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Code of Canon Law

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  • BOOK I : GENERAL NORMS (Cann. 1 - 6)
        • TITLE VIII: POWER OF GOVERNANCE (Cann. 129 - 144)
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Can. 129 §1 Those who are in sacred orders are, in accordance with the provisions of law, capable of the power of governance, which belongs to the Church by divine institution. This power is also called the power of jurisdiction.

§2 Lay members of Christ's faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power in accordance with the law.

Can. 130 Of itself the power of governance is exercised for the external forum; sometimes however it is exercised for the internal forum only, but in such a way that the effects which its exercise is designed to have in the external forum are not acknowledged in that forum, except in so far as the law prescribes this for determinate cases.

Can. 131 §1 Ordinary power of governance is that which by virtue of the law itself is attached to a given office; delegated power is that which is granted to a person other than through an office.

§2 Ordinary power of governance may be proper or vicarious.

§3 One who claims to have been delegated has the onus of proving the delegation.

Can. 132 §1 Habitual faculties are governed by the provisions concerning delegated power.

§2 However, unless the grant has expressly provided otherwise, or the Ordinary was deliberately chosen as the only one to exercise the faculty, an habitual faculty granted to an Ordinary does not lapse on the expiry of the authority of the Ordinary to whom it was given, even if he has already begun to exercise the faculty, but it passes to the Ordinary who succeeds him in governance.

Can. 133 §1 A delegate who exceeds the limits of the mandate, with regard either to things or to persons, performs no act at all.

§2 A delegate is not considered to have exceeded the mandate when what was delegated is carried out, but in a manner different to that determined in the mandate, unless the manner was prescribed for validity by the delegating authority.

Can. 134 §1 In law the term Ordinary means, apart from the Roman Pontiff, diocesan Bishops and all who, even for a time only, are set over a particular Church or a community equivalent to it in accordance with can. 368, and those who in these have general ordinary executive power, that is, Vicars general and episcopal Vicars; likewise, for their own members, it means the major Superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and of clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right, who have at least ordinary executive power.

§2 The term local Ordinary means all those enumerated in §1, except Superiors of religious institutes and of societies of apostolic life.

§3 Whatever in the canons, in the context of executive power, is attributed to the diocesan Bishop, is understood to belong only to the diocesan Bishop and to those others in can. 381 §2 who are equivalent to him, to the exclusion of the Vicar general and the episcopal Vicar except by special mandate.

Can. 135 §1 The power of governance is divided into legislative, executive and judicial power.

§2 Legislative power is to be exercised in the manner prescribed by law; that which in the Church a legislator lower than the supreme authority has cannot be delegated, unless the law explicitly provides otherwise. A lower legislator cannot validly make a law which is contrary to that of a higher legislator.

§3 Judicial power, which is possessed by judges and judicial colleges, is to be exercised in the manner prescribed by law, and it cannot be delegated except for the performance of acts preparatory to some decree or judgement.

§4 As far as the exercise of executive power is concerned, the provisions of the following canons are to be observed.

Can. 136 Persons may exercise executive power over their subjects, even when either they themselves or their subjects are outside the territory, unless it is otherwise clear from the nature of things or from the provisions of law. They can exercise this power over peregrini who are actually living in the territory, if it is a question of granting favours, or of executing universal or particular laws by which the peregrini are bound in accordance with can. 13 §2, n. 2.

Can. 137 §1 Ordinary executive power can be delegated either for an individual case or for all cases, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

§2 Executive power delegated by the Apostolic See can be subdelegated, either for an individual case or for all cases, unless the delegation was deliberately given to the individual alone, or unless subdelegation was expressly prohibited.

§3 Executive power delegated by another authority having ordinary power, if delegated for all cases, can be subdelegated only for individual cases; if delegated for a determinate act or acts, it cannot be subdelegated, except by the express grant of the person delegating.

§4 No subdelegated power can again be subdelegated, unless this was expressly granted by the person delegating.

Can. 138 Ordinary executive power, and power delegated for all cases, are to be interpreted widely; any other power is to be interpreted strictly. Delegation of power to a person is understood to include everything necessary for the exercise of that power.

Can. 139 §1 Unless the law prescribes otherwise, the tact that a person approaches some competent authority, even a higher one, does not mean that the executive power of another competent authority is suspended, whether that be ordinary or delegated.

§2 A lower authority, however, is not to interfere in cases referred to higher authority, except for a grave and urgent reason; in which case the higher authority is to be notified immediately.

Can. 140 §1 When several people are together delegated to act in the same matter, the person who has begun to deal with it excludes the others from acting, unless that person is subsequently impeded, or does not wish to proceed further with the matter.

§2 When several people are delegated to act as a college in a certain matter, all must proceed in accordance with can. 119, unless the mandate provides otherwise.

§3 Executive power delegated to several people is presumed to be delegated to them together.

Can. 141 If several people are successively delegated, that person is to deal with the matter whose mandate was the earlier and was not subsequently revoked.

Can. 142 §1 Delegated power lapses: on the completion of the mandate; on the expiry of the time or the completion of the number of cases for which it was granted; on the cessation of the motivating reason for the delegation; on its revocation by the person delegating, when communicated directly to the person delegated; and on the retirement of the person delegated, when communicated to and accepted by the person delegating. It does not lapse on the expiry of the authority of the person delegating, unless this appears from clauses attached to it.

§2 An act of delegated power exercised for the internal forum only, which is inadvertently performed after the time limit of the delegation, is valid.

Can. 143 §1 Ordinary power ceases on the loss of the office to which it is attached.

§2 Unless the law provides otherwise, ordinary power is suspended if an appeal or a recourse is lawfully made against a deprivation of, or removal from, office.

Can. 144 §1 In common error, whether of fact or of law, and in positive and probable doubt, whether of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and the internal forum.

§2 The same norm applies to the faculties mentioned in cann. 883, 966, and 1111 §1.

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