Constitution for the Structure and Organizational Functioning of ICERGUA

0. Introduction

1. The Communities

2. Parishes and Quasi-Parishes.
2.1.  Identity
2.2.  Pastoral Council
2.3.  Economic Council
2.4.  Administrative Services
2.5.  Ordained Ministries in the Parish
2.6.  Steps to Be Followed to Constitute a Parish             

3. Deaneries.

4. The Assembly of Delegates:

5. The Council of Priests and the Life of Priests
5.1.  Composition
5.2.  Coordination
5.3.  Functions
5.4.  The Dean of the Council of Priests
5.5.  Meetings
5.6.  On the Life of Priests
            5.6.1.  Members of the Nazareth Community
            5.6.2.  Secular Priests
            5.6.3.  Priests Who Are Members of a Congregation 
            5.6.4.  Admission of Priests

6. The Bishop’s Office
6.1. The Bishop
            6.1.1.  Functions
            6.1.2.  Election
            6.1.3.  Duration and Cessation of His Charge
            6.1.4.  Resignation of a Bishop
            6.1.5.  Auxiliary Bishop
6.2.  Administrative and Pastoral Services
            6.2.1.  General Secretariat
            6.2.2.  Pastoral Department
            6.2.3.  Publications Department
            6.2.4.  Communication Specialist
            6.2.5.  Missions Specialist
            6.2.6.  Ministry of Juridical and Pastoral Discernment
            6.2.7.  Department of Infrastructure and Development
            6.2.8.  Department of Finances
6.3.  Seminary and Lay Education
            6.3.1.  The Seminary of the Nazareth Community
            6.3.2.  The School of Theology and Education for Laity
            6.3.3.  Program of Education for the Permanent Deaconate

7. The Synod:
7.1. Function
7.2. Composition
7.3. Frequency, the Convocation and Preparation       
7.4. Procedures during the Synodic Assembly

8. Conference of Bishops
8.1.  A Projection into the Future
8.2.  Primate Bishop
8.3.  Conference of Bishops
8.4.  The Plenary Council
8.5.  Constituting a New Bishopric

9. Communion with Churches and with Ecumenical Organizations
9.1.  Permanent and Basic Links
9.2.  Communion with Other Churches
9.3.  Search for New Forms of Communion
9.4.  Participation in Ecumenical Organizations
9.5.  Procedure for Other Memberships and Communions



Understanding our church as a “Communion of Communities,” we believe that the reality of communion occurs on several levels, each of which is in some sense a community and at the same time a communion, in which the totality of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church makes itself and is present.

  1. The local communities form the first level of communion.
  2. The second level is formed of the parishes or quasi-parishes.
  3.  The deaneries form the third level. 
  4. The Assembly of Delegates is the fourth level. 
  5. The fifth is the Council of Priests. 
  6. The sixth is the Bishopric. 
  7. In the future the Conference of Bishops of our Church will form the seventh. 
  8. The communion of catholic churches from which we receive apostolic succession and with which we have established full communion is the eighth.
  9. Ninth is communion with other churches and the participation and membership in national, regional and international ecumenical groups.

Aware that on each level of communion the totality of the Church as the Body of Christ is present and actual, we believe it is indispensable to seek appropriate forms so that this presence may be alive and manifest in every initiative and organizational format. In every format a privileged place is accorded to the three following elements, which we call “basic ecclesiastical elements”:

  1. The recognition of the centrality of the Word of God made present in the Holy Scriptures. 
  2. The sacramental life, which is particularly present when the seven sacraments are recognized and celebrated; the peak of the sacraments is the Eucharist, which is where the presence of the ordained ministry is the sign of the operative communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 
  3. The presence of the signs of love, the most special ecclesiastical element, which is manifest as solidarity, openness, tolerance, respect for diversity, inclusiveness and commitment in the life of society, especially the poor and excluded.



1.  The Communities

1.1.  The communities form the basic nuclei from which the whole life of the church comes forth and is organized.

1.2.  By “community” we understand the joining of brothers and sisters who meet in a specific place, share and live the three basic ecclesiastic elements. Through appropriate means community in this sense is linked to and forms part of communion on the next level, which is the parish or quasi-parish.

1.3.  The ideal is for each community to have the following elements:
1.3.1.  The permanent presence of the Eucharist
1.3.2.  The presence of ministers of the communion and other ministers, as per specific needs
1.3.3. Organized programs of preparation for the people before receiving the various sacraments
1.3.4. Organized support and developmental services for different groups—children, youth, elderly, the ill, the poor, the excluded
1.3.5.  An evangelism and mission team
1.3.6.  A small Coordination Council charged to plan and coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral activities as well as administrative and organizational activities and activities of charity and community development.

1.4.  If, owing to specific circumstances (size, years in existence, lack of leaders, etc.) a community is not able to offer all the required services, mechanisms can be established whereby among various small communities all the services of a community can be provided.

1.5.  Comparable to communities are groups, movements, confraternities, brotherhoods and associations that may be recognized as such by the Pastoral Council or by some other higher coordinating organ of the Church. These entities, without having to organize all the services of a community, have the following rights and duties:
1.5.1.  Once their authority is recognized, they have to participate through representatives in the Pastoral Council of the parish that they are shaping.
1.5.2.  So far as possible and advantageous for achieving their objective and strengthening their spiritual identity, they have the right and duty to be organized to offer community service to their members both on the sacramental and the catechetical level as well as other levels.
1.5.3.  Without attenuating their own identity and self-determination, they should participate in parish activities that have been agreed to by consensus with the Pastoral Council and should contribute proportionally to defraying the cost of the parish’s pastoral ministry.


2.  The Parishes and Quasi-Parishes

2.1. Identity
2.1.1.  The parishes or quasi-parishes form the ecclesiastical basis on which a particular church exists—the foundation on which it is born, grows and makes the Christian life real.
2.1.2.  The identity of the parish does not consist of the presence of an ordained minister with the title of parish priest, but rather it consists of the presence of a communion of communities appropriately organized for guaranteeing all the means necessary for the Christian life. The presence of the ordained minister is indispensable for the sacramental life to be actualized and for the bonds of ecclesiastic communion to be maintained through liturgical celebrations. Nevertheless, this presence can be intermittent in accord with the possibilities and needs, whereas the organic life of the communion of communities has to be something ongoing and permanent.
2.1.3.  The difference between a parish and a quasi-parish is basically numerical.  Nevertheless the organization and the services they offer must be basically the same.
2.1.4.  For a parish to come into being it is necessary that it have at least 2000 members.  For a quasi-parish, the number is 1000.  Within these figures are included children and members who, although they may not be actively involved in the community, have it as their point of religious reference and the sacramental space in which they live.
2.1.5.  The parishes and quasi-parishes are not necessarily defined geographically.  They are formed by the communion of communities that freely and stably form a pact and choose to be set up as parishes.  Thus, in a given geo-political area several parishes can exist, each with its own spiritual characteristics and, equally there can be communities that, for reason of spiritual affinity or specific call choose to make a parish pact with communities that are geographically somewhat distant, although other parishes may be closer.  The goal of this proviso is the keep the primacy of the charismatic over the institutional and the primacy of the identity and freedom of communities over geographical determination.  In this way we intend to ensure that within the communion there be space, respect and recognition for everyone and that we may keep our genuinely catholic and ecumenical identity alive.
2.1.6.  Although maintaining the greatest respect for the freedom and diversity of the communities, given that the parishes as well as the quasi-parishes are a communion of communities organized appropriately to their identity, each of them must have three basic organizational elements:  the pastoral council, the economic council and the administrative services.

