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Code of Canon Law

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          • CHAPTER II : BISHOPS
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Can. 381 §1 In the diocese entrusted to his care, the diocesan Bishop has all the ordinary, proper and immediate power required for the exercise of his pastoral office, except in those matters which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme or to some other ecclesiastical authority.

§2 Those who are at the head of the other communities of the faithful mentioned in can. 368, are equivalent in law to the diocesan Bishop unless the contrary is clear from the nature of things or from a provision of the law.

Can. 382 §1 A person who is promoted to the episcopate cannot become involved in the exercise of the office entrusted to him before he has taken canonical possession of the diocese. However, he is able to exercise offices which he already held in the same diocese at the time of his promotion, without prejudice to can. 409 §2.

§2 Unless he is lawfully impeded, one who is not already consecrated a Bishop and is now promoted to the office of diocesan Bishop, must take canonical possession of his diocese within four months of receiving the apostolic letters. If he is already consecrated, he must take possession within two months of receiving the apostolic letters.

§3 A Bishop takes canonical possession of his diocese when, personally or by proxy, he shows the apostolic letters to the college of consultors, in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who makes a record of the fact. This must take place within the diocese. In dioceses which are newly established he takes possession when he communicates the same letters to the clergy and the people in the cathedral church, with the senior of the priests present making a record of the fact.

§4 It is strongly recommended that the taking of canonical possession be performed with a liturgical act in the cathedral church, in the presence of the clergy and the people.

Can. 383 §1 In exercising his pastoral office, the diocesan Bishop is to be solicitous for all Christ's faithful entrusted to his care, whatever their age, condition or nationality, whether they live in the territory or are visiting there. He is to show an apostolic spirit also to those who, because of their condition of life, are not sufficiently able to benefit from ordinary pastoral care, and to those who have lapsed from religious practice.

§2 If he has faithful of a different rite in his diocese, he is to provide for their spiritual needs either by means of priests or parishes of the same rite, or by an episcopal Vicar.

§3 He is to act with humanity and charity to those who are not in full communion with the catholic Church - he should also foster ecumenism as it is understood by the Church.

§4 He is to consider the non-baptised as commended to him in the Lord, so that the charity of Christ, of which the Bishop must be a witness to all, may shine also on them.

Can. 384 He is to have a special concern for the priests, to whom he is to listen as his helpers and counsellors. He is to defend their rights and ensure that they fulfil the obligations proper to their state. He is to see that they have the means and the institutions needed for the development of their spiritual and intellectual life. He is to ensure that they are provided with adequate means of livelihood and social welfare, in accordance with the law.

Can. 385 He must in a very special way foster vocations to the various ministries and to consecrated life, having a special care for priestly and missionary vocations.

Can. 386 §1 The diocesan Bishop is bound to teach and illustrate to the faithful the truths of faith which are to be believed and applied to behaviour. He is himself to preach frequently. He is also to ensure that the provisions of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially on the homily and catechetical instruction, are faithfully observed, so that the whole of christian teaching is transmitted to all.

§2 By whatever means seem most appropriate, he is firmly to defend the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed. However, he is to acknowledge a just freedom in the further investigation of truths.

Can. 387 Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ's faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ's faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may know and live the paschal mystery.

Can. 388 §1 After he has taken possession of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop must apply the Mass for the people entrusted to him on each Sunday and on each holyday of obligation in his region.

§2 The Bishop must himself celebrate and apply the Mass for the people on the days mentioned in §1; if, however, he is lawfully impeded from so doing, he is to have someone else do so on those days, or do so himself on other days.

§3 A Bishop who, in addition to his own, is given another diocese, even as administrator, satisfies the obligation by applying one Mass for all the people entrusted to him.

§4 A Bishop who has not satisfied the obligation mentioned in §§1 - 3, is to apply as soon as possible as many Masses for the people as he has omitted.

Can. 389 He is frequently to preside at the Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral church or in some other church of his diocese, especially on holydays of obligation and on other solemnities.

Can. 390 The diocesan Bishop may use pontificalia throughout his diocese. He may not do so outside his diocese without the consent of the local Ordinary, either expressly given or at least reasonably presumed.

