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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.

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