OLD CATHOLIC CONFEDERATION   

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OLD CATHOLIC CONFEDERATION

CODE OF CANON LAW

The Old Catholic Confederation faithfully observes the ancient canons of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Code of Canon Law promulgated by the Synod of Bishops.


I. The Nature of the Old Catholic Confederation

Canon 001: The Old Catholic Confederation is a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, faithful to the Gospel and ancient, Apostolic tradition, governed by a Synod of Bishops founded upon the Supreme authority of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Apostolic Succession.

Canon 002: The Old Catholic Confederation is a union of Old Catholic Churches, Dioceses, Vicariates and other such related jurisdictions that accept the authority of the sacred Scriptures, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, sacred Tradition, the First Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in its ancient formula, the Sacraments and Episcopal-Synodal governance of the Church. The Old Catholic Confederation further promotes the understanding that Old Catholicism is Western Orthodoxy.

Canon 010: The Confederation shall have a Primate who shall be the President of the Synod of Bishops and Presiding Archbishop of the Confederation.

Canon 011: The Confederation shall have a Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer, and other such officers, when deemed necessary and at the discretion of the Primate.

Canon 012: The Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation does not have the authority to amend the nature of this Confederation; and the Synod does not have the authority to discuss, change or vote on the ancient, orthodox, Catholic faith and discipline established by Apostolic tradition.


II. Concerning the Synod of Bishops

Canon 100: The Synod of Bishops is the highest governing and legislative authority of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 101: The Synod of Bishops ought to reflect the cosmopolitan and international diversity of the Confederation, electing bishops representing the people of God from around the world.

Canon 102: The Synod of Bishops shall meet annually for prayer, fraternity, discussion, deliberation, make decisions, legislate and promulgate canons concerning matters of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 103: The locations of the annual meetings of the Synod shall be decided by two-thirds vote; and when possible, it should be held at various locations representing the National Churches and Member Churches around the world.

Canon 104: The language of the annual meetings of the Synod of Bishops will be the language of the land with some provision for interpretation for foreign bishops.

Canon 105: The Synod shall decide on matters of the Confederation by two-thirds vote.

§1. The bishops shall decide whether a vote of the Synod should be by hands or by secret ballot.

§2. When the bishops in Synod shall vote by secret ballot the Synod Secretary, appointed by the Primate, shall conduct the proceedings, with the assistance of the highest ranking bishop in precedence, who shall announce the decision of the Synod, after consultation with the Primate.

Canon 106: There shall be representatives from the clergy and the laity to the Synod, who shall act in a consultative capacity to the bishops.

§1. Clerical Delegates shall come from the College of Canons of the National Cathedral of the Archdiocese of the United States, who may have as many as four Canon priests, elected by the College of Canons, and at least two priests, elected from the presbyterium of the Diocesan Clergy from around the world.

§2. Each Diocese may elect one Lay Delegate from the parishes to represent the Laity of the respective Diocese, according to local norm.


III. Concerning the Office of the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation

Canon 200: The Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation shall be the President of the Synod of Bishops and Presiding Archbishop of the Confederation; and as such, he is the chief executive officer and administrative head of the Confederation. The Primate is also the official representative of the Synod of Bishops and the Confederation. As such, the Primate shall preside over the Synod of Bishops and the Old Catholic Confederation with precedence of honor and authority.

§1.The Primate shall have precedence of honor over all other metropolitan-archbishops and bishops of the Old Catholic Church, with the exception of the Archbishop of Utrecht, who holds the highest precedence of honor.

Canon 201: The Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation shall have the rank and dignity of Archbishop ad personam, if he does not hold this rank already.

Canon 202: The Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation shall have the following duties and powers: 1) the governance and administration of the Confederation and overseeing its Dioceses and Vicariates around the world, 2) the installation of Vicars General, Bishops and Archbishops for the jurisdictions of the Confederation, 3) appoint Vicars General for the Confederation, 4) receive Honorary bishops, 5) incardinate and license clergy for the dioceses and Vicariates of the Confederation, 6) preside and appoint judges to the Supreme Tribunal when requested by the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs, 7) to inhibit a bishop of the Confederation from his Episcopal ministry for blatant violations of Canon law or misconduct; and until the Supreme Tribunal and the Synod has made its final judgment, and 8) have discretionary use of the budget to fulfill the duties of the Office of the Primate and for pastoral visitations around the world.

Canon 203: The Primate shall preside for a term of ten years, renewable with the consent of the Synod.

§1. In accordance with the original charter and founding bylaws of the Old Catholic Confederation, the founding Primate shall have the right and privilege of his office until death or retirement at his discretion.

§2. If and when any Primate decides to retire from his Office, it will require the consent of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation. If his retirement is granted, he shall continue in his canonical appointment as Metropolitan and Diocesan bishop of his respective National Church.

§3. Upon the retirement of the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation, the ranking bishop in accordance with canonical precedence shall preside over the Synod of Bishops until a new Primate has been duly nominated and Elected by the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.


