The vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority toward ecclesial movements

5 / 5. 1

The vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority toward ecclesial movements

Category: Business

Subcategory: Communication

Level: PhD

Pages: 27

Words: 14850

The Vigilance of Competent Ecclesiastical Authority toward Ecclesial Movements
Chapter I: The vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority toward associations of the faithful through the ages
The first chapter examines the development of ecclesiastical vigilance toward associations of the faithful in their Church life. The purpose of this undertaking is to surgically lay the groundwork for how vigilance as exercised by effective and competent ecclesiastical authority has been juridically relevant through the ages. First, the chapter deals with developments up to 1917, beginning with the earliest appearance of ecclesiastical vigilance over associations, known historically as societies, then proceeding to its treatment in the first acts of universal legislation on associations in 1604, and concluding with an examination of vigilance as it came to be regulated in the 1917 Code. It examines canons that describe associations and distinguish their types (c.685; 700; 702; 707; 708) and gives special attention to those that specifically concern vigilance (cc.684; 690; 691; 1503; 1515). Then, the chapter traces the development of the function of vigilance throughout the process of Vatican II. Examining the ante-preparatory, preparatory and promulgated documents of Vatican II, it demonstrates how the function of vigilance was eventually broadened in scope and was seen as a right and duty of the competent ecclesiastical authority. The chapter concludes with a look at how the Magisterium after Vatican II treats the matter of vigilance toward associations. An inclusion of the idea of love and fixation toward salvation attempts to show that the authority within the Magisterium requires respect in facilitating the Word of God.
Vigilance from a historical perspective
All organizations of the Christian faithful undergo vigilance from proficient ecclesiastical authority. Vigilance can be summed up as watchfulness and is entails of intervention by the ecclesiastical authority when associations go against the limits put up by the integrity of faith and morals or canonical discipline. The application of vigilance depends hugely on the authority that is competent enough to establish associations of the Christian faithful. According to canon 305, §2, vigilance of the local ordinary:
“Associations of any kind are subject to the vigilance of the Holy See, diocesan associations and other associations to the extent that they work in the diocese are subject to the vigilance of the local ordinary.”
Vigilance of the diocesan bishop is put into practice on different levels with reference to the juridic status of the association (whether public or private). This study will scrutinize the role of vigilance of the diocesan bishop relating to the associations of the Christian faithful through history in the 1917 code of canon law through documents of Vatican II and the 1983 code of canon law. Extra effort will be accorded to the public and private associations.
It is indeed evident that all the associations of the Christian faithful are placed under supervision and vigilance of effective ecclesiastical authority. As indicated in the archives, vigilance delineates an activity that involves proper survey and intervention of a particular group. It often happens when the associations end up violating any limits that do not adhere to either faith or morals. The fact that a faithful impedes the integrity and values affiliated with canonical discipline should be supervised and observed, accordingly. Roman law has an influence in understanding the historical perspective of vigilance, as societies in the 2nd century had similar underpinnings. Under these sanctions, there existed an association of the faithful, who were categorized as parties without any wealth or stable resources. In fact, in case of emergency or trouble, they managed to combine their little to no resources in an attempt to assist and salvage their fellows. As per the vigilance of civil law, the groups fulfilled their goals and purpose by ensuring that they assisted one another during dire times. Historically, during the 4th century, there was introduction of the idea of “direct supervision,” from the ecclesiastical authorities, which was bestowed upon the spondaei and the philophones societies. The role of these societies was to oversee certain liturgical services, while they were supervised by the vigilance of ecclesiastical authority. Later, in the 5th century, there was an exposure to nursing societies, who were primarily under the vigilance of the bishop. They were under the wing of the Orient, which was supposed to protect and guide them via ecclesiastical authority. During this time, there was evidence that the nursing societies delineated ambiguous characteristics as there were uncertainties and non-clarity about their juridical position. In 852, there was a written legislation by Hincmar of Rheims, which worked specifically to ensure that habits such as excess drinking, eating, quarrelling and debauchery, since they were deemed sinful to an extent. Apparently, the legislation only required that the societies focused on matter such as prayer and charity, which were supposed to be their sole objectives during this course. Still, there was versatility as the 9th and 10th centuries were a delineation of the lay confraternities that were developed without supervision from ecclesiastical authority. Regardless, there was no elimination of ecclesiastical authority as the foundation of these confraternities exposed individuals to extent of control and vigilance that the former had on the latter. Legislation was standard and non-negotiable as the associations continued to witness different forms of development throughout the centuries. The bishop was displeased with their hyperbolic and excess habits, therefore, continued to exercise vigilance over them. Due to the superiority of ecclesiastical authorities, some laws indicated that foundation of these confraternities required permission from either the local ecclesiastical Ordinary or the local civil ruler. The 11th century onwards ‘restored’ the ecclesiastical authority, as most of the societies were founded based on their tenets. Those societies formed by private initiatives were quite different from the ones under ecclesiastical authority as the latter appeared more supervisory and vigilant.
However, during this period, some of the societies became independent as they started to oversee their properties and resources, under the bishops’ supervision. Like the superior nature of ecclesiastical authority, most bishops during the 16th and 17th centuries started to desire and covet more power with which they would use to control the associations. As a result, there was an issuance of universal legislations that were linked with associations of the faithful. The universal legislations were credited to Clement VIII, who published Quaecumque, which was a depiction of these legislations. At this point, there was an exposure to multiple associations, which extrapolated further on the predicament of vigilance from the bishops. Most of the orders were somewhat foreign as they did not maintain the mundane nature of developing associations, making it difficult for Bishops to understand them. There was an established of many associations, which were unfamiliar to the bishops thus, impeding their desire to exercise control and vigilance over the associations. To develop a single confraternity, there were links from religious institutes, archconfraternities, and orders of regulars as well as congregations, who solicited for consent from the local Ordinary. As mentioned, pooling of resources worked toward ensuring that individuals catered for the emergencies of others. It is through this pooling, to be precise, that the associations of the faithful was created, molded and developed. The individuals associated with one another via catering for their needs and ensuring that resources were pooled, accordingly, during times of emergency. At this point, there was an inclusion of ecclesiastical authority, which served to carry out vigilance to ensure fulfillment of the founding principles. Later, vigilance was extended into to explore on the 1917 Canon Law, which had canons linked with the scope of the associations of the faithful.
Vigilance toward associations of the faithful in CIC 1917

