The Temporal Goods of the Church
» The Administration of Goods
The Roman Pontiff, by virtue of his primacy of governance, is the supreme administrator and steward of all ecclesiastical goods.
§1 In every diocese there is to be a special fund which collects offerings and temporal goods for the purpose of providing, in accordance with can. 281,
for the support of the clergy who serve the diocese, unless they are otherwise catered for.
§2 Where there is as yet no properly organised system of social provision for the clergy, the Episcopal Conference is to see that a fund is established which will furnish adequate social security for them.
§3 To the extent that it is required, a common reserve is to be established in every diocese by which the Bishop is enabled to fulfil his obligations towards other persons
who serve the Church and to meet various needs of the diocese, this can also be the means by which wealthier dioceses may help poorer ones.
§4 Depending on differing local circumstances, the purposes described in §§2 and 3 might better be achieved by amalgamating various diocesan funds, or by cooperation between various dioceses, or even by setting up a suitable association for them, or indeed for the whole territory of the Episcopal Conference itself.
§5 If possible, these funds are to be established in such a manner that they will have standing also in the civil law.
A reserve set up by a number of different dioceses is to be administered according to norms opportunely agreed upon by the Bishops concerned.
§1 Ordinaries must carefully supervise the administration of all the goods which belong to public juridical persons subject to them, without prejudice to lawful titles which may give the Ordinary greater rights.
§2 Taking into account rights, lawful customs and the circumstances, Ordinaries are to regulate the whole matter of the administration of ecclesiastical goods by issuing special instructions, within the limits of universal and particular law.
In carrying out acts of administration which, in the light of the financial situation of the diocese, are of major importance, the diocesan Bishop must consult the finance committee and the college of consultors. For acts of extraordinary administration, except in cases expressly provided for in the universal law or stated in the documents of foundation, the diocesan Bishop needs the consent of the committee and of the college of consultors. It is for the Episcopal Conference to determine what are to be regarded as acts of extraordinary administration.
Besides the duties mentioned in cann. 494 §§3 and 4
, the diocesan Bishop may also entrust to the financial administrator the duties mentioned in can. 1276
§1 and can. 1279
§1 The administration of ecclesiastical goods pertains to the one with direct power of governance over the person to whom the goods belong, unless particular law or statutes or legitimate custom state otherwise, and without prejudice to the right of the Ordinary to intervene where there is negligence on the part of the administrator.
§2 Where no administrators are appointed for a public juridical person by law or by the documents of foundation or by its own statutes, the Ordinary to which it is subject is to appoint suitable persons as administrators for a three-year term. The same persons can be re-appointed by the Ordinary.
Every juridical person is to have its own finance committee, or at least two counsellors, who are to assist in the performance of the administrator’s duties, in accordance with the statutes.
§1 Without prejudice to the provisions of the statutes administrators act invalidly when they go beyond the limits and manner of ordinary administration, unless they have first received in writing from the Ordinary the faculty to do so.
§2 The statutes are to determine what acts go beyond the limits and manner of ordinary administration. If the statutes are silent on this point, it is for the diocesan
Bishop, after consulting the finance committee, to determine these acts for the persons subject to him.
§3 Except and insofar as it is to its benefit, a juridical person is not held responsible for the invalid actions of its administrators. The juridical person is, however, responsible when such actions are valid but unlawful, without prejudice to its right to bring an action or have recourse against the administrators who have caused it damage.
All persons, whether clerics or laity, who lawfully take part in the administration of ecclesiastical goods, are bound to fulfil their duties in the name of the Church, in accordance with the law.
Before administrators undertake their duties:
1° they must take an oath, in the presence of the Ordinary or his delegate, that they will well and truly perform their office;
2° they are to draw up a clear and accurate inventory, to be signed by themselves, of all immovable goods, of those movable goods which are precious or of a high cultural value, and of all other goods, with a description and an estimate of their value; when this has been compiled, it is to be certified as correct;
3° one copy of this inventory is to be kept in the administration office and another in the curial archive; any change which takes place in the property is to be noted on both copies.
§1 All administrators are to perform their duties with the diligence of a good householder.
§2 Therefore they must:
1° be vigilant that no goods placed in their care in any way perish or suffer damage; to this end they are, to the extent necessary, to arrange insurance contracts;
2° ensure that the ownership of ecclesiastical goods is safeguarded in ways which are valid in civil law;
3° observe the provisions of canon and civil law, and the stipulations of the founder or donor or lawful authority; they are to take special care that damage will not be suffered by the Church through the non-observance of the civil law;
4° seek accurately and at the proper time the income and produce of the goods, guard them securely and expend them in accordance with the wishes of the founder or lawful norms;
5° at the proper time pay the interest which is due by reason of a loan or pledge, and take care that in due time the capital is repaid;
6° with the consent of the Ordinary make use of money which is surplus after payment of expenses and which can be profitably invested for the purposes of the juridical person;
7° keep accurate records of income and expenditure;
8° draw up an account of their administration at the end of each year;
9° keep in order and preserve in a convenient and suitable archive the documents and records establishing the rights of the Church or institute to its goods; where conveniently possible, authentic copies must be placed in the curial archives.
§3 It is earnestly recommended that administrators draw up each year a budget of income and expenditure. However, it is left to particular law to make this an obligation and to determine more precisely how it is to be presented.
Solely within the limits of ordinary administration, administrators are allowed to make gifts for pious purposes or christian charity out of the movable goods which do not form part of the stable patrimony.
Administrators of temporal goods:
1° in making contracts of employment, are accurately to observe also, according to the principles taught by the Church, the civil laws relating to labour and social life
2° are to pay to those who work for them under contract a just and honest wage which will be sufficient to provide for their needs and those of their dependents.
§1 Where ecclesiastical goods of any kind are not lawfully withdrawn from the power of governance of the diocesan Bishop, their administrators, both clerical and lay, are bound to submit each year to the local Ordinary an account of
their administration, which he is to pass on to his finance committee for examination.
Any contrary custom is reprobated.
§2 Administrators are to render accounts to the faithful concerning the goods they have given to the Church, in accordance with the norms to be laid down by particular law.
Administrators are not to begin legal proceedings in the name of a public juridical person, nor are they to contest them in a secular court, without first obtaining the written permission of their proper Ordinary.
Although they may not be bound to the work of administration by virtue of an ecclesiastical office, administrators may not arbitrarily relinquish the work they have undertaken. If they do so, and this occasions damage to the Church, they are bound to restitution.
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