IV. Concerning Bishops

Canon 300: As himself a Successor to the Apostles and Vicar of Christ in the local Church, the local bishop is the Ordinary; and as such, the lawful and highest Episcopal authority of his respective Diocese. 

§1. Since some local, Diocesan bishops are, in fact, Suffragan bishops, of a Metropolitan See (i.e. Archdiocese of the United States), such bishops are under the oversight of the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop of the National Church, and they are required to seek counsel from the Metropolitan-Archbishop and to regard him as having a primacy of honor and authority within the respective National Church, in accordance with tradition and canon law.

Canon 301: The local bishop, or the Ordinary, representing the Good Shepherd, is responsible for the care of his respective Diocese, the lay faithful and the clergy.

§1. The local Diocesan bishop is required to consult with the regional Metropolitan-Archbishop of his respective country.

§2. For reasons of ill health, age or incapacitation, the local Diocesan bishop may submit of Letter to the Primate requesting retirement in order to be relieved from his episcopal ministry. With approval from the Primate, after consultation with the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop, the retired bishop shall receive the title of “Bishop Emeritus of (former See).”

§3. Upon approval of retirement of a local, Diocesan bishop, the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop automatically becomes the Apostolic authority of the vacant See, unless he appoints a suitable bishop or priest as his “Apostolic Administrator” of the vacant Diocese until a new bishop is nominated, Elected by the Synod of Bishops and duly appointed to the local See by the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation, with the approval of the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop.

Canon 302: All Assisting, auxiliary, or coadjutor bishops are required to make a promise of obedience to their Ordinary, the local Diocesan bishop and to his successors.

§1. All assisting, auxiliary or coadjutor bishops remain under obedience for life; and their resignation or retirement must be approved by Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation, with the consent of the respective local Diocesan bishop.

Canon 303: The Synod of Bishops constitutes the supreme governing and legislative body of the Old Catholic Confederation. Only Ordinary, or Diocesan Bishops, shall be the voting members of the Synod of Bishops.  

Canon 304: The bishops of the Synod of Bishops may remain voting bishops for life so long as there is good health in order to competently fulfill their governing, pastoral and teaching duties.

§1. However, when a bishop reaches the age of seventy-five, he is regarded as eligible for canonical retirement, and he is required to consult with the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop of the National Church to discuss the possibility of nomination and Election of a coadjutor bishop.

Canon 305: All Diocesan bishops of the Synod of Bishops must make a Promise of Obedience to submit to the supreme authority of the Synod of Bishops concerning matters of the Old Catholic Confederation, which includes the election and consecration of bishops and matters of canonical justice beyond the local and Metropolitan See and relating to the decisions of the Supreme Tribunal.

§1. All bishops of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation, including all Metropolitan-Archbishops representing the respective National Churches and all local Diocesan bishops, remain under obedience for life; and their resignation or canonical retirement must be approved by Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation. Diocesan bishops also require the consent of the respective Metropolitan-Archbishop of the respective National Church.

§2. While member Churches may elect their own bishops, according to their respective canons, the names of the bishops-elect are to be sent to the Primate for his blessing.

§3. The lawful successors of a presiding bishop of a Member Church, must notify the Primate, requesting recognition and continued full Communion with the Old Catholic Confederation upon election.

§4. With the letter of acceptance from the Primate, the newly-elected presiding bishop of a Member Church is required to attend the next Annual Meeting of the Synod of Bishops, if he is also nominated for a territorial See under the canonical authority of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation. Upon Election to the Synod of Bishops, he also becomes a voting bishop of the Synod, representing his Member Church and respective territorial See.

§5. Since there can only be one voting bishop on the Synod of Bishops representing a respective Member Church, his predecessor loses his right to vote on the Synod of Bishops if he holds a canonical territory under the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.

§6. The former voting bishop of the Synod of Bishops (e.g., the former presiding bishop of a Member Church) may continue to hold a Diocesan See or Suffragan See within the Church and the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 306: Bishops of the member Churches may be elevated to the title and office of archbishop ad personam, or metropolitan-archbishop of a national church, by nomination and election of the Synod of Bishops for a territorial jurisdiction under the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 307: An archbishop or metropolitan-archbishop shall have the style of "His Grace" and the title of "Most Reverend."

Canon 308: A bishop shall have the style of "His Excellency" and the title "Right Reverend."

§1. Although within his own member Church, the bishop may follow the norms of his respective member Church in this matter.

Canon 309: A Metropolitan-Archbishop shall oversee the Suffragan dioceses of his Metropolitan See, providing counsel and assistance to his bishops and providing for the administrative needs of dioceses within his jurisdiction when a See becomes vacant and until the election of a successor bishop.

Canon 320: In accordance with the 1931 Bonn Agreement, all bishops of the Anglican Communion and of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht are recognized as Collegial bishops in full Communion with the Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation. Collegial bishops are not voting members of the Synod, but a consultative body to the Synod.

