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by March 11, 2018 Canonical Teaching

Question 7: There is a presumption in many quarters that  certain diocesan functionaries are Ex Officio members of the College of Consultors, and are therefore automatic members of the College. However, the universal law clearly regulate this issue in canon 502 §1, in the following words: “From among the members of the council of priests, the diocesan bishop freely appoints not fewer than six and not more than twelve priests, who are for five years are to constitute the college of consultors. To it belong the functions determined by law; on the expiry of the five year period, however, it continues to exercise its functions until the new college is constituted”.

Answer 7: The following points were made based on the code and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

  1. The members of this College are drawn “from among the members of the Council of Priests”. The Consultors must be members of the Council of Priests.
  2. The diocesan bishop is to freely appoints the members of the College.
  3. The College is to be composed of not fewer than six priests on the one hand, and not more than twelve priests on the other.
  4. Those appointed are to function as members of the College for five years.
  5. To this College belongs the functions determined by law.
  6. The College continues to exercise its functions, even after the expiration of its term, until a new college is constituted. In fact, a Consultor continues in office even when no longer a member of the Council of priests. Consultors need not be replaced unless the minimum required number is lacking. (AAS, v. 76 (1984), p. 746-747).
  7. If a member of the college of consultors ceases from office, the diocesan must not replace him unless the minimum number required by Can. 502, §1, was lacking (cf. AAS, v. 76 (1984), p. 746-747).

Our observation: A quick look across some dioceses shows that some dioceses operate outside the stipulations of the universal law by appointing more than 12  members in the College of consultators. On this issue, there are different commentaries which remain contestable opinions. However, Can. 135 §2 says, …. A lower legislator cannot validly issue a law contrary to higher law.

In sum, there is no provision in the code as Ex-officio members of the College of Consultors. In other words, no office has an automatic admittance into the College by law, unless the diocesan bishop makes provision for such but the college of Consultors is composed of a group of priests, between six and twelve,  freely chosen by the bishop from the members of the council of priests.


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