1917 was an important code as it looked over the associations of the faithful and offered an overview of the role of the associations to promote Christian livelihood. An in-depth look on vigilance, however, indicates the role of Pope Leo XIII in ordering the bishops to impose vigilance on the faithful. It was in 1886 and in his Quod Multum that the Pope ordered an exercise of vigilance on the associations of the faithful. Specifically, Canon 684 in the 1917 code adheres to the requirements in Pope Leo’s encyclical, which purports that the faithful require ecclesiastical authority to avoid participating in any of the excesses. According to this canon, ecclesiastical authority is supposed to guide the faithful and ensure their participation in the recommended associations while denouncing the condemned ones. Any delineation that the faithful are not linked with the secret or admonished associations should be given the requisite form of praise. To be precise, the canon indicates:
“The faithful are worthy of praise when join associations erected, or at least recommended, by the Church. They should avoid those associations which are secret, condemned, seditious or suspected and those which attempt to avoid the legitimate supervision of the church” (Canon 684).
The canon is broad and attempts to depict the scope of the faithful and their link with admissible and inadmissible actions. Authority from the church delineates an indisputable influence on the attitudes of the faithful, depicting their extent toward either positivity or negativity. Preferably, however, the attitudes should be more positive as a delineation of the ‘peaceful’ relationship with the Church as well as its authority. In the 1917 code, it is impossible to separate vigilance and governance as they are both useful in ensuring that the associations of the faithful are built and erected, accordingly. There is a recommendation that the faithful should enroll in associations with juridic status under efficient ecclesiastical authority. Even if the faithful are not under direct supervision from this authority, they should be some form of intervention from authorities recommended by the same. There should be no assumption that all the ecclesiastical authorities are all competent as some of them are known to exhibit odd characteristics. An in-depth exposition of canon 684 indicates that secret societies are prevalent, and they are capable of propagating heinous behavior that promotes uncouth actions. Apart from those societies with Freemasonry tendencies, others delineate characteristics of treason, hoping to overthrow institutions such as the state or the Church. Church law does not allow the prevalence of Freemasonry and to be precise, the 1983 code indicates that the practice is prohibited at all costs.
Any Catholics that resort to participating in Freemasonry activities have been excommunicated by the Church for indulging in the same. Both the 1917 and 1983 codes play an important role in the assessment of the place of Masonic activities among these Catholics. The idea of excommunication of Freemasons is quite vivid in the former, while it remains indirectly expressed in the former (Canon 2335; Canon 1374). Inasmuch as the revised 1983 code does not focus keenly on excommunication of these Freemasons, there is evidence that the law has still been enforced as masonry is categorized as an uncouth practice. Popes have also been involved in the issue of Freemasonry, reiterating that masonry is against the Church and cannot be accommodated in any of the laws. Constituents under both either papal pronouncement or the Canon Law Code indicate that the Church is repulsed by any existence of Freemasonry activities. A total of eight popes have made public announcements condemning any activities linked with masonry or similar activities. They were not simply mere announcements as some of the Popes drafted their messages in the form of epistles, addresses, apostles, encyclicals and constitutions. Some of the papal announcements addressing Freemasonry include:
Clement XII, In Eminenti, 28 April 1738
“This constitution was the first public written attack by the papacy against Masonry. In In Eminenti the principal objections to Freemasonry given were: that it was open to men of all religions; that there were oaths taken; that Masons denied clerical authority, and that Masons met in secret.4 Pope Clement forbade Masonic membership by Catholics and directed the “Inquisitors of Heretical Depravity” to take action against Catholics who became Masons or assisted Freemasonry in any way. He ordered excommunication as punishment for those who defied his ban.”
Leo XII, Quo Gravioria Mala, 13 March 1825
“This constitution restated the Roman Catholic Church’s objection to Freemasonry as a secret society, with oath-bound secrecy, which conspires against church and state.”
Pius IX, Qui Pluribus, 9 November 1846
“This encyclical calls for Roman Catholics to fight against heresy. It decries those who put human reason above faith, and who believe in human progress. Strangely, it also attacks secret “sects” and “crafty” Bible societies who “force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible.” This encyclical also calls “perverse” religious indifferentism. While not mentioning Masonry directly, it criticizes those it does not identify for those same faults that the previous papal pronouncements imputed to Freemasonry, and is regarded as an anti-Masonic pronouncement by some Catholic sources.”
Multiplices Inter, 25 September 1865
“This is an address made by Pope Pius IX condemning Freemasonry and other secret societies. In it, he accuses Masonic associations of conspiracy against the church, God and civil society. He further attributes revolutions and uprisings to Masonic activities, and denounces secret oaths, clandestine meetings and Masonic penalties”.
Apostolicae Sedis Moderatoni, 12 October 1869
This is a constitution relating to Canon Law. It clarifies the procedure regarding censure in Canon Law, changes some Canons and establishes a new list of censures. Some authorities state the document relates to Freemasonry but it is unavailable in English translation.
To be precise, in 1974, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Franjo Cardinal Seper, ensured that the position of the Church regarding Freemasonry maintained the embrace of excommunication of the masons. As mentioned, there were numerous misinterpretations both upholding and denouncing the prevalence of Freemasonry, but the final stand did not allow the practice. Some Roman Catholics are masons but that alone does not lead to an acceptance of these practices in the Church.
According to Canon 690, there is a great focus on vigilance from the bishop rather than ecclesiastical authority. The bishop, in this case, is supposed to exercise his authority by being vigilant and performing his requisite duties and responsibilities. The canon has two parts, as follows:
Canon 690 (1983 CIC 305)
§1 All associations, even if erected by the Apostolic See, unless there is a special privilege in the way, are subject to the jurisdiction and vigilance of local Ordinaries, who have the right and duty to inspecting them according to the norms of the sacred canons.
§2 It is fundamental, however, that local Ordinaries cannot visit associations that in virtue of apostolic privilege belong to churches of exempt religious in what pertains to internal discipline or that look to the spiritual direction of the association.
The second part of Canon 690 does not approve of the authority of local Ordinaries, indicating that other religious superiors should handle associations and their erections. Apparently, discipline and spirituality should only be moderated by extraordinary religious leaders. Any of the associations that were not facilitated by associations that were fully approved did not augur well with Canon 690 of the 1917 code (Peters, “The 1917 or Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law”). The local ordinary, however, also had a responsibility as he was supposed to exercise authority and vigilance to ensure that heathenism was non-existent. Salvation was a paramount constituent of the society and individuals that resorted to joining secret societies, for example, were categorized as abusive. There is an in-depth exploration of “Ecclesiastical goods,” which is property belonging to an individual of juridic status. Canon 1254 §2 looks into the role of temporal goods, indicating that they are useful in worship, charity works for the needy, offering support to the clergy and ministers. It says,
“The proper purposes are principally: to order divine worship, to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers, and to exercise works of the sacred apostolate and of charity, especially toward the needy” (Canon 1254 §2).
These temporal goods only acquired the title of “ecclesiastical goods” when the goods were deemed to belong to actual and legitimate associations of the faithful. An extension of Canon 1254 is realized under Canon 1259, which explains that goods may be acquired either via natural or positive laws (Kantor, “Administration of Ecclesiastical Temporal Goods…”). Canon 1259 is, in fact, specific and indicates that “The Church can acquire temporal goods by every just means of natural or positive law permitted to others.” Naturally, goods may be acquired in the following ways:
Appropriation – repossessing things that do not belong to any individual
Transformation- changing the outlook of a certain material
Accession- acquiring property by collecting goods from different owners
Contract- agreement that gives room for transfer of belonging and ownership
Last will- May be a testament (Kantor, “Administration of Ecclesiastical Temporal Goods…”)
Apropos of positive law, these are the ways of acquiring goods:
Particular contracts
Last will – include testaments, donations or legacies
Prescription and limitation – which should not have any contradictions to the law
As indicated, only “ecclesiastical goods” were categorized as subject to vigilance, as they represented ecclesiastical authority. Administration of these temporal goods is quite crucial as there are certain steps that should be followed in dispensing the same (Kantor, “Administration of Ecclesiastical Temporal Goods…”). Some of them are listed below:
Vigilance is a key factor while administering the goods, as it is necessary to ensure that they are given enough care and handled, accordingly. There should be no room for any damage or instances that will compromise the handling of these ecclesiastical temporal goods.
Ensuring that the properties and goods to be administered are well in-line with the law and the required legal statuses. For example, the documents should contain buildings on a map with cadastre, registered buildings, as well as a notification regarding any alterations in the plan.
Making sure that taxes and utilities are settled in good time.
There should exist any records of income, salaries and expenditure
Drafting a report that indicates the process of administering the goods, and delivering it to the bishop for approval purposes.
The issue of administering these ecclesiastical goods is somewhat ‘sacred’ and should not be treated as business activities, or even merged with any other existing ones. These goods are part of the priests’ compensation; therefore, they should be collected by an independent group, for organization purposes. According to Canon 281 §1, these goods are supposed to improve the priest’s resource life as they are often dedicated to the Church as well as improving the people’s relationship with God (Canon 281§1; Kantor, “Administration of Ecclesiastical Temporal Goods…”). The canon states:
“Since clerics dedicate themselves to ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve remuneration which is consistent with their condition taking into account the nature of their function and the conditions of places and times, and by which they can provide for the necessities of their life as well as for the equitable payment of those whose services they need” (Canon 281 §1).
Inasmuch as the clerics resort to giving their lives to the Church, it is plausible to think about their well-being and offer these goods to them, as a form of remuneration and compensation. Still on the same, there is a provision that other members serving and assisting in the Church should also receive compensation for their services. The diversity in churches indicates that both wealthy and poor diocese are present, therefore, the former should work toward uplifting the latter. Canon 1274 §1 is quite precise, indicating that:
“Each diocese is to have a special institute which is to collect goods or offerings for the purpose of providing, according to the norm of can. 281, for the support of clerics who offer service for the benefit of the diocese, unless provision is made for them in another way” (Canon 1274 §1).
Regardless, the faithful should receive overall reports from the administrators of these ecclesiastical goods. It is only right that the faithful receive information about the administration and delivery of these goods, as this indicates that the Church is financially and economically responsible.
Delving further, there is an indication that there exist canons in the group of De Laicis, and precisely titled XVIII and XIX, with the former having a generic focus on associations of the Christian faithful, and the latter having a particular focus on the associations. An in-depth look at Canon 685 under the 1917 code shows a distinction between the roles of the Christian faithful and religious institutions. As mentioned, these associations erected and supervised by the Church work toward the accentuation of Christianity and similar lifestyles across these members. It, therefore, makes it easier to increase the scope of public worship, as the Christians become more united in the Church. Furthermore, Canon 700 under the 1917 code attempts to create a distinction between the existing types of associations, which include: third Orders secular, pious unions and confraternities (Canon 700). Canon 702 §1 and §2 facilitated the extrapolation of the meaning of third orders or secular tertiaries as they are defined under the same. The Canon is depicted below:
Canon 702
§1 Secular tertiaries are those persons who strive to attain Christian perfection in the world under the guidance and according to the spirit of some Order, in a manner compatible with the secular life and according to the rules approved for them by the Apostolic See.
§ 2 If a Third order secular is divided into several associations, each legitimately established branch is called a Sodality of Tertiaries.
There is a direct link between the third orders and religious orders as they work toward ensuring that the scope of Christianity is facilitated under the tertiaries. Here, the local Ordinaries are excluded since the Regular Superiors are given first priority in this course of action. Inasmuch as the third order was existent during the time of St. Benedict; there is a dominant belief that St. Francis of Assisi was, in fact, the ‘original’ creator and instigator of these third orders. It was due to St. Assisi that the third orders spread throughout the world and reached the laity. Canon 703 is, in fact, exploratory as it states that, “No religious organization can add to itself a Third Order, but the privilege granted to some Orders remains” (Canon 703). It is important to understand that the third orders are not categorized as religious orders, particularly because the members are not religious in any way (Decker, “The Role of Vigilance”). In fact, the members are more inclined toward achieving the heights of Christianity by simply observing the 10 commandments (Abbo & Hannan, “The Sacred Canons…”). While Canon 702 handled the scope of third orders, Canon 707 looked into the concerns of pious unions and confranternities. The Canon is as follows:
Canon 707
§1 Associations of the faithful that are erected for purposes of works of piety and charity are called pious unions. If they are constituted as an organic body, they are called sodalities.