Canon 321: Collegial bishops may be granted an Episcopal License by the local Diocesan or Metropolitan bishop, and they may be appointed to Diplomatic posts within the Old Catholic Confederation or to exercise Episcopal ministry.

Canon 340: Assisting bishops are bishops serving within the respective Member Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation, or Licensed by the local Diocesan bishop or Metropolitan to assist in Episcopal ministry. Assisting bishops are not voting members of the Synod.

Canon 341: Assisting bishops are eligible for nomination and election to the Synod, and they may be appointed by the Primate to administrative or Diplomatic positions within the Confederation with the consent of their Ordinary or Metropolitan.

Canon 350: Honorary bishops are generally bishops of other ecclesiastical jurisdictions, recognized by the Synod of Bishops, who enjoy a position of honor in the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 351: Honorary bishops may be licensed and appointed motu proprio by the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation to an administrative position of the Confederation.

Canon 352: All bishops of the Confederation, including non-voting prelates, should attend the annual meeting of the Synod of Bishops; and contribute to the discussion, with the permission of the Primate who presides over the annual meetings of the Synod.

Canon 360: All bishops of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation are required and obliged to make the annual Oblation to the Primate, by the date and in the amount prescribed by the Synod of Bishops.

§1. All assisting, auxiliary and coadjutor bishops are required and obliged to make the annual Oblation to their local Diocesan bishop and Metropolitan, by the date and in the amount prescribed by the Synod of Bishops, in support of the local and national Church and the Confederation.

Canon 361: All Diocesan (Arch)bishops, actively governing over a (Arch)Diocese, are entitled to a salary by the respective (Arch)Diocese, appropriate housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, a house keeper and cook, an appropriate car, driver and auto insurance, a stipend for gasoline, an office with secretarial assistance and appropriate expenses for travel to fulfill the office of Diocesan bishop.

§1. In fraternal solicitude and charity, all Diocesan (Arch)bishops, in retirement, are entitled to a salary by the respective (Arch)Diocese he served, appropriate housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, a house keeper and cook, an appropriate car, driver and auto insurance, a stipend for gasoline, an office with secretarial assistance when necessary, if and when finances permit.

Canon 362: All assisting, auxiliary or coadjutor bishops, actively serving a (Arch)Diocese, are entitled to a salary by the respective (Arch)Diocese, appropriate housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, a house keeper and cook, an appropriate car, driver and auto insurance, a stipend for gasoline, an office with secretarial assistance and appropriate expenses for travel to fulfill their office, at the discretion of the local Diocesan bishop and when finances permit.

§1. In fraternal solicitude and charity, all assisting, auxiliary or coadjutor bishops, in retirement, are entitled to a salary by the respective (Arch)Diocese he served, appropriate housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, a house keeper and cook, an appropriate car, driver and auto insurance, a stipend for gasoline, an office with secretarial assistance when necessary, if and when finances permit.

Canon 370: All of the bishops of the Confederation shall organize and be responsible for an annual parish Collection for the benefit of the Old Catholic Confederation to be collected on first Sunday of November at every parish affiliated with the Confederation and its Member Churches around the world and sent either by regular mail or by direct deposit, to the Primate by December 1 of every year.

Canon 379: The Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation shall commemorate “Francis, Pope and Bishop of Rome; ________________, the Archbishop of Utrecht, and me, your unworthy servant” at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Canon 380: All Synod bishops shall commemorate “Francis, Pope and Bishop of Rome; Craig, our Primate (and Archbishop, for U.S. bishops or name of regional Metropolitan-Archbishop), and me, your unworthy servant” at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Canon 381: All Assisting bishops shall commemorate “Francis, Pope and Bishop of Rome; Craig, our Primate (and Archbishop, for U.S. bishops, or the name of the regional Metropolitan-Archbishop); _________________, our (bishop) and me, your unworthy servant.”

Canon 390: If a bishop is ever formally charged with a crime of sexual abuse against a minor, the regional Metropolitan-Archbishop is required to inform the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs, who is required to inform the Primate. The Primate is required to inhibit the episcopal ministry of the bishop until the decision of the Court. Upon acquittal, the bishop shall be restored to episcopal ministry. Upon conviction, the bishop shall remain inhibited from episcopal ministry for a period of four years, or during the time of an appeal. After four years, or in the event that the appeal process is exhausted without acquittal, the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs shall inform the Primate who is required to inhibit the bishop from episcopal ministry permanently.


V. Concerning the Election of Bishops of the Confederation

Canon 400: All priests of the respective Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation may be nominated and elected to the Holy Episcopate for jurisdictions within the Confederation.

Canon 401: Concerning Episcopal election, the local bishops may nominate qualified priests known for their love for the Church, studiousness and goodness for election to the Episcopate to serve as Suffragan (Diocesan), assisting, auxiliary or coadjutor bishops.

Canon 402: The Synod of Bishops generally requests nominations of priests from the respective Churches and Dioceses for the Episcopate to serve as ordinary bishops or bishops in the capacity of Vicar General for the Confederation.

