The Code of Canon Law
The National Catholic Church of America
This Code of Canon Law is set forth for the unity and order of The National Catholic Church of America, which is part of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and seeking always the Divine Will. The clergy and laity alike should receive them in a spirit of filial trust and charity, directing their hearts and minds to the love and knowledge of God and the service of their brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A. Name and Purpose of the Church
B. Structure and Government
C. Church Life
D. Holy Orders and Religious Life
E. The Administration of the Sacraments
F. Ratification of the Code of Canon Law
A. Name and Purpose of the Church
A001. Church Name. The name of this church will be The National Catholic Church of America, hereinafter referred to as "the Church". Every ministry of the Church at every level, including those operated by religious orders/communities, must indicate in all published literature that it is a ministry of The National Catholic Church of America and the name "National Catholic Church of America" must be part of the official name of any mission or parish of the Church.
A002. Purpose of the Church. The purpose of the Church is to offer worship to the One True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to bring the love of Christ and the message of the gospel to the entire world.
B. Structure and Government
B001. Governance of the Church. Final authority in all matters pertaining to the life, ministry and discipline of the Church resides in the Primate of the Church who holds "the place of Christ" within the Church.
B002. Primate’s Council. The Primate shall be assisted and advised in matters of Church governance by a Primate’s Council, which shall consist of the Chancellor, all bishops, vicars general, deans, superiors general of religious communities, minor prelates, and other members of the clergy and laity appointed by the Primate. A bishop or priest will be appointed by the Primate as Vicar General of the Primate’s Council. The Primate’s Council shall be convened as a whole, in part, or consulted individually, by the Primate, to whom they will make recommendations, both by consensus and minority reports.
B003. Term of Office of the Primate. As Founder of the Church, The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD, shall hold the office of Primate of the Church for life, or until his resignation or removal from office. Subsequent Primates of the Church shall be elected to a single term of ten years. The Primate of the Church may not serve more than one term of office.
B004. Removal from Office. If the Primate is declared by a court of law in the state of his/her legal residence to be mentally incompetent, he/she may be removed from office by a unanimous vote of the Primate’s Council (excluding the Primate) in conjunction with a 75% majority of the clergy of the Church.
B005. Interim governance. During the period of vacancy of the office of Primate of the Church, the Vicar General of the Primate’s Council shall act as Apostolic Administrator for the Church, but is not empowered to change any canon laws of the Church.
B006. General Assembly elects new Primate. In the event of the retirement, resignation, death or removal from office of the Primate of the Church, a new Primate shall be elected from among the bishops of the Church, or if there are no bishops in the Church, the priests of the Church, by a General Assembly of the Church, meeting within one hundred twenty days following the vacancy of the office by the previous Primate. All bishops and clergy of the Church, together with two lay delegates from each parish of the Church are eligible to cast a single vote each in the election for Primate. A simple majority shall be required for the election of the new Primate. The Vicar General of the Primate’s Council shall convene the General Assembly for the purpose of electing a new Primate and shall preside over the election which shall be conducted by secret ballot. The members of the Church shall receive at least 60 days notice concerning the date and place of the General Assembly and notarized, proxy votes shall be allowed for those eligible voting members unable to attend. The quorum required for a valid election shall be the physical presence or proxy vote participation of at least 75% of the eligible voting members of the Church.
B007. New Primate takes Office. The new Primate of the Church takes office immediately upon his/her acceptance of the election to the office. If the candidate elected is not a bishop, consecration will immediately be sought from another apostolic Catholic body with whom the Church is in a relationship of Intercommunion.
B008. General Synod. At least every three years, a General Synod of the Church will be convened at a time and place determined by the Primate. All clergy, religious and seminarians of the Church will attend, unless specifically excused from doing so by the Primate. Secular lay members of the Church and outside observers or advisors may be invited to attend by the Primate in a non-voting capacity. The triennial General Synod will be convened to co-coincide with the General Chapter of the Order of Saint John the Divine, for which the Primate of the Church also serves as Abbot and Superior (superior general). Any legislation or policies passed by the General Synod must be in conformity with the Code of Canon Law of the Church and must be ratified by the Primate in order to be enacted.
