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Code of Canon Law
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CHAPTER V. Legates of the Roman Pontiff
Can.362 The Roman Pontiff has the innate and independent right to appoint, send, transfer, and recall his own
legates either to particular churches in various nations or regions or to states and public authorities. The norms of
international law are to be observed in what pertains to the mission and recall of legates appointed to states.
Can.363 §1. To the legates of the Roman Pontiff is entrusted the office of representing the Roman Pontiff in a stable
manner to particular churches or also to the states and public authorities to which they are sent.
§2. Those who are designated as delegates or observers in a pontifical mission at international councils or at
conferences and meetings also represent the Apostolic See.
Can.364 The principal function of a pontifical legate is daily to make stronger and more effective the bonds of unity
which exist between the Apostolic See and particular churches. Therefore, it pertains to the pontifical legate for
his own jurisdiction:
1/ to send information to the Apostolic See concerning the conditions of particular churches and everything
that touches the life of the Church and the good of souls;
2/ to assist bishops by action and counsel while leaving intact the exercise of their legitimate power;
3/ to foster close relations with the conference of bishops by offering it assistance in every way;
4/ regarding the nomination of bishops, to transmit or propose to the Apostolic See the names of candidates
and to instruct the informational process concerning those to be promoted, according to the norms given by the
5/ to strive to promote matters which pertain to the peace, progress, and cooperative effort of peoples;
6/ to collaborate with bishops so that suitable relations are fostered between the Catholic Church and other
Churches or ecclesial communities, and even non-Christian religions;
7/ in associated action with bishops, to protect those things which pertain to the mission of the Church and
the Apostolic See before the leaders of the state;
8/ in addition, to exercise the faculties and to fulfill other mandates which the Apostolic See entrusts to him.
Can.365 §1. It is also the special function of a pontifical legate who at the same time acts as a legate to states
according to the norms of international law:
1/ to promote and foster relations between the Apostolic See and the authorities of the state;
2/ to deal with questions which pertain to relations between Church and state and in a special way to deal
with the drafting and implementation of concordats and other agreements of this type.
§2. In conducting the affairs mentioned in §1, a pontifical legate, as circumstances suggest, is not to neglect
to seek the opinion and counsel of the bishops of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and is to inform them of the course
Can.366 In view of the particular character of the function of a legate:
1/ the seat of a pontifical legation is exempt from the power of governance of the local ordinary unless it is a
question of celebrating marriages;
2/ after he has notified in advance the local ordinaries insofar as possible, a pontifical legate is permitted to
perform liturgical celebrations in all churches of his legation, even in pontificals.
Can.367 The function of a pontifical legate does not cease when the Apostolic See becomes vacant unless the
pontifical letter establishes otherwise; it does cease, however, when the mandate has been fulfilled, when the legate
has been notified of recall, or when the Roman Pontiff accepts the legate’s resignation.