Canon 403: Further, the nominee for the Episcopate or an Episcopal Office (e.g. Suffragan or Auxiliary bishop) must receive a second nomination from a Synod bishop and the consent of the College of Canons, before the nominated priest can be considered a candidate for election to the Episcopate.

Canon 404: Upon receipt of a second of nomination of a priest for election to the Episcopate, the national metropolitan-archbishop is required to conduct a discreet inquiry concerning the candidate's worthiness by consulting representatives from the laity and the clergy, or delegate this process of nomination to the Dean of his Chapter of Canons, who will make recommendations to the metropolitan-archbishop.

Canon 405: Nominees for the Episcopate are required to attend the meeting of the Synod of Bishops where he shall be questioned by the Lay Delegates, Clergy Delegates and the Bishops.

§1. In order for a Nominee to become a Candidate for the Episcopate, the priest must first be elected by the Lay Delegates, followed by the Clergy Delegates.

Canon 406: The Election of bishops must be conducted in prayerful deliberation and by secret ballot, requiring two-thirds vote, after the proper introduction of the Candidate for the Episcopate by the nominating bishop and the questioning by the Synod. After the Election of the new bishop by the Synod of Bishops, the Candidate for the Episcopate is officially now Bishop-Elect.

Canon 407: The new Bishop(s) elected by the Synod of Bishops must be publicly announced. 

Canon 408: At the time of the election of a bishop, the Synod must set a date for the consecration of the new Bishop-elect. The Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation shall be the principal consecrator unless he is unable to do so; in which case, the principal consecrator and assisting bishop consecrators shall be decided by the Synod.

Canon 409: All of the bishops of the Confederation are to be invited to attend and participate at the consecration of bishops-elect for any of the Churches or Dioceses of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 410: Generally, the consecration of a newly-elected bishop of a Church should involve the bishops of the Member Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 450: At a suitable time, the newly-elected bishop must consult with the regional Metropolitan-Archbishop to set a date to be properly installed as the local (Suffragan) Diocesan or Ordinary; or in the case of a national Metropolitan-Archbishop, the Primate is the only bishop that may properly install the new Archbishop in his Metropolitan see, where the Bull of Election shall be read, observed by the local Chapter of Canons, or Presbyterate, and the People of God in the local Church. If the Primate cannot be present for the installation of a Metropolitan-Archbishop, he shall appoint another bishop as his Apostolic Delegate to officially represent him by reading the Apostolic Bull of Election and install the new Metropolitan-Archbishop of the respective national Church.


VI. Concerning National Churches, Metropolitan Sees and local Dioceses of the Old Catholic Confederation

Canon 460: National Churches, Metropolitan Sees and local Dioceses are established by the Act of Apostolic authority of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation, as established by an Apostolic Bull of Charter.

Canon 461: A national Church and its respective Metropolitan See may be canonically established for each respective sovereign nation (i.e. The Old Catholic Church in the United States is the National Church of the Republic of the United States of America). When a national Church (and metropolitan See) is established by Act of the Synod of Bishops, a metropolitan-archbishop shall be appointed and installed by the Primate, or his Delegate, as the ranking archbishop of the land.

§1. The metropolitan-archbishop of the national Church may request that the Synod of Bishops further establish Suffragan Dioceses within his Metropolitan-Archdiocese, when necessary.

§2. The metropolitan-archbishop of the national Church is also required to make suggestions and nominations for the appointment of Suffragan Bishops, Coadjutor Bishops, Auxiliary Bishops, Episcopal Vicars for regions and Apostolic Administrators for vacant Suffragan Sees, having consulted with his respective college of canons or Presbyteral council.

Canon 462: Likewise, other Dioceses (territorial and extra-territorial) and other such jurisdictions, e.g. Vicariates, Religious Orders may be canonically established by Act of Apostolic authority of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation, as established by an Apostolic Bull of Charter.

Canon 463: Whenever a Metropolitan-Archdiocese, Diocese or such jurisdiction is established by Apostolic Bull of Charter by the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation, the respective Archdiocese, Diocese, Vicariate or Religious Order is also required to have civil recognition, in the respective nation, state and locality, showing the ecclesiastical authority that has established the new See, and clearly stating the ecclesiastical authority of the respective new See, beginning with the highest to the local authority: 1) Primate, Metropolitan, local bishop.

§1. Thus, whenever real estate property is purchased in the name of the Church and for the Church it shall be purchased in the following way and under the following authority: 1) Full legal name of the Parish Church, 2) full legal name of the respective Diocese and 3) the Name of the Old Catholic Confederation, which must be on the Deed of the property, clearly stating that upon dissolution, the deed of the property is transferred to the Old Catholic Confederation, under the canonical authority of the Metropolitan-Archdiocese.

§2. The purchase and sale of all real estate is conducted by the Chancery of the Old Catholic Confederation and its Chancellor, or legal representatives.

