

§2 Auxiliary Bishops and other titular Bishops who belong to the Episcopal Conference have a deliberative or consultative vote according to the provisions of the statutes of the Conference. Only those mentioned in §1, however, have a deliberative vote in the making or changing of the statutes.

Can. 455 §1 The Episcopal Conference can make general decrees only in cases where the universal law has so prescribed, or by special mandate of the Apostolic See, either on its own initiative or at the request of the Conference itself.

§2 For the decrees mentioned in §1 validly to be enacted at a plenary meeting, they must receive two thirds of the votes of those who belong to the Conference with a deliberative vote. These decrees do not oblige until they have been reviewed by the Apostolic See and lawfully promulgated.

§3 The manner of promulgation and the time they come into force are determined by the Episcopal Conference.

§4 In cases where neither the universal law nor a special mandate of the Apostolic See gives the Episcopal Conference the power mentioned in §1, the competence of each diocesan Bishop remains intact. In such cases, neither the Conference nor its president can act in the name of all the Bishops unless each and every Bishop has given his consent.

Can. 456 When a plenary meeting of the Episcopal Conference has been concluded, its minutes are to be sent by the president to the Apostolic See for information, and its decrees, if any, for review.

Can. 457 The permanent committee of Bishops is to prepare the agenda for the plenary meetings of the Conference, and it is to ensure that the decisions taken at those meetings are duly executed. It is also to conduct whatever other business is entrusted to it in accordance with the statutes.

Can. 458 The general secretary is to:

prepare an account of the acts and decrees of the plenary meetings of the Conference, as well as the acts of the permanent committee of Bishops and to communicate these to all members of the Conference; also to record whatever other acts are entrusted to him by the president or the permanent committee;

to communicate to neighbouring Episcopal Conferences such acts and documents as the Conference at a plenary meeting or the permanent committee of Bishops decides to send to them.

Can. 459 §1 Relations are to be fostered between Episcopal Conferences, especially neighbouring ones, in order to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.

§2 The Apostolic See must be consulted whenever actions or affairs undertaken by Conferences have an international character.

 




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