2.2.  Pastoral Council
2.2.1.  The Pastoral Council is the unit charged with the coordination of the parish or quasi-parish.
2.2.2.  Composition.  It is formed of representatives of each of the communities or groups of communities (when various communities are organized to provide the services of a community) that comprise the parish or quasi-parish.  The number of representatives can vary between one and three for each community or group of communities, as agreed upon by the Council.
2.2.3.  Coordination Team.  The Pastoral Council is moderated by a coordination team elected democratically by all its members. The Council is presided over by a coordinator.  The other offices that may be established within the coordination team are determined by need and circumstance.
2.2.4.  Term.  The Pastoral Council changes each two years. In a timely manner, the communities appoint their new delegates, and at the first meeting of the new council the coordination team is elected.  According to the judgment of the respective communities, the delegates can be reelected to represent the community in the Pastoral Council.
2.2.5.  Role of the ordained ministers within the Council:  The ordained ministers who are serving the parish or quasi-parish are part of the Pastoral Council in the capacity of advisers when decisions are under discussion.  For that reason they cannot be members of the council’s coordinating team. Nevertheless, they have the responsibility of ratifying the decisions of the council. If there is a decision that they believe to be contrary to faith or the wellbeing of the community, and so they do not ratify it, the Council has the responsibility to take into consideration the observations made by the ordained ministers, to revise the decision, and arrive at a consensus. In case it is not possible to reach consensus and ratification in the second round, the deanery is asked to study the means whereby the problem may be resolved.
2.2.6.  Functions.  The Pastoral Council is the body responsible for each parish being organized to offer the following services:  The celebration of the Eucharist, or lacking that the celebration of the Word with the distribution of the communion, every Sunday and holy day. To that end it is required that there be well educated and duly installed ministers of communion.  Catechetical classes for preparing people to receive the sacraments (baptism, first communion, confirmation and marriage), planned and regularly offered, following the guide published by the communion. Pre-sacramental education must be given by appropriately trained servants.  That programs and pastoral teams be organized for children, youth, and adult education, and for visiting the ill and elderly. The pastoral programs should be permanent functions, and those responsible for them should be appropriately trained and have a plan of action.  Evangelism and mission teams with clearly set plans for evangelism and missionary growth.

2.3.  Economic Council. The Economic Council is the organ charged to oversee the financial concerns of the parish or quasi-parish.  It reports directly to the Pastoral Council, and the latter has the authority to appoint its members.  In addition to the parish Economic Council, the communities, groups or associations that form a parish can have their own economic organization that helps them to defray the community’s expenses, such as the maintenance of its installations, the organization of community events and other sorts of community activities. The Economic Council is not to interfere in the finances of the communities; rather it has responsibility only for parish finances.
2.3.1.  Constitution.  The Economic Council consists of a team of persons appointed by consensus by the members of the Pastoral Council.  Its members may or may not be on the Pastoral Council. It is comprised of a coordinator, vice-coordinator, secretary, treasurer and, if considered advisable, other members as well.
2.3.2.  Term:  The Economic Council changes every two years, although its members can be reassigned by the Pastoral Council.
2.3.3.  Functions: The functions of the Economic Council are to obtain and administer the funds required to support the activities of the parish.  Normally the funds are obtained through the contributions of the communities that form the parish.  The share should be proportional to the size and the possibilities of the respective communities.  Nevertheless, when it is necessary, it is possible to seek special donations, to sponsor projects and start various sorts of initiatives that may help to defray pastoral expenses.  The specific activities for which the Council is responsible are:  Pastoral programs and missions that take place in the parish.  Expenses that arise in operating the parish office and administering personnel and in maintaining installations strictly for parish use.  The offerings that are given to priests, in connection with which the following principles and standards must be applied:  When there is a permanent priest who cares for the parish, but does not reside there, if he is a member of the Nazareth Community, an agreement should be reached by which the financial contribution that is given covers the expenses listed in This agreement is made between the Economic Council and the Bishop’s Department of Finance.  In the case of a secular priest, it is controlled by what is stipulated in item  When there is a priest who intermittently visits the community, an offering must be given for each visit, proportional to the expenses that the community has incurred, taking into account the needs that the priest has to cover and making an effort to treat everyone fairly.  In any case, it is the responsibility of the Economic Council to take care that the basic financial agreements that have been approved in the parish as well as in the visited communities are respected and accord with the following guidelines:  a.  When the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and marriage are celebrated it is very important that a generous offering be made, in keeping with the person’s conscience and resources, and this offering should help with the community’s expenses and be delivered directly to the priest by the person who has received the offering.  b. The offering that the faithful give for the Mass ought to be entirely given to the priest who celebrates the Mass. If it is wished that the faithful provide something to help with the expenses of the community or parish, it ought to be requested that one offering be given for the Mass and another for the community work and expenses.  The expenses that do not directly pertain to the parish but belong to each of the communities ought to be paid by the economic units that each of the communities has.
2.3.4.  Financial reporting and drawing up the budget:  The Council must make a monthly report to the Pastoral Council. Every three months the Pastoral Council must make a written report on the financial situation to the communities.  Each year it must draw up an annual budget of anticipated income and expenses that may serve as a guide for the parish.

2.4.  Administrative Services
2.4.1.  The Secretariat:  This is the unit charged with keeping the archives, looking after the brothers and sisters as required, ensuring that the parish’s various initiatives and pastoral structures are in fact functioning, making certain that all the formative and preparatory procedures for the celebration of the sacraments are fulfilled, and to publish the agenda of parish activities and events.
2.4.2.  The archives:  One of the basic features of a parish or quasi-parish is that it keeps books registering the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and marriage, and that the procedures necessary for the celebration of the sacraments are accomplished. For this reason, it is indispensable that there be an Archive in which the registry books are kept. They must be both secure and at the same time accessible to the faithful.
2.4.3.  The seat of the parish organizations means the place where the secretariat does it tasks, the parish councils meet, the various pastoral initiatives are coordinated, and the faithful are looked after.