§3. Bank accounts, or any other such financial or market account as well as all other such assets of the Church, may only be established by the local Diocesan bishop, either in person, or by his Delegate, usually the local regional Dean, in the following way for a local Diocese: 1) Name of local Diocese and 2) Name of Metropolitan-Archdiocese and 3) Name of the Old Catholic Confederation. In the case of the parish account, in the following way: 1) Full name of the Parish Church, 2) Name of the local Diocese and 3) Name of the Old Catholic Confederation. The signatories of a parish include: 1) Local bishop, 3) dean, 4) parish rector or vicar, 5) rector’s warden.

Canon 464: All other financial transactions shall be governed according to the policies of the local bishop and Diocese, in conformity with this Code of Canon law and under the civil and criminal law of the land.


VII. Concerning Member Churches and their Bishops

Canon 500: Member Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation are sui juris Churches that exist in their own right and remain autonomous Churches within the Confederation whose bishops are canonically recognized by the Synod of Bishops.

Canon 501: All Churches that embrace the ancient, orthodox, Catholic faith and tradition from the first millennium, affirming the authority of the sacred Scriptures, the teaching of the Fathers, the first Seven Ecumenical Councils, the sacraments, and especially the Holy Eucharist, follow the Episcopal Order, with bishops in Apostolic Succession, are eligible to petition for ecclesial membership in the Old Catholic Confederation.

§1. Ecclesial Membership in the Confederation can be revoked by the Primate when a Member Church promulgates canons or doctrines that are heretical, or contrary to the ancient, Apostolic Christian faith and tradition.

§2. All Member Churches shall regard the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation as “primus inter pares,” having a primacy of honor.

Canon 502: Only a qualified bishop, who holds the ancient faith of the One, Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church and who has valid holy Orders and in Apostolic Succession, may petition for canonical recognition by the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.

§1. Generally, a bishop should have a high degree of education, preferably in the sacred sciences, and to be known for his piety and goodness.

Canon 503: Generally, only a bishop with a legitimate jurisdiction, or significant congregation, may petition for recognition by the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.

§1. However, the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation shall have the general policy of receiving such bishops as priests, since such bishops have not been duly Elected in accordance with the Code of Canon Law of the Old Catholic Confederation. As such, upon formal reception as priests, they may be received with the rank and dignity of Canons or as Canon Chaplains of the Primate, at the discretion of the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 540: On occasion, at the discretion of the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation, and in consultation with the Synod of Bishops, a petitioning and qualified bishop may also be received with Episcopal dignity, as an honorary or assisting bishop and appointed motu proprio to an administrative post by the Primate.

Canon 545: All bishops received or elected into the Confederation may be required to be ordained “sub conditione” to the Holy Orders of Deacon, Priest and Bishop, at the discretion of the Primate and in consultation with the Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Apostolic Succession.

§1. Without reservation, evaluation or study, the Synod of Bishops recognizes the historic Episcopate and authentic lines of Apostolic Succession from the canonical Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox Churches in communion with the ancient See of Constantinople, the Oriental Orthodox Communion Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the ancient See of Rome, the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Polish National Catholic Church and those Churches of the Union of Scranton, the Church of Sweden and the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Canon 550: All particular, Member Churches of the Confederation are obliged to follow their respective canons. However, when there is a conflict, the Canons of the Confederation are to be observed by the Member Churches.

§1. Since Member Churches are considered regional Churches, they are responsible for the proper canonical procedure of justice, having a local tribunal and a regional, ecclesiastical court of appeals, in order to protect and preserve the rights of its clerics and people.

§2. All clerics (deacons, priests and bishops) and lay faithful of each particular Member Church shall have the right to petition to the Supreme Tribunal for matters of canonical justice, only after a decision has been made by the respective local tribunal and regional ecclesiastical court of appeals.

Canon 560: The Primate should be invited to participate in the regional Synods of all the Member Churches, in order to show visible unity with the Old Catholic Confederation.

§1. In the event that the Primate of the Old Catholic Confederation is unable to attend in person, he may appoint a Delegate to represent him at a regional Synod.

§2. Each Member Church, Diocese or Parish, shall be required to pay for the travel, housing and expenses of the Primate or his Delegate, to attend a meeting of the regional Synod. In the event that the Member Church, Diocese or Parish is financially unable to pay for the travel, housing and expenses of the Primate or his Delegate, the Primate is not required to attend the regional Synod, and he may simply send a letter of greetings in lieu of attendance.


VIII. Concerning Clergy, Rectors and Vicars

Canon 600: All incardinated clergy of the Old Catholic Confederation are required to make a Promise of Obedience to their Diocesan Bishop or Ordinary.

§1. The Promise of Obedience is a life-long commitment and release of such promise of clerical obedience can only come from the local Diocesan bishop, for resignation of ministry, retirement, or request for Excardination.

Canon 605: All clergy shall wear the cassock indoors and at Church. Clerical Collar may be worn outdoors. Priests may wear black, gray or blue or other such colored clerical shirts. Only a bishop may wear the purple clerical shirt.

