The Vatican

Holy See modifies the legal framework for personal prelatures

The Holy See has made public a change in the Code of Canon Law regarding personal prelatures. The modification directly affects the only personal prelature constituted until now, Opus Dei.

Paloma López Campos-August 8, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes
Pope Francis

Pope Francis on his return flight from WYD Lisbon (CNS photo / Lola Gomez)

On August 8, 2023, the Holy See published a modification of the Code of Canon Law in the points related to personal prelatures. These changes directly affect the only personal prelature constituted up to now, the Opus Dei.

The modification is made in Book II, Part I, Title IV of the Code, specifically in canons 295 and 296. In the first place, according to the new wording of paragraph 1 of canon 295, personal prelatures are henceforth assimilated to public clerical associations of pontifical right with the faculty to incardinate clerics. This is a figure already regulated by canon 302 in a generic way, and in canon 265 with a specific allusion to the possibility that the Holy See may grant to some of these associations the possibility of incardinating.

There are currently a few organizations of this type, such as the Emmanuel Community, which in 2017 amended its statutes to adapt the collaboration between clergy and faithful in its body.

New statute of the prelate

Secondly, the status of the prelate in personal prelatures is also modified. If before the Code of Canon Law said that he is "their proper Ordinary", now it refers to him as "moderator", which corresponds to the assimilation with public clerical associations. The new wording adds that the prelate "will be endowed with the faculties of Ordinary", as required by the relationship he must maintain with the clergy incardinated in the prelature. This precision is introduced both in paragraph 1 of canon 295, as well as in paragraph 2 which refers to the obligations of the prelate with respect to his own clergy.

The position of the laity

With regard to the position of the laity in relation to the personal prelature, basically the same regulation present in the 1983 Code is maintained, although a reference to canon 107 is introduced to recall that the lay faithful have their own pastor and Ordinary according to the domicile where they reside.

The personal prelature of Opus Dei

These changes come at a time when the modification of the statutes of the personal prelature of Opus Dei is in process, precisely as a result of the requirements of the apostolic constitution "Praedicate evagelium" and of the motu proprio of "Ad charisma tuendum"issued on July 14, 2022, which concretized for this prelature the new framework designed by the aforementioned apostolic constitution.

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