Code of Canon Law 552
553 §1. A vicar forane, who is also called a dean, an archpriest, or some other name, is a priest who is placed over a vicariate forane.
§2. Unless particular law establishes otherwise, the diocesan bishop appoints the vicar forane, after he has heard the priests who exercise ministry in the vicariate in question according to his own prudent judgment.
554 §1. For the office of vicar forane, which is not tied to the office of pastor of a certain parish, the bishop is to select a priest whom he has judged suitable, after he has considered the circumstances of place and time.
§2. A vicar forane is to be appointed for a certain period of time determined by particular law.
§3. The diocesan bishop can freely remove a vicar forane from office for a just cause in accord with his own prudent judgment.
555 §1. In addition to the faculties legitimately given to him by particular law, the vicar forane has the duty and right:
1/ of promoting and coordinating common pastoral activity in the vicariate;
2/ of seeing to it that the clerics of his district lead a life in keeping with their state and perform their duties diligently;
3/ of seeing to it that religious functions are celebrated according to the prescripts of the sacred liturgy, that the beauty and elegance of churches and sacred furnishings are maintained carefully, especially in the eucharistic celebration and custody of the Most Blessed Sacrament, that the parochial registers are inscribed correctly and protected appropriately, that ecclesiastical goods are administered carefully, and finally that the rectory is cared for with proper diligence.
§2. In the vicariate entrusted to him, the vicar forane:
1/ is to see to it that, according to the prescripts of particular law and at the times stated, the clerics attend lectures, theological meetings, or conferences according to the norm of CIC 279, §2;
2/ is to take care that spiritual supports are available to the presbyters of his district, and likewise to be concerned especially for those who find themselves in more difficult circumstances or are beset by problems.
§3. The vicar forane is to take care that the pastors of his district whom he knows to be gravely ill do not lack spiritual and material aids and that the funeral rites of those who have died are celebrated worthily. He is also to make provision so that, on the occasion of illness or death, the registers, documents, sacred furnishings, and other things which belong to the Church are not lost or removed.
§4. A vicar forane is obliged to visit the parishes of his district according to the determination made by the diocesan bishop.
556 Rectors of churches are understood here as priests to whom is committed the care of some church which is neither parochial nor capitular nor connected to a house of a religious community or society of apostolic life which celebrates services in it.
557 §1. The diocesan bishop freely appoints the rector of a church, without prejudice to the right of election or presentation if someone legitimately has it; in that case, it is for the diocesan bishop to confirm or install the rector.
§2. Even if a church belongs to some clerical religious institute of pontifical right, the diocesan bishop is competent to install the rector presented by the superior.
§3. The rector of a church which is connected with a seminary or other college which is governed by clerics is the rector of the seminary or college unless the diocesan bishop has determined otherwise.
558 Without prejudice to the prescript of CIC 262, a rector is not permitted to perform the parochial functions mentioned in CIC 530, nn. 1-6 in the church entrusted to him unless the pastor consents or, if the matter warrants it, delegates.
559 A rector can perform liturgical celebrations, even solemn ones, in the church entrusted to him, without prejudice to the legitimate laws of the foundation, and provided that, in the judgment of the local ordinary, they do not harm parochial ministry in any way.
560 When the local ordinary considers it opportune, he can order a rector to celebrate in his church particular functions, even parochial ones, for the people and to make the church available for certain groups of the Christian faithful to conduct liturgical celebrations there.
561 No one is permitted to celebrate the Eucharist, administer the sacraments, or perform other sacred functions in the church without the permission of the rector or another legitimate superior; this permission must be granted or denied according to the norm of law.
562 The rector of a church, under the authority of the local ordinary and observing the legitimate statutes and acquired rights, is obliged to see to it that sacred functions are celebrated worthily in the church according to the liturgical norms and prescripts of the canons, that obligations are fulfilled faithfully, that goods are administered diligently, that the maintenance and beauty of sacred furnishings and buildings are provided for, and that nothing whatever occurs which is in any way unfitting to the holiness of the place and the reverence due to a house of God.
563 Without prejudice to the prescript of CIC 682, §2, the local ordinary, for a just cause and according to his own prudent judgment, can remove the rector of a church from office, even if he had been elected or presented by others.
564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or particular group of the Christian faithful, which is to be exercised according to the norm of universal and particular law.
565 Unless the law provides otherwise or someone legitimately has special rights, a chaplain is appointed by the local ordinary to whom it also belongs to install the one presented or to confirm the one elected.