B009. Dioceses, Vicariates and Deaneries. Whenever deemed necessary by the Primate, he/she shall designate a geographic area as constituting a Diocese or Vicariate of the Church, or non-geographic Vicariate of the Church or Deanery of the Church.. Each diocese or vicariate shall be a subsidiary of the Church. The Primate shall directly appoint auxiliary bishops, vicars general and deans. With the approval of the Primate, diocesan bishops (ordinaries) shall be nominated for each diocese by a Diocesan Assembly by a simple majority vote of the clergy and religious and two secular lay delegates from each parish of the diocese, each person casting one vote. The quorum needed for a valid nomination shall be the same as that for the General Assembly. A Diocesan Assembly called for the purpose of nominating a diocesan bishop shall be called by the Primate of the Church and convened by the Primate or his/her delegate and follow the same notification requirement and voting procedure as the General Assembly. The resulting list of nominees, who shall be chosen from among the bishops and priests of the diocese, and which shall be no more than five in number, in descending number of votes garnered, shall be submitted to the Primate of the Church for consideration for appointment by the Primate, who may choose from this list or choose from other candidates.
B010. Diocesan Synods. An annual Diocesan Synod will be convened by the Bishop of each diocese (the ordinary) at a time and placed determined in consultation with the Primate. All clergy, religious and seminarians of the diocese will attend the Diocesan Synod, unless specifically excused from doing so by the Diocesan Bishop or the Primate. Voting and notification requirements and attendance by non-voting guests shall be the same as those for the General Synod. Any legislation or policies passed by the Diocesan Synod must be in conformity with the Code of Canon Law of the Church and be ratified by the Primate in order to be enacted.
B011. Diocesan Assemblies. Not less than once every three years, the Diocesan Bishop (ordinary) will convene a Diocesan Assembly, bringing together all clergy and religious of the diocese and two secular lay delegates from each parish throughout the diocese to confer and advise on matters of the life of the local Church. The Primate of the Church must be informed in writing at least 60 days prior to the convention that it will occur, as shall the clergy and laity of the diocese. Voting requirements and attendance by non-voting guests shall be the same as for the General Assembly. Any legislation or policies passed by the Diocesan Assembly must be in conformity with the Code of Canon Law of the Church and be ratified by the Primate in order to be enacted.
B012. Attendance at the General Synod, General Assembly, Diocesan Synod, Diocesan Assembly and Deanery Meetings. Each member of the clergy and religious and each seminarian will attend the Church’s General Synod and General Assembly as well as his/her Diocesan Synod and Diocesan Assembly and Deanery Meetings unless specifically excused from doing so by the Primate of the Church (or, in the case of Deanery Meetings, the Diocesan Bishop (ordinary).
C. Church Life
C001. Commonality of Faith. Members of the Church profess common belief in the Holy Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, the Christian faith as expressed in the Nicene and Apostles Creeds, the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, the sufficiency of Sacred Scripture interpreted by tradition, scholarship and reason, the efficacy of the seven sacraments, and Apostolic Succession as the means of transmitting the historic ministries and offices of deacon, priest (presbyter) and bishop to succeeding generations of the Church.
C002. Membership in the Church. Membership in the Church shall be achieved by reception of those who have already been validly baptized, or instruction in the faith and baptism within the Church of those not yet validly baptized. Members of the laity do not have to renounce membership in any other Christian body to become members of the Church, provided the doctrines of those bodies do not make adherence to the doctrines of the Church impossible. All clergy of the Church must be fully incardinated in the Church and they may not hold concurrent membership in any other church without specific indult from the Primate.
C003. Attendance at Holy Eucharist (the Mass). Each member of the Church having reached the age of reason is obligated to attend Mass each Sunday (or Saturday evening anticipated Mass) and Holy Day of Obligation unless prevented from doing so by illness or other serious reason.
C004. Lay Ministry Recognizing the fact that all baptized Christians are called to participate in the one ministry of Christ in the Church, all lay members of the Church shall be encouraged to serve the people of God according to their gifts, under the authority and guidance of the clergy of the Church.
C005. Financial Support. Every member of the Church is obligated to financially support the work of the Church according to his/her means and to employ his/her time and talents in the service of the people of God.
C006. Non-discrimination in Church membership. Admission to membership in the Church and to religious life or Holy Orders in the Church shall be made without regard to the gender, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical disability of the candidate.
C007. On the Number of Sacraments. There are seven sacraments celebrated within the Church. These are Baptism, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing.
D. Holy Orders and Religious Life
D001. Minimum age for ordination or religious profession. The minimum age for eligibility for ordination to priesthood or diaconate is 25 years. The minimum age for eligibility for religious profession is 21 years.
D002. Bars to admission to Holy Orders and religious life. Persons who are members of "secret societies", persons known to be pedophiles, and those who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to felony sex crimes, shall not be admitted to Holy Orders or religious life in the Church.