Can. 391 §1 The diocesan Bishop governs the particular Church entrusted to him with legislative, executive and judicial power, in accordance with the law.

§2 The Bishop exercises legislative power himself. He exercises executive power either personally or through Vicars general or episcopal Vicars, in accordance with the law. He exercises judicial power either personally or through a judicial Vicar and judges, in accordance with the law.

Can. 392 §1 Since the Bishop must defend the unity of the universal Church, he is bound to foster the discipline which is common to the whole Church, and so press for the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.

§2 He is to ensure that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially concerning the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the cult of the saints, and the administration of goods.

Can. 393 In all juridical transactions of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop acts in the person of the diocese.

Can. 394 §1 The Bishop is to foster various forms of the apostolate in his diocese and is to ensure that throughout the entire diocese, or in its particular districts, all works of the apostolate are coordinated under his direction, with due regard for the character of each apostolate.

§2 He is to insist on the faithful's obligation to exercise the apostolate according to the condition and talents of each. He is to urge them to take part in or assist various works of the apostolate, according to the needs of place and time.

Can. 395 §1 The diocesan Bishop is bound by the law of personal residence in his diocese, even if he has a coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop.

§2 Apart from the visit 'ad limina', attendance at councils or at the synod of Bishops or at the Episcopal Conference, at which he must be present, or by reason of another office lawfully entrusted to him, he may be absent from the diocese, for a just reason, for not longer than one month, continuously or otherwise, provided he ensures that the diocese is not harmed by this absence.

§3 He is not to be absent from his diocese on Christmas Day, during Holy Week, or on Easter Sunday, Pentecost and Corpus Christi, except for a grave and urgent reason.

§4 If the Bishop is unlawfully absent from the diocese for more than six months, the Metropolitan is to notify the Holy See. If it is the Metropolitan who is absent, the senior suffragan is to do the same.

Can. 396 §1 The Bishop is bound to visit his diocese in whole or in part each year, so that at least every five years he will have visited the whole diocese, either personally or, if he is lawfully impeded, through the coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop, the Vicar general, an episcopal Vicar or some other priest.

§2 The Bishop has a right to select any clerics he wishes as his companions and helpers in a visitation, any contrary privilege or custom being reprobated.

Can. 397 §1 Persons, catholic institutes, pious objects and places within the boundaries of the diocese, are subject to ordinary episcopal visitation.

§2 The Bishop may visit the members of religious institutes of pontifical right and their houses only in the cases stated in the law.

Can. 398 The Bishop is to endeavour to make his pastoral visitation with due diligence. He is to ensure that he is not a burden to anyone on the ground of undue expense.

Can. 399 §1 Every five years the diocesan Bishop is bound to submit to the Supreme Pontiff a report on the state of the diocese entrusted to him, in the form and at the time determined by the Apostolic See.

§2 If the year assigned for submitting this report coincides in whole or in part with the first two years of his governance of the diocese, for that occasion the Bishop need not draw up and submit the report.

Can. 400 §1 Unless the Apostolic See has decided otherwise, in the year in which he is bound to submit the report to the Supreme Pontiff, the diocesan Bishop is to go to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and to present himself to the Roman Pontiff.

§2 The Bishop is to satisfy this obligation personally, unless he is lawfully impeded; in which case he is to satisfy the obligation through the coadjutor, if he has one, or the auxiliary, or a suitable priest of his presbyterium who resides in his diocese.

§3 A Vicar apostolic can satisfy this obligation through a proxy, even through one residing in Rome. A Prefect apostolic is not bound by this obligation.

Can. 401 §1 A diocesan Bishop who has completed his seventy-fifth year of age is requested to offer his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who, taking all the circumstances into account, will make provision accordingly.

§2 A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfilment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.

Can. 402 §1 A Bishop whose resignation from office has been accepted, acquires the title 'emeritus' of his diocese. If he so wishes, he may have a residence in the diocese unless, because of special circumstances in certain cases, the Apostolic See provides otherwise.

§2 The Episcopal Conference must ensure that suitable and worthy provision is made for the upkeep of a Bishop who has resigned, bearing in mind the primary obligation which falls on the diocese which he served.

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