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The People of God » The Christian Faithful » Associations of the Christian Faithful » Common Norms
Canon 298. §1 In the Church there are associations which are distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life. In these associations, Christ’s faithful, whether clerics or laity, or clerics and laity together, strive with a common effort to foster a more perfect life, or to promote public worship or christian teaching. They may also devote themselves to other works of the apostolate, such as initiatives for evangelisation, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with the christian spirit.

§2 Christ’s faithful are to join especially those associations which have been established, praised or recommended by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Canon 299. §1 By private agreement among themselves, Christ’s faithful have the right to constitute associations for the purposes mentioned in can. 298 §1, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 301 §1.

§2 Associations of this kind, even though they may be praised or commended by ecclesiastical authority, are called private associations.

§3 No private association of Christ’s faithful is recognised in the Church unless its statutes have been reviewed by the competent authority.
Canon 300. No association may call itself ‘catholic’ except with the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority, in accordance with can. 312.
Canon 301. §1 It is for the competent ecclesiastical authority alone to establish associations of Christ’s faithful which intend to impart Christian teaching in the name of the Church, or to promote public worship, or which are directed to other ends whose pursuit is of its nature reserved to the same ecclesiastical authority.

§2 The competent ecclesiastical authority, if it judges it expedient, can also establish associations of Christ’s faithful to pursue, directly or indirectly, other spiritual ends whose attainment is not adequately provided for by private initiatives.

§3 Associations of Christ’s faithful which are established by the competent ecclesiastical authority are called public associations.
Canon 302. Associations of Christ’s faithful are called clerical when they are under the direction of clerics, presuppose the exercise of sacred orders, and are acknowledged as such by the competent authority.
[In 2008 Benedict XVI granted the Congregation for the Clergy the privilege of allowing
public clerical assocations to incardinate clerics]
Canon 303. Associations whose members live in the world but share in the spirit of some religious institute, under the overall direction of the same institute, and who lead an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection, are known as third orders, or are called by some other suitable title.
Canon 304. §1 All associations of Christ’s faithful, whether public or private, by whatever title or name they are called, are to have their own statutes. These are to define the purpose or social objective of the association, its centre, its governance and the conditions of membership. They are also to specify the manner of action of the association, paying due regard to what is necessary or useful in the circumstances of the time and place.

§2 Associations are to select for themselves a title or name which is in keeping with the practices of the time and place, especially one derived from the purpose they intend.
Canon 305. §1 All associations of Christ’s faithful are subject to the supervision of the competent ecclesiastical authority. This authority is to ensure that integrity of faith and morals is maintained in them and that abuses in ecclesiastical discipline do not creep in. The competent authority has therefore the duty and the right to visit these associations, in accordance with the law and the statutes. Associations are also subject to the governance of the same authority in accordance with the provisions of the canons which follow.

§2 Associations of every kind are subject to the supervision of the Holy See. Diocesan associations are subject to the supervision of the local Ordinary, as are other associations to the extent that they work in the diocese.
Canon 306. To enjoy the rights and privileges, indulgences and other spiritual favours granted to an association, it is necessary and sufficient that a person be validly received into the association in accordance with the provisions of the law and with the association’s own statutes, and be not lawfully dismissed from it.
Canon 307. §1 The admission of members is to take place in accordance with the law and with the statutes of each association.

§2 The same person can be enrolled in several associations.

§3 In accordance with their own law, members of religious institutes may, with the consent of their Superior, join associations.
Canon 308. No one who was lawfully admitted is to be dismissed from an association except for a just reason, in accordance with the law and the statutes.
Canon 309. Associations that are lawfully established have the right, in accordance with the law and the statutes, to make particular norms concerning the association, for the holding of meetings, and for the appointment of moderators, officials, ministers and administrators of goods.
Canon 310. A private association which has not been constituted a juridical person cannot, as such, be the subject of duties and rights. However the faithful who are joined together in it can jointly contract obligations. As joint owners and joint possessors they can acquire and possess rights and goods. They can exercise these rights and obligations through a delegate or a proxy.
Canon 311. Members of institutes of consecrated life who preside over or assist associations which are joined in some way to their institute, are to ensure that these associations help the apostolic works existing in the diocese. They are especially to cooperate, under the direction of the local Ordinary, with associations which are directed to the exercise of the apostolate in the diocese.
The People of God » The Christian Faithful » Associations of the Christian Faithful » Public Associations of the Christian Faithful
Canon 312. §1 The authority which is competent to establish public associations is:

1° the Holy See, for universal and international associations

2° the Episcopal Conference in its own territory, for national associations which by their very establishment are intended for work throughout the whole nation;

3° the diocesan Bishop, each in his own territory, but not the diocesan Administrator, for diocesan associations, with the exception, however, of associations the right to whose establishment is reserved to others by apostolic privilege.
[NB see Rescript “ex audientia Ss.mi” of 15 June 2022 requiring the diocesan bishop, before erecting – by decree – a public association of the faithful with a view to becoming an institute of consecrated life or a society of apostolic life, to obtain the written permission of the Dicastery of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic
Life: cf. can. 579]

§2 The written consent of the diocesan Bishop is required for the valid establishment of an association or branch of an association in the diocese even though it is done in virtue of an apostolic privilege. Permission, however, which is given by the diocesan Bishop for the foundation of a house of a religious institute, is valid also for the establishment in the same house, or in a church attached to it, of an association which is proper to that institute.
Canon 313. A public association or a confederation of public associations is constituted a juridical person by the very decree by which it is established by the authority competent in accordance with can. 312. Moreover, insofar as is required, it thereby receives its mission to pursue, in the name of the Church, those ends which it proposes for itself.
Canon 314. The statutes of any public association require the approval of the authority which, in accordance with can. 312 §1, is competent to establish the association; this approval is also required for a revision of, or a change in, the statutes.
Canon 315. Public associations can, on their own initiative, undertake projects which are appropriate to their character, and they are governed by the statutes, but under the overall direction of the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1.
Canon 316. §1 A person who has publicly rejected the catholic faith, or has defected from ecclesiastical communion, or upon whom an excommunication has been imposed or declared, cannot validly be received into public associations.