D003. Institute Enrollment. All seminarians of the Church will be enrolled in the Institute for Pastoral and Religious Studies of the Order of Saint John the Divine upon acceptance as a candidate for Holy Orders; unless, in the judgment of the Primate, a candidate has already attained a sufficient degree of competency in those areas covered by the Institute. Seminarians and religious are responsible for all the costs associated with their participation in the Institute program, including any of the costs incurred by their mentors such as telephone calls, photocopying, etc.
D004. Ordination. The Primate of the Church makes the final decision regarding the ordination of candidates to diaconate, priesthood or episcopacy in the Church, whether for secular candidates or religious community candidates. Such ordinations will be administered by either The Primate or the Diocesan Bishop (ordinary) or another bishop of the Church with the approval of the Primate. The candidate for ordination is responsible for all costs associated with the ordination, including the transportation, housing and meals of the ordaining bishop(s).
D005. Religious Orders and Communities. Religious orders and communities may be established within the Church only with the permission of the Primate of the Church. Each religious order or religious community shall be a subsidiary of the Church. Such canonically established orders and communities shall elect a superior general (not necessarily called a superior general), whose election must be confirmed by the Primate, and who shall exercise general authority within the order or community. Each order or community must cooperate with the Diocesan Bishop (ordinary), who has responsibility for the ministries carried out in his/her diocese. The Order of Saint John the Divine is an exempt order, directly under the authority of the Primate, who serves as the Order’s superior general.
D006. Obedience of Clergy and Laity. Clergy and laity of the Church owe obedience to the Primate of the Church and his/her appointed representatives and elected successors and subordinate superiors. No member of the clergy of the Church shall administer the sacraments of the Church without first obtaining faculties to do so from either the Diocesan Bishop (ordinary) or the Primate of the Church.
D007. Ministry. All priests of the Church shall engage in pastoral and sacramental ministry for the people of God. All ministries not requiring ordination will be available to lay and clerical members, including the ministry of preaching, for qualified lay people. Lay preachers must be licensed to engage in this ministry by either the Diocesan Bishop(ordinary) or the Primate and may not regularly preach at Sunday celebrations (or Saturday anticipated celebrations) of the Mass, since preaching remains the primary responsibility of the clergy.
D008. Annual Retreat. Each member of the clergy of the Church, each seminarian of the Church and each religious of the Church shall make an annual retreat at a time and location of his/her own choosing.
D009. Completion of Program. Each seminarian and novice will complete all aspects of the Institute Program as designed for him/her by the Primate of the Church or his/her delegate.
D010. Accountability. Each seminarian and novice will fully cooperate with, and follow the instructions of, his/her assigned mentor, who is the Primate’s representative in regard to matters concerning preparation for ordination or religious profession
D011. Mass Attendance. Each seminarian and novice will attend Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days and will not lightly excuse himself/herself from this obligation.
D012. Celebration of Mass. Priests of the Church will celebrate Mass at least each Sunday (or Saturday evening), whether alone or with others, unless there is a serious reason for not doing so.
D013. Reporting Requirement. Each member of the clergy and each religious of the Church will submit a quarterly report to the Primate of the Church and the superior general of their religious order/community concerning his/her activities related to life and ministry in the Church. The nature and schedule of these reports will be determined by the Primate.
D014. Day of Recollection. On at least one day each month, each member of the clergy and each religious and each seminarian of the Church will set aside a substantial portion of the day as a Day of Recollection, seeking to refocus his/her dedication to Christ and the Church. If possible, this should be done with other clergy or religious community members.
D015. Parish and Mission Ministry. Parish and mission ministry, as a pastor , associate pastor or vicar, shall be the usual and normative ministry engaged in by priests of the Church. Other ministries, either in addition to, or in place of, parochial or mission ministry, may be pursued by priests of the Church with the permission of the Primate of the Church.
D016. Parishes and Missions. Parishes and missions of the Church shall be established only with the permission of the Primate of the Church or the Diocesan Bishop with the approval of the Primate. Each parish or mission is encouraged to establish a parish council or mission council, to assist and advise the pastor in the administration of the parish or mission. These bodies will be advisory only, in nature.
D017. Other Institutional Ministries. Other institutional ministries of the Church shall be established only with the permission of the Primate of the Church and shall be financially self-supporting and will also contribute to the financial support of the Church, according to their means.
D018. Ecumenical Services. As a Catholic Church which desires to give witness to the real possibility of Christian Unity, ecumenical worship services are encouraged. However, participation in such services must be guided by the Church’s commitment to Catholic theological and liturgical principles, especially as pertains to those in Holy Orders.
