Monday, February 22, 2010

On Property and “Mission”

(Or, “Who could get your home if you take your home to Rome?”)

There has been considerable discussion on this and other blogs concerning property rights under the recent Apostolic Constitution. Specifically, there have been questions raised as to whether the soon-to-be (or, perhaps, currently) former Anglicans will be able to retain their parish property without interference from “Mother Church”. After all, this is a particularly touchy point for traditional Anglicans whose litigation over the last 30 years with the formerly-Christian sect variously known as PECUSA, ECUSA and TEC has read like the Wreck of the Hesperus. There should be an even deeper concern given the ongoing level of litigation concerning sexual misconduct by Roman Catholic clergy, again reaching fever pitch here in the States (Delaware) and across the pond (Ireland), and the concomitant fire sale of properties in various dioceses around the United States and the world.

We should be clear at the outset. In the U.S. the Catholic Church collects revenues totaling around $7.5 billion annually. Even more impressive are its vast property holdings, which include everything from cathedrals and schools to beachfront retreats, mansions, golf courses and even television and radio stations. And this is just at the diocesan and archdiocesan levels, and does not account for the holdings of religious orders, societies and the like. For example, the diocese covering Stockton, California operated the wholly-separate Roman Catholic Welfare Corporation, worth an estimated $400 million. Each of the 178 Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. organizes its affairs separately; nearly all employ a highly complex and decentralized legal structure.

As litigation has intensified, the dioceses and organizations have sought new ways to protect their assets from the claims of the molested and abused. In the case of one option gaining popularity among a range of Catholic communities, some schools and parishes have established corporations to give themselves complete independence, even from their local diocese. Ironically, the hierarchical RCC is taking positions with respect to church property ownership far more lax than that of the U.S. Episcopal Church! Predictably, this has been met with challenges, particularly in the ongoing Delaware litigation in which the diocese asserted that parishes own their own property, and the few sole assets amenable to judgment to the abused were the diocesan headquarters and residence.

Who Owns Rome’s Homes

According to canon law, Catholic Church property belongs to the juridic person that lawfully acquired it. (c. 1256) A physical person, such as a bishop or a parish pastor, cannot lawfully, according to canon law, own church property; however, physical persons are the administrators of church property. A “juridic person” is the canonical equivalent of a civil law corporation, though not precisely equal to it in nature. In the 1983 code, a juridic person is an equity that is the subject of law, rights and obligations. For example, a diocese is a juridic person.

An administrator is a canonical office that confers specific powers including the power to alienate or change ecclesiastical property on the incumbent. Church property, known in the code as ecclesiastical property, is any property or goods owned by a juridic person. It includes land, buildings and their contents, and sacred vessels. It consists of anything that has value.

Juridic persons come into existence by a decree, either explicit or implicit, issued by Church authority competent to do so. The main juridic persons under consideration here is the “Ordinariate” being formed under the Apostolic Constitution.

In case anyone missed it, the pope, as the incumbent of the Holy See, is the supreme authority over the entire RCC. However, the Holy See does not own the church property of all Catholic entities subordinate to it. However, because the pope has universal jurisdiction over the entire Church, he has form of eminent domain over church property that belongs to subordinate bodies. This means that, while the pope cannot claim ownership of local churches, he has the jurisdiction or power to sell them (c. 1273).

The means whereby church property is held depends on the regulations of the Code of Canon Law, the nature of the property in question, and the civil laws and customs of the place where the property is located. In the United States, church property has been mainly held over the past two centuries in three ways: Parish Corporation, Corporation Sole, and in Fee Simple.

Authority over church property rests with the administrators who are given a variety of powers in the code concerning administration. One of the primary acts of power is the alienation of church property. Alienation is the sale, gift, long-term loan or mortgage, or any action that weakens or eliminates control over the property by the juridic person that holds dominion or ownership.

When Rome Doesn’t Need a Home

There are specific norms in canon law for alienation. An administrator of church property (bishop or pastor) cannot simply sell or otherwise alienate any church property under his authority. Depending on the nature of the property and its value, he is required to seek permission. Basically, a bishop cannot alienate any church property whose value exceeds $5 million without the explicit permission of the Holy See through the Vatican Congregation of Bishops.