566 §1. A chaplain must be provided with all the faculties which proper pastoral care requires. In addition to those which are granted by particular law or special delegation, a chaplain possesses by virtue of office the faculty of hearing the confessions of the faithful entrusted to his care, of preaching the word of God to them, of administering Viaticum and the anointing of the sick, and of conferring the sacrament of confirmation on those who are in danger of death.
§2. In hospitals, prisons, and on sea journeys, a chaplain, moreover, has the faculty, to be exercised only in those places, of absolving from latae sententiae censures which are neither reserved nor declared, without prejudice, however, to the prescript of CIC 976.
567 §1. The local ordinary is not to proceed to the appointment of a chaplain to a house of a lay religious institute without consulting the superior, who has the right to propose a specific priest after the superior has heard the community.
§2. It is for the chaplain to celebrate or direct liturgical functions; nevertheless, he is not permitted to involve himself in the internal governance of the institute.
568 As far as possible, chaplains are to be appointed for those who are not able to avail themselves of the ordinary care of pastors because of the condition of their lives, such as migrants, exiles, refugees, nomads, sailors.
569 Military chaplains are governed by special laws.
570 If a non-parochial church is connected to the seat of a community or group, the chaplain is to be the rector of that church, unless the care of the community or of the church requires otherwise.
571 In the exercise of his pastoral function, a chaplain is to preserve a fitting relationship with the pastor.
572 In what pertains to the removal of a chaplain, the prescript of CIC 563 is to be observed.
573 §1. The life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honor, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory.
§2. The Christian faithful freely assume this form of living in institutes of consecrated life canonically erected by competent authority of the Church. Through vows or other sacred bonds according to the proper laws of the institutes, they profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience and, through the charity to which the counsels lead, are joined in a special way to the Church and its mystery.
574 §1. The state of those who profess the evangelical counsels in institutes of this type belongs to the life and holiness of the Church and must be fostered and promoted by all in the Church.
§2. Certain Christian faithful are specially called by God to this state so that they possess a special gift in the life of the Church and contribute to its salvific mission, according to the purpose and spirit of the institute.
575 The evangelical counsels, based on the teaching and examples of Christ the Teacher, are a divine gift which the Church has received from the Lord and preserves always through His grace.
576 It is for the competent authority of the Church to interpret the evangelical counsels, to direct their practice by laws, and by canonical approbation to establish the stable forms of living deriving from them, and also, for its part, to take care that the institutes grow and flourish according to the spirit of the founders and sound traditions.
577 In the Church there are a great many institutes of consecrated life which have different gifts according to the grace which has been given them: they more closely follow Christ who prays, or announces the kingdom of God, or does good to people, or lives with people in the world, yet who always does the will of the Father.
578 All must observe faithfully the mind and designs of the founders regarding the nature, purpose, spirit, and character of an institute, which have been sanctioned by competent ecclesiastical authority, and its sound traditions, all of which constitute the patrimony of the same institute.
579 Diocesan bishops, each in his own territory, can erect institutes of consecrated life by formal decree, provided that the Apostolic See has been consulted.
580 The aggregation of one institute of consecrated life to another is reserved to the competent authority of the aggregating institute; the canonical autonomy of the aggregated institute is always to be preserved.
581 To divide an institute into parts, by whatever name they are called, to erect new parts, to join those erected, or to redefine their boundaries belongs to the competent authority of the institute, according to the norm of the constitutions.
582 Mergers and unions of institutes of consecrated life are reserved to the Apostolic See only; confederations and federations are also reserved to it.
583 Changes in institutes of consecrated life affecting those things which had been approved by the Apostolic See cannot be made without its permission.
584 The suppression of an institute pertains only to the Apostolic See; a decision regarding the temporal goods of the institute is also reserved to the Apostolic See.
585 It belongs to the competent authority of an institute to suppress its parts.
586 §1. A just autonomy of life, especially of governance, is acknowledged for individual institutes, by which they possess their own discipline in the Church and are able to preserve their own patrimony intact, as mentioned in CIC 578.
§2. It is for local ordinaries to preserve and safeguard this autonomy.
587 §1. To protect more faithfully the proper vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of every institute must contain, besides those things which are to be observed as stated in CIC 578, fundamental norms regarding governance of the institute, the discipline of members, incorporation and formation of members, and the proper object of the sacred bonds.
§2. A code of this type is approved by competent authority of the Church and can be changed only with its consent.
§3. In this code spiritual and juridic elements are to be joined together suitably; nevertheless, norms are not to be multiplied without necessity.