D019. Ecumenical Ministries. Clergy, religious and laity of the Church are encouraged to engage in cooperative ministry with other Christian bodies, as long as participation in these ministries does not conflict with the Code of Canon Law of the Church, or the particular rules of each religious order or community and is not specifically prohibited by the Primate of the Church.
D020. Area of Ministry. No member of the clergy or religious of the Church will engage in an area of ministry specifically prohibited by the Primate of the Church, or that is in conflict with the Code of Canon Law of the Church.
D021. Inform Superior. Each member of the clergy and each religious and each seminarian of the Church will inform his/her immediate superior of the nature of his/her ministry activities as well as any change in area of ministry.
D022. Financing. Those clergy and religious engaged in local ministry are responsible for raising the funds necessary to that ministry’s operation from members of the local community who benefit from, or who support, their work. In recognition of the obligation all clergy, religious and laity of the Church have to financially support the work of the Church, each member of the clergy, each religious, each seminarian and each parish or mission will regularly contribute to the Primate of the Church an amount of money in keeping with the means of the individual or the parish/mission.
D023. Continuity. Those clergy and religious engaged in ministry prior to entering the seminary or incardinating in the Church may continue in their ministry if it is not in conflict with the Code of Canon Law of the Church, the rule or Ordinals of their religious community, and is not expressly prohibited by the Primate of the Church.
D024. Resignation. Any religious or member of the clergy may resign from religious or clerical status or from membership in the Church, by submitting a signed letter to the Primate of the Church giving the reasons for such action; and, in the case of a religious, renouncing his or her vows or promises.
D025. Suspension and Expulsion of Clergy and Religious. The object of all discipline of clergy and religious within the Church is to restore the member to fullness of unity with Christ and the Church as a minister of the gospel. However, there are, from time to time, instances of violation of the tenets of the faith, vows, the Code of Canon Law, or instructions of superiors of the Church, of such a serious or habitual nature that they require temporary or permanent separation of the clergy member or religious from their clerical or religious state or ministry within the Church. The Primate of the Church shall make any final decision regarding such action in consultation with the appropriate superiors and advisors of the Church, after reviewing all relevant circumstances concerning the individual case.
E. The Administration of the Sacraments
E001. The Ministers of the Sacraments. The ordinary minister of Baptism is a priest or deacon; however, in a life-jeopardizing situation, it may be administered by a lay person. The Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist can be celebrated only by a priest or bishop. The Sacrament of Marriage is administered by the spouses to each other in the presence of a deacon, priest or bishop (except with dispensation from the bishop for pastoral reasons). The Sacrament of Marriage is offered to couples of the same gender as well as to those of the opposite gender. The Sacrament of Anointing can only be administered by a deacon, priest or bishop, and the Sacrament of Holy Orders can only be administered by a bishop.
E002. The Eucharistic Rites and Other Sacraments. Priests of the Church will normally celebrate the Mass of Saint John the Divine or the Novus Ordo Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, considered the rites of the Church. For the present, those rites used by the Roman Catholic Church in the administration of its sacraments, with inclusive adaptations, shall be considered the official rites of the Church. Trial use of new or revised eucharistic liturgies may be undertaken only with the permission of the Primate.
E003. Norms for the Celebration of The Holy Eucharist (the Mass). The Holy Eucharist must be celebrated using only bread made from wheat flour and wine made from grapes. For pastoral reasons, grape juice or non-alcoholic wine may be substituted. The bread may be either leavened or unleavened. The celebrant must wear at least an alb and stole, preferably with a chasuble, and the altar or table must be covered with at least a corporal, and there should be two lit candles on, or near, the altar, as well as a crucifix.
The chalice used must be of dignified design and the cup must be lined with a non-porous material. Altar servers may be of either gender and deacons must be vested in at least alb and stole. The rubrics of the Mass should followed, allowing for pastoral accommodations.
F. Ratification of the Code of Canon Law
F001. Binding. The Code of Canon Law of the Church becomes binding upon ratification by the Primate of the Church.
F002. Primate Revises. The Primate of the Church may amend, add or delete any of the canon laws of the Church, with the exception of canon law number B004.
F003. Revisions to Be Listed Herein. Additional canon laws shall be added to these canon laws, under the appropriate section, continuing the numbered sequence. Revised or amended canon laws shall simply be rewritten, keeping their numbered sequence, giving the date of the amendment of the canon law.
The above text of canon laws of The National Catholic Church of America, shall be binding upon said Church, all its members and authorities, and every constituent and subsidiary group thereof, this being the first version of The Code of Canon Law, as declared by me, The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD, Primate of The National Catholic Church of America, given on this First day of January, in the Year of Our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight.
The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD
Primate - The National Catholic Church of America
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