§1. The cassock and clerical attire is to be understood as a uniform and treated with care, and the priest is required to keep it clean and pressed, wearing it with dignity and in proper form.

Canon 606: All clergy ought to carry themselves in a professional manner, cultivating their own spirituality, a charitable, virtuous character and gentlemanly demeanor and speech.

Canon 607: All clergy are encouraged to have a regular Confessor and Spiritual Director, to keep spiritual vigil on their own souls and to develop their relationship with the Lord.

Canon 608: All clergy should be engaged in Christian evangelization and actively seek out vocational aspirants; and by their public witness in the community.

Canon 610: All priests shall make themselves available for Confession. The Seal of Confession is to be held in all circumstances, and considering all matters grave and simple, unto death and under penalty of excommunication.

Canon 611: Deacons and Priests shall not make the pulpit political and use the pulpit to make ideological statements. Rather, deacons or priests are mandated to preach the Gospel.

Canon 612: All Clergy shall have a set stipend for baptisms, marriages and funerals, according to Diocesan norm. Needless to say, clergy shall not perform rites of other religions, which is an act of apostasy.

Canon 613: All priests may receive stipends for Mass intentions, which must be fulfilled and recorded.

Canon 620: All Priests shall commemorate “Francis, Pope and Bishop of Rome; Craig, our Primate (and Archbishop, for U.S. priests), ________________ (Presiding Bishop of the Member Church) and/or __________________, our bishop” (Name of Local, Diocesan Bishop) at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Canon 621: All Rectors and Vicars of missions, oratories and parishes are required to contribute their Oblation of the monthly Cathedraticum in the amount prescribed by the local bishop, and due by the last day of every month.

§1. The parish is also required to provide financial assistance to the local Bishop and Diocese, upon request from the Chancery or in accordance with the directives of the local, Diocesan Bishop.

Canon 622: All Rectors and Vicars shall receive a stipend, salary and benefits, as determined and contracted by the parish (mission or oratory) Vestry, which ought to provide for the priest and his family, as much as the respective mission, oratory or parish can provide in either a full-time or part-time ministry commitment. At minimum, a congregation is required to offer the priest a stipend for the Celebration of the Eucharist, according to local norm.

§1. All priests, actively serving as a parochial Rector or Vicar, are entitled to a salary in accordance with (Arch)Diocesan norm paid by the respective parish, appropriate housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, a house keeper and cook, a stipend for gasoline and secretarial assistance to fulfill his office.

§2. In fraternal solicitude and charity, all priests who have retired from parochial ministry, are entitled to a pension paid by the parish he served, or paid by the pension fund to which the individual priest has contributed in accordance with its rules and regulations, housing including utilities, or a stipend for these things, regular meals, or a stipend for food, if and when finances permit.

Canon 623: All Rectors and Vicars are required to keep a Register for all Income (Contributions, bequests, etc.), and Expenses, Mass Intentions, Baptisms, Marriages, Visiting the Sick and Funerals, which needs to be certified annually by the local Bishop, his Vicar General or Dean.

Canon 624: All missions, oratories and parishes, their property and financial holdings are to be put into the name of the respective (Arch)Diocese.

Canon 625: In the event of the dissolution of the mission, oratory or parish, all assets (income, savings, real property, etc.) shall be returned to the (Arch)Diocese and the local bishop.

Canon 626: All Rectors and Vicars are required to engage in some outreach to the community and to contribute to the poor, in accordance with the teaching of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Canon 627: All missions, oratories and parishes are required to pay for the Bishop’s Annual Visitation, his hotel accommodation and expenses; and for visits for confirmation or ordination, according to Diocesan norm.

Canon 630: All Rectors and Vicars ought to encourage tithing in their missions, oratories and parishes in order to make their communities self-sufficient and to properly provide worship space and salaries for their clergy.

Canon 670: If a priest or deacon is ever formally charged with a crime of sexual abuse against a minor, the bishop is required to suspend his ministry until the decision of the Court. Upon acquittal, the priest or deacon shall be restored to ministry. Upon conviction, the priest or deacon shall remain suspended from ministry for a period of four years, or during the time of an appeal. After four years of suspension, or in the event that the appeal process is exhausted without acquittal, the bishop shall suspend the cleric permanently.

§1. During a period of suspension from ministry, the Vestry is required to honor the financial agreement of its contract for ministry with their Rector or Vicar.


IX. Concerning Parishes, Oratories, Missions and the Vestry

Canon 700: Every parish, oratory or mission should have a Vestry as soon as the Rector or Vicar has a congregation. The Vestry is constituted by the lay members of the parish, oratory or mission, who are responsible for assisting the Rector or Vicar with maintaining the physical buildings of the parish and consulting on the financial aspects of the parish Church. The Vestry shall work with the Rector or Vicar and report to the local Diocesan bishop as its ecclesiastical authority. The Rector or Vicar has the authority to appoint the Rector’s Warden and a Junior Warden, with the approval of the local Diocesan bishop. The rest of the members of the Vestry are to be elected by the congregation of the parish. The term of each member of the vestry shall be five years renewable.