§4. Other norms established by competent authority of an institute are to be collected suitably in other codes and, moreover, can be reviewed appropriately and adapted according to the needs of places and times.
588 §1. By its very nature, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay.
§2. That institute is called clerical which, by reason of the purpose or design intended by the founder or by virtue of legitimate tradition, is under the direction of clerics, assumes the exercise of sacred orders, and is recognized as such by the authority of the Church.
§3. That institute is called lay which, recognized as such by the authority of the Church, has by virtue of its nature, character, and purpose a proper function defined by the founder or by legitimate tradition, which does not include the exercise of sacred orders.
589 An institute of consecrated life is said to be of pontifical right if the Apostolic See has erected it or approved it through a formal decree. It is said to be of diocesan right, however, if it has been erected by a diocesan bishop but has not obtained a decree of approval from the Apostolic See.
590 §1. Inasmuch as institutes of consecrated life are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the whole Church, they are subject to the supreme authority of the Church in a special way.
§2. Individual members are also bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest superior by reason of the sacred bond of obedience.
591 In order to provide better for the good of institutes and the needs of the apostolate, the Supreme Pontiff, by reason of his primacy in the universal Church and with a view to common advantage, can exempt institutes of consecrated life from the governance of local ordinaries and subject them to himself alone or to another ecclesiastical authority.
592 §1. In order better to foster the communion of institutes with the Apostolic See, each supreme moderator is to send a brief report of the state and life of the institute to the Apostolic See, in a manner and at a time established by the latter.
§2. The moderators of every institute are to promote knowledge of documents of the Holy See which regard the members entrusted to them and are to take care about their observance.
593 Without prejudice to the prescript of CIC 586, institutes of pontifical right are immediately and exclusively subject to the power of the Apostolic See in regards to internal governance and discipline.
594 Without prejudice to CIC 586, an institute of diocesan right remains under the special care of the diocesan bishop.
595 §1. It is for the bishop of the principal seat to approve the constitutions and confirm changes legitimately introduced into them, without prejudice to those things which the Apostolic See has taken in hand, and also to treat affairs of greater importance affecting the whole institute which exceed the power of internal authority, after he has consulted the other diocesan bishops, however, if the institute has spread to several dioceses.
§2. A diocesan bishop can grant dispensations from the constitutions in particular cases.
596 §1. Superiors and chapters of institutes possess that power over members which is defined in universal law and the constitutions.
§2. In clerical religious institutes of pontifical right, however, they also possess ecclesiastical power of governance for both the external and internal forum.
§3. The prescripts of cann. CIC 131 CIC 133, and CIC 137-144 apply to the power mentioned in §1.
597 §1. Any Catholic endowed with a right intention who has the qualities required by universal and proper law and who is not prevented by any impediment can be admitted into an institute of consecrated life.
§2. No one can be admitted without suitable preparation.
598 §1. Each institute, attentive to its own character and purposes, is to define in its constitutions the manner in which the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience must be observed for its way of living.
§2. Moreover, all members must not only observe the evangelical counsels faithfully and fully but also arrange their life according to the proper law of the institute and thereby strive for the perfection of their state.
599 The evangelical counsel of chastity assumed for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, which is a sign of the world to come and a source of more abundant fruitfulness in an undivided heart, entails the obligation of perfect continence in celibacy.
600 The evangelical counsel of poverty in imitation of Christ who, although he was rich, was made poor for us, entails, besides a life which is poor in fact and in spirit and is to be led productively in moderation and foreign to earthly riches, a dependence and limitation in the use and disposition of goods according to the norm of the proper law of each institute.
601 The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in a spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ obedient unto death, requires the submission of the will to legitimate superiors, who stand in the place of God, when they command according to the proper constitutions.
602 The life of brothers or sisters proper to each institute, by which all the members are united together as a special family in Christ, is to be defined in such a way that it becomes a mutual support for all in fulfilling the vocation of each. Moreover, by their communion as brothers or sisters rooted and founded in charity, members are to be an example of universal reconciliation in Christ.
603 §1. In addition to institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through a stricter withdrawal from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance.
§2. A hermit is recognized by law as one dedicated to God in consecrated life if he or she publicly professes in the hands of the diocesan bishop the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond, and observes a proper program of living under his direction.
604 §1. Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins who, expressing the holy resolution of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are mystically betrothed to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.
§2. In order to observe their own resolution more faithfully and to perform by mutual assistance service to the Church in harmony with their proper state, virgins can be associated together.