In order to retain control over church properties in the United States, all forms of civil tenure somehow involve a diocesan bishop. In their book Church Property, Church Finances and Related Church Corporations, Adam Cardinal Maida and Nicholas Cafardi stated that Corporation Sole was the preferable civil law means for diocese to hold church property. Thus, each diocesan parish would be a corporation with one member, the diocesan bishop. In other methods of incorporation, the bishop would be an ex-officio member with other members chosen from the diocesan consultors and often including the pastor in parishes.

While it is not precisely true to say that the diocesan bishop or the diocese, as a separate juridic entity, owns the church property of each parish, it is true that the bishop, as the sole agent of the diocese, has administrative control over each parish. Were a bishop to create separate corporations for each parish with a board totally distinct from the diocesan administration, significant problems would arise if a parish community, through its board, were to challenge his decision to close a parish, or if itself were to close a parish or otherwise dispose of significant parish holdings.
Tom Kyle, “Ownership of Church Property”.

When You Give Rome Your Home

Where does all of this leave the continuing Anglican folk who take their property to Rome? Let’s be blunt: the Roman Catholic Church did not sign the Affirmation of St. Louis. Novel legal theories to avoid pedophilia and sexual abuse judgments notwithstanding, absolute ownership by the laity has not been the historic method of ownership for RCC parishes in the United States or elsewhere. Will the Apostolic Constitution be “special” in this regard? Well…

First, the recognition of an entity as a juridic person in canon law does not abrogate the principle of hierarchy. Although the parish is a separate juridic person with the right to private property (dominum or proprietas), it remains part of the diocese and subject to the authority (imperium) of the diocesan bishop.102 Section 1 of Canon 1276 requires that the “Ordinaries must carefully supervise the administration of all the goods which belong to the public juridic persons subject to them . . .” Coughlin, O.F.M., Rev. John J., "Church Property: The Unity of Law and Theology" (February 1, 2007). Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 07-23. As the Ordinary of the diocese, the bishop incurs the obligation to supervise the administration of all the assets of the parishes and other juridic persons under his authority.

Consistent with Vatican II’s theology of the particular church, the juridic personality of the parish does not constitute it as an autonomous unit which may acquire, administer oralienate its property without regard to the authority of the diocesan bishop. Id. The parish is a part of the diocese, and the bishop has both the responsibility and right to exercise the power of governance over it. Section 1 of Canon 381 recognizes that the bishop exercises ordinary, proper and immediate power with the jurisdiction of his diocese. This includes power over any of the temporal goods that belong to the parish.

The hierarchical principle is particularly evident in Section 2 of Canon 515 establishing that only the diocesan bishop may erect, suppress or alter parishes. When a parish is entirely suppressed, Canon 123 requires that the property of the now extinct juridic person be distributed in accord with the suppressed parish’s statutes. (Presumably, the parish statutes and by-laws are drawn in such a way as to insure that the property passes to the diocese, although continuing church parishes routinely have non-conforming organizational documents with respect to their own canons, and these would be subject to review by the RCC.) Now, here’s the rub, in case that the parish statutes provide for the distribution of its property upon extinction, Canon 123 provides that the property reverts to the diocese.

Finally, the ecclesiastical property of a juridic person remains an integral part of the "mission of the Church". All ecclesiastical property is dedicated to the mission of the Church, and serves communities by advancing the mission under the supervision of the appropriate hierarchical figure. Coughlin, Church Property, 36. Any given piece of church property must always be available to serve the common good in light of the gospel ideals of common ownership, apostolic mission, and poverty. Parish property is part of the mission of the diocese as the particular church within the universal Church. The ultimate authority in the diocese with regard to the church’s mission is vested in the diocesan bishop.

Based on Vatican II’s theology of the “particular church”, diocesan bishops retain the right to direct the property under their canonical jurisdiction in accord with what “best advances the mission of the Church.” Id. “It would be an error about canon law if a pastor, parishioner, or group of persons concluded that the diocesan bishop lacked the authority to direct parish property in accord with the Church’s mission.” Id.

Does the Apostolic Constitution Toss You a Bone?