§2 Sodalities which increase public worship have the special name confraternities.
Canon 708 extends this argument and looks into the idea of confraternities, explaining that their erection and development was based on a formal decree (Canon 708). Canon 708 states:
“Major superiors can be associated usefully in conferences or councils so that by common efforts they work to achieve more fully the purpose of the individual institutes, always without prejudice to their autonomy, character and proper spirit, or to transact common affairs or to establish appropriate coordination and cooperation with the conferences of bishops and also with individuals bishops.”
It, however, was different for the pious union, which required the local Ordinary’s approval for ease of erection. There is the need to note that members of this union were not of juridic status but they still managed to acquire the relevant favors that influenced their spirituality.
Treatment of the function of vigilance in the ante-preparatory, preparatory and promulgated documents of Vatican II
With respect to this chapter, its purpose serves to note the references to vigilance of the diocesan bishop. It narrates to the relations of the Christian faithful in the long term development of documents of the second Vatican council. To start off, an analysis of the ante preparatory phase and the opinions offered regarding vigilance of the diocesan bishop will be made available. Another key point to note is that after presentation, the examples given on vigilance in the preparatory phase will be extensively explored. Lastly, an analysis of the role of vigilance of the diocesan bishop will be done. This will be possible in the confines of association of the Christian faithful as realized in specific promulgated contexts of the council.
After exposure to the Second Vatican Council, the Catholics have been linked with different groups that advocate for either religion or charity. There are specific religious institutions that have programs set aside for any of the faithful wishing to take part in ministry, without losing any of their commitments. Ordinarily, the focus would be on issues such as employment, marriage, family and others, which may inhibit their roles in the religious sector. It is quite difficult for some of the new groups to prove their prowess, particularly with the successes associated with the old ones. There is the need for these groups to strive harder to prove themselves and for societies to recognize them, accordingly. They strongly believe in the notion that the “fruits of labor” of an individual or a group are bound to indicate their influence in the Church and societies, as a whole. Associations of the faithful are quite a necessity as they have played a significant role in ensuring that the Church are linked more with the good. Maybe their existence (and influence) in these spaces have worked as motivating factors for the Churches to indulge in beneficial practices. While some associations of the faithful have been scrapped off from the vicinity, others have continued to grow into religious structures and institutions, which have a permanent affiliation with the Church. The desire was not only on the religious matters but also on the health care matters of the Catholics, which should be sponsored and financed accordingly. It is impossible to eliminate the associations of the faithful since as they have existed ever since the beginning of the Church. Understanding “the legal history of associations” works in favor of creating a connection between canonical traditions and the formation of the Church.
The modern associations of the Christian faithful are linked with the societies such as collegia tenuiorum, which were authorized by the Roman law. Here, there was a group of poor (and needy) people who worked together to help each other during problematic times. Societies such as collegia tenuiorum uplifted the Christians by helping them with real estate matters, allowing them to have properties in their possession. When it comes to matters of “need” and “necessity,” the Christian faithful resorted to facilitating the development of professions for individuals to assist their livelihoods.