2.5. Ordained Ministers in the Parish
2.5.1.  For the purposes of consultation, education and sacramental administration, each parish is served by an ordained minister or team of ordained ministers who administer the sacraments, contribute to spiritual education and are available for spiritual consultation. He or they can serve the parish permanently or intermittently, according to the possibilities of the Communion and the needs of the parish.
2.5.2.  The role of the ordained minister in the parish in organizational and financial matters is controlled by the regulations concerning the functions and functioning of the Pastoral and Economic Councils.   With reference to questions of faith, sacramental celebrations and missionary initiatives, it is controlled by what is established by Holy Scripture, the living tradition of the church and the norms and agreements of our church, promulgated by the Synods and interpreted and applied by the Council of Priests and the bishop.
2.5.3.  The ordained minister or ministers that serve a parish are appointed by the Bishop after consultation with the Council of Priests and after obtaining the approval of the Pastoral Council of the Parish, in the case of priests belonging to the Nazareth Community. In the case of secular priests, the appointment takes place after the procedure prescribed in has been followed.
2.5.4.  The appointment is ordinarily made for six years. Nevertheless, when circumstances advise or the Parish Council requests, the term can be shorter. If the period for which the priest has been appointed has ended, the parish may request through the General Assembly, duly convoked and voting affirmatively by two thirds plus one, that the term be renewed for a period similar to the first. The bishop, after consulting with the candidate and with the Council of Priests and evaluating the global pastoral situation proceeds to renew the appointment.  If it is not considered wise to accede to the request to renew the appointment either because of the candidate’s wishes, or because of valid reasons presented by the Council of Priests or because of the bishop’s evaluation of the pastoral situation in the bishopric as a whole, the procedure spelled out in item 2.5.3. is to be followed in electing another candidate.
2.5.5.  The ordained minister can leave his office before the end of the term to which he was appointed for the following reasons:  Because he tenders his resignation, and it is duly accepted by the bishop.  Because what is outlined in takes place.  Because of demonstrated and insurmountable unsuitability. The deficiencies may be physical, doctrinal, pastoral or moral.  For the deficiency to be considered proven and insurmountable, it is necessary that the seriousness of the problem and the impossibility of overcoming it be shown. In such cases the following procedure is followed:  The Pastoral Council talks directly with the ordained minister to try to overcome the problems.  If the dialogue is not successful, the bishop speaks with the ordained minister in order to resolve the problems.  If it turns out that it is impossible to resolve the problems, the Pastoral Council turns to the bishop again. After consulting with the dean, the bishop then asks the ordained minister to resign his charge and, in the case that he does not, a decree removing him from his charge is issued, or, if it is considered opportune, the Pastoral Council is asked to convoke a general assembly of the parish to deal with the question. If this assembly decides, by a majority of two thirds plus one of the adults present, to request the removal, the bishop proceeds to issue the decree of removal.  Once the office is vacant by resignation or removal, the procedures established for electing and appointing a new ordained minister are to be followed.
2.5.6.  In case the needed personnel is not available or the Pastoral Council does not give the go-ahead to the person(s) proposed by the bishop, it is the responsibility of the bishop to send a suitable ordained minister, a member of the Nazareth Community who can provide intermittently and temporarily the formative and sacramental necessities of the parish, until it is possible to provide them permanently. In such cases it is recommended, though not required, that the bishop consult with the Council of Priests and count on at least the Pastoral Council to accept the arrangement.

2.6.  Steps to follow to constitute a Parish or Quasi-parish. When a community or a group of communities wants to be organized into a parish or quasi-parish, the following steps are to be taken:
2.6.1. The directors of the community or communities must be aware of the numerical, organizational and logistical requirements for establishing a parish and if they believe they meet requirements or are ready to work to meet them, they can begin the dialogue with the competent units.
2.6.2. Normally the unit with which the dialogue begins is the Parish Council. From here, it proceeds to the deanery and finally to the bishop in order to obtain the go-ahead to begin the organizational process whose end is to be the establishment of the parish or quasi-parish. If for some reason it turns out to be very difficult to turn first to the closest unit, the higher ones can be turned to.
2.6.3.  Before the go-ahead can be obtained, it is necessary that it be shown at each level: That the minimum numerical requirement is met.  That, when the case involves splitting an existing parish, breaking up the original parish does not mean that the latter loses the minimum number required to keep its status as a parish.  That the will and ability to establish the pastoral, economic and administrative structures of a parish are available.
2.6.4.  Once the go-ahead is obtained, it is the responsibility of the organizer, elected by the community or communities that has asked to be made into a parish, to work to put into place all the organizational structures pertaining to a parish. While the process of organization is going on, the community or communities continue forming part of the original parish and have the responsibility of participating actively in its organizations.
2.6.5.  When it is believed that the organizational process is complete, the team coordinator presents a detailed report to the bishop, accompanied by a formal request that the parish or quasi-parish be established.   
2.6.6.  The bishop is responsible for sending a copy of the report to the dean to whom the parish will be assigned and to the presbytery.  These units must check that what is contained in the report agrees with what actually is the case and with what is required for a parish or quasi-parish to be set up. If it is believed that the requirements have been met, a resolution is sent giving the go-ahead for establishing the parish. If it is believed that some requirements are still to be met, a resolution with recommendations is issued.  The process of dialogue between the bishop, the organizing team of the parish, the dean’s office and the presbyterial council will continue until a consensus is achieved that the requirements for setting up a parish or quasi-parish have been met.
2.6.7. It is the bishop’s responsibility to proceed to establish the parish or quasi-parish. The decree of establishment is preceded by signing an agreement in the bishop’s presence in which representatives of the communities express their desire and commitment to belong to the parish that is being established, indicate their concurrence with the location selected for its main office, and give their support to the parish in carrying out its mission. Once the decree of establishment is promulgated, it is entered in the sacramental registry books, and the organizing team is charged to convoke the representatives of the communities so that the Pastoral Council can be organized. At this time the organizing team ceases to exist, and the Pastoral Council takes up the responsibility of consolidating the parish organization.


3.  The Deanery

3.1.  Function: Formed by representatives of various parishes or quasi-parishes that are served and united by a dean, the deanery has the function of supporting its constituent parishes in fulfilling their mission and overcoming difficulties, and of drawing up pastoral initiatives and strategies so that the projects of the Church can be implemented.  Among its functions is also that of organizing regional initiatives for ministerial, catechetical, and pastoral education so that the parishes assigned to the deanery can respond to the needs they have along these lines.

3.2. Location: The deanery normally has a central office that serves as the seat of the deanery. It is the place where there resides the team of ordained ministers who are responsible for the attending to the parishes that the deanery serves. It is also the place where ordinarily the ministerial, catechetical and pastoral education for the region is given. If there is no Dean’s Office, the seat can be determined by the members of the deanery, in accord with local possibilities and needs.

3.3. Composition:  The deanery is comprised of all the priests assigned to exercise their ministry in the area included in the deanery and by representatives of the parishes and quasi-parishes.  Normally there will be three representatives for each parish and two for each quasi-parish. The lay representatives are elected by the parishes to make up the deanery for a term of two years. Depending on the judgment of the Pastoral Council of the parish that they represent they can be reelected. All the members of the deanery, lay and ordained ministers, have the right to speak and to vote on the decisions of the deanery.

3.4. Coordination: The deanery is coordinated by a team, moderated by the “Dean.” The dean should be an ordained minister who exercises his ministry within the area served by the deanery. He is elected by the delegates who compose the deanery, as are the other members of the coordination team. The other members of the team can be lay people. If there is not an ordained minister available to fill the office of team coordinator, the delegates can elect a lay person to serve these functions, although it is to be considered that his appointment is temporary and carries the title “Dean pro Tempore.” The team coordinator is elected for two years, but according to the judgment of the members of the deanery he can be reelected if it is considered fitting. The election of the dean is ratified by the bishop, who is responsible for issuing a decree of appointment.

3.5. Meetings:  Ordinarily the deaneries meet each month. Called meetings can take place when they are considered necessary.


4.  The Assembly of Delegates

 4.1.  Functions:  The functions of the Assembly of Delegates are to draw up the bishopric’s annual projects of pastoral activities; to confront special problems that may require particular attention; to see that the general guidelines issued by the Synods for the bishopric as a whole are implemented; to approve the annual budgets and receive the reports of what has happened during the year; to elect an interim bishop to exercise the functions of the bishop in cases when the bishop is incapacitated, until the synod can elect a new bishop.

4.2.  Composition:  The Assembly of Delegates is presided by the bishop, and all the ordained ministers who are assigned to the various deaneries and other ministries and specific services within the bishopric are part of it, as well as the delegates from each of the parishes to the deaneries and two delegates for each of the ministries or services that operate at the level of the bishopric (seminary, bishopric-level pastoral ministers, etc.).