§2 Those who have been lawfully enrolled but who fall into one of the categories mentioned in §1, having been previously warned, are to be dismissed, in accordance with the statutes of the association, without prejudice to their right of recourse to the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1.
Canon 317. §1 Unless the statutes provide otherwise, it belongs to the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1 to confirm the moderator of a public association on election, or to appoint the moderator on presentation, or by his own right to appoint the moderator. The same authority appoints the chaplain or ecclesiastical assistant, after consulting the senior officials of the association, wherever this is expedient.

§2 The norm of §1 is also valid for associations which members of religious institutes, by apostolic privilege, establish outside their own churches or houses. In associations which members of religious institutes establish in their own church or house, the appointment or confirmation of the moderator and chaplain belongs to the Superior of the institute, in accordance with the statutes.

§3 The laity can be moderators of associations which are not clerical. The chaplain or ecclesiastical assistant is not to be the moderator, unless the statutes provide otherwise.

§4 Those who hold an office of direction in political parties are not to be moderators in public associations of the faithful which are directly ordered to the exercise of the apostolate.
Canon 318. §1 In special circumstances, when serious reasons so require the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1 can appoint a commissioner to direct the association in his name for the time being.

§2 The moderator of a public association may be removed for a just reason, by the person who made the appointment or the confirmation, but the Moderator himself and the senior officials of the association must be consulted, in accordance with the statutes. The chaplain can, however, be removed by the person who appointed him, in accordance with can. 192--195.
Canon 319. §1 Unless otherwise provided, a lawfully established public association administers the goods it possesses, in accordance with the statutes, and under the overall direction of the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1. It must give a yearly account to this authority.

§2 The association must also faithfully account to the same authority for the disbursement of contributions and alms which it has collected.
Canon 320. §1 Associations established by the Holy See can be suppressed only by the
Holy See.

§2 For grave reasons, associations established by the Episcopal Conference can be suppressed by it. The diocesan Bishop can suppress those he has established, and also those which members of religious institutes have established by apostolic indult with the consent of the diocesan Bishop.

§3 A public association is not to be suppressed by the competent authority unless the moderator and other senior officials have been consulted.
The People of God » The Christian Faithful » Associations of the Christian Faithful » Private Associations of the Christian Faithful
Canon 321. Christ’s faithful direct and moderate private associations according to the provisions of the statutes.
Canon 322. §1 A private association of Christ’s faithful can acquire juridical personality by a formal decree of the competent ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312.

§2 No private association of Christ’s faithful can acquire juridical personality unless its statutes are approved by the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in can. 312 §1. The
approval of the statutes does not, however, change the private nature of the association.
Canon 323. §1 Although private associations of Christ’s faithful enjoy their own autonomy in accordance with can. 321, they are subject to the supervision of ecclesiastical authority, in accordance with can. 305, and also to the governance of the same authority.

§2 It is also the responsibility of ecclesiastical authority, with due respect for the autonomy of private associations, to oversee and ensure that there is no dissipation of their forces, and that the exercise of their apostolate is directed to the common good.
Canon 324. §1 A private association of Christ’s faithful can freely designate for itself a moderator and officers, in accordance with the statutes.

§2 If a private association of Christ’s faithful wishes to have a spiritual counsellor, it can freely choose one for itself from among the priests who lawfully exercise a ministry in the diocese, but the priest requires the confirmation of the local Ordinary.
Canon 325. §1 A private association of Christ’s faithful is free to administer any goods it possesses, according to the provisions of the statutes, but the competent ecclesiastical authority has the right to ensure that the goods are applied to the purposes of the association.

§2 In accordance with can. 1301, the association is subject to the authority of the local Ordinary in whatever concerns the administration and distribution of goods which are donated or left to it for pious purposes.
Canon 326. §1 A private association of Christ’s faithful is extinguished in accordance with the norms of the statutes. It can also be suppressed by the competent authority if its activity gives rise to grave harm to ecclesiastical teaching or discipline, or is a scandal to the faithful.

§2 The fate of the goods of a private association which ceases to exist is to be determined in accordance with the statutes, without prejudice to acquired rights and to the wishes of donors.
The People of God » The Christian Faithful » Associations of the Christian Faithful » Special Norms for Associations of the Laity
Canon 327. Lay members of Christ’s faithful are to hold in high esteem associations established for the spiritual purposes mentioned in can. 298. They should especially esteem those associations whose aim is to animate the temporal order with the christian spirit, and thus greatly foster an intimate union between faith and life.
Canon 328. Those who head lay associations, even those established by apostolic privilege, are to ensure that their associations cooperate with other associations of Christ’s faithful, where this is expedient. They are to give their help freely to various christian works, especially those in the same territory.
Canon 329. Moderators of lay associations are to ensure that the members receive due formation, so that they may carry out the apostolate which is proper to the laity.

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