Nothing in the Apostolic Constitution negates or alters this essential principle. It is true under the A-C that, “Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese.” I. §3. It also is true that, under section IV of the A-C, “A Personal Ordinariate is entrusted to the pastoral care of an Ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff.” However, the power of the ordinary of the Ordinariate “is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms.”

And what of the Norms? Article 3 provides that, “The Ordinary [of the Ordinariate], in the exercise of this office, must maintain close ties of communion with the Bishop of the Diocese in which the Ordinariate is present in order to coordinate its pastoral activity with the pastoral program of the Diocese.” The norms are silent as to property matters and in no way modify the 1983 Code of Canon Law on questions of property.

The bottom line: to meet “the mission”, the administrator of the juridical person that is the Ordinariate can deal with property as needed, whether this means being sold as redundant, merged, or offered up to satisfy judgments. One really has to ask the question whether the small properties that comprise most continuing church parishes which actually own property would be needed at all, or would the proceeds of these properties better serve the “mission” of the Ordinariate or the larger RCC? Further, in a season of litigation, might these properties provide tasty morsels to meet the “mission” of satisfying judgment creditors rather than sell properties that would affect established Roman Catholic constituencies?

These are fair questions that cannot be ignored, particularly in light of the bitter history of traditional Anglicans and their parish property. As the Roman Catholic faithful in Boston, Cleveland and so many other places now understand, where differing notions of “mission” clash, it is the ordinary who prevails. And for those who haven’t yet heard, e-bay® is a dandy place to pick up the remnants from the sales of those homes once part of Rome.


Sean W. Reed said...

Thanks for an interesting article.

Many of us, fail to see the connection between believing, as a matter of Faith that the Catholic Faith most completely subsists in the Roman Catholic Church and seeking to avail ourselves of the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and how someone can set that belief aside over property.

If you are simply still a bitter pissed-off former Episcopalian who has not gotten over the 1979 Book of Prayers and the attempted Ordination of Women, and who defines yourself by what you are not, and what you oppose, then perhaps this approach makes sense.

Speaking as one working daily these days with our attorney in the midst of the Discovery Process in the lawsuit between TEC and our parish, I am well aware of the emotional toll and the worry that these disputes can have.

That being said, moving to the Ordinariate is a matter of Faith and confidence in the surety of our Blessed Lord, Himself, that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church.

Just as we are prepared to make a business decision at some point and simply walk away from our property now, why would we take a different view in the Ordinariate and put our wants ahead of the Ordinariate. It's about the faith. Some of you may feel it more fully subsists in Athens than in Rome, but if you really believe what you say you believe then why would you worry about signing your property over to the Church HQ'd in Athens?

Property is not going to be sold and parishes closed that are economically viable. Suggesting otherwise is simply a scare tactic, and speculation grounded upon no warranty of common sense.

On the other hand, if a parish is simply a group of bitter former Episcopalians who simply style themselves as a faithful remnant, who have failed to grow their parishes and carry out their part of the Great Commission, and exist only to insure that their members get to use the 1928 Prayer Book and not have women at the altar, they have already failed.

Our parish is a growing parish. It is not growing because we use the 1928 BCP, (ok we only use it for MP and EP, but still that is not why), its not because of our beautiful liturgy or Solemn Mass which is our Sunday norm from the Missal and about 95% in accord with Ritual Notes, nor is it because of a great location, beautiful vestments, a wonderful Choral Music program, or easy parking.

Our parish grows because we teach the Catholic Faith, administer the Sacraments, offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more than once on Sunday and Wednesday, we read the Office publicly, and we show people the transforming power of the Gospel in their lives and how the merits of Calvary are diffused through grace coming dispersed through the Sacraments, and other channels of grace. We show them how to avail themselves of the means of grace and point them to the hope of glory.

We don't make excuses why we can't manage more that 2 Masses a week (we have six during Lent plus first Saturdays) and MP or EP 5 times a week, public Rosary once a week, with a part time priest and two postulants.

If you do what you should be doing, a lot of other things take care of themselves. Worrying about property, or what the Ordinatiate will mean for my personal situation, is not my worry.