4.3.  Coordination:  Moderated by the bishop and vice-moderated by the Dean of the Council of Priests, the Assembly is responsible for elections to other offices that are considered necessary for the Assembly in order to fulfill its functions. One of these is a team designated as the “Coordination Team.”  Members of the coordination team serve a two-year term.

4.4.  Meetings:  The Assembly of Delegates meets ordinarily once a year. An extraordinary meeting takes place when it is considered necessary. It is called by the bishop or, failing that, by the Dean of the Council of Priests. Both the preparation for the ordinary Assembly meetings and also the decision to call and prepare the extraordinary Assembly meetings are tasks of the “coordination team.” This team meets ordinarily once a year three months before the meeting of the Assembly of Delegates, to prepare the call to the meeting and draw up its agenda. Extraordinary meetings take place whenever the bishop or, in his absence, the Dean of the Council of Priests, considers it necessary.


5. The Council of Priests and the Life of the Priests

5.1. Composition: The Council of Priests is formed of all the priests assigned to various deaneries and other ministries and specific services within the bishopric.

5.2.  Coordination:  The Council of Priests is moderated by a Dean who is elected by all the members of the Council, and the election, to take effect, must be ratified by the bishop.  The bishop can, for valid reasons, veto the election of the dean. In such a case, the Council must elect another candidate that can be ratified by the bishop for this office. The dean holds this office four years, although he can be reelected as often as appropriate. Besides the dean, a coordinating team is elected which, moderated by the dean, ensures that the functions proper to the Council of Priests are fulfilled. Among the members of the coordination team one priest must be elected who exercises the office of vice-dean and whose specific function, in addition to whatever additional ones it is considered appropriate to assign to him, will be to substitute for the dean in his absence. With the exception of the dean, the other members of the coordination team are changed biannually, through election by the Council of Priests, with the possibility of reelection when considered appropriate.

5.3.  Functions: The Council of Priests has the following functions:
5.3.1.  To serve as the unit for consulting with the bishop on matters of importance for the bishopric.
5.3.2.  To ratify the decisions made by the Assembly of Delegates.
5.3.3.  To offer means for implementing the decisions made by the Assembly of Delegates and, when it is the case, by the Synod.

5.4.  The Dean of the Council of Priests:
5.4.1.  His primary function is to moderate the Council of Priests.
5.4.2.  Within the bishopric he is responsible to exercise the function of General Vicar and, when the bishop is absent, he has the authority to represent the bishop. In case the seat of the bishop is vacant, he has the authority to declare the vacancy and to make appropriate convocations in order to proceed to elect a new bishop. He is responsible for carrying out ordinary administrative functions during the duration of the vacancy. He cannot, however, make any decision nor assume any initiative outside ordinary administration, nor can he sell or transfer ownership of any of the goods of the Church.

5.5.   Meetings: The Council of Priests meets in ordinary sessions twice a year, the first immediately after the Assembly of Delegates with the specific objective of ratifying the decisions of the Assembly; the second around the celebration of the Holy Thursday Chrismal Mass. Extraordinary sessions take place when it is considered necessary; the convocation can be made by the bishop or the dean.

5.6. On the life of the Priests: There are three types of presbyters: the members of the Nazareth Community; the priests who are members of the Communion but not incorporated into the Nazareth Community, who are designated as “secular priests;” the priests who are members of the other congregations, associations or movements that may be duly established within our church.

5.6.1. Members of the Nazareth Community: Are characterized by conducting a life that is fundamentally communitarian, and are deeply committed to contemplative prayer, pastoral activities and missions. Embrace the celibate option for the sake of the Kingdom of God, understood as the radical disposition to live and to love as Christ did. Reside in the Deanery Centers, or other residences of the bishopric, or, by exception, in residences provided by the parishes or communities, where they may be organized to live in accord with the identity and mission of the Nazareth Community. Work from the deanery centers and serve the parishes to which they are assigned, either intermittently or permanently according to needs and possibilities. Look to the Cooperative of the bishopric, which, with the support and collaboration of the parishes and of the respective deaneries, is responsible for providing the means for meeting the expenses incurred in cases of illness as well as an honorarium for their pastoral work. Equally, the Cooperative is responsible for ensuring an appropriate place for them to live and to provide what is necessary to cover the expenses for food and a stipend for personal expenses in cases of retirement, illness or lack of a specific pastoral assignment.

5.6.2. Secular Priests. These presbyters are characterized by not living in a community of priests but by being regularly connected to the service of a parish for a specific pastoral task or professional work. The secular priests are spiritually tied to the bishopric and the whole church. The bishopric is obliged to support them spiritually and morally so that they can live their ministerial vocation with radical generosity. The priests are obliged to commit themselves to live with integrity and coherence in fidelity to the Gospel and to the completion of the specific mission that they have received. For these presbyters celibacy is not a requirement. They can be celibate or they can choose to be married.  If they opt for marriage, before exercising the ministry of a parish, community or a specific pastoral work, it is necessary that it be proven that they are living an exemplary matrimonial life and have a stable family. If a celibate priest is already a secular priest or already assigned to another of the forms of priestly life defined within our church, then chooses to marry, he is suspended from any type of pastoral appointment in a parish, community or pastoral ministry for a period of three years.  At the end of this period, if it is demonstrated that he has formed a stable family and the established procedures are followed, he can opt to receive a pastoral appointment again. During the period of temporary suspension and while the limitations are in place, he will enjoy the rights described in To the extent that a secular priest exercises a pastoral ministry, he depends pastorally on the bishopric for learning the standards and dispositions that are in force in the bishopric and in the respective deaneries, parishes and communities and that must be followed in exercising the pastoral ministry. The secular priests with a specific pastoral responsibility, duly appointed by the bishop for the task, will participate in the deaneries, in the Council of Priests and in other organizational units with the same rights and duties as the priests who are members of the Nazareth Community. The secular priests who do not have a specific pastoral appointment will enjoy the ability to exercise ministry by invitation from the parishes or communities and can take initiatives of various kinds to carry our mission forward, but cannot participate either by voice or vote in the deaneries nor in other organized units of the Communion. Nevertheless, if they show their desire and whoever coordinates the unit has no objection, they can participate as observers.  The bishop does not assume any financial responsibility for health or retirement benefits for secular priests. For those who exercise a pastoral function in a parish or specific pastoral ministry, benefits of this type depend on the agreements by which the priest has been yoked with the parish, community or pastoral ministry. For the secular priests who do independent professional work, these matters depend directly on the agreements that they have with those who provide the work.  In the case in which the secular priest ceases his ministerial functions because the council of the parish, the community or the ministry does not wish to continue receiving his services or because he resigns from the assigned ministry, the bishop does not have any financial responsibility nor any obligation to assign him to a new ministry. Nevertheless, the bishopric will continue to have the obligation to support him spiritually and morally and, if established procedures are followed, he can choose to receive a new pastoral appointment.  The procedure for a secular priest to be assigned to practice his ministry in a parish or community and the scope of this assignment are the following: The Pastoral Council of the parish or community interested in being served by a secular priest or the coordinating team of the ministry that wants to accept him must establish a direct communication with the priest. The secular priest with whom communication is established can be already incorporated as such in our Church or can have the disposition and the desire to be incorporated and to serve within the Communion. In the case in which he is already incorporated, item is omitted, and the procedure goes forward from item to item In the case in which the priest is not yet incorporated, before obtaining the go-ahead from the bishop, it will be necessary: To make appropriate inquiry respecting his suitability, including the validity of his ordination as a priest; the integrity of his moral and spiritual life; his civil status and, if he is married, the stability and exemplariness of his married and family life; his readiness to practice the ministry as part of our Church, mindful of the ministerial style, disposition, standards and pastoral practices in force in our communion.  To arrive at a specific agreement regarding the financial responsibility that is assumed with the appointment: term of the pastoral relation, place of residence, salary, responsibilities that he will assume.  It is important that all parties understand that the financial responsibility falls totally and exclusively on the Pastoral Council of the parish or community or on the coordination team of the ministry with which the agreement is made.  To inform specifically in General Assembly, duly convoked, all the active members of the parish, community or ministry about the inquiry and the intended financial agreement. It is indispensable that it be concretely informed about the ministerial and pastoral history of the candidate, of his civil status and the scope of the financial commitment that would be taken on. The group having been duly informed, a vote is to be taken to approve that the bishop be requested to appoint the candidate. So that the candidate may be considered to have been accepted by the parish, community or ministry, it is necessary that two thirds plus one of the votes of adults participating in the General Assembly be favorable.  To request the bishop that, the standard established procedure having been followed, he proceed to issue the appointment. The request must be accompanied by the documents in which are recorded:  all the steps followed in the inquiry of suitability; the financial agreements that have been made; and the minutes that certify that the candidate was in fact duly elected by the parish, community or ministry in General Assembly to serve it as pastor. The usual established steps having been followed, before the appointment can be finalized, the elected priest must sign in the bishop’s presence a document in which he agrees unconditionally to follow the norms, standards and pastoral directions of our Church, and to commit himself to work to achieve the goals and carry out the mission of our Church, incorporating himself temporarily or definitively as a secular priest, and to accept the financial agreement established with the Pastoral Council or Coordination Team respectively, and to renounce any subsequent complaint against the bishopric. If the priest has previously been incorporated into our church, the clauses of this document that have already been included in the document of admission will be omitted.  The usual established process having been completed, the bishop issues the decree of appointment. From this time on, the priest will enjoy the rights and have the duties listed in

