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Code of Canon Law
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Title VIII. The Power of Governance (Cann. 129 - 144)
Can.129 §1. Those who have received sacred orders are qualified, according to the norm of the
prescripts of the law, for the power of governance, which exists in the Church by divine institution
and is also called the power of jurisdiction.
§2. Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power
according to the norm of law.
Can.130 Of itself, the power of governance is exercised for the external forum; sometimes,
however, it is exercised for the internal forum alone, so that the effects which its exercise is
meant to have for the external forum are not recognized there, except insofar as the law
establishes it in determined cases.
Can.131 §1. The ordinary power of governance is that which is joined to a certain office by the
law itself; delegated, that which is granted to a person but not by means of an office.
§2. The ordinary power of governance can be either proper or vicarious.
§3. The burden of proving delegation rests on the one who claims to have been delegated.
Can.132 §1. Habitual faculties are governed by the prescripts for delegated power.
§2. Nevertheless, unless the grant expressly provides otherwise or the ordinary was chosen
for personal qualifications, a habitual faculty granted to an ordinary is not withdrawn when the
authority of the ordinary to whom it was granted expires, even if he has begun to execute it, but
the faculty transfers to any ordinary who succeeds him in governance.
Can.133 §1. A delegate who exceeds the limits of the mandate with respect to either matters or
persons does not act at all.
§2. A delegate who carries out those things for which the person was delegated in some
manner other than that determined in the mandate is not considered to exceed the limits of the
mandate unless the manner was prescribed for validity by the one delegating.
Can.134 §1. In addition to the Roman Pontiff, by the title of ordinary are understood in the law
diocesan bishops and others who, even if only temporarily, are placed offer some particular church
or a community equivalent to it according to the norm of can. 368 as well as those who possess
general ordinary executive power in them, namely, vicars general and episcopal vicars; likewise,
for their own members, major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and of
clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right who at least possess ordinary executive power.
§2. By the title of local ordinary are understood all those mentioned in §1 except the
superiors of religious institutes and of societies of apostolic life.
§3. Within the context of executive power, those things which in the canons are attributed
by name to the diocesan bishop are understood to belong only to a diocesan bishop and to the
others made equivalent to him in can. 381, §2, excluding the vicar general and episcopal vicar
except by special mandate.
Can.135 §1. The power of governance is distinguished as legislative, executive, and judicial.
§2. Legislative power must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law; that which a
legislator below the supreme authority possesses in the Church cannot be validly delegated unless
the law explicitly provides otherwise. A lower legislator cannot validly issue a law contrary to
§3. Judicial power, which judges or judicial colleges possess, must be exercised in the manner
prescribed by law and cannot be delegated except to perform acts preparatory to some decree or
§4. In what pertains to the exercise of executive power, the prescripts of the following canons
are to be observed.
Can.136 Unless the nature of the matter or a prescript of law establishes otherwise, a person is
able to exercise executive power offer his subjects, even when he or they are outside his territory;
he is also able to exercise this power offer travelers actually present in the territory if it concerns
granting favors or executing universal laws or particular laws which bind them according to the
norm of can. 13, §2, n. 2.
Can.137 §1. Ordinary executive power can be delegated both for a single act and for all cases
unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
§2. Executive power delegated by the Apostolic See can be subdelegated for a single act or
for all cases unless the delegate was chosen for personal qualifications or subdelegation was
§3. Executive power delegated by another authority who has ordinary power can be
subdelegated only for individual cases if it was delegated for all cases. If it was delegated for a
single act or for determined acts, however, it cannot be subdelegated except by express grant of
the one delegating.
§4. No subdelegated power can be subdelegated again unless the one delegating has
expressly granted this.
Can.138 Ordinary executive power as well as power delegated for all cases must be interpreted
broadly; any other, however, must be interpreted strictly. Nevertheless, one who has delegated
power is understood to have been granted also those things without which the delegate cannot
exercise this power.
Can.139 §1. Unless the law determines otherwise, the fact that a person approaches some
competent authority, even a higher one, does not suspend the executive power, whether ordinary
or delegated, of another competent authority.
§2. Nevertheless, a lower authority is not to become involved in cases submitted to a higher
authority except for a grave and urgent cause; in this case, the lower authority is immediately to
notify the higher concerning the matter.
Can.140 §1. When several persons have been delegated in solidum to transact the same affair,
the one who first begins to deal with it excludes the others from doing so unless that person
subsequently was impeded or did not wish to proceed further in carrying it out.
§2. When several persons have been delegated collegially to transact an affair, all must
proceed according to the norm of can. 119 unless the mandate has provided otherwise.
§3. Executive power delegated to several persons is presumed to be delegated to them in
Can.141 When several persons have been delegated successively, that person is to take care of
the affair whose mandate is the earlier and has not been subsequently revoked.
Can.142 §1. Delegated power ceases: by fulfillment of the mandate; by expiration of the time or
completion of the number of cases for which it was granted; by cessation of the purpose for the
delegation; by revocation of the one delegating directly communicated to the delegate as well
as by resignation of the delegate made known to and accepted by the one delegating. It does not
cease, however, when the authority of the one delegating expires unless this appears in attached
§2. Nevertheless, an act of delegated power which is exercised for the internal forum alone
and is placed inadvertently after the lapse of the time limit of the grant is valid.
Can.143 §1. Ordinary power ceases by loss of the office to which it is connected.
§2. Unless the law provides otherwise, ordinary power is suspended if, legitimately, an appeal
is made or a recourse is lodged against privation of or removal from office.
Can.144 §1. In factual or legal common error and in positive and probable doubt of law or of fact,
the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and internal forum.
§2. The same norm is applied to the faculties mentioned in cann. 882, 883, 966, and 1111,