605 The approval of new forms of consecrated life is reserved only to the Apostolic See. Diocesan bishops, however, are to strive to discern new gifts of consecrated life granted to the Church by the Holy Spirit and are to assist promoters so that these can express their proposals as well as possible and protect them by appropriate statutes; the general norms contained in this section are especially to be utilized.
606 Those things which are established for institutes of consecrated life and their members are equally valid in law for either sex, unless it is otherwise evident from the context of the wording or the nature of the matter.
607 §1. As a consecration of the whole person, religious life manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.
§2. A religious institute is a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common.
§3. The public witness to be rendered by religious to Christ and the Church entails a separation from the world proper to the character and purpose of each institute.
608 A religious community must live in a legitimately established house under the authority of a superior designated according to the norm of law. Each house is to have at least an oratory in which the Eucharist is to be celebrated and reserved so that it is truly the center of the community.
609 §1. Houses of a religious institute are erected by the authority competent according to the constitutions, with the previous written consent of the diocesan bishop.
§2. In addition, the permission of the Apostolic See is required to erect a monastery of nuns.
610 §1. The erection of houses takes place with consideration for their advantage to the Church and the institute and with suitable safeguards for those things which are required to carry out properly the religious life of the members according to the proper purposes and spirit of the institute.
§2. No house is to be erected unless it can be judged prudently that the needs of the members will be provided for suitably.
611 The consent of the diocesan bishop to erect a religious house of any institute entails the right:
1/ to lead a life according to the character and proper purposes of the institute;
2/ to exercise the works proper to the institute according to the norm of law and without prejudice to the conditions attached to the consent;
3/ for clerical institutes to have a church, without prejudice to the prescript of CIC 1215, §3 and to perform sacred ministries, after the requirements of the law have been observed.
612 For a religious house to be converted to apostolic works different from those for which it was established, the consent of the diocesan bishop is required, but not if it concerns a change which refers only to internal governance and discipline, without prejudice to the laws of the foundation.
613 §1. A religious house of canons regular or of monks under the governance and care of its own moderator is autonomous unless the constitutions state otherwise.
§2. The moderator of an autonomous house is a major superior by law.
614 Monasteries of nuns associated to an institute of men maintain their own way of life and governance according to the constitutions. Mutual rights and obligations are to be defined in such a way that spiritual good can come from the association.
615 An autonomous monastery which does not have another major superior besides its own moderator and is not associated to another institute of religious in such a way that the superior of the latter possesses true power over such a monastery as determined by the constitutions is entrusted to the special vigilance of the diocesan bishop according to the norm of law.
616 §1. The supreme moderator can suppress a legitimately erected religious house according to the norm of the constitutions, after the diocesan bishop has been consulted. The proper law of the institute is to make provision for the goods of the suppressed house, without prejudice to the intentions of the founders or donors or to legitimately acquired rights.
§2. The suppression of the only house of an institute belongs to the Holy See, to which the decision regarding the goods in that case is also reserved.
§3. To suppress the autonomous house mentioned in CIC 613 belongs to the general chapter, unless the constitutions state otherwise.
§4. To suppress an autonomous monastery of nuns belongs to the Apostolic See, with due regard to the prescripts of the constitutions concerning its goods.
617 Superiors are to fulfill their function and exercise their power according to the norm of universal and proper law.
618 Superiors are to exercise their power, received from God through the ministry of the Church, in a spirit of service. Therefore, docile to the will of God in fulfilling their function, they are to govern their subjects as sons or daughters of God and, promoting the voluntary obedience of their subjects with reverence for the human person, they are to listen to them willingly and foster their common endeavor for the good of the institute and the Church, but without prejudice to the authority of superiors to decide and prescribe what must be done.
619 Superiors are to devote themselves diligently to their office and together with the members entrusted to them are to strive to build a community of brothers or sisters in Christ, in which God is sought and loved before all things. Therefore, they are to nourish the members regularly with the food of the word of God and are to draw them to the celebration of the sacred liturgy. They are to be an example to them in cultivating virtues and in the observance of the laws and traditions of their own institute; they are to meet the personal needs of the members appropriately, solicitously to care for and visit the sick, to correct the restless, to console the faint of heart, and to be patient toward all.
620 Those who govern an entire institute, a province of an institute or part equivalent to a province, or an autonomous house, as well as their vicars, are major superiors. Comparable to these are an abbot primate and a superior of a monastic congregation, who nonetheless do not have all the power which universal law grants to major superiors.