5.6.3.  Priests who are members of congregations duly set up with our church.  For spiritual, educational matters as well as those of lifestyle and finances, these priests are regulated by the constitution of their respective congregations.  For pastoral and ministerial matters, they will be ruled by what is established for secular priests.

5.6.4.  The admission of priests originally from other churches or communions within our Church.  On the validity of ordination:  The first step in the process of admission of a priest originally from another church is to confirm the validity of his ordination as priest or deacon. Only those are considered to be validly ordained priests who: a) have been ordained by the Communion of Catholic Churches from which we received apostolic succession; b) have been ordained by those churches whose ordination is recognized as valid by the Communion of Churches into which we are incorporated; c) have been ordained by the Roman Catholic church; d) have been ordained by an Orthodox Church in full communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople; e) have been ordained by a pre-Calcedonian or other church whose validity of sacred orders is generally recognized by the large Christian churches.  For the case in which moral certainty with respect to the validity of ordination is not attained, it will be the responsibility of the bishop to study the situation, determine the education that the candidate has received, and based on that information lay out a plan of spiritual, theological and pastoral education that must be carried out.  Only after that and after satisfying the usual established requirements for acceding to sacred orders will it be possible for him to be validly ordained.  On the process of admission: Once the validity of ordination has been confirmed, it is the bishop’s responsibility to make a careful inquiry to determine the human, moral, spiritual and pastoral suitability of the person who intends to be incorporated into our Church.  If the inquiry concludes that the candidate is suitable, the bishop establishes the educational process for attaining the theological, spiritual and pastoral requisite level, for before being admitted the aspects of our spiritual identity, he must be aware of our theological perspectives and the style of pastoral ministry.  The educational process having been completed, it is the bishop’s responsibility to give the go-ahead to formalize the process of admission.  Priests can be admitted to one of the three forms of priesthood available in our Communion; as members of the Nazareth Community, as secular priests, or as members of a congregation recognized in our Church.  For admission to the Nazareth Community, the procedure specifically established for admission to it will be followed.   For admission as a secular priest, the procedure established in items having been completed, all that remains is to receive the go-ahead from the bishop and sign the document of commitment in which he unconditionally agrees to follow the norms, standards and pastoral directions of our church, and promises to work for the goals and mission of our church, and accepts the financial arrangement established for secular priests, and which specifies whether the incorporation is temporary or permanent. The regulations for the rest of the admission process and the relation that is established with our Church is laid out in item 5.6.2.  For admission to a congregation recognized by our Church, the procedure specified for said congregation is to be followed.



6. The Bishopric

6.1. The bishop
6.1.1.  Functions:  The bishop is recognized as the sign and bond of unity of the communion in the bishopric or particular church; as well as the sign and bond of unity of the Catholic Ecumenical Renewed Church and unity with the totality of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church, the Mystical Body of Christ.  As result of that sacramental function, it falls to the bishop to provide oversight so that every deanery, parish and community may fulfill faithfully and with respect for the structures and organized groups the mission that we have received and by their attitude of openness, compassion, inclusiveness as well as missionary zeal and by their organizational structure may reflect the catholic and ecumenical character that identify our Church. It is the function of the bishop to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation in the various parishes and communities, to celebrate sacred orders, to preside at the Holy Thursday Chrismal Mass, in which the holy oils are consecrated and the priests renew their commitments. For specific reasons, the celebration of the sacrament of confirmation can be delegated to a priest.  The bishop must make a pastoral visit to each of the parishes and quasi-parishes at least once a year. It is the bishop’s responsibility, in accordance with procedures specified for each of the cases, to carry out the following:  To preside at the General Synod of the bishopric and at the Assembly of Delegates.  To attend as an observer and consultant the meetings of the Council of Priests  To promulgate the decisions and agreements issued by the Synod or by the Assembly of Delegates and ratified by the Council of Priests. In the case when a decision or agreement issued by the Assembly of Delegates is not ratified by the Council of Priests, the bishop has the authority to consider the situation carefully and if he believes it to be urgently needed for the wellbeing of the bishopric, he can promulgate it, even though it has not been ratified by the Council. In case a decision of the Assembly of Delegates is ratified by the Council of Priests, but he considers it harmful to the life of the bishopric, he can suspend its promulgation and, if it is urgent, convoke an extraordinary Assembly of Delegates or wait for the next ordinary Assembly of Delegates so that, having considered the reason that advised against promulgation, it may revise the decisions and a consensus may be achieved.  To set up parishes and quasi-parishes, following the procedure established to that end.  To promulgate the appointment of the Dean of the Council of Priests and of Deans of the various deaneries of the bishopric.  To assign the ordained ministers that work in the various deaneries and serve the parishes and quasi-parishes, in accord with the procedures established to that end.  To approve those elected to holy orders, having previously consulted with those responsible for their education and with the community to which each candidate has been assigned for supervised pastoral practice.  To set up congregations, associations and movements that, at the request of their members, wish to be recognized as part of our Church and are ready to take on the attitudes and perspectives that identify us and are eager to share in our mission. Equally, it falls to him to approve their respective constitutions and statutes and ensure they are adhered to. In case one of these organizations does not succeed in accomplishing its objectives or if it seriously and insuperably contravenes the principles of our spiritual, pastoral or moral identity, after exhausting all possible recourses and with prior approval of the Council of Priests, it is his responsibility to abolish it or appoint a delegate to proceed with its reclamation and to ensure that it attain its objectives and purposes.  The bishop is charged to moderate, directly or though a unit that he considers appropriate, the administrative and pastoral services of the bishopric, as well as seminary and ministerial education.  He is the legal representative of the Church.