§1. The Bishop shall be the first signature required on all bank accounts, the Dean shall be the second and the Rector or Vicar the third; all checks requiring the signature of the Rector or Vicar of the parish.

§2. The Senior Warden and the Junior Warden shall also be signatories on all bank accounts, for expenses over $2,000.00.

§3. The Rector or Vicar, and the Vestry are required to remit the monthly parish contribution, or Cathedraticum, to the local Diocesan bishop, due on the last day of every month, on behalf of the parish, to support the Bishop’s Episcopal ministry, Diocese and its mission.

§4. All parish purchases above $5,000.00 shall require the approval of the Diocesan bishop.

Canon 701: In accordance with Diocesan norm, the Vestry is responsible for the material needs of their clergy, taking care to provide a suitable stipend or salary and benefits, where possible, for their priests who provide for their spiritual needs, in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Sacraments and funeral and other Rites of the Church.

§1. As such, the Vestry is required to provide their parochial Rector or Vicar with a contract for ministry, and they shall decide, in consultation with the Diocesan bishop, the term of the contract, whether the appointment is full-time or part-time, salary according to Diocesan norm, etc.

§2. The Vestry can only offer a contract for ministry to a licensed priest or deacon appointed by the local Diocesan bishop.

§3. In the event that the Rector or Vicar has been suspended or his license and faculties have been revoked by the local Diocesan (Arch)bishop, it is the responsibility of the Vestry to cooperate with the Diocesan Bishop, or his delegate, such as the Vicar General or the local Dean, to remove the suspended priest or deacon from his office as Rector or Vicar, and his name from parish accounts, and from parochial residence within thirty days. Further, if the Rector or Vicar is suspended for a violation of Canon law, this would be a breach of the ministerial contract.

Canon 702: While it is the right and the duty of the Diocesan bishop to appoint priests as Rectors or Vicars for parochial assignments, the bishop shall involve and consult with the Vestry and the members of the parish.

§1. The Vestry is required to accept the decision of the Diocesan bishop and his appointment of a parochial Rector or Vicar.

Canon 703: All real estate and other such property purchased by the parish must be the in the corporate name of the (Arch)Diocese; stating that upon dissolution, the parish property shall return to the local named (Arch)Diocese under the authority of the local, Diocesan bishop.

§1. The Rector and the Vestry are required to consult and have permission from the local Diocesan bishop concerning the purchase or sale of any real estate or property of the Church.

§2. All parish real estate, or property, shall be purchased with the name of the respective parish, the name of the respective (Arch)Diocese and the name of the Old Catholic Confederation.

Canon 704: It is the fiduciary responsibility and moral obligation of the parochial Rector or Vicar, and the parish Vestry to pay, or remit, all parish invoices, including the monthly Diocesan Cathedraticum, as soon as they are received and without delay.

§1. The parish may not have any outstanding debts, such as a mortgage or a car loan, without the approval of the local Diocesan bishop.


X. Concerning Clergy, Chastity and Marriage

Canon 750: In accordance with sacred Tradition and the ancient canons of the Church, all clerics in major and minor Orders of the Church are expected to live a holy and chaste life, in accordance with the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and Apostolic tradition.

Canon 751: A postulant must remain in the state of life (celibate or married) he occupies at the time of his ordination to the holy Order of Deacon, Priest or Bishop.

§1. An unmarried postulant for Holy Orders must inform the bishop of which state of life he desires, whether to be celibate or to be married. If the postulant wishes to be married, the date of his ordination to Holy Orders should be postponed by the bishop until at least six months after he has become married, with the blessing of the bishop.

§2. A cleric in major Orders (i.e. Deacon, Priest or Bishop) is not permitted to marry, in accordance with Apostolic tradition and ancient canon law.

Canon 752: Upon the death of the spouse of a married priest, the widower priest is required to live a celibate life, preferably as a monastic, in accordance with Apostolic tradition and ancient canon law.

§1. However, in the case of the death of a priest’s wife early in their life together and when there are young children, the local bishop may grant the widower priest permission to re-marry as a “pastoral decision.”  

Canon 753: If a priest is oppressed by his spouse for his religious piety, priestly ministry or priestly obedience to the Church, he is required to inform his bishop who may permit him to separate from his wife, after prayer, penance and consultation with the bishop.

§1. If the spouse remains obstinate, uncharitable and refuses to change, the bishop may grant an ecclesiastical divorce to the priest by “pastoral decision.”

§2. If the bishop grants permission for conjugal separation, or in the event of an ecclesiastical divorce under such circumstances, the priest will be required to live a celibate life, preferably as a monastic, during the period of separation or upon divorce. 

§3. In general, however, a priest is forbidden to divorce from his spouse, without consultation with his bishop; and then, only for reasons of unchastity or oppression of his religion, in accordance with Apostolic tradition and ancient canon law.

Canon 754: When a married bishop becomes a widower, he is required to live a celibate life as a monastic.


