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Private Associations
Question from Tony Correia on 12/14/2006:

I understand that associations are created by their statutes, recognized when these are approved by competent authority and are given a juridical status when a suitable decree to that effect is issued.

Most associations begin as private associations at a diocesan level. What happens when an association has received recognition and juridical status in a diocese but is later elevated to an international association? 1. Does the earlier statutues and decree lapse? 2. Does the international statutes now govern it?

Further, 3. Once an international association's statutes is recognized by Rome does the local unit operating in a diocese have to prepare fresh statutes for its operations in a diocese?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 12/14/2006:

Associations of the faithful are either of "diocesan right" or of "pontifical right."

You are correct that most associations begin as diocesan assocations. When they begin to expand into other dioceses, it is then that they usually seek pontifical recognition. I would note that the diocesan bishop still retains the right to refuse admittance of an association into his diocese, even if it has been given the status of being of pontifical right.

If a association of the faithful of diocesan right becomes of pontifical right, then it is no longer of diocesan right. If an association of pontifical right seeks to enter new dioceses, permission of the diocesan bishop is required in the new diocese, but not additional approval of the statutes is required.

It is possible that the statues that were approved when the association was of diocesan right will also be approved by the Vatican when it is becoming of pontifical right. It is likely, however, that some revisions will be needed.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is the office at the Vatican that approves statutes for associations of the faithful to become of pontifical right. (If, however, an association of the faithful intends to one day become a religious institute or society of apostolic life, then the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life would approve the statutes.)

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