6.1.2.  Election:  The bishop is elected by the General Synod of the Bishopric, convoked specifically in an extraordinary meeting to carry out that task. The Synod is presided by the outgoing Bishop or, failing that, by the Dean of the Council of Priests or the person who exercises his functions.   All the members of the Council of Priests who are fully engaged in ministry, whose style of life and of ministry is exemplary, who have exercised their ministry in the Communion for a minimum of five years and are at least thirty years old are candidates for the office of bishop.  In order to be elected bishop one must receive a minimum of two thirds plus one of the votes of the total of electors convoked to participate in the General Synod.  If no candidate receives the minimum number of votes, the voting continues as many times as necessary, taking two ballots a day, and taking time for prayer and dialogue among the electors before, between and after ballots, with the goal of creating a consensus, which is the fruit of discerning the signs of the Spirit. For the election, once concluded, to be effective, it is necessary that, immediately after the required majority has been obtained, the election be ratified by the Council of Priests. This body meets separately to take the vote of ratification. To ratify the election it is sufficient that the candidate receive half the votes plus one of those present. If the election is not ratified, it will be necessary to return to the plenary session of the Synodic Assembly and proceed to elect another candidate.  The candidate having been elected and the election having been ratified, the election is over and the result is final as soon as the elected person accepts the office and he is proclaimed as Bishop Elect by whoever is presiding over the Synod. If the candidate does not accept the office, it is necessary to return to the plenary sessions of the Synodic Assembly and proceed to elect another candidate.  The Bishop Elect is then responsible for making all the preparations for his ordination as bishop. The ordaining bishops must belong to Catholic Churches with whom our Church is in full communion and from whose line it has received apostolic succession.

6.1.3.  Term of office and its termination  Term:  The bishop remains in his office for an indefinite period of time.  Termination of his office.  He can cease to occupy the office for three reasons:  death; age; demonstrated and insurmountable lack of suitability.  In case of death, it falls on the dean to act as Vicar General and follow the necessary procedures so that the ordinary administration of the bishopric may be conducted during the vacancy of the see and until the election of a new bishop takes place.  Age limit.  Within six months following the completion of seventy-five years of age, the bishop will convoke an extraordinary synod to announce his resignation and proceed to the election of his successor. If the Synodic Assembly, by a majority of two-thirds votes plus one of the total number of electors called to participate in the Synodic Assembly, believes it is not opportune to accept the resignation and the bishop, after serious thought, believes he has the capacity to continue carrying out his office, he may continue in it five more years. At the end of five years, the same procedure is followed as when the bishop completed seventy-five years. If the Synodic Assembly accepts the resignation or if the bishop does not consent to continue in office, the see is declared vacant, and the procedure to elect a new bishop begins.  The case of demonstrated and intractable unsuitability. The deficiencies of suitability can be physical, doctrinal, pastoral or moral. In such cases, the dean or whoever substitutes for him is responsible for convoking the extraordinary synod to analyze the possibility of accepting the bishop’s resignation or removing him from his office. For the deficiency to be considered demonstrated and intractable it is necessary to prove the seriousness of the problem and the impossibility of overcoming it. Thus, once the arguments have been presented to the Synodic Asssembly, it is necessary that it, by a majority of two-thirds plus one of all the electors called to participate in the extraordinary Synodic Assembly, vote in favor of accepting the resignation or removal. If the vote is affirmative by this majority, the see is declared vacant and the procedure for electing a new bishop begins.

6.1.4.  The status of the bishop who has resigned. The bishop whose resignation has been duly accepted by the Synodic Assembly will be known as “Bishop Emeritus.” He will have the benefit of the ministerial rights that are ordinarily enjoyed in the bishopric and the church as a whole, and the financial office of the bishopric must provide him with an adequate pension if no other source of a pension has been established.

6.1.5.  The Auxiliary Bishop  When serious pastoral situations require that, for the good progress of the bishopric, the bishop be supported by another bishop, one or more auxiliary bishops can be elected.  The General Synod, either ordinary or extraordinary, has the authority to make the decision to elect an auxiliary bishop, on the request of the bishop or Council of Priests.  The procedure for electing the auxiliary bishop is the same of for the election of the bishop.  The auxiliary bishop, together with the dean of the Council of Priests will have the office of Vicar General in the Bishopric.  As the bishop’s colleague and co-worker, he has responsibilities that the bishop confers on him; in addition the General Synod may decide to confer special rights, as determined by this body.  If there is an auxiliary bishop in a bishopric, he has the authority, when the see is vacant, to exercise the functions that usually the Dean of the Council of Priests has, holding the same competence and responsibilities as the latter.  Although the possibility exists of electing auxiliary bishops for special reasons, for theological reasons and reasons of sacramental symbolism, it is highly recommended that, instead, new bishoprics be established and not to elect auxiliary bishops when the pastoral problems arise from territorial extension, the number of communicants or other reasons of a similar sort.

6.2. Administrative and Pastoral Services
At the place where the bishopric has its seat and under the Bishop’s coordination, a series of administrative and pastoral services are organized to provide what is needed for the parishes and communities. The units and services are of the sort indicated in the examples that follow, but are not limited to these examples. To the extent that the pastoral situation and various circumstances require it, other units can be set up or some of those listed can be omitted.

6.2.1.  General Secretariat  Functions  The General Secretariat is the unit charged with keeping the archives, registry, minutes, letters and other documents of the bishopric.  It has the authority to issue the convocation to all the meetings of the bishopric, keep minutes of the meetings and to send out necessary notifications.  It is responsible for issuing certificates, confirmations and whatever documents pertain to functioning of the Church at the level of the bishopric. It coordinates all the administrative and pastoral services of the bishopric.  It draws up the bishop’s agenda.  It is the communication link between the bishopric, the deaneries, the parishes and the communities.  Management:  The General Secretariat is overseen by the Secretary General. This office can be filled by an ordained minister or a lay person, man or woman.  The person is appointed by the bishop for an indefinite period of time.  In accord with needs and possibilities, the General Secretary will seek out the necessary personnel to carry out all the functions of the unit.

6.2.2.  Pastoral Department Functions: The Pastoral Department is the unit of work charged with organizing and encouraging the different fields of pastoral action in the bishopric through its events in the deaneries, parishes and communities. The department carries out its mission through the utilization of specific skills.  Diversity of expertise:  There ought to be as many pastoral specialists as are needed to cover the different realms of pastoral work in the parishes and communities. Among these can be mentioned:  those skilled in evangelization, in liturgy, in catechetical instruction, pastoral social work, pastoral work with youth, and vocational work.  Organization and planning:  Usually staff people with these special skills work from the administrative seat of the bishopric. They are responsible to maintain constant communication with the deaneries and parishes in order to offer the consultation and support that may be needed. Equally the skilled workers are the people responsible for seeking the forms by which pastoral action may succeed in accomplishing in the deaneries, parishes or communities whatever needs to be done but for which specific mechanisms have not yet been implemented.