XI. Concerning the Supreme Tribunal of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation

Canon 800: The Supreme Tribunal of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation is the highest ecclesiastical court of appeals for all dioceses, vicariates and member Churches of the Old Catholic Confederation in order to recognize the right every Christian, clerics and laity alike, to due process and for the promotion of justice in the Confederation and its member Churches.

Canon 801: An appeal to the Supreme Tribunal of the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation can only take place after the judicial process of the member Church has been exhausted, and one has submitted a petition to the local Metropolitan Tribunal, or in the event of a vacant tribunal, negligence or neglect by the Metropolitan Tribunal to act within sixty days of the petition.

Canon 802: The Supreme Tribunal considers all judicial and ecclesiastical matters of the Old Catholic Confederation. The decisions of the Supreme Tribunal are final and its judgments and orders are binding upon all bishops and clergy of the member Churches of the Confederation and its various jurisdictions.

Canon 803: All of the investigations and proceedings of the Supreme Tribunal are to be conducted with great discretion, respect and charity.

Canon 804: It is the duty of the Primate to appoint worthy and qualified priests, or bishops, from the Dioceses or member Churches of the Confederation to act as judges for cases before the Supreme Tribunal.

Canon 805: It is the duty of the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs to act in the capacity of Advocate for justice, or prosecutor, during the proceedings of the Supreme Tribunal.

Canon 806: Every Christian has the right of counsel, having a canon or civil lawyer, to represent him or her before the Supreme Tribunal.

Canon 807: In the event that a bishop refuses to accept the decisions of the Supreme Tribunal, it is the duty of the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs to inform the Primate, who has the authority to inhibit the bishop’s ministry, and he may call the bishop to explain himself before the Synod, in which case, the Synod is the only body that has the authority to order the bishop to accept the judgment of the Supreme Tribunal under the threat of discipline, which may include dismissal or excommunication.

Canon 808: In the event that a bishop of the Confederation is accused of some serious wrongdoing by another bishop or a layman of the Church, it is the Primate to discern whether the accusations are to be brought to the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs for his questioning of the accused bishop. If the Vicar General discerns no wrongdoing, he simply sends a report stating the same to the Primate. If after questioning the bishop, the Vicar General is not satisfied, he may conduct an investigation with the consent of the Primate. After his investigation, if the Vicar General determines wrongdoing, he must present the facts to the Primate and request that the Supreme Tribunal be formed. If the Primate agrees with the determination of the Vicar General, then it is the duty of the Primate to appoint three bishops (which may include himself) as judges of the Supreme Tribunal. Once the Supreme Tribunal is formed, it is the duty and the responsibility to inform the accused bishop and to set a date for an initial hearing with the bishop and the Vicar General for Justice and Canonical Affairs serving as the Prosecutor. The accused bishop has the right to have a canon or civil lawyer, or another bishop, to act as his advocate. If the Supreme Tribunal finds cause, then it sets a date for a trial to commence. If the Supreme Tribunal finds the accused bishop as guilty, the decision is announced to the bishop and to the Primate, who then has the responsibility to call the bishop to stand before the Synod at the next annual meeting, to answer the questions put to him by his brother bishops, for their final decision. If the Synod finds the bishop guilty, the bishop is required to accept the judgment and the sentence of the Synod of Bishops, whether it be in penance, or deposition.


Section XII. Canonical Procedure and Discipline

Canon 900: The Church acknowledges that because of sin, marriages do not always result in happiness. Thus, by virtue of his Apostolic authority, the local Diocesan bishop has the power to dissolve the vows of the married couple and grant an ecclesiastical divorce. The bishop should make his pastoral decision only after he has advised the couple to prayer, penance and discernment, which may involve counseling and a period of separation.

§1. Thus, remarriage in the Church is only possible after an ecclesiastical divorce by the local Diocesan bishop.

Canon 901: All priests of the Confederation are required to petition from their local bishop an ecclesiastical divorce for any Christian requesting Holy Matrimony when there has been a previous marriage and a civil divorce.

Canon 1012: A cleric can only be Incardinated with one bishop in one Diocese.

§1. If a cleric has illicitly Incardinated into another Diocese simultaneously, or in the event that the cleric did not disclose his current or previous state of Incardination to the local Diocesan bishop at the time of his petition for Incardination, the priest is subject to suspension of ministry.


Section XIII. Jurisprudence and Canon Law

Canon 2001: This Code of Canon Law rests upon the foundation of the ancient, orthodox, Catholic faith, the theology of the ancient Church, Apostolic tradition and belonging to the entire history of canon law and especially the ancient canons of the Church, which is always to be understood and interpreted by the Synod of Bishops of the Old Catholic Confederation.

§1. When an issue arises that is not addressed by this Code of Canon Law, the ancient canons are to be consulted in such matters and regarded authoritatively.

REVISED AND PROMULGATED BY ACT OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS OF THE OLD CATHOLIC CONFEDERATION, ON THIS THE SECOND DAY OF JANUARY ANNO DOMINI TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.