Such concerns I long ago placed in care of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate and Sacred Hearts.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Sean Reed:

I will skip over your irrelevant points about angry people who don't like the '79 book, inasmuch as it was a waste of e-ink for you to make such silly remarks. And, if your parish is growing, as you say, that is, I am sure, good news. It is also rare for a church that offers the things you describe.

You wrote:

Property is not going to be sold and parishes closed that are economically viable. Suggesting otherwise is simply a scare tactic, and speculation grounded upon no warranty of common sense.

Should we then take your word over that of one of the best Canon Law experts in the world? Who are you, then? Where did you study Law, and under whom did you learn Canon Law? Should readers now say, "oh we need not listen to the Rev. Canon Charles Nalls, highly reputed Attorney and Canon Lawyer, on the word of Sean Reed?" Do you have idea who it is you are trying to correct?

You may predict what will happen all you want; I would, if I were involved in an ACA/TAC parish, accept what Fr. Nalls has said: That is, there is no guarantee.

You also wrote:

Many of us, fail to see the connection between believing, as a matter of Faith that the Catholic Faith most completely subsists in the Roman Catholic Church and seeking to avail ourselves of the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and how someone can set that belief aside over property.

Yes, if you believe all that papal Bull then you ought to just surrender everything, including the property. But, we are not the ones promising people that they can have their cake and eat it too.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

(Cont. from above)

And, Sean Reed, it is not correct to contrast Athens against Rome. It is supposed to be contrasted against another city altogether, one that truly is "the holy City" that symbolizes Divine revelation. If you must quote Tertullian, or allude to his words, get the name of that city right.

RSC+ said...


Our task isn't to suggest that property is somehow more important than one's particular faith. Rather, it is to sort out the implications of Anglicanorum Coetibus with regard to the laity.

As I've mentioned before, they are the ones bearing the greatest burden in this whole process. They may be losing the churches they have spent their lives building for "the greater good," even if the building itself is sustainable. This sort of thing happens when the parish suffers neglect or abuse to the interest of the diocese. It's happening in the Roman Catholic Church now throughout the country.

You write, "Property is not going to be sold and parishes closed that are economically viable. Suggesting otherwise is simply a scare tactic, and speculation grounded upon no warranty of common sense."

This would be a fine statement if it were actually true. Parishes do close that are viable, and they are merged with other parishes. It may have nothing to do with the finances, but due to a lack of available clergy. Here again, the laity loses.

Part of the trouble, of course, involves the way Roman Catholic parishes fund themselves. I'm sure others have far more insight into this subject than I do, but here's one critical difference. Your parish currently pays your clergy what it can afford to pay them. In the Roman Catholic Church, priests are supported by a stipend, most often a flat rate paid by the diocese. For example, priests in the Diocese of Savannah are paid $600 / month. This doesn't factor in allowances for housing, food, and transportation, but you see the point: there is no direct connection between the congregation and the support given to their parish priest. It may even be part of why Roman Catholics are notoriously poor tithers. (If you doubt me, compare budgets across denominations.) This is not a libelous statement, and I'm sure it's mostly innocent on the part of the parish.

Bromides about faith are fine and well, but such is not the focus of Canon Nalls' article. Rather, he's investigating what is actually at stake for the laity so that they can make an informed choice.

As a side note, I know you're attempting to insult my Archbishop and the parish where he resides (though I'm not at all sure why) but in an odd sort of way, you're flattering him by giving him more authority than he would ever claim or want.

For what it's worth, everyone in Athens knows God lives there, wears red and black, and utterly abhors any football team that wears an orange uniform. :> (Where else would He live? Florida? Pffft.)

Sean W. Reed said...

Father Hart -

I think Father Nalls' point was not what was likely, but rather what is possible.

I was speaking to what reasonable people would say was likely and not disagreeing with him with what might be possible.

Why would a viable church be closed and sold, and as Father Nalls points out that while property may be vested in the Ordinariate, (not the local RC Diocese) why would the Ordinariate seek to make itself fail?

Further, let's say a parish does not have any property. Will they be not allowed to become part of the Ordinariate?

If they are renting space somewhere, that property is not part of the Ordinariate either. Such a parish could choose to rent space where ever the Ordinariate consents.