6.2.3.  Department of Publications.   Reporting directly to the General Secretariat, this unit is charged to produce the liturgical, catechetical, pastoral and any other kind of publications needed by and for the Church.

6.2.4.  Communication specialist.  He is the webmaster for the Church’s sites on the Internet. This person has to devise creative communication means for keeping the parishes and communities in touch with one another and to stimulate evangelism and missionary work.  Insofar as possible he ought to try publish an educational and informational newsletter about the Communion and make it available to all the communities and their members.

6.2.5.  Missions specialist. Reporting directing to the bishopric, this person is charged to train and send missionaries to form new communities and do evangelism in places where we do not yet have a presence.  The missionary expansion of the Church depends on this specialist.

6.2.6.  Ministry of Juridical-Pastoral Discernment. Under the direction of the Bishop, this unit is charged to study juridically and pastorally the situations of broken marriages with a view of discerning the sacramental validity of the marriages that are irreparably broken.

6.2.7.  Department of Infrastructure and Development. This unit is charged to maintain the bishopric’s infrastructure. This includes: the central administrative installations, the seminary, the education centers, the deanery centers and the other existing installations.  Equally, its role is to plan the development of new installations to ensure that responding to the growing needs of the Church will be possible.  It consults with the parishes and communities on the construction of their installations to the extent that they request its assistance.
6.2.8.  Department of Finances  This is the unit charged to seek funding for the maintenance of the bishop’s office and for administrative and pastoral initiatives and development.  It is responsible to draw up an annual proposal of income and expenses and give account to all competent units that request it.  It is moderated by an accountant appointed by the bishop upon consultation with an economic council formed of two delegates from the Assembly of Delegates, two from the Council of Priests and two from the bishop’s office.

6.3.  Seminary and Lay Education

6.3.1.  The Seminary of the Nazareth Community.  The Seminary is supervised directly by the bishop, who is charged to assign skilled personnel to work together in educating the candidates for the priesthood, spiritually, humanistically and pastorally, as planned in the Foundational Minutes and constitutive principles of the Communion and of the Nazareth Community and in the Directory of the Apostolate. (See the foundational minutes and constitutive precepts of the Communion and the Directory of the Apostolate) and academically as set forth by the Catholic Ecumenic Center of Higher Studies, Angelico Melotto (CECESAM).

6.3.2.  The School of Theology and Ministerial Education for laity. This school exists to provide education for the laity. The bishop is responsible, through suitable personnel, for oversight, for this School is the place where lay people are trained to take on their commitments with seriousness.
6.3.3.  Program of education for the permanent deaconate.  The bishop is also responsible to organize plans of education for candidates to the permanent deaconate as well as to draw up statutes governing the form in which the permanent deaconate will operate.


7.  The Synod

7.1.  Function:
7.1.1.  The Synod is the highest organ in the bishopric, charged to make basic decisions for the Church on questions of faith, pastoral care, ecumenical communion and any other type of issue that exceeds the limits of the ordinary administration and consensus and practices commonly accepted by the communities and parishes.
7.1.2.  The organ is charged to determine the overall directions by which and general perspective from which the Church should move to fulfill its mission adequately.
7.1.3.  It is responsible for electing a bishop in the event that the bishop resigns or for any other reason the see is vacant.
7.1.4.  It is charged to deal with serious problems that, after careful discernment, are believed to exceed the ability and authority of lower units.

7.2.  Composition
7.2.1.  The bishop
7.2.2.  All the priests and ordained ministers that form the Council of Priests.
7.2.3.  Four delegates from each parish and three from each quasi-parish, who are elected specifically to participate in the Synodical Assembly.  These delegates are elected by a Parish Assembly that is called for this purpose by the respective Pastoral Councils.
7.2.4.  Those who are charged to coordinate or preside over education, pastoral and administrative services at the bishopric level.

7.3.  Frequency, the convocation, and preparation

7.3.1.  Frequency:  The ordinary Synod meets every four years.  The extraordinary Synod is called when a bishop must be elected or when a situation of gravity warrants it.

7.3.2.  Convocation: The bishop is charged to convoke the ordinary Synods.  Extraordinary Synods are convoked by the bishop or, in his absence, by the Dean or his substitute.  The convocation of an ordinary Synod should be made six months before the meeting. An extraordinary Synod must be called at least thirty days before the date of the meeting.  The convocation is sent to each of the members of the Council of Priests and those charged to coordinate or preside over education, pastoral and administrative services at the bishopric level, to the coordinator of the pastoral council of the parishes or quasi-parishes so that they may convoke the General Assemblies in which the delegates will be elected.

7.3.3.  Preparation:  For the ordinary Synod  Along with the call to meeting, the invitation is sent to suggest themes that should be dealt with in the Synod and studied; pastoral councils, the deaneries and the educational and pastoral units would have thirty days to study this question.  Afterwards, there are thirty more days in which the deaneries and the educational and pastoral units are to send their suggestions to the bishopric.  Thirty days afterwards, the bishop’s office must send to all those called to the meeting a “Work Document,” based on the needs of the bishopric and the suggestions received, in which the themes for discussion and a possible agenda is included.  The parish councils, the deaneries and the units of the bishopric have forty-five days to study the Work Document and send their suggestions to the bishop’s office.  Based on the suggestions received, the Agenda of the Synod and the “Basic Document,” which is to serve as the basis for the work, are developed.  This is sent to those called to the meeting fifteen days before the beginning of the Synodical Assembly so that the communities and councils may be well informed about the proposals and the Synodical discussion of the proposals may reflect the feeling of the whole church.  For the extraordinary Synod  Given the urgent and specific character of the extraordinary Synod, the call to meeting is accompanied by the agenda and supporting material that will be studied and that have justified the convocation of the Synod.  Both the agenda and the material are studied by the communities, the pastoral councils, the deaneries and the units of the bishopric in order to know the feeling of the whole People of God.  The results serve as the basis for the judgments that the delegates will make during the Synodical Assembly.
7.3.4. Procedures for the Synodical Assembly  On the mode of conducting the meeting  The bishop moderates the Synod, or, in his absence, the dean or his representative.  First the agenda of the Assembly is approved, and, if the majority considers it appropriate, modifications prepared before the meeting are adopted.  The procedure of action is determined, and, in accord with what is decided, reporters from the work groups are elected from among the participants.  In accord with what is established, the Synodical Assembly does its business.  Making decisions.  The decisions of the Synodical Assembly are made by simple majority, that is, by half plus one of the votes of those present, when the decisions are of an administrative or programmatic type.  Decisions that would modify any element of the Constitutive Acts, the Constitutional Principles, the Directory of the Apostolate or the present Fundamental Constitution have to be approved by two-thirds plus one of those called to the Synod. Afterwards, in the following ordinary Synod or in an extraordinary Synod called for such purpose, but not before a year from the Synod in which the modification was decided, the decision to carry out the modification must be confirmed, by the same majority of two thirds plus one of the delegates at the Synod.  After decisions have been made, the Council of Priests meets separately but in the same place to ratify the decisions. For a decision to be ratified, it is sufficient that it be approved by half plus one of the votes of the priests present at the meeting.  Ratified decisions are presented to bishop with the request that he promulgate them at the end of the Synod.  If there are difficulties with the ratification or promulgation, the question returns to the Synodical Assembly to deal with it and arrive at a consensus. Then the process of ratification and consultation on the readiness for promulgation is followed again.  The end of the Synod  The Synodical Assembly continues until the necessary consensus on the issues that it is deliberating is achieved, and decisions are made, ratified and promulgated.  If no consensus on an issue is arrived at, it is the responsibility of the Assembly to decide either to table the question or to discuss it again at a subsequent ordinary or extraordinary Synod.  The process of decision and ratification being completed, the bishop has the authority to promulgate the decisions.  When the decisions are promulgated, the Synodical Assembly is over.  The decisions made take effect six months after the date on which they were promulgated.  In the case of extraordinary Synods, called to declare the see vacant or to elect a bishop, it is the responsibility of the person presiding at the Synod:  If the issue is whether to declare the see vacant, the procedure established in items having taken place, the Synod proceeds to do so.   If the see is in fact vacant or such is declared, the Synod proceeds to the election of the bishop, according to item 6.1.2.  When there is no bishop or bishop elect, only acts of ordinary administration can be carried out, and it is not possible to promulgate decisions, decrees or agreements.