621 A grouping of several houses which constitutes an immediate part of the same institute under the same superior and has been canonically erected by legitimate authority is called a province.
622 The supreme moderator holds power over all the provinces, houses, and members of an institute; this power is to be exercised according to proper law. Other superiors possess power within the limits of their function.
623 In order for members to be appointed or elected validly to the function of superior, a suitable time is required after perpetual or definitive profession, to be determined by proper law, or if it concerns major superiors, by the constitutions.
624 §1. Superiors are to be constituted for a certain and appropriate period of time according to the nature and need of the institute, unless the constitutions determine otherwise for the supreme moderator and for superiors of an autonomous house.
§2. Proper law is to provide suitable norms so that superiors, constituted for a definite time, do not remain too long in offices of governance without interruption.
§3. Nevertheless, they can be removed from office during their function or be transferred to another for reasons established in proper law.
625 §1. The supreme moderator of an institute is to be designated by canonical election according to the norm of the constitutions.
§2. The bishop of the principal seat presides at the elections of a superior of the autonomous monastery mentioned in CIC 615 and of the supreme moderator of an institute of diocesan right.
§3. Other superiors are to be constituted according to the norm of the constitutions, but in such a way that, if they are elected, they need the confirmation of a competent major superior; if they are appointed by a superior, however, a suitable consultation is to precede.
626 Superiors in the conferral of offices and members in elections are to observe the norms of universal and proper law, are to abstain from any abuse or partiality, and are to appoint or elect those whom they know in the Lord to be truly worthy and suitable, having nothing before their eyes but God and the good of the institute. Moreover, in elections they are to avoid any procurement of votes, either directly or indirectly, whether for themselves or for others.
627 §1. According to the norm of the constitutions, superiors are to have their own council, whose assistance they must use in carrying out their function.
§2. In addition to the cases prescribed in universal law, proper law is to determine the cases which require consent or counsel to act validly; such consent or counsel must be obtained according to the norm of CIC 127.
628 §1. The superiors whom the proper law of the institute designates for this function are to visit the houses and members entrusted to them at stated times according to the norms of this same proper law.
§2. It is the right and duty of a diocesan bishop to visit even with respect to religious discipline:
1/ the autonomous monasteries mentioned in CIC 615;
2/ individual houses of an institute of diocesan right located in his own territory.
§3. Members are to act with trust toward a visitator, to whose legitimate questioning they are bound to respond according to the truth in charity. Moreover, it is not permitted for anyone in any way to divert members from this obligation or otherwise to impede the scope of the visitation.
629 Superiors are to reside in their respective houses, and are not to absent themselves from their house except according to the norm of proper law.
630 §1. Superiors are to recognize the due freedom of their members regarding the sacrament of penance and direction of conscience, without prejudice, however, to the discipline of the institute.
§2. According to the norm of proper law, superiors are to be concerned that suitable confessors are available to the members, to whom the members can confess frequently.
§3. In monasteries of nuns, in houses of formation, and in more numerous lay communities, there are to be ordinary confessors approved by the local ordinary after consultation with the community; nevertheless, there is no obligation to approach them.
§4. Superiors are not to hear the confessions of subjects unless the members request it on their own initiative.
§5. Members are to approach superiors with trust, to whom they can freely and on their own initiative open their minds. Superiors, however, are forbidden to induce the members in any way to make a manifestation of conscience to them.
631 §1. The general chapter, which holds supreme authority in the institute according to the norm of the constitutions, is to be composed in such a way that, representing the entire institute, it becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. It is for the general chapter principally: to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in CIC 578, promote suitable renewal according to that patrimony, elect the supreme moderator, treat affairs of greater importance, and issue norms which all are bound to obey.
§2. The constitutions are to define the composition and extent of the power of a chapter; proper law is to determine further the order to be observed in the celebration of the chapter, especially in what pertains to elections and the manner of handling affairs.
§3. According to the norms determined in proper law, not only provinces and local communities, but also any member can freely send wishes and suggestions to a general chapter.
632 Proper law is to determine accurately what is to pertain to other chapters of the institute and to other similar assemblies, namely, what pertains to their nature, authority, composition, way of proceeding and time of celebration.
633 §1. Organs of participation or consultation are to fulfill faithfully the function entrusted to them according to the norm of universal and proper law and to express in their own way the concern and participation of all the members for the good of the entire institute or community.
§2. In establishing and using these means of participation and consultation, wise discretion is to be observed and their procedures are to conform to the character and purpose of the institute.
Code of Canon Law 552