I don't know why you find it rare for a place like our parish to be growing. We are a rare type of parish, and have been throughout our existence, but that has never been a barrier to growth.

Consider what may well be a typical Continuing Church weekly schedule:

Sunday Schedule
8:30 AM Morning Prayer
9:00 AM Holy Communion (a Low or said Mass)
10:15 Education, Adults and children's Sunday school
11:00 AM Holy Communion (a sung Mass followed by
fellowship and refreshments)

12:00 Noon Holy Communion
6:00 PM Evening Prayer
7:00 PM Bible Study

1940 Hymnal, Book of Common Prayer, 1928 edition

our normal weekly schedule is at we call a Mass what it is, we don't have to use the BCP name (Holy Communion)to keep from offending a few people. We don't sell what we offer by including what hymnal and what BCP we use.

We simply focus upon the Church's work and the rest takes care of itself.


Anonymous said...

There is a strange illogic in Sean Reed's latest comment. On the one hand, he is

"working daily these days with our attorney in the midst of the Discovery Process in the lawsuit between TEC and our parish"

but at the same time he is perfectly willing to hand over the same property to supra-parochial authorities (Ordinariate, diocese, whatever)in the Roman Catholic Church.

This is roughly analogous to the dsconnect which on the one hand accepts Apostolicae Curae and yet goes merrily along acting as though TAC Orders were valid.

Truly Alice in Wonderland!


Fr. Nalls said...

Whoa, there! The article is about what could happen to parish property-a specific question or set of questions raised here on the blog. As Mr. Reed now knows from working with his own parish attorney, property is everything to the sect formerly known as the Episcopal Church. It is tough to see a place dedicated to the work of Christ stolen away by those who do not. For parishes echo the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12:1-3)-not just a place, but a people and the redemption of those people. Hence, the concern forged in loss-a loss I pray that Mr. Reed's parish never experiences. At least, as he states, they are prepared to make a decision to walk away from their propert if need be. That is a point of mature assessment that many in church litigation never reach.

While I appreciate Fr. Hart's kind remarks, I am simply a clergyman and lawyer who has been through too much property litigation as counsel and occasional expert witness. And, yes, I have advised Roman Catholic parishes-viable parishes-facing closure. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the RCC has closed economically sustainable parishes. That is not a "scare tactic, and speculation grounded upon no warranty of common sense." It is a plan fact, as unpleasant for those seeking greener fields to face.

I commend to your attention the recent round of closings in the Diocese of Cleveland. Twenty-nine of the Diocese's 224 parishes were named to close outright, while another 41 have been instructed to merge with one or more neighboring parishes. These include a number of Cleveland's oldest nationality parishes like St. George's Lithuanian on Superior Avenue. I hope that sufficiently factual.

If not, perhaps we should look at the Boston closings in 2004 as a statistical case. Average Sunday attendance among the closed was 559. For some parts of Anglicanism, that's an entire jurisdiction! (To borrow from the credit card advert, "What's in your parish?") The numbers for that round in Boston: 55 closed, 10 merged, 5 open without clergy. The stakes were $400 million in property, most sold to developers, to satisfy the "financial strain" of litigation. Sources for the figures are the Archdiocesan census itself. Again, I hope I am being sufficiently factual.

I do not doubt the sincerety of those who wish to avail themselves of the Apostolic Constitution. That was not at all the point, nor was it to "scare" anyone.

The point was that property questions were posed by readers who-unlike some-actually do have worries about aspects of the Ordinariate rather than simply and uncritically acquiesce in whatever may come. I hope I have answered to the satisfaction of at least those folks.

Fr. John said...


You seem a tad confused. If your parish had control of its property you would not be in court with the Episcopal Church now. If parish control of property had been firmly established in TEC, the forces of heresy would have faced a formidable obstacle, and you would not be looking for a new church home, physically and spiritually, and you would be able to combat that heresy on something like terms of equality. Let's mark down one reason why parish ownership of church property is a good thing.

There is a practical reason why it is included in the Affirmation of St. Louis that has nothing to do with bitterness, and everything to do with being as "wise as a serpent." Never again will a heretical bishop be allowed to intimidate a congregation.