To be precise, the ante-preparatory documents were released on May 17, 1959, as Pope John XXII facilitated the relevant commission. It was necessary to have this commission, which would be useful in the acquisition of material that would help in preparing the council’s work (Decker, “The Role of Vigilance”). A month later, on June 30th, during the anti-preparatory commission meeting, the Pope reiterated:
“The Council is convoked, first of all because the Catholic Church proposes to attain new vigor for its divine mission. Perennially faithful to the sacred principles on which it stands and to the immutable doctrine entrusted by the Divine Founder, the Church always following the footprints of ancient tradition, intends to strengthen life and cohesion in the face of the many daily contingencies and situations, and it will establish efficient norms of conduct and activity. Therefore, in front of the whole world, it will appear in its splendor”
They were accorded the responsibility to collect enough evidence that will be used to start the preparation for the duties of the council. Other duties included collection of advice and recommendations of the catholic episcopate, as well as the recommendations of the Roman congregations, drafting the broad perceptions of the subjects to be deliberated at the council, maintaining the standpoints of the faculties of theology and canon law, and lastly, formulation of proposals that will request for membership of the various groups that will be accorded the responsibility of heading the proximate preparation of the council.
Acquiring pieces of advice and helpful information from the Catholic bishops and Roman congregation would offer content for discussion within the council. Notably, the suggestions were explored in a thorough manner by the conciliar commissions, and there was documentation of their input, as stipulated by the council. The ante-preparatory stage, in dealing with the faithful, had a focus on The Laity and of Associations of the Faithful, Catholic Laity, Associations of the Faithful and Of Laity. These constituents were alternatively referred to as De laicis, De fidelium associationibus, De laicatu catholico, De fidelium, associationibus and De laicis, respectively. As well, the documents contained alarming matters that were points of discussion within the council. De fidelium associationibus focused specifically on the role of lay persons in and their capability to join the societies, as underlined in the Second Vatican Council, and voiced by the Congregation of the Council (Decker, “The Role of Vigilance”). These documents contained issues that needed to be addressed at the council. In De fidelium associationibus the audience of the council suggested that the second Vatican council to relay people to join societies that were structured as per the code. Also, they were to include secular organizations within these societies, and extend the congregation’s proficiency over members of these organizations, members of the third orders, and members of international relations. A warning was renewed, and it covered the need for avoiding association with specific societies that did not comply with the vigilance of the hierarchy. Several comments conveyed from the catholic episcopate and faculties of theology and canon law raised the issue of vigilance of the diocesan bishop as per the lay apostolate, and relations of the Christian faithful.
As a response to the episcopate, various issues and distresses were brought up. Cardinal John O’Hara from Philadelphia made a response to the inquiry of the antepreparatory commission in August 18th, 1959 asking for confirmations that “save for the supreme authority of the Apostolic see, the hierarchy has the power and right of vigilance in the lay catholic apostolate in whichever catholic work, whether national or international.”
An observation made and submitted by the faculty of canon law at the Gregorian University stated that:
“In the origin and moderations of associations which practice charity or assist in social action or those which are professional associations that function intellectually and physically are still always under the vigilance of the hierarchy in its treatment of faith and morals.”
This will assure the exercise of vigilance of the ordinary above all relations of whichever type. The introductory schemata contained the responses that were made available in the precious phase incorporated by two preparatory commissions at the close of the second Vatican council’s antepreparatory phase. The two preparatory commissions were the commission for the discipline of the clergy and of the faithful, and the commission for the apostolate of the laity. The next section explores their work in vigilance.
The societies should be well-aligned with all the secular establishments within them, which would eventually lead to an expansion of the council’s indulgence in activities linked with members of the establishments, third orders as well as global [and international] associations. As indicated by Vatican Council II, “Decree Apostolicam actuositatem,” there is a reiteration on the forbidden nature of joining any societies that do not adhere to the idea of vigilance. After its conception, there was a reaction toward the inquisition posed by the Ante-preparatory commission in 1959 and on August 18, and it was facilitated by Cardinal John O’Hara. He was particularly focused on acquiring clarification on the following assertion:
“…save for the supreme authority of the Apostolic See, the hierarchy has the power and right to vigilance in the lay Catholic apostolate in whichever Catholic work, whether national or international.”
Vigilance from the hierarchy is quite crucial as it ensures that the faithful are well-aligned apropos of faith and morals. In fact, a specific category is those associations that are affiliated with charity work, volunteering or any other activities that fulfill the priorities of social action. Regardless of the form and type of associations, it is necessary to ensure that vigilance is strengthened in handling the same. There is a close link between the ante-preparatory and preparatory phases as certain [preparatory] commissions were involved with the former. An in-depth exploration indicates that The Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and of the Faithful and the Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity were, in fact, useful in creating a bond between the two phases. These commissions have an important role to play in extrapolating on vigilance while delineating both the anti-preparatory and preparatory documents.
As per Vatican II, the preparatory documents were released in 1960 and specifically on June 5th. There were ten commissions, each of which was tasked with the duty of extrapolating on the matters and subjects to be handled with the council. It was impossible to exclude the role of the Roman Curia, as the commissions were directly attached to them. While all the commissions were aligned with congregations, the Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity appeared unruly as there was no correspondence with any of the same. The selection of two secretariats, therefore, was followed by preparation of schemata, which were as per the suggestions of the groups that were present and participant during the ante-preparatory phase. Still, there were more schemata submissions delivered to a central commission, which had the role of offering approvals during the conciliar phase. Without the secretariats, it would be impossible to steer the communication of the work done by the council, and directing it to distinct Christian institutions as well as the media streams. In the facilitation of these documents, Pope John XXII indicated that the council had a significant role to play as it was supposed to ensure that the associations of the faithful were more faithful, experienced renewed traditions and ensures an update of the ecclesiastical matter. The 1917 code cannot be eliminated due to its relevance in delineating suggestions for any reformation of the associations. Inasmuch as there was a creation and development of freshly-crafted suggestions, there were some brought forth from the 1917 code, and they were also present in the ante-preparatory phase. As mentioned, ecclesiastical authority was prominent since the schema was aligned toward erections that were under their wing or supervision. It was important to adhere to the vigilance of the Church meaning, therefore, that the faithful were supposed to stay away from secret, “free-mason,” and seditious societies. A look into the suggestions for making alterations [and changes] in the preparatory commission included lay associations. At this point of the preparatory stage, there is an introduction to the Discipline of the Clergy and the Faithful commission, which advocates for labor division in the process of erecting authority and vigilance over the associations of the faithful.
Communication of the efforts and works of the council were done by the secretariat to the media and other Christian institutions. According to Marques;
“When the preparatory phase and the definitive elaboration of the conciliar texts began, two of the council document spoke expressly of the right of association of the faithful. These were the ‘decree on the apostolate of the laity’ and the ‘decree on the ministry and life of priests.’ These two definitive texts of the council had a common origin in the preparatory schema from the commission for the discipline of the clergy and of the faithful under the title of ‘On Associations of the Faithful’, definitively approved in a general session that the commission celebrated from April 2nd through 6th of 1962. A definitive reduction of the schema is dated the 21st of February of 1963.”
The schema “On Associations of the Faithful” comprised of seventeen unique suggestions relating to the reforms of the associations. These suggestions within the schema linked affirmations of the 1917 code relating to associations of the Christian faithful with new recommendations. One of the 1917 code suggestions can be also seen in the antepreparatory phase. The schema convinced the faithful to join those associations that were brought up and received praise from the ecclesiastical authority. Equally, it wanted the faithful not to get involved with seditious, secret and suspect associations, including any that wanted to retract from the vigilance of the church.
Suggestions fronted by the preparatory commission consisted of encouragement of the council to offer norms for applauded or amateur associations. Lay associations were not extensively analyzed in the 1917 code. Relating to armature associations, the preparatory commission made a proposal that in particulars relating to faith and morals, associations created by the faithful were to remain under the vigilance offered by ecclesiastical authority. The commission in charge of the discipline of the clergy and that of the faithful recommended that a division be done pertaining responsibilities that aim at creation, exercise of jurisdiction, and vigilance over associations to extend to pontifical conferences and the Roman Pope and the local ordinaries:
“International associations are under the jurisdiction and vigilance of the Holy See; interdiocesan associations are under the jurisdiction and vigilance of all the local ordinaries in whose diocesan they exist; diocesan associations are under the jurisdiction and vigilance of their own local ordinary. Moreover, diocesan sections of interdiocesan and international associations are under the jurisdiction and vigilance of the local ordinary”
Additionally, exposure to synodal documents influences the thematic disposition of vigilance in ecclesiastical authority.
Four sessions were covered by the synodal phase of the council, which occurred from October 1962 up to December 1965. In the first session, election was done to choose members for the conciliar commissions which succeeded the matching preparatory commissions. The schemata were revised throughout and between the recognized sessions of the council, under the conciliar commissions with a new coordinating commission. After the first session was done, the schemata under consideration were reduced to seventeen. The conciliar debates still continue as the second, third and fourth sessions ensued. In the second session, the council heads started the promulgation of document which had the results of the conciliar debates. The greatest number of documents under promulgation was achieved in the fourth and final session of the council. The documents included apostolicam actuositatem, the decree on the apostle of the laity, a definitive document on the laity and the best area to start when examining vigilance of the diocesan bishop relating to associations of the Christian faithful.
The cause of associations in the documents were fronted by the council fathers, as the aimed at reforms to be done for several issues. Five themes were also established through consultation during the antepreparatory phase of the council. The fifth theme addressed will be our area of concentration as addressed by the council fathers. This will clarify the association of the hierarchy to the postulate of the laity, which is a part of the bishop’s rule of vigilance. The conciliar fathers expressed the association of direction and vigilance of the hierarchy, and the lay apostolate using related rules. They include; the hierarchy should show more concern to the lay apostolate, and coat it accordingly with principles and spiritual assistance. Also, they are mandated with the task of directing the exercise of the apostolate for the good of the church and safeguarding of the doctrines.
“Direction of the apostolic activity towards the common good of the church and supervision with respect to teaching and order are named as being tasks of the hierarchy. Both belong together; the care of the common good is always the task of authority, and the preservation of ‘teaching the order’ is an essential part of the common welfare of the church.”
The above relationship functions at two levels. The first consists of the associations established by the laity independently. The council fathers realized that, “while preserving intact the necessary link with ecclesiastical authority, the laity have the right to establish and direct associations and to join existing ones. The hierarchy might praise or command these associations but exercise a minimum of vigilance. This right can only be restricted by superior authorities for reasons of the common good.” Vigilance was also applied in aspects that dealt with safeguarding faith and morals. Associations gained freedom of action to their best known interest independently, when they were not under jurisdiction of these issues associations had the freedom to independently act based on their best knowledge without being intervened by the hierarchy.
