Canon Law

Notes, Commentary, Discussion, Papers & Bibliography

User Tools

Site Tools


1983 Code

Book I : General Norms

Book II: People of God

Book II - Part III

Book III: Teaching Office

Book IV: Sanctifying Office

Book V: Temporal Goods

Book VI: Sanctions

Book VII: Processes


Code of Canons of Eastern Churches



Contact: Amy Hereford, csj, JD, JCD

Share this page


Councils, Chapters and E-Participation

  • COVID-19
  • Chapters delayed indefinitely, let CICLSAL know
  • Leadership terms extended indefinitely
  • Pivot to online forums

CICL April 2, 2020

  • authorization for the postponement of the celebration of general and provincial chapters to a date to be determined;
  • once the new dates for the celebration of the chapter have been established, the Dicastery should be informed by written communication sent by e-mail to the following address; or by fax to the following number: + 39 06 6988 4526;
  • at the same time, it is to be noted that the mandates of the major superiors and their respective councils are extended until the next celebration of the chapters;
  • These indications take effect from the date of issue of the General Decree CICLSAL Prot. No. Sp.R. 2419/20 of 2 April 2020 and will remain in force until new provisions are given.

CICL July 1, 2020

  • Pandemic shows signs of being with us long term.
  • Letter to General Moderators
  • responding to “requests for clarification regarding the possibility of using means of telecommunications for sharing between members of a “coetus personarum” ad mentem in the sense of can. 627 [and canon 631]”.
    • Can. 627 §1 Superiors are to have their own council, in accordance with the constitutions, and they must make use of it in the exercise of their office.
    • Can. 631 §1 In an institute the general chapter has supreme authority in accordance with the constitutions. It is to be composed in such a way that it represents the whole institute and becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. Its principal functions are to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in can. 578 and to foster appropriate renewal in accord with that patrimony. It also elects the supreme Moderator, deals with matters of greater importance, and issues norms which all are bound to obey.
    • Can. 166 §1 The one who presides over the college or group is to summon all those who belong to the college or group. When it has to be personal, the summons is valid if it is made in the place of domicile or quasi-domicile or in the place of residence.
  • Notes government travel restrictions.
  • 1. The Holy Father, during the audience of June 30 of this year (Prot. n. Sp. R. 2452/20), has granted the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life an “extraordinary faculty”, approved in specific form which authorizes the Dicastery to dispense for individual cases, the physical presence of councilors according to the prescriptions of can. 166 §1.
  • 2. Outside pandemic times a meeting using telecommunications… is not an ordinary solution for the governance of an Institute or a Province. … habitual recourse to telecommunications would render meaningless the service of authority … maintaining a network of relationships.
  • 3. The Major Superior… will submit a request to the CICL for telecommunication use for “a formal meeting with the Council”.
  • 4. Considerations:
    • maintain confidentiality and secrecy (if required c.699) (cf. can. 127);
    • verify the identity of the participants; – all and only participants.
    • intervention in real-time.
    • trust and responsibility
  • 5. Synodality, chapter collegiality, … at the heart of the work of renewal of Second Vatican Council and a gift of RL to church. The secular [age-old] tradition of chapters calls for physical presence as a way of safeguarding and promoting the constant search for the common good. Physical presence … cannot be replaced even by the most sophisticated instruments of telecommunications.
  • 6. Collegiality cannot be reduced to votes - consensus arises from shared discernment
  • 7. No general or provincial chapters could be held by means of telecommunications, nor the combination of partial physical presence and partial presence through telecommunications, but only by means of physical presence.


  • Video-conferences have been a lifesaver for connecting us during this time of isolation and distancing, yet they lack the richness that physical presence carries.


  • Teleconference for administrative matters
  • Teleconference with permission for canonical matters


  • Delay until it is safe to gather
  • Terms are extended
  • Is the needed decision a chapter decision
    • Required by Code or Constitutions
    • Election of leadership
    • Change of Constitutions
  • An assembly may take up some tasks
    • Could be virtual
    • Take seriously the norms of CICL
  • A smaller representative chapter
    • See Constitutions
    • Truly representative
    • Broader consultation, preparation, consensus
    • Commit decision to another body (c 174-175)
      • Transfer the right of election to one or more suitable persons.
  • Petition the bishop or CICLSAL


  • Confidentiality is maintained,
  • All the directors and only the directors are able to be present and their identity is certain, and
  • Real-time discussion and intervention by each person are assured.
  • Consult state law and governing documents.
  • Recordkeeping is critical

  • Amy Hereford, CSJ, JD, JCD
  • Attorney Canonist
  • amyhereford @
eparticipation.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/28 18:09 by amycsj