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Code of Canon Law
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Can. 495 §1 In each diocese there is to be established a council of priests, that is, a group of priests who represent the presbyterium and who are to be, as it were, the Bishop's senate. The council's role is to assist the Bishop, in accordance with the law, in the governance of the diocese, so that the pastoral welfare of that portion of the people of God entrusted to the Bishop may be most effectively promoted.
§2 In vicariates and prefectures apostolic, the Vicar or Prefect is to appoint a council composed of at least three missionary priests, whose opinion, even by letter, he is to hear in the more serious affairs.
2° priests who are living in the diocese and exercise some useful office there, whether they be secular priests not incardinated in the diocese, or priest members of religious institutes or of societies of apostolic life.
Can. 499 The manner of electing the members of the council of priests is to be determined by the statutes, and in such a way that as far as possible the priests of the presbyterium are represented, with special regard to the diversity of ministries and to the various regions of the diocese.
Can. 500 §1 It is the prerogative of the diocesan Bishop to convene the council of priests, to preside over it, and to determine the matters to be discussed in it or to accept items proposed by the members.
§2 The council of priests has only a consultative vote. The diocesan Bishop is to consult it in matters of more serious moment, but he requires its consent only in the cases expressly defined in the law.
Can. 501 §1 The members of the council of priests are to be designated for a period specified in the statutes, subject however to the condition that over a five year period the council is renewed in whole or in part.
§2 When the see is vacant, the council of priests lapses and its functions are fulfilled by the college of consultors. The Bishop must reconstitute the council of priests within a year of taking possession.
§3 If the council of priests does not fulfil the office entrusted to it for the welfare of the diocese, or if it gravely abuses that office, it can be dissolved by the diocesan Bishop, after consultation with the Metropolitan, in the case of a metropolitan see, the Bishop must first consult with the suffragan Bishop who is senior by promotion. Within a year, however, the diocesan Bishop must reconstitute the council.
Can. 502 §1 From among the members of the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop freely appoints not fewer than six and not more than twelve priests, who are for five years to constitute the college of consultors. To it belong the functions determined by law; on the expiry of the five year period, however, it continues to exercise its functions until the new college is constituted.
§2 The diocesan Bishop presides over the college of consultors. If, however, the see is impeded or vacant, that person presides who in the interim takes the Bishop's place or, if he has not yet been appointed, then the priest in the college of consultors who is senior by ordination.
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