The second relationship level of both lay apostolate and the hierarchy was concerned with associations established or formally approved by the hierarchy. Taking a look at article 24 of apostolicam actuositatem, you will note that associations are mandated with a spiritual purpose, thus extending to the reader, a higher level of vigilance to the capable ecclesiastical authority. The hierarchy should be involved in the promotion of associations in a unique method and thus take on a special responsibility for them. By uniquely organizing the apostolate, the hierarchy relates closely with its own apostolic functions a form of apostolate. This however is without alteration of the specific nature of the difference between the two, and consequently without grudging the laity off their freedom of action within their own initiative. “These associations are exclusively under the authority of the church’s jurisdiction and vigilance with respect to statutes, direction and administration.” The decree implied that the vigilance exercised should not disregard the laity’s initiative.
Bishops were given the support to accept the vigilance role as right and duty of the practice within their office: “the various forms of the apostolate should be encouraged. Close collaboration and the coordination of all the apostolic works under the direction of the bishop should be promoted in the diocese as a whole or parts of it. Thus, all undertakings and organizations, whether their object be catechetical, missionary, charitable, social, family, educational, or any other pastoral, will act together in harmony, and the unity of the diocese will be more closely demonstrated.”
The antepreparatory, preparatory and synodal documents upheld the firmness of the right and duty of vigilance of the diocesan bishop, in relation to the associations of the Christian faith. The diocesan bishop was not allowed to limit the right of the laity to associate, but to be enrolled to the apostolate of the association to their intended vision for the diocese. A description of associations is seen in the documents relating to the founding initiatives if laity or ecclesiastical authority. Proficient ecclesiastical authority oversaw overall vigilance on faith and morals in all associations. However, the documents that can be observed for the first time highlight various levels of vigilance relating to the founding authority of the association. These echelons of vigilance and types of associations are due for development in the canons o the 1983 code.
Vigilance toward associations and ecclesial movements in post-Vatican II magisterium
Vigilance toward associations indicated that the latter had to remain under supervision within the constraints of magisterium. An in-depth look at the scope of Pastoral care and governance is extrapolated under Canon 515 §1:
Canon 515
§1 A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop.
The reaffirmation of the role of vigilance of the diocesan bishop in relation to associations of the Christian faithful was done by the second Vatican council. This section explores the subject of vigilance in the development and application of the canon law code of 1983. This will start with the tendered brief history of the code revision process that extends up to the 1983 code. Secondly, exploration will be done on the issue of vigilance of the diocesan bishop relating to the associations of the Christian faithful. This will be done under canon 44 of the people of God schema, which directs to the 1983 code. Third, canon 305 will be scrutinized as it relates to the general vigilance of proficient ecclesiastical authority. This will then trigger the examination of the pertinent canons from the 1983 code which signify the role of vigilance of the diocesan bishop relating to the public and private associations. Pope John XXIII commissioned the appointment of the first members of the pontifical commission for the revision of the code of canon law on March 28th, 1963. Ten study groups were formed by the consulters to the commission with a mandate of reviewing 1917 code for any possible changes that should be done. Within the established study groups was the subcommision on the laity, which was identified commonly as the subcommision on the rights and associations of the faithful and that of the laity.
In a period of ten years, the commission embarked on the study of diverse issues and gave approval of revisions on texts of proposed canons. Between 1971 and 1977, the revisions were submitted to the pope who ordered them to be availed for consultation to the bishops, Roman Curia, the faculties of ecclesiastical universities, and the union of superiors general. By the end of 1978, all the consultative bodies mentions had finished doing their review of the former revisions and had submitted back written comments to the Pontifical commission for the “Revision of the Code of Canon Law.” With complete review of all submitted comments, the secretariat of the commission and the consultors completed the systematic arrangement of the code throughout seven books. A one volume schema of the revised code, ordered for evaluation in writing by the pope, was presented to Pope John Paul II by the secretariat on June 28th, 1980. The 1981 relatio consisted of the summary, and response to the written evaluations of the 1980 schema done by the secretariat and the consultors. Both the 1980 schema and the 1981 relation were the foundation for a final plenary meeting of the pontifical commission that was done in Rome from October 20th to 28th of the same month, 1981. A vote was unanimously reached at the end of the plenary session by the members of the pontifical commission. They voted for the presentation of the amended version of the canons to the pope to allow promulgation in the shortest time possible. Several changes in the final text were however made by Pope John Paul II before he made an announcement to the world that he will promulgate it on January 25th, 1983. This was twenty-four years after Pope John XXIII had announced the project. The 1983 code was inducted on November 27th, 1983 which was the first Sunday of Advent.
A number of canons on associations of the Christian faithful were made public in the 1977 schema of book II, on the people of God. They were well spread throughout the chapters in the schema. The principal treatment of associations was placed on the chapter addressing the associations of the Christian faithful. These canons were the starting point of the notion of associations of the faithful, expressed the difference in public associations which included, those that were established and directed by church authority from private associations, those established and administered on the initiative of the Christian faithful. Norms were also availed, and they were general to all association. In depth exploration of the notion and types of associations in the 1983 code will be addressed later in this chapter.
Article II of the schema, which is under the general norms for all associations was made of the principal treatment of vigilance of ecclesiastical authority, relating to associations of the Christian faithful. Canon 44 was realized as the main canon addressing vigilance in the 1977 schema:
§1. All associations of the Christian faithful are under the vigilance of the proficient ecclesiastical authority in accord with the norms of number two, whose responsibility is to take care that integrity of faith and morals is preserved in them, and to watch lest abuses of ecclesiastical discipline creep in; likewise he has the right and duty of visiting the same in accord with the norm of law and the statutes; they are under the governance of the same authority according to the prescription of the canons which follow.
§2. Under the vigilance of the Holly See alone are associations which are universal by law, and universal federations of associations; of the conference of bishops, the international associations which by law are limited to certain ecclesiastical regions; of the ordinary if the place, diocesan associations and also, according to the statutes f each association diocesan branches of universal associations, international, regional or interdiocesan associations.
The canon upholds the vigilance of the diocesan bishop relating to associations of the Christian faithful in the scope of faith, orals, and ecclesiastical discipline, thus highlighting the scope and application of that particular vigilance. The diocesan bishop puts into practice this vigilance over diocesan associations and over diocesan branches of universal, international, regional, or interdiocesan association according to the statutes. In Canon 44, §1 is a reference to canon 690, §1 is an excerpt from the 1917 code that was being argued earlier. §2 is the addition made to canon 44 in the 1977 schema which is concerned with the most proficient authority to practice vigilance over specified associations of the Christian faithful.
The 1980 schema was a summary of the 1977 schema’s action on vigilance and jurisdiction over associations by eradicating the role of episcopal conference in respect to national associations. In the context of the coetus which discusses the people of God schema, the Monsignor Secretary made a suggestion that would oversee limiting the faculty of the episcopal conference to erect, practice vigilance and manage associations of the faithful. He had a belief that it brought about unnecessary bureaucracy and was against the natural conclusion of the conference which was a pastoral consultative body, but not one with governing aspects. He additionally observed the proficiency of the bishop in exercising vigilance within associations in his territory, as required by the general right of vigilance that oversaw the integrity of faith and custom within the limits of his appropriate diocese. After a mutual agreement was realized, the 1980 schema state that:
§1. All associations of the Christian faithful are under the vigilance of the competent ecclesiastical authority whose responsibility is to take care that the integrity of faith and morals is preserved in them, and to watch let abuses of ecclesiastical discipline creep in; likewise, he has the right and duty of visiting the same in accord with the norm of law and statutes; they are under the governance of the same authority according to the prescription of the canons which follow.
§2. Under the vigilance of the Holy See are associations which they themselves have generated; under the vigilance of the ordinary if the place are diocesan associations and also foreign associations which operate in the diocese.
With the elimination of the Episcopal conferences, the vigilance of the Holy See and the ordinary of the place were the only one mentions as the proficient ecclesiastical authorities that had the power and mandate to exercise vigilance.
The 1983 code of canon law addressed associations of the Christian faithful under one title, on association of the Christian faithful. This title is made up of four chapters; common norms, on public associations of the Christian faithful, on private associations of the Christian faithful and special norms on associations of the laity. The common norms identify diverse types of associations in the 1983 code. For instance, catholic associations, clerical associations and third orders. To make the study understandable, focus is placed to the broader differences of public and private associations which are realized by juridical status.
The canon 299 highlights the notion of private associations:
§1. By means of a private agreement made among themselves, the Christian faithful are free to establish associations to pursue the purposes mentioned in canon 298, §1, without prejudice to the prescript of canon 301, §1
§2. Even if ecclesiastical authority praises or recommends them, associations of this type are called private associations
§3. No private association of the Christian faithful is recognized in the church unless competent authority reviews its statutes
The first paragraph of this canon is a repetition of canon 215 of the 1983 code which addressed the right to associate. Keep in mind that two elements are found here. The first is an expression “by means of a private agreement made among themselves” relates to the phrase “de-facto associations “which are associations of the Christian faithful who are fully organized within themselves, and don’t require any official credit from proficient ecclesiastical authority. The second, besides restating canon 215, canon 299, §1 does not include several devotions that might be taken up by associations created by private consensus. This is in line with what relates directly to the proficiency of ecclesiastical authority such as teaching doctrines under the wings of the church.
Praise and positive comments that are accorded to an association formed by private consensus through the ecclesiastical authority, does not personally make the association a private juridic person. Praise and commendation does not credit any judicial status, but however gives an equivalent to a pastoral recognition.
The concept of public associations is found in canon 301 which states that:
§1. It is for the competent ecclesiastical authority alone to erect associations of the Christian faithful which propose to hand on Christian doctrine in the name of the church or to promote public worship, or which intend other purposes whose pursuit is of its nature reserved to the same ecclesiastical authority.
§2. Competent ecclesiastical authority, if it has judged it expedient, can also erect associations of the Christian faithful to pursue directly or indirectly other spiritual purposes whose accomplishment has not been sufficiently provided for through the initiatives if private persons.
§3. Associations of the Christian faithful which are erected by competent ecclesiastical authority are called public associations.
Looking at the first paragraph of canon 301, it assures the elite right of the proficient ecclesiastical authority to create specific types of associations of the faithful; those that will promote public worship in the long run, or those whose agenda extends to other aspects whose search is set aside by their nature to ecclesiastical authority.
Canon 298 §1 gives a brief description of the promotion of public worship or Christian doctrine as drives for associations of the Christian faithful. Canon 301 §1 covers the contribution of the faithful in associations that are dedicated to themselves in relation to purposes of promotion of public worship. Proficiency of ecclesiastical authority is only prudent when establishing these associations. The reason behind these differences is that the associations of the Christian faithful focus on teaching Christian doctrine under the church’s name and to endorse public worship activities within the capability of the ecclesiastical authority.
