The Roman Pontiff has an inherent and independent right to appoint
Legates and to send them either to particular Churches in various countries or regions, or at the same time to States and to public Authorities. He also has the right to transfer or recall them, in accordance with the norms of international law concerning the mission and recall of representatives accredited to States.
§1 To Legates of the Roman Pontiff is entrusted the office of representing in a stable manner the person of the Roman Pontiff in the particular Churches, or also in the States and public Authorities, to whom they are sent.
§2 Those also represent the Apostolic See who are appointed to pontifical Missions as Delegates or Observers at international Councils or at Conferences and Meetings.
The principal task of a Papal Legate is continually to make more firm and effective the bonds of unity which exist between the Holy See and the particular
Churches. Within the territory assigned to him, it is therefore the responsibility of a
1° to inform the Apostolic See about the conditions in which the particular Churches find themselves, as well as about all matters which affect the life of the Church and the good of souls;
2° to assist the Bishops by action and advice, while leaving intact the exercise of their lawful power;
3° to foster close relations with the Episcopal Conference, offering it every assistance;
4° in connection with the appointment of Bishops, to send or propose names of candidates to the Apostolic See, as well as to prepare the informative process about those who may be promoted, in accordance with the norms issued by the Apostolic
5° to take pains to promote whatever may contribute to peace, progress and the united efforts of peoples;
6° to work with the Bishops to foster appropriate exchanges between the Catholic
Church and other Churches or ecclesial communities, and indeed with non-christian religions;
7° to work with the Bishops to safeguard, so far as the rulers of the State are concerned, those things which relate to the mission of the Church and of the
8° to exercise the faculties and carry out the other instructions which are given to him by the Apostolic See.
§1 A papal Legate who at the same time acts as envoy to the State according to international law, has in addition the special role:
1° of promoting and fostering relationships between the Apostolic See and the
Authorities of the State;
2° of dealing with questions concerning relations between Church and State, especially, of drawing up concordats and other similar agreements, and giving effect to them.
§2 As circumstances suggest, in the matters mentioned in §1, the papal Legate is not to omit to seek the opinion and counsel of the Bishops of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and to keep them informed of the course of events.
Given the special nature of a Legate’s role:
1° the papal Legation is exempt from the power of governance of the local Ordinary, except for the celebration of marriages;
2° the papal Legate has the right to perform liturgical celebrations, even in pontificalia, in all churches of the territory of his legation; as far as it is possible, he is to give prior notice to the local Ordinary.
The office of papal Legate does not cease when the Apostolic See is vacant, unless otherwise specified in the pontifical Letters- it does cease, however, on the expiry of the mandate, on receipt by him of notification of recall, and on acceptance of his resignation by the Roman Pontiff.
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