8.  Conference of Bishops

8.1.  This item projects into the future, when it becomes necessary to create new bishoprics in our Church in order to respond to pastoral needs.

8.2.  The Primate Bishop. This office falls to the person who moderates the original bishopric of our Church and who will convoke meetings and preside over activities that involve all the bishops and bishoprics.

8.3.  The Bishops’ Conference.  This comprises the bishops who moderate each bishopric which is a part of our Church.

8.4.  Plenary Council. This is counterpart to the Synods of each bishopric, but on the level of all the bishoprics in our Church. The specific details pertaining to the Council will be determined in due time.

8.5. Steps to follow in order to constitute a new Bishopric
8.5.1.  The initiative can come from the bishop of the existing bishopric, of another new bishopric that has already been created or from a series of deaneries located in a certain region, even those that may belong to different bishoprics.
8.5.2.  If the unit that takes the initiative is not the local bishopric, the unit presents a request, indicating the proposed territorial configuration, the statistics, the pastoral reasons that justify the creation of a new bishopric, and the place where the central seat of the proposed bishopric will be.  If, in the future, the new bishopric involves taking parts of two or more existing bishoprics, the request should be presented to the respective bishops.  If the initiative comes from a bishop and more bishops are involved, the request must be sent to the other bishops.
8.5.3.  The bishop studies the proposal that he has received and sends the question to the bishopric’s Council of Priests, expressing his opinion and evaluation.
8.5.4.  The Council of Priests expresses its opinion and evaluation and sends the request to the deaneries involved in the possible new bishopric and then the latter do the same to the parishes and quasi-parishes in their jurisdiction.
8.5.5.  The opinion of the parishes and quasi-parishes is sent to the deaneries, who send it to the Council of Priests, who in turn send it to the bishop. In the transfer from one unit to the next, a copy of all the documents that have been received should be attached to the unit’s statement of its opinion.
8.5.6.  Procedure when there is only one bishopric:  The bishop makes a detailed report based on all the documentation, including his opinion so that the Assembly of Delegates may study it.  If the Assembly accepts the request for creating a new bishopric, the decision is presented to the Council of Priests for its ratification and, if ratified, goes to the bishop for promulgation and creation of the new bishopric, following the usual procedure established for making, ratifying and promulgating decisions.  Within a six-month period after the creation of the new bishopric, the bishop is responsible for calling an extraordinary Synod in the new bishopric to proceed to the election of the bishop of the new see.  Upon the election of the new bishop, the authority of the original bishopric over the new bishopric ceases and authority passes to the new bishop, who has the authority to follow the processes for his ordination as bishop and then to take the steps needed to organize the bishopric in accord with the principles, procedures and regulations established in the present Constitution.
8.5.7.  Procedure when there exist more than one bishopric  The bishop or bishops whose bishoprics will form the new bishopric make a detailed report based on all the documentation, including their opinion and present it to the Bishops Conference of the Church.  If the Bishops Conference gives the go-ahead, the documentation is sent by means of the respective bishops to the Assemblies of Delegates or bishoprics involved in the creation of the new bishopric.  The approval of the Assemblies of Delegates and the ratification by the respective Councils of Priests having been obtained, the bishops of the involved bishoprics send the documentation to the Primate Bishop.  The Primate Bishop, representing the whole Church, issues the decree of creation of the new bishopric and in it charges the bishop of the original bishopric or, if several original bishoprics are involved, the bishop of longest standing to take the necessary administrative steps.  The bishop so charged must carry out the procedures listed in items and


9.  Communion with other Churches and Ecumenical Organizations

9.1.  Permanent and basic tie: Our permanent, basic and all-inclusive tie is with the Communion of Catholic Churches from which we received apostolic succession. We are part of this communion, we share and accept its decision, commitments, choices, and dispositions, and participate in all the units and organizations that exist in it.

9.2.  Communion with other Churches: We recognize ourselves to be in communion with other churches with which the Communion of Catholic Churches, to which we are permanently linked, has established communion, to the extent and scope of that link.

9.3.  On seeking new forms of communion: Keeping unaltered our comprehensive tie with the Communion of Catholic Churches from which we received apostolic succession, and to the extent to which this link is not breached, we feel called to maintain ecumenical dialogue and look for agreements that may bridge the Communion to other churches with the ideal of achieving the full unity Christ wants for his Church.

9.4.  Participation in national, regional, and international ecumenical groups. As part of our commitment to work indefatigably to achieve the unity of all Christians, we feel called to seek participation and membership in organizations and ecumenical initiatives at the national, regional and international levels.

9.5.  Procedure for seeking membership in ecumenical organizations and establishing communion with other churches.
9.5.1.  Commitment of all the people of God: The commitment of all the members of our church is to establish communication and rapprochement with other churches. Spiritual rapprochement, shared prayer, taking up common initiatives of common benefit, especially when they may help the poorest economic level of society, and forms of contact oriented toward promoting rapprochement and unity can be done with complete freedom at any level of our church.
9.5.2.   Membership in national, regional and international ecumenical organizations:  The bishop of the bishopric in the case of national organizations and the primate bishop in the case of regional and international ones are those responsible to follow the process of seeking membership in these organizations. Ultimately, the decision for a bishopric to seek membership in a national-level ecumenical organization must be made by the General Synod, ratified by the Council of Priests and promulgated and concretized by the bishop of the bishopric.  The decision for membership in a regional or international organization requires that in each bishopric the process established in item be followed, with the exception of promulgation, for at the end of the process the Conference of Bishops proceeds to ratify the decision made by the General Synods of the bishoprics and the primate bishop promulgates and proceeds to concretize the decision.
9.5.3.  Communion and reciprocal recognition with other churches  Setting up the dialogue that is prior to and may lead toward establishing reciprocal recognition or communion is the responsibility of the bishop, when there is only one bishopric, or of the Conference of bishops, by means of the primate bishop, when there is more than one bishopric. This responsibility can be fulfilled by appointing experts in the material under discussion who are delegated to continue the dialogue process.  When it is believed that through the dialogue the differences have been overcome and it is time to make an agreement of partial or full and reciprocal communion, the results with full details are presented to the bishop.  At this point the bishop or the primate bishop, whichever be the case, will follow the same procedure established in items and, promulgating the readiness of our church to establish agreements with reciprocal recognition or of communion with another church.  Readiness having been promulgated, it is the responsibility of the bishop or primate bishop to concretize the agreements made with another church and approved by our Church.