Proficiency of the ecclesiastical authority greatly relies on the type of public association. The Holy See has the go ahead of establishing universal and international associations. The bishop’s conference can embark on establishing national associations within its region. The diocesan bishop is allowed to establish diocesan associations within his region. However, it should be noted that within the same region, apostolic privilege earns the right to establish specified associations. The effective establishment of associations reserved to others by apostolic privilege within a diocese needs one to have a written consent of the diocesan bishop. The aspect of establishment by church authority is the reason behind the association of the faithful in public; otherwise, it should remain as a private association. Establishments established by the ecclesiastical authority are administrated by ecclesiastical authority and offered a mission within the church as a way of finding direction. The sequential goods are deliberated as “goods of the church” (bona ecclesiastica) with proficient ecclesiastical authority which has a big mandate in the supervision of goods recognized associations is covered primarily by related statutes, with no outstanding mission to be exercised. The sequential goods are not realized or considered as “goods of the church” while its members are accorded with a big role in their administration as per the statutes.
Proficient ecclesiastical authority preserves the right and duty to carry out vigilance within the Christian community. A particular level of vigilance of the church is supported by both canon and the specific laws of the statutes, relating to the association with the Christian faithful in the granting of the juridical status.
Canon 305 states:
§1. All associations of Christ’s faithful are subject to the vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority which is to take care that the integrity of faith and morals is preserved in them and is to watch so that abuse does not creep into ecclesiastical discipline. This authority therefore has the duty and right to inspect them according to the norm of law and the statutes. These associations are also subject to the governance of this same authority according to the prescripts of the canons which follow.
§2. Associations of any kind are subject to the vigilance of the Holy See; diocesan associations and other associations to the extent that they work in the diocese is subject of the vigilance of the local ordinary.
Different opinions have been given relating to the scope of the first paragraph of the cannon. Roch Page states that from the canon context, it related only to private and public associations while conferring that; “it might be applicable to every association of the faithful whether or not such an association enjoys juridical status in the church.”
In relation to the extended stance relating to vigilance, Jose Gutierrez suggests that “In association with conciliar and post conciliar doctrine, canon 305 §1 establishes a general norm with respect to the relationship of associations of the Christian faithful and ecclesiastical authority; all associations of the faithful, no matter what kind they are, are under the authority and vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority.”
Vigilance of the local ordinary relating to diocesan associations that practice their apostolate in his diocese are founded in the confines of the ecclesiastical authority to watch over associations and secure the integrity of faith and morals, and also prevent abuses in ecclesiastical discipline as illustrated in canons 315, 319, 323 and 325 if the 1983 code that will be addressed later in this section.
As per the requirements of canon 305, all associations, whether private or public are subject to vigilance. The diocesan bishop preserves the right and duty of vigilance over associations of the Christian faithful that he has established in his diocese ad other associations that function in his diocese relating to issues of integrity preservation of faith and morals, not forgetting matters of ecclesiastical discipline. Even b reviewing canon 305, you will realize that he has the right and duty of inspection, which is in agreement with the law and the statutes.
Canon 315 is concerned with the role of vigilance or in other terms, higher direction:
Public associations are able on their own initiative to undertake endeavors in keeping with their own character. These endeavors are governed according o the norm of the statutes, though under the higher direction of the ecclesiastical authorities mentioned in canon 312 §1.
Canon 315 is the perfect example of the principle of subsidiarity. Associations may be involved with projects that are in line with their own character, but looking at associations established or practicing their apostolate in a diocese, the diocesan bishop is to make sure that the whole policy and specific activities are true to the purpose of the association expressed in their statutes. This needs a sense of equilibrium between the members of the association and the diocesan bishop. The balance required that covers the right intention of the association and obedience to authority is based in the encyclical of Pope Pius XI Nose s Conocida that was made available on March 28th, 1937:
It will be for you, venerable brethren, placed by the holy spirit to rule the church of God, to give the final practical decision in these cases (of associations, in this case, catholic action), to which the faithful will give their obedience and fidelity according to your instructions. And this is extremely close to our heart because the right intention and obedience are always and everywhere the indispensable conditioned to draw down the divine blessings upon the pastoral ministry and upon catholic action. With all our spirit, therefore, we conjure the good Mexican Catholics to hold obedience and discipline dear. ‘Obey your prelates and subject to them, for they watch as being to render an account of your souls.’ And let this obedience be full of joy and a stimulus to greater energies.
The encyclical clearly highlights that the diocesan bishop and the association work in a cycle. When the association puts into practice its apostolate in the diocese to assist the bishop, it recognized the right of the diocese bishop to exercise vigilance with regard to its actions. The conciliar decree, Apostolicam actuositatem, while discovering the group apostolate of catholic action endorses the complimentary roles of the hierarchy and the laity:
The laity whether coming of their own accord or in response to an invitation to action and direct cooperation with the hierarchical apostolate, acts under the superior direction of the hierarchy, which can authorize this cooperation. Besides, with an explicit mandate.
Within the confines of temporal goods, public associations also face high direction of the diocesan bishop within his territory. Canon 319 §1 and §2 states:
§1 unless other provision has been made, a legitimately erected public association administers the goods which it possesses according to the norm of the statutes under the higher direction of the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in canon 312 §, to which it must render an account of administration each year.
§2 it must also render to the same authority a faithful account of the expenditure of the offerings and alms which it has collected
Public associations refer to their goods as “ecclesiastical goods” due to the fact that they turn into juridic persons by the decree that establishes them as public associations. This adds up as a reference addressing the proficient authority erected in canon 312 §1. The diocesan bishop ensures vigilance is observed over the goods of a diocesan public association or any other public association in his territory, this oversees the good use of the goods in line with the statutes relating to it.
Apart from meeting the requirements of the statutes that have been approved by the diocesan bishop, a diocesan public association “must extract an account of administration yearly” within the limits of the same authority. The utilization of offerings received and alms should be subject to this reporting. The forms to be used in gathering the required data or information has to be created within the statutes or by local custom with relevance to canon 1287 found in book V on temporal goods.
Christian faithful own the right to render and administer private associations. As a way of getting recognition, the relative associations should have their statutes reviewed by a proficient authority. The ecclesiastical authorities addressed in canon 312 §1 awards a formal decree that establishes private associations into private juridic persons. To reach to a point of becoming juridic persons, private associations should seek approval for their statutes by the same authorities. With regard to associations of the Christian faithful erected by the diocesan bishop, he is the proficient ecclesiastical authority in accordance to canon 312 §1, 3o. He also has the mandate of vigilance over private associations that are popular in other ecclesiastical authority, but functions within his diocese. Vigilance of the diocesan bishop over private associations can be seen in canon 323 of the 1983 code:
§1although private associations of the Christian faithful possess autonomy according to the norm of canon 321, they are subject to the vigilance of ecclesiastical authority according to the norm of canon 305 and even to the governance of the same authority
§2 it also pertains to ecclesiastical authority, while respecting the autonomy proper to private associations, to be watchful and careful that dissipation of their energies is avoided and that their exercise of the apostolate is ordered to the common good
Looking at the first paragraph of canon 323, equilibrium has been achieved between the autonomy of private associations of the Christian faithful and the norm of management by the diocesan bishop. This mirrors canon 223 that accords the proficient authority the right to regulate the exercise of the rights of Christ’s faithful, for example, the right to associate in perception of nurturing the common good.
Jointly, the entire Christian faithful share in the collective responsibility of exercising rights as they concurrently respect the common good of the church. This common good addressed pertains to all the conditions that are essential for the people of God to achieve their appropriate ends. This is a deliberation of the rights and duties that we all owe to each other, human beings are social by nature, but do not exist in isolation. Robert Kaslyn on Christian faithful states that:
The church as communion emphasizes the mutual interdependence and cooperation among the faithful. A responsible exercise of rights presupposes a process of reflection on a number of different factors; the person as an individual with obligations and rights, the person as a member of the community of faith; the person as possessing particular duties towards others arising from a specific office and the exercise of rights by other members of that same community. The exercise of rights must both foster a personal relationship with god as well as facilitate the common vocation of the church to proclaim the gospel.
Relating to canon 305 §2, the diocesan bishop is mandated to exercise vigilance to make sure that the common good is protected within his diocese relating to associations of the Christian faithful. With review of the sources for canon 323, a long response can be seen from the sacred congregation of the council, which dates back to November 13th, 1920. It relates to the status of the society of St. Vincent de Paul. The multitude came to a conclusion that even though society was never to be considered either a religious union or a confraternity, ecclesiastical authority still maintained its right and duty of vigilance. Conclusively, this handed the diocesan bishop vigilance over private associations even when the independence of the private association is stated in canon 323.
With review of the second paragraph in canon 323 of the 1983 code, its origins rely on the decrees of Vatican II on the pastoral office of bishops in the church and the apostolate of the laity. Both of the documents explain the function of vigilance of the diocesan bishop, relating to associations of the Christian faithful. One should not understand the function of vigilance of ecclesiastical authority as interference in the internal affairs of the association, but as a solid example of its mandate to coordinate the apostolate, which in turn promotes the unity of the diocese. The canon made a broad highlight that the autonomy of these associations should be treated with respect, but the same autonomy does not live them out as part of a coordinated approach to the apostolate, which aims at avoiding unnecessary and stressing duplication and indulgence of forces.
Proficient ecclesiastical authority still has a mandate of vigilance over the temporal goods of a private association as written in canon 325 §1 of the 1983 code of canon law which states:
§1 a private association of the Christian faithful freely administers those goods it possesses according to the prescripts of the statutes, without prejudice to the right of competent ecclesiastical authority to exercise vigilance so that the goods are used for the purposes of the association
Canon 325 §1of the 1983 code presumes that the private associations has no intention of becoming a juridic person, and that the members of the private association can obtain and own goods as co-owners and co-possessors. The statutes related to this must mention the right of the members to acquire goods, which ideally explain the provisions of canon 325 §1 that states that a private association of the Christian faithful generously administer those goods it owns according to the rules of the statutes. This should also highlight the need to understand that the proficient ecclesiastical authority has the right to exercise vigilance so that the goods are utilized as per the needs of the association. Should any form of abuse arise, the ecclesiastical authority has the right to intervene.
Relations of the Christian faithful, in the context of both the public and private relish opposing levels of independence in their day to day functioning. Keep in mind the private associations possess more independence when compared to public associations. With review of canon 305 §1, the total associations are subject to the progressive vigilance of proficient ecclesiastical authority within the confines of faith and morals and the public apostolate.
When a specified association of the Christian faith goes against the norms and standards of faith, morals, or ecclesiastical discipline, the diocesan bishop reserves the right and duty to invoke necessary action. This chapter will extensively explore the role of the diocesan bishop relating to vigilance and the associations of the Christian faithful in his diocese, background for the vigilance exercise, the requirements that warrant the diocesan bishop to exercise this vigilance within his jurisdiction, and the anticipated results that are to be brought about by the vigilance exercise. Relating to canon 305, §2, the resident commoner exercises the role of vigilance within associations of the Christian faithful, established or performing its duties within his diocese. With review of the subsidiary principle, it is a reliable premise that church leaders might share in the vigilance over the associations within their parishes. This will then hand them the duty of reporting activities of the associations of the Christian faithful in their parishes to the diocesan bishop. Canon 305 §2 states:

