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Code of Canon Law
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CHAPTER II. Juridic Persons
Can.113 §1. The Catholic Church and the Apostolic See have the character of a moral person
by divine ordinance itself.
§2. In the Church, besides physical persons, there are also juridic persons, that is, subjects
in canon law of obligations and rights which correspond to their nature.
Can.114 §1. Juridic persons are constituted either by the prescript of law or by special grant of
competent authority given through a decree. They are aggregates of persons (universitates
personarum) or of things (universitates rerum) ordered for a purpose which is in keeping with the
mission of the Church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals.
§2. The purposes mentioned in §1 are understood as those which pertain to works of piety,
of the apostolate, or of charity, whether spiritual or temporal.
§3. The competent authority of the Church is not to confer juridic personality except on
those aggregates of persons (universitates personarum) or things (universitates rerum) which pursue
a truly useful purpose and, all things considered, possess the means which are foreseen to be
efficient to achieve their designated purpose.
Can.115 §1. Juridic persons in the Church are either aggregates of persons (universitates
personarum) or aggregates of things (universitates rerum).
§2. An aggregate of persons (universitas personarum), which can be constituted only with at
least three persons, is collegial if the members determine its action through participation in
rendering decisions, whether by equal right or not, according to the norm of law and the statutes;
otherwise it is non-collegial.
§3. An aggregate of things (universitas rerum), or an autonomous foundation, consists of goods or
things, whether spiritual or material, and either one or more physical persons or a college directs
it according to the norm of law and the statutes.
Can.116 §1. Public juridic persons are aggregates of persons (universitates personarum) or of things
(universitates rerum) which are constituted by competent ecclesiastical authority so that, within
the purposes set out for them, they fulfill in the name of the Church, according to the norm of the
prescripts of the law, the proper function entrusted to them in view of the public good; other
juridic persons are private.
§2. Public juridic persons are given this personality either by the law itself or by a special
decree of competent authority expressly granting it. Private juridic persons are given this
personality only through a special decree of competent authority expressly granting it.
Can.117 No aggregate of persons (universitas personarum) or of things (universitas rerum), intending
to obtain juridic personality, is able to acquire it unless competent authority has approved its
Can.118 Representing a public juridic person and acting in its name are those whose competence
is acknowledged by universal or particular law or by its own statutes. Representing a private
juridic person are those whose competence is granted by statute.
Can.119 With regard to collegial acts, unless the law or statutes provide otherwise:
1/ if it concerns elections, when the majority of those who must be convoked are present,
that which is approved by the absolute majority of those present has the force of law; after two
indecisive ballots, a vote is to be taken on the two candidates who have obtained the greater
number of votes or, if there are several, on the two senior in age; after the third ballot, if a tie
remains, the one who is senior in age is considered elected;
2/ if it concerns other affairs, when an absolute majority of those who must be convoked are
present, that which is approved by the absolute majority of those present has the force of law; if
after two ballots the votes are equal, the one presiding can break the tie by his or her vote;
3/ what touches all as individuals, however, must be approved by all.
Can.120 §1. A juridic person is perpetual by its nature; nevertheless, it is extinguished if it is
legitimately suppressed by competent authority or has ceased to act for a hundred years. A private
juridic person, furthermore, is extinguished if the association is dissolved according to the norm
of its statutes or if, in the judgment of competent authority, the foundation has ceased to exist
according to the norm of its statutes.
§2. If even one of the members of a collegial juridic person survives, and the aggregate of
persons (universitas personarum) has not ceased to exist according to its statutes, that member has
the exercise of all the rights of the aggregate (universitas).
Can.121 If aggregates of persons (universitates personarum) or of things (universitates rerum), which
are public juridic persons, are so joined that from them one aggregate (universitas) is constituted
which also possesses juridic personality, this new juridic person obtains the goods and patrimonial
rights proper to the prior ones and assumes the obligations with which they were burdened. With
regard to the allocation of goods in particular and to the fulfillment of obligations, however, the
intention of the founders and donors as well as acquired rights must be respected.
Can.122 If an aggregate (universitas) which possesses public juridic personality is so divided either
that a part of it is united with another juridic person or that a distinct public juridic person is
erected from the separated part, the ecclesiastical authority competent to make the division,
having observed before all else the intention of the founders and donors, the acquired rights, and
the approved statutes, must take care personally or through an executor:
1/ that common, divisible, patrimonial goods and rights as well as debts and other obligations
are divided among the juridic persons concerned, with due proportion in equity and justice, after
all the circumstances and needs of each have been taken into account;
2/ that the use and usufruct of common goods which are not divisible accrue to each juridic
person and that the obligations proper to them are imposed upon each, in due proportion
determined in equity and justice.
Can.123 Upon the extinction of a public juridic person, the allocation of its goods, patrimonial
rights, and obligations is governed by law and its statutes; if these give no indication, they go to
the juridic person immediately superior, always without prejudice to the intention of the founders
and donors and acquired rights. Upon the extinction of a private juridic person, the allocation
of its goods and obligations is governed by its own statutes.