Now, are you and your parish thinking of accepting the A.C.? The please go back and read the older threads on this blog to discover that you will be jumping from the Episcopal frying pan into the Roman Catholic fire. When it comes to the American Roman Catholic Church, there is not much difference between it and the Episcopal Church, just a matter of how far advanced the rot is.

Please see my former colleague and close friend Dan Cassidy's wonderful Roman Catholic blog Sunlit Uplands for an unvarnished view of what you will up against in the Roman Church. Dan wants us to become Roman Catholics, but he understands our reluctance given the current state of that church.

Altar girls, or “extraordinary” Eucharistic ministers anyone? Wacky, off the wall liturgical departures? Massive involvement in partisan, left wing politics? It is all waiting for you in the Roman Catholic Church. Tell Bishop Boland for me that he looked swell marching in uniform with all those Episcopal heretics in Savannah. When you and your parish join up, you can march with them too. Won’t your old Episcopal friends from court be amazed to see you marching along side them once again in a religious procession?

The whole town is laughing at ya.

The Shrinking Cleric said...

I'm certainly no canon lawyer (or civil one for that matter), but I recall that when I was in the Roman Church, the practice was to title all properties in my diocese (Nashville) "in the name of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nashville as a corporation sole and his successors in office."

I think this was customary in most dioceses, as well, but I'm not totally sure. I can't imagine a reason why the RCC would not expect a similar title to be granted to the Ordinariate.

It's not a legal principle, but I think the RCC works off the old cliche, "In for a penny, in for a pound."

I defer to competent legal authority. This is simply my two pennies on the subject.

Joe Oliveri said...

I want to thank Fr. Nalls for this excellent post, and for his patience. There are a few points here that I would like to discuss just a little more if he is so inclined.

First, I think we need to remark that that no one -- at least, no one in these comment boxes -- denies that property formerly belonging to TAC (and/or FiF) parishes will be transferred to the Ordinariates. Outside of this blog, on sites favorable to Anglicanorum Coetibus, the property issue seems to be considered a non-starter, or not even an issue. It is tacitly acknowledged that parishes will no longer own their property. This does of course represent a change from the system Continuing Anglicans have fiercely upheld from the beginning; but I maintain that the administration of church goods by a Bishop/Ordinary is both more apostolic as well as in line with the traditional Anglican view as expressed by Hooker (cf. Laws, Book VII, Ch. XXii and XXiii). That Mizz Jefferts-Schori also holds this view is a coincidence that has no bearing on the matter; a stopped clock is still right twice a day, as the saying goes.

Now, on to the post.

[T]he recognition of an entity as a juridic person in canon law does not abrogate the principle of hierarchy. Although the parish is a separate juridic person with the right to private property (dominum or proprietas), it remains part of the diocese and subject to the authority (imperium) of the diocesan bishop.

No one has suggested otherwise. A parish is one example of a public juridic person; and it of course is subject to the Bishop (as the "competent authority") of the diocese in which it was canonically established.

But the parish is not the only model of a public juridic person. A Personal Prelature is also a public juridic person; as is a Military Vicariate; the Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil; and now an Ordinariate. Each of these other examples is subject to its own Ordinary and holds its own property apart from the territorial dioceses in which it operates.

Your point regarding the Particular Church is of course perfectly valid here; but it is also misleading, because you appear to suggest that only a territorial diocese may constitude a Particular Church and, therefore, only a diocesan Bishop may be properly considered an Ordinary where public juridic persons (and church goods) are concerned. I think we need to clarify that Particular Churches are first of all (imprimis), but not exclusively, dioceses; and that territorial prelatures, apostolic vicariates and administrations and the like also may be considered Particular Churches -- to which these are "likened" or "compared" (assimilantur), Can. 368.


Joe Oliveri said...

While Anglicanorum Coetibus does not describe the Ordinariate as a Particular Church, it does specifically state (I. §3): "Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese." (My emphasis.)

Of course, as you note, AC also states that the Ordinary's power "is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms." (Art. V.) But you also note that the Complementary Norms refer only to "pastoral activity" (Art. 3). But this is precisely what I have noted earlier: "It only stands to reason that Pope Benedict envisions the Ordinariates working closely with local dioceses in terms of preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reaching out to the poor, training clergy, and so forth. (Cf. Art. 3 of the Complementary Norms; also Art. 9 §2)... The Ordinariates are not supposed to be Potemkin Villages cut off from the pastoral life of the rest of the Roman Catholic Church."