“Associations of any kind are subject to the vigilance of the Holy See; diocesan associations and other associations to the extent that they work in the diocese are subject to the vigilance of the local ordinary.”
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as he was highlighting the time limits that are on both the pastors and bishops, shared his belief about the organization between the diocesan bishop and the priest in relation to visitation and education of members of associations. He said that:
“It is necessary for the bishop, as it is for the pastor in his own area, to accompany them (members of associations), to talk with them. To know what is going on. To be part of their lives. Have the will to accept the challenges that they face. To be willing to correct, to be willing to monitor, to be willing to guide and to be willing to love them.”
The Holy Father John Paul II gave out the following appeal:
“Dear brothers in the episcopate, I ask you, whose task is to discern the authenticity of charisms in order to make the best use of the within the church, to show fatherly magnanimity and far-sighted charity towards these realities, because every human achievement requires time and patience for its proper and indispensable purification. I am convinced, venerable brothers, that your attentive and heartfelt willingness, together with appropriate meetings for prayer, reflection and friendship will make your authority more welcome but also demanding, your instructions more effective and incisive, the ministry entrusted to you to utilize the charisms for the common good more fruitful. Your first duty in fact is to open the eyes of the heart and mind to recognize the many forms of the spirit’s presence in the church, to examine the closely, and to lead them all to unity and charity.”
The Holy Father highlights the relationship between the bishop and the association. This relationship that comprises of fraternal authority, practiced through vigilance, is greatly required when an association of the Christian faithful goes against the norms of faith, or morals, or public apostolate that has a direct influence on the common good. Practicing vigilance over private associations provides an opportunity or challenge for a diocesan bishop. Private association may result to not seeking juridic status. This in turn can give out the perception of freedom from the vigilance by the diocesan bishop within his diocese, even though according to canon 305 §1, all associations of the Christian faithful are categorized under the vigilance of the proficient authority.
Even though the church authority has no jurisdiction over unknown associations, it has authority over individual members of the association. Canon 223, §2, states that ecclesiastical authority has proficiency to regulate the exercise of rights related to the Christian faithful. This can be achieved in the following ways:
Church authority can forbid the faithful from joining unrecognized associations
The church authority can deny unrecognized associations from using church premises or structures
In a case where unrecognized associations make plans against the church, the Christian faithful who join them should face punishment and interdiction done for the leaders.
Authority can manage the raising of funds by unrecognized associations the same way it regulates for those institutions that are recognized. This is in line with the permissions required to raise funds in the churches relating to a specific purpose or for the development of a religious institution.
As freedom falls into perception, liability becomes a major issue of concern. Unrecognized associations have no specified ecclesiastical approval and may as well not classify their religion orientation as catholic. The incapability to signify one’s association as a firm catholic member may pose a negative effect on the recruitment of members, and raising the income required. Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, secretary of the pontifical council of the laity stated in an interview that there exist ‘teething issues’ within the diverse associations, which relate to the problem of vigilance by the diocesan bishop, or the pastors within the diocese. He states:
“Some movements have absoluteness in terms of membership, and a sense of superiority over existing associations, accompanied by the desire to impose their own group on others. Movements can be hampered by bishops and priests who are influenced by their lack of knowledge of the movements, or by pastoral prejudices and mistrust. Each association’s charism needs some free space because only in this way can it achieve the desired results. The phenomenon of the ecclesial movements challenges everyone; bishops, pastors and movements. Each must assume his own responsibility.”
This above statement covers two issues. The first issue concerns the propensity within some associations to become too narrowly embedded on their own tasks (juridically recognized or not), to the disadvantage of the larger church. Our church s universal, and the associations are needed to be open to everyone who has the qualifications required by the statutes. In the event that the Church does not endorse this point of view, then the institution does not serve the collective mission of the church. Ideally, a connection needs to be present between experience and mission of the association, and the reality if the local church, and the universal church in which they were founded and acquired their expression from.
The other issue encompasses the inclination relating to the issue of some bishops and priests who turn out to be heavy-handed and oppressing with issues that concern vigilance over associations or movements. Their actions might be based on ignorance which they eventually react in line with it as a way of protecting their beliefs or what they deem as theirs to offer the required protection. They might also have a belief that the associations have a plot to take over their parish or diocese. To some extent, some cases might prove this true, but it should be noted that only true action of discernment on all relevant facts can steer these areas of expressing faith, and allow the associations to express their founding charism. Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, an Archbishop of Paris had the following thought concerning the mission of authority:
“The bishop’s mission is not only to authenticate the gift of God for the good of the ones who receive it, but also to help to put it at the service of all, and of peace and unity in the church. It is his responsibility to ascertain that its fecundity will bring the fruits God wills.”
The question that requires attention is: how is vigilance to be exercised as a way to show respect to the independence of the association, the rights of the Christian faithful to associate, the common good of the Christian faithful, and the responsibility of the proficient ecclesiastical authority? Under many circumstances, the diocesan bishop gets to hear of the association of the Christian faithful only when a crisis occurs. He might not even be aware that such an association exists in his diocese. With the rise in concern, he is bound to hear and learn everything about the association. Another question of interest is: “How does the diocesan bishop protect his diocese and his people from emergency situations where he has little power to act, but can only react as a control measure of the damage caused?” With review to this, the structures of vigilance come into action here. Four main areas required for the exercise of vigilance that are realized include responsibility, knowledge, education, and cooperation. They all are aspects that contribute to the fulfillment of the right and duties of vigilance.
The diocesan bishop is warranted with the responsibility to exercise vigilance over associations that are within his diocese, without placing unnecessary focus on how vigilance will be handled. The appointment of a diocesan representative, capable of coordinating associations in all available forms and also follow through with their development will be one sure way of dealing with this situation. The representative is allowed to keep contact with parishes that are within the diocese, and work together with pastors or members of the pastoral staff to identify associations within the parish, under private or public aspects. Information will be collected by the pastor or parish contact by going through the parish records. The diocesan representative is also warranted the right to publish a series of articles in the diocesan newspaper, relating to the nature of associations. Additionally, they may also ask for those who are associated with the descriptions offered in the newspaper and give out the contact that they can reach him with.
These associations will lead to the securing of a specified day where associations will be invited and their pastors and them will network, pray together, do inquiries and also asked to share information. Such information may include an account of their association, statutes, and any decrees or documents that relate to their establishment or recognition by proficient authority, the number of times they have met, the actions that have been undertaken, future prospects and contact persons. This information is to be availed o the parish representative or the diocesan representative and both are required to store this information in a specified file that they are to update annually. This will allow the pastors to have a track record of the associations that are within his parish and gain knowledge of those he did not know of.
This information on associations of the Christian faithful within the diocese, that is based on canon 305, §1, and §2, and canon 223, §2, that cover the ecclesial authority right to coordinate the exercise of rights of the Christian faithful, will highlight the support system for the diocesan bishop which he will utilize in a case where violation of faith or morals are experienced, or when difficulty arises from the exercise of public apostolate within the association he is based.
When a problem is raised and the diocesan bishop, or his representative gains knowledge about it, they both work together to enact a procedure that is to be followed as a way of exercising vigilance. This might entail the following:
A preliminary investigation that aims at discovering the violation committed within the association of the christen faithful, thus warranting undivided attention.
It triggers the diocesan bishop or his representative to gather enough facts that give an account of the violation as a way of ensuring it is valid, after finding out that the issue at hand requires attention, a decision has to be drafted to find a suitable way to handle the situation. The diocesan bishop may inquire from the pastor the location of the association affected and find ways to motivate the leaders of the association to seek remedies to the situation. The results of a meeting of associates should be noted down and shared with all related parties to ensure each and every person has a draft that addresses the issue of concern.
The diocesan representative can arrange a meeting with the leaders of the affected association. This will be the best way to acquire relevant information and a clarification of the issues that need to be addressed. The information should be circulated in written form to ensure that all parties involved are imparted with decisions that were made. After all this, if no cooperation is achieved, then the local ordinary is required to take up the duty and responsibility to exercise vigilance within the levels of the diocesan as a way of finding a reliable solution. A meeting with all the heads and representatives involved with the case should be conducted, as a way of aligning the codes of conduct relating to ethical ecclesial practice. If this does not work, a conciliation or arbitration process may be adapted by all members involved. It this still brings no equity; the local ordinary is obligated to give a word around within members of the diocese not to partake in any activities of the affected association. In a case where the association in question is public and diocesan, then the diocesan bishop is obligated to suppress it within the laws of canon 320 §§2 and 3 after a sit down with the moderator and affected high officials of the association. For private associations, laws of canon 326, §1 are used to suppress the affected association. If the offence committed by the private association has brought about extensive harm to the ecclesiastical doctrine, the laws of canon 1374 are enforced as punishment. They focus on punishment for anyone who tries to join an association which works against the church, and an interdiction for the leader of the affected association.
After an association comes up with a decision for the appropriate plan for action, a project relating to long-term education will be endorsed. This will provide them with access to educational opportunities that will improve the validity and intellectual prowess of their activities. The diocesan representative is then required to create a database of videos, texts, and offerings that associations can use. Cooperation is vital in making vigilance work and this connects from the associations, to the parishes, diocesan bishop or his representative. Achieving cooperation is prudent in ensuring conflicts are avoided and communication is crucial in all steps. The success of either public or private associations can only be made possible if there is cooperation between proficient ecclesiastical authority, and the leaders of the associations.
Many of the Christian faithful have created their own associations following the ancient traditions. Proficient ecclesiastical authority has been vigilant of these associations as faith has been the roots of their daily lives. Looking at the life in church, associations of the Christian faithful have offered insight in regard to involvement within the apostolate of the church. Each association serves a purpose and charism which the believers associated with as manifestation of the kingdom. Pope John Paul II has in many ways, addressed the why the charism of associations has specified purposes that serve the Christian faithful. This is all possible only under good attention, proficient ecclesiastical authority, and good communication. Within a diocese, the bishop preserves the right and duty of vigilance regarding to issues related to morals, fail and ecclesiastical discipline. This is with respect to associations of the Christian faithful established or well-known in his diocese and also associations that practice their apostolate within the bishop’s diocese when in instances where it is established and recognized by a different ecclesiastical authority. The rights of associations and individuals in associations are to be well balanced with the right of the diocesan bishop to put into practice his vigilance role. This balance is crucial in the complementary vision of what adds up as the common good of the people of God. If the right balance is achieved on the autonomy of associations of the Christian faithful and vigilance of the diocesan bishop, new forms of christen life will be open for every Christian faithful willing to exorcise his or her faith while passing on the apostolate of the church to a new generation of christfidelis. The first chapter examined the development of ecclesiastical vigilance toward associations of the faithful in the life of the Church. The purpose of this undertaking is to surgically lay the groundwork for how vigilance as exercised by competent ecclesiastical authority has been juridically relevant through the ages. First, the chapter dealt with developments up to 1917, beginning with the earliest appearance of ecclesiastical vigilance over associations, known historically as societies, then proceeding to its treatment in the first acts of universal legislation on associations in 1604, and concluding with an examination of vigilance as it came to be regulated in the 1917 Code. It examined canons that describe associations and distinguish their types (c.685; 700; 702; 707; 708) and gave special attention to those that specifically concerned vigilance (cc.684; 690; 691; 1503; 1515). Then, the chapter traced the development of the function of vigilance throughout the process of Vatican II. Examining the ante-preparatory, preparatory and promulgated documents of Vatican II, it demonstrated how the function of vigilance was eventually broadened in scope and was seen as a right and duty of the competent ecclesiastical authority. The chapter concluded with a look at how the Magisterium after Vatican II treats the matter of vigilance toward associations and, in particular, toward ecclesial movements which represents new forms of associative fact in the Church. Pertinent papal teachings, especially those of Saint John Paul II, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, are highlighted with a view toward presenting to the reader the relevance of ecclesiastical vigilance in contemporary church life. Vigilance, as a tool for watchfulness in the Church, cannot be denounced from the development of the Church, regardless of the costs that may be experienced or witnessed.
Amos, J. R., “Associations of the Christian Faithful in the 1983 Code of Canon Law”, Michigan 1986.
Carbone, V. “Vatican Council II: Light for the Church and for the Modern World.” Retrieved from:, C. “Papal Pronouncements: A Guide: 1740-1978.” Pierian Press, 1990.
Deck, F. A., «America: Where Laity Flourish – Movements Play Growing Role In Church’s Life», America 08/04/2006 [accessed: 09/06/2011],
Dinh, D. D., « The Christian Formation of the Laity and Lay Missionary Efforts in Asia», Congress of Asian Catholic Laity “Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today”, Seoul, Korea 31/08-05/09/2010 [accessed: 09/06/2011],
Donnelly, D., ed., Retrieving Charisms for the Twenty–First Century, Collegeville, MN 1999.
Doran, T., «Rights and Duties of Pastors», Canon Law Society of America Proceedings (1993) 182-192.
Dulles, A., A Church to Believe In, New York 1992.
Granfield, P., «The Church Local and Universal: Realization of Communion», The Jurist 49 (1989) 449-471.
Green, T., «The Pastoral Governance Role of the Diocesan Bishop: Foundations, Scope and Limitations», The Jurist 49 (1989) 472-506.
______, «Rights and Duties of Diocesan Bishops», Canon Law Society of America Proceedings (1983) 18-36.
Gutierrez, S., «That All May Be One: Diocese Celebrates Ministry of Ecclesial Movements», The Tablet: The Catholic Perspective on News and Opinion from Brooklyn and Queens, 15/11/2008, 12-13.
Hanna, T., New Ecclesial Movements, New York 2006.
Haughey, J. C., «Charisms: An Ecclesiological Exploration», in D. Donnelly, ed., Retrieving Charisms for the Twenty-First Century, Collegeville, MN 1999, 1-16.
Hayes, M.A.ed., New Religious Movements in the Catholic Church, London – New York 2005.
Ghirlanda, G.,«Charism and Juridical Status of the Ecclesial Movements», in Pontifical Council for the Laity, ed., Movements in the Church, Vatican City 1999, 131-148.
———, «Criteria of Ecclesiality for the Recognition of the Ecclesial Movements by the Diocesan Bishop», in Pontifical Council for the Laity, ed., The Ecclesial Movements in the Pastoral Concern of the Bishops, Vatican City 2000, 203-213.
Istituto Martín de Azpilcueta, ed., Code of Canon Law Annotated, Gratianus Collection Series, Woodridge, IL 2004².
______, Exegetical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, Gratianus Collection Series, Chicago, IL 2004.
Komonchak, Joseph A., “History of Vatican II: Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II Toward a New Era in Catholicism.” New York: Orbis, 1995.

