Apostolic Letter in the Form of a Motu Poprio Modifying Canons 295-296 Regarding Personal Prelatures (August 8, 2023)

Personal prelatures were mentioned for the first time by the Second Vatican Council in the Decree Presbyterorum ordinis, No. 10 with regard to the distribution of clergy in the context of solicitude for all the Churches.

This spirit is reaffirmed by the same Council in the Decree Ad gentes, which affirms: “where, in order to make particular pastoral works easier for different social classes, provision is made for the establishment of personal prelatures, as required by the proper exercise of the apostolate" (note 105).

The Motu Proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae (August 6, 1966), in the article devoted to "Distribution of clergy and aid to be provided to the dioceses," recalls regarding Prelatures that: “to carry on special pastoral or missionary work for various regions or social groups which are in need of special assistance, prelatures composed of priests from the secular clergy equipped with special training can be usefully established by the Apostolic See. These prelatures are under the government of their own Prelate and possess their own statutes.” (I,4).

In the same vein, in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, personal prelatures are placed in Book II, Part I, Title IV which deals with "the Christian faithful." Title IV is found between Title III on “sacred ministers or clerics” and Title V on "associations of the faithful."

Given that with the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate evangelium (March 19, 2022), Art. 117, authority over personal prelatures was transferred to the Dicastery for the Clergy, on which also depend public clerical associations with the power to incardinate clerics (Art. 118, 2);

Considering canon 265 and art. 6 of the Motu Proprio Ad charisma tuendum (July 14, 2022)

I now establish the following:

Art. 1

Added to Can. 295, § 1, concerning the statutes and the Prelate, are that personal Prelatures are "assimilated to public clerical associations of pontifical right with the power of incardinating clerics," that their statutes may be "approved or issued by the Apostolic See," and that the Prelate acts "as Moderator, endowed with the powers of an Ordinary,” with the end result that Canon 295 [§ 1] is formulated as follows:

Can. 295, § 1. Praelatura personalis, quae consociationibus publicis clericalibus iuris pontificii cum facultate incardinandi clericos assimilatur, regitur statutis ab Apostolica Sede probatis vel emanatis eique praeficitur Praelatus veluti Moderator, facultatibus Ordinarii praeditus, cui ius est nationale vel internationale seminarium erigere necnon alumnos incardinare, eosque titulo servitii praelaturae ad ordines promovere.

[Can. 295, § 1. The personal prelature, which is assimilated to public clerical associations of pontifical right with the power of incardinating clerics, is governed by statutes approved or issued by the Apostolic See and its government is entrusted to a Prelate as Moderator, endowed with the powers of an Ordinary, who has the right to erect national or international seminaries and to incardinate students, and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.]

Art. 2

Canon n. 295, § 2, regarding the responsibilities of the Prelate on the formation and sustenance of the clerics incardinated to the Prelature, specifically states that he acts "as Moderator, endowed with the powers of an Ordinary," giving rise to a canon formulated as follows:

Can. 295, § 2. Utpote Moderator facultatibus Ordinarii praeditus, Praelatus prospicere debet sive spirituali institutioni illorum, quos titulo praedicto promoverit, sive eorundem decorae sustentationi.

[Can. 295, § 2. As Moderator, endowed with the powers of an Ordinary, the Prelate must provide for the spiritual formation and decent support of those ordained under the aforementioned title.]

Art. 3

Added to Can. 296, concerning the participation of the laity in the apostolic activities of the personal prelature, is the reference to can. 107, thus the new canon is formulated as:

Can. 296. Servatis can. 107 praescriptis, conventionibus cum praelatura initis, laici operibus apostolicis praelaturae personalis sese dedicare possunt; modus vero huius organicae cooperationis atque praecipua officia et iura cum illa coniuncta in statutis apte determinentur.

[Can. 296. Safeguarding what is established in Canon 107, the lay faithful can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature through agreements entered into with the prelature; but the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected thereto need to be determined adequately. ]

I order that what is established in this Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio, be firm and stable in force, notwithstanding anything to the contrary even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated in L'Osservatore Romano, entering into force on the day of its publication, and subsequently included in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on the Memorial of St. Dominic, this 8th day of August 2023, the eleventh of the Pontificate.


(Unofficial English translation)

Copyright © Dicastery for Communication - Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Romana, n. 77, July-December 2023, p. 160-162.

Send to friend