The norms are silent as to property matters and in no way modify the 1983 Code of Canon Law on questions of property.

I agree.

A final note: I have run my arguments by Dr. Ed Peters, himself a canonist of some reknown who is no doubt familiar to Fr. Nalls. Although he is unavailable to research the matter at this time, Dr. Peters wrote back: "[M]y first reaction to all of this would be yours, i.e., the juridic personality of the projected ordinariates means they hold assets in their own name, not that of the nearest roman diocese, nor of the Holy See."

Dr. Peters' response is only included here to demonstrate that there is at least some room for debate on this subject, even among learned canonists.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Joe O;

I really don't know why you have brought up "particular churches," i.e. "uniates." As you later say, that is not what the ordinariates would be. Your whole point is still based on hopes that the ordinariates will fulfill Hepworthian hopes and dreams, that is, TAC episcopal promises rather than what the constitution says in black and white (or brown and vanilla on the Vatican website).

Fr. John said...

Joe O. wrote:
"Military Vicariate; ....; and now an Ordinariate. Each of these other examples is subject to its own Ordinary and holds its own property apart from the territorial dioceses in which it operates."

Military "Vicariates" (Ordinariates) do not own any property that I am aware of. I spent a long tine in the U.S. Army, and spent a good deal of time in the chapels. Everything the Roman Church uses in the Army is owned by the Army. The chalices, vestments, service books, the chapel building itself, even the priests, since they are paid by the Army (someone wrote that the RC priests get paid $600 a month, their counterparts in the Armed Forces are making between $40,000 to $70,000 per annum depending on their rank) and hold U.S. Army commissions, thus being subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

I own a decommissioned U.S. Navy chalice. It is stamped USN on the reverse of the base and has a serial number engraved on the bottom.

I guess the Armed Forces are just not trusting enough to give a Roman Catholic Ordinary title to any property.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Joe O:

Were you trying to back me into a corner by use of the phrase "particular churches" in light of this?

"Can. 368 Particular churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists, are first of all dioceses, to which, unless it is otherwise evident, are likened a territorial prelature and territorial abbacy, an apostolic vicariate and an apostolic prefecture, and an apostolic administration erected in a stable manner."

If so, that is not according to Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Joe Oliveri said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

I really don't know why you have brought up "particular churches," i.e. "uniates."

Actually, it was Fr. Nalls who mentioned Particular Churches -- not uniates -- in connection with the juridical prerogatives of a Bishop/Ordinary. Neither one of us were discussing uniates.

The sui juris issue is a red herring, of course. The (former?) Anglican Ordinariates, as they will probably be known at least colloquially, do not constitute a separate "Rite." Still, the fact that some of the Ordinariates will have their own distinct liturgical books, customs, clergy and ethos will make them a fascinating study. While they will not constitute a Rite, strictly speaking, the Ordinariates will nevertheless be something of a liturgical "Use" within the Roman Rite, as the Dominican and Ambrosian are today and the Sarum, York, Hereford and Bangor Uses were in pre-Reformation England. Sui juris, no; sui generis, however, most definitely.

Were you trying to back me into a corner by use of the phrase "particular churches"...?

Not at all, Father. I seem to have been misinterpreted here.

I want to thank Fr. John for the valuable clarification regarding Military Ordinariates -- or Vicariates, as they were known until 1986, when John Paul II elevated their status to full Ordinariate. Perhaps for historical or practical reasons the Military Vicariates/Ordinariates have never owned property (at least in the U.S.). Canonically speaking, I don't they are prohibited from doing so; but it is an interesting question. Thank you, Father.


Sean W. Reed said...

It should also be born in mind that there is no requirement to own rather than lease property.

Hypothetically, If a parish currently leases their church from a private corporation, is there any reason to assume that arrangement would have to cease and they find something to buy and title over just to become part of the ordinariate?

This is about groups of people not about buildings.


