The Temporal Goods of the Church
» Pious Wills in General and Pious Foundations
§1. A person who by natural law and canon law is able freely to dispose of his or her goods can bestow goods for pious causes either through an act inter vivos or through an act mortis causa.
§2. In dispositions mortis causa for the good of the Church, the formalities of civil law are to be observed if possible; if they have been omitted, the heirs must be admonished regarding the obligation, to which they are bound, of ful-filling the intention of the testator.
The legitimately accepted wills of the faithful who give or leave their resources for pious causes, whether through an act inter vivos or through an act mortis causa, are to be fulfilled most diligently even regarding the manner of administration and distribution of goods, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1301,
§1. The ordinary is the executor of all pious wills whether mortis causa or inter vivos.
§2. By this right, the ordinary can and must exercise vigilance, even through visitation, so that pious wills are fulfilled, and other executors are bound to render him an account after they have performed their function.
§3. Stipulations contrary to this right of an ordinary attached to last wills and testaments are to be considered non-existent.
§1. A person who has accepted goods in trust for pious causes either through an act inter vivos or by a last will and testament must inform the ordinary of the trust and indicate to him all its movable and immovable goods with the obligations attached to them. If the donor has expressly and entirely prohibited this, however, the person is not to accept the trust.
§2. The ordinary must demand that goods held in trust are safeguarded and also exercise vigilance for the execution of the pious will according to the norm of can. 1301
§3. When goods held in trust have been entrusted to a member of a religious institute or society of apostolic life and if the goods have also been designated for some place or diocese or for the assistance of their inhabitants or pious causes, the ordinary mentioned in §§1 and 2 is the local ordinary; otherwise, it is the major superior in a clerical institute of pontifical right and in clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right or the proper ordinary of the member in other religious institutes.
§1. In law, the term pious foundations includes:
1. autonomous pious foundations, that is, aggregates of things (universitates rerum) destined for the purposes mentioned in can. 114,
§2 and erected as a juridic person by competent ecclesiastical authority;
2. non-autonomous pious foundations, that _is, temporal goods given in some way to a public juridic person with the obligation for a long time, to be determined by particular law, of celebrating Masses and performing other specified ecclesiastical functions or of otherwise pursuing the purposes mentioned in can. 114,
§2, from the annual revenues.
§2. If the goods of a non-autonomous pious foundation have been entrusted to a juridic person subject to a diocesan bishop, they must be remanded to the institute mentioned in can. 1274,
§1 when the time is completed unless some other intention of the founder had been expressly manifested; otherwise, they accrue to the juridic person itself.
§1. For a juridic person to be able to accept a foundation validly, the written permission of the ordinary is required. He is not to grant this permission before he has legitimately determined that the juridic person can satisfy both the new obligation to be undertaken and those already undertaken; most especially he is to be on guard so that the revenues completely respond to the attached obligations, according to the practice of each place or region.
§2. Particular law is to define additional conditions for the establishment and acceptance of foundations.
Money and movable goods assigned to an endowment are to be deposited immediately in a safe place approved by the ordinary so that the money or value of the movable goods is protected; as soon as possible, these are to be invested cautiously and usefully for the benefit of the foundation, with express and specific mention made of the obligation; this investment is to be made according to the prudent judgment of the ordinary, after he has heard those concerned and his own finance council.
§1. Foundations, even if made orally, are to be put in writing.
§2. One copy of the charter is to be preserved safely in the archive of the curia and another copy in the archive of the juridic person to which the foundation belongs.
§1. A list of the obligations incumbent upon pious foundations is to be composed and displayed in an accessible place so that the obligations to be fulfilled are not forgotten; the prescripts of cann. 1300-1302 and 1287
are to be observed.
§2. In addition to the book mentioned in can. 958,
§1, another book is to be maintained and kept by the pastor or rector in which the individual obligations, their fulfillment, and the offerings are noted.
§1. A reduction of the obligations of Masses, to be made only for a just and necessary cause, is reserved to the Apostolic See, without prejudice to the following prescripts.
§2. If it is expressly provided for in the charters of the foundations, the ordinary is able to reduce the Mass obligations because of diminished revenues.
§3. With regard to Masses independently founded in legacies or in any other way, the diocesan bishop has the power, because of diminished revenues and for as long as the cause exists, to reduce the obligations to the level of offering legitimately established in the diocese, provided that there is no one obliged to increase the offering who can effectively be made to do so.
§4. The diocesan bishop also has the power to reduce the obligations or legacies of Masses binding an ecclesiastical institute if the revenue has become insufficient to pursue appropriately the proper purpose of the institute.
§5. The supreme moderator of a clerical religious institute of pontifical right possesses the same powers mentioned in §§3 and 4.
The authorities mentioned in can. 1308
also have the power to transfer, for an appropriate cause, the obligations of Masses to days, churches, or altars different from those determined in the foundations.
§1. The ordinary, only for a just and necessary cause, can reduce, moderate, or commute the wills of the faithful for pious causes if the founder has expressly entrusted this power to him.
§2. If through no fault of the administrators the fulfillment of the imposed obligations has become impossible because of diminished revenues or some other cause, the ordinary can equitably lessen these obligations, after having heard those concerned and his own finance council and with the intention of the founder preserved as much as possible; this does not hold for the reduction of Masses, which is governed by the prescripts of can. 1308
§3. In other cases, recourse is to be made to the Apostolic See.
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