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Code of Canon Law

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CHAPTER III. The Obligations and Rights of Clerics

Can.273 Clerics are bound by a special obligation to show reverence and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and their

own ordinary.

Can.274 §1. Only clerics can obtain offices for whose exercise the power of orders or the power of ecclesiastical

governance is required.

§2. Unless a legitimate impediment excuses them, clerics are bound to undertake and fulfill faithfully a

function which their ordinary has entrusted to them.

Can.275 §1. Since clerics all work for the same purpose, namely, the building up of the Body of Christ, they are to

be united among themselves by a bond of brotherhood and prayer and are to strive for cooperation among

themselves according to the prescripts of particular law.

§2. Clerics are to acknowledge and promote the mission which the laity, each for his or her part, exercise in

the Church and in the world.

Can.276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been

consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the

service of His people.

§2. In order to be able to pursue this perfection:

1/ they are first of all to fulfill faithfully and tirelessly the duties of the pastoral ministry;

2/ they are to nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of sacred scripture and the Eucharist; therefore,

priests are earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic sacrifice daily and deacons to participate in its offering daily;

3/ priests and deacons aspiring to the presbyterate are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily

according to the proper and approved liturgical books; permanent deacons, however, are to carry out the same to

the extent defined by the conference of bishops;

4/ they are equally bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to the prescripts of particular law;

5/ they are urged to engage in mental prayer regularly, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to

honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other common and particular means of


Can.277 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven

and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily

to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and


§2. Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation

to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful.

§3. The diocesan bishop is competent to establish more specific norms concerning this matter and to pass

judgment in particular cases concerning the observance of this obligation.

Can.278 §1. Secular clerics have the right to associate with others to pursue purposes in keeping with the clerical


§2. Secular clerics are to hold in esteem especially those associations which, having statutes recognized by

competent authority, foster their holiness in the exercise of the ministry through a suitable and properly approved

rule of life and through fraternal assistance and which promote the unity of clerics among themselves and with their

own bishop.

§3. Clerics are to refrain from establishing or participating in associations whose purpose or activity cannot be

reconciled with the obligations proper to the clerical state or can prevent the diligent fulfillment of the function

entrusted to them by competent ecclesiastical authority.

Can.279 §1. Even after ordination to the priesthood, clerics are to pursue sacred studies and are to strive after that

solid doctrine founded in sacred scripture, handed on by their predecessors, and commonly accepted by the Church,

as set out especially in the documents of councils and of the Roman Pontiffs. They are to avoid profane novelties

and pseudo-science.

§2. According to the prescripts of particular law, priests are to attend pastoral lectures held after priestly

ordination and, at times established by the same law, are also to attend other lectures, theological meetings, and

conferences which offer them the opportunity to acquire a fuller knowledge of the sacred sciences and pastoral


§3. They are also to acquire knowledge of other sciences, especially of those which are connected with the

sacred sciences, particularly insofar as such knowledge contributes to the exercise of pastoral ministry.

Can.280 Some practice of common life is highly recommended to clerics; where it exists, it must be preserved as far

as possible.

Can.281 §1. Since clerics dedicate themselves to ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve remuneration which is

consistent with their condition, taking into account the nature of their function and the conditions of places and

times, and by which they can provide for the necessities of their life as well as for the equitable payment of those

whose services they need.

§2. Provision must also be made so that they possess that social assistance which provides for their needs

suitably if they suffer from illness, incapacity, or old age.

§3. Married deacons who devote themselves completely to ecclesiastical ministry deserve remuneration by

which they are able to provide for the support of themselves and their families. Those who receive remuneration

by reason of a civil profession which they exercise or have exercised, however, are to take care of the needs of

themselves and their families from the income derived from it.

Can.282 §1. Clerics are to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from all things that have a semblance of vanity.

§2. They are to wish to use for the good of the Church and works of charity those goods which have come

to them on the occasion of the exercise of ecclesiastical office and which are left offer after provision has been made

for their decent support and for the fulfillment of all the duties of their own state.

Can.283 §1. Even if clerics do not have a residential office, they nevertheless are not to be absent from their diocese

for a notable period of time, to be determined by particular law, without at least the presumed permission of their

proper ordinary.

§2. They are entitled, however, to a fitting and sufficient time of vacation each year as determined by

universal or particular law.

Can.284 Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops

and according to legitimate local customs.

Can.285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according

to the prescripts of particular law.

§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical


§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to

lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving

surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from

signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.

Can.286 Clerics are prohibited from conducting business or trade personally or through others, for their own

advantage or that of others, except with the permission of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.

Can.287 §1. Most especially, clerics are always to foster the peace and harmony based on justice which are to be

observed among people.

§2. They are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labor unions unless, in the

judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the

common good requires it.

Can.288 The prescripts of cann. 284, 285, §§3 and 4, 286, and 287, §2 do not bind permanent deacons unless

particular law establishes otherwise.

Can.289 §1. Since military service is hardly in keeping with the clerical state, clerics and candidates for sacred

orders are not to volunteer for military service except with the permission of their ordinary.

§2. Clerics are to use exemptions from exercising functions and public civil offices foreign to the clerical state

which laws and agreements or customs grant in their favor unless their proper ordinary has decided otherwise in

particular cases.

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