John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Nalls has cited the indisputable fact that many, if indeed not most, of the parish closings in Roman Dioceses over the past two decades have involved what we, at least, would have to call "viable", that is, self-supporting parishes.

So, why were these useful parishes closed? Where the capital tied up in them was not needed to pay off legal liabilities, as in Boston, the usual reason has been the drastic shortage of clergy to staff them. In other words, it has not been the lack of worshippers in their pews that caused their demise but the lack of priests to stand at their altars.

So why is there such a drastic shortfall in R.C. clerical vocations in North America and Western Europe, if not elsewhere? This is a question that needs to be answered for anyone who is considering utilizing Anglicanorum Coetibus, no matter who ends up holding the bare legal title to their buildings and property. This is because, after the first tranche of convert clergymen, all subsequent ones will come through the usual R.C. pipelines and out of the usual R.C. selection and training processes.

Sadly, the answer is given in the book "The Changing Face of the Priesthood" by Fr. Donald B. Cozzens, which is still in print. Fr. Cozzens knows whereof he wrote; at the time he wrote that particular book (he also wrote the very useful "The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest"), he was running one of the Roman seminaries in the U.S.

The accuracy of his diagnosis is shown by the fact that, almost immediately upon the publication of his book, but without public announcement or fanfare, he was no longer Rector-President of that seminary, was no longer teaching there, and was not even employed in a parochial or administrative position in that diocese, although for most of his career he had been a chancellery official there. Instead, he found alternative employment teaching in a private university in the see city of the diocese where he had spent his career.

The factors identified by Fr. Cozzens will affect clerical recruitment in the Ordinariates just as much as they have affected it in the R.C. Dioceses, because as A.C. makes clear, postulants from the Ordinariates will be trained in ordinary, that is, existing, R.C. seminaries.

Ordinariate congregations will necessarily be, by R.C. standards, quite small, so the implications of that for clerical deployment under the Roman ombrellino are something that must be seriously considered by those who consider a Transtiberine future.

Look around: a Roman parish of 5,000 members who are served by one priest is quite normal these days. Given that, is it really safe to assume that 80 people in a little, special-purpose oratory will be able to retain their own priest, when 4-6,000 of their co-religionists are going without one?

And even if they can, will they really want to be served by the kind of man who can survive five years of the actual (as opposed to formal and official) formation process that Fr. Cozzens -- no traditionalist he, but quite liberal -- describes from the inside?

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

One thriving parish in Baltimore was called St. Stanislav, serving originally the Polish neighborhood in the Southeast of the city (if you watched Homicide, Life in the Street you may have seen it). It was important to the people and had thousands of active parishioners; but, it was closed for lack of clergy almost ten years ago. Even when it was open, during my visits to a nearby nursing home the mere sight of a man in a priest's collar caused excitement almost like the opening credits to A Hard Day's Night. If they could have run with those walkers I would not have had a chance.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman perspective:

John Hollister:

Regarding the number of priests in our country, the situation appears to be uneven from diocese to diocese. Anecdotally speaking, I know of dioceses that have no shortages, those that have them, and also of dioceses that are showing signs of improvement (like my own). Also, by any measure, the young priests are conservative and tradition minded - to the dismay of the old "spirit of Vatican Two" crowd. This also says something in general about the seminaries.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

That's nice. But, I have some very simple advice that would solve the clergy shortage problem rather quickly and effectively, even to the point where quality control could be exercised.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

That's nice. But, I have some very simple advice that would solve the clergy shortage problem rather quickly and effectively, even to the point where quality control could be exercised.

Fr. Nalls said...

"St. Stan's" is there to this day. Missals in the pews smd ornaments on the altar-the bulldozing of the residence halted. Faithful Poles keep 24-hour vigil on the steps, cigarettes burning low between clenched fingers to keep the bulldozers away. Bodies interposed against the "holy Mother church."
Why? Property is too valuable there-or, at least it was until the bottom fell out ot the market in Baltimore and other places. These are the abandoned--faithful Catholics sold for the gold.
But, of course, it won't happen to anyone else.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I remember that the closing was announced long. Good to know it is still there anyway.

But it has taken the ecclesiastical equivalent to civil disobedience.