Sunny, M., «Youth Evangelization and Youth Pastoral Ministry», Congress of Asian Catholic Laity «Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today», Seoul, Korea 31/08-05/09/2010, [accessed: 09/06/2011],
Vatican Council II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicamactuositatem, 18/11/1965, AAS58 (1966) 837-864, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 766-798.
______, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatisredintegratio, 21/11/1964, AAS57 (1965) 90-112, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 452-470.
______, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad gentesdivinitus, 07/12/1965, AAS 58 (1966) 947-990, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 813-856.
———, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests Presbyterorumordinis, 07/12/1965, AAS 991-1024, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 863-902.
______, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 28/10/1965, AAS 58 (1966) 673-701, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 564-590.
______, Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatishumanae, 07/12/1965, AAS 58 (1966) 929-946, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 799-812.
______, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 21/11/1964, AAS57 (1965) 5-75, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 350-426.
______, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 07/12/1965, AAS 58 (1966) 1025-1115, English version in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II, I, Northport, NY 1996, 903-1001.
Zabrina, R.D. “The Role of Vigilance of the Diocesan Bishop with Respect to Associations of the Christian Faithful.” The Catholic University of America, 2001.

Free The vigilance of competent ecclesiastical authority toward ecclesial movements Dissertation Example

All Examples

Do you need an original paper?

Approach our writing company and get top-quality work written from scratch strictly on time!

Get an original paper