Canons of The Catholic Church, Inc.  - Governing Rules  
             
  Canon I.   Introduction

Name. The name of this organization shall be The Catholic Church. Within these canons it shall be referred to as “this organization,” “this church,” or “this denomination.”

  1. Part of the Universal Church. This organization is a constituent member of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church (“the Church”), which unites all Christians throughout the world and throughout history.

  2. Incorporated. This organization shall be incorporated in the State of Florida as a nonprofit religious corporation.

  3. Use Catholic Church. Each affiliated local parish, mission or other constituent body shall use the name “Catholic Church” as part of its official title.

  4. Subject to the Creeds. This organization shall be subject first and foremost, to the creedal statements established by the Ecumenical Councils of the Universal Church, those being Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.

  5. Subject to Law and Canons. Furthermore, this organization shall be subject to the corporation laws of the State of Florida, to this organization’s articles of incorporation, and to these canons, so long as they are consistent with the faith of the Ecumenical Councils.

  6. Amendment. These canons are subject to amendment as detailed herein provided such amendment does not contradict the faith of the Ecumenical Creeds.

  7. Gendered Language. In cases where language is thereby simplified, these canons may on rare occasion use masculine singular pronouns; in all cases such pronouns shall be taken to apply equally to males and females. This church prohibits sexual discrimination with respect to all of its offices and positions.

  8. Consensus Building. These canons create an organization which is hierarchical in nature, consistent with the operation of church polity since apostolic times. It is understood, however, that wisdom is not the exclusive possession of the clergy. It is anticipated, therefore, that democratic principles and consultation will be used as a means of insight by the hierarchy and that consensus –building will be routine within the operations and decision-making of the church to the extent possible.

Canon II.   Purpose

  1. Worship. The primary purpose of this organization is to worship the One Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and to be a part of God’s Kingdom, open to all people by faith without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation or preference, nationality, or socioeconomic status.

  2. Means. In order to obtain this purpose, the organization may establish dioceses, parishes, missions, religious orders, and other institutions, hold worship services; offer sacraments; provide instruction; prophecy to the Church; and evangelize the world.

Canon III.   Doctrine

  1. Triune God. This church and all persons in communion therewith shall confess One Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and Jesus Christ as God the Son incarnate.

  2. Nicene Creed. The Creed associated with the Council of Constantinople of 381 A.D. (the so-called “Nicene Creed”) shall be accepted as the definition of Christianity.

  3. Apostles’ and Athanasian Creeds. The so-called “Apostles’ Creed” shall be accepted as a valid statement of faith and the “Athanasian Creed” shall be accepted as a valid statement of Trinitarian theology and Christology.

  4. Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the Tradition of the Church, and human reason and experience shall be the tree pillars of Truth by which inspiration, revelation, law, and faith may be tested.

  5. Nondiscrimination. This church shall hold no regard for a person’s race, color, gender, sexual orientation or preference, nationality, or socioeconomic class.

  6. Baptism. Holy Baptism is the primary sacrament, the act by which God accepts a person as His reborn child. As the Creed teaches, there is but one Baptism whether of an infant, child, or adult, and that Baptism determines membership in the Church. This denomination shall recognize as valid the baptism of any other Christian denomination provided such baptism was performed with water in the Name of the Triune God.

  7. Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament through which the baptized are fed with the real and substantial Body and Blood of Christ. This sacrament shall constitute the essence of the worship of this church, and all celebrations thereof shall be open to all who are baptized, confess the Creedal Faith, and believe that they are receiving the true Body and Blood of Christ. Inability to confess or believe because of age, mental capacity, or other physical reason shall not be held as a barrier to Communion.

  8. Christian Life Sacraments. The five traditional Christian Life Sacraments shall also be performed by this church, i.e., Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

  9. One Church. This church confesses that Jesus Christ sought His Church to be one Body which unites all humanity. To this end, this church shall (a) maintain its membership open to all persons who are in agreement with its doctrinal position and desire to be members and (b) maintain to its best ability an active role in the ecumenical movement, keeping in touch with the remainder of the Church and striving toward the visible unity thereof. Pursing intercommunion and other ecumenical dialogue is both a charge of the Office of the Presiding Bishop and within the sole jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop.

Canon IV.   Ministry

  1. Baptism. Holy Baptism is the primary sacrament by which a person is dedicated to a life of ministry. This is the priesthood of all believers.

  2. Confirmation. By the sacrament of confirmation, baptized Christians make personal public statement of their own faith, committing themselves to the life of an active Christian.

  3. Deacons. Some of those persons confirmed are called to a life of more intense dedication and service to their Lord, the Church, and humanity. After proper training and prayerful discernment, these persons may be received into the Office of Deacon by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  4. Priests. Some of those confirmed, including some deacons, are called to a ministry of sacramental service at the Altar of God, celebrating the Eucharist and so representing Christ to the Church in a consistent manner. After proper training and prayerful discernment, these persons may be received into the Order of Priests by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  5. Bishops. Some priests are called to a ministry of apostolic administration and prophecy in the Church, guarding and guiding the faithful. After proper training and prayerful discernment, these priests may be received into the Order of Bishops by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Canon V.   Hierarchy and Government

  1. Presiding Bishop. One bishop shall serve as the Presiding Bishop of this Church, being the sole and ultimate ecclesiastical authority.

  2. Council of Bishops. All consecrated bishops of this denomination, gathered together in council, shall jointly share certain rights and duties as outlined within these canons.

  3. Diocesan Bishops. Diocesan bishops shall be responsible for the operations of their dioceses, subject only to the directives of the presiding bishop and the Council of Bishops.

  4. Auxiliary Bishops. Bishops may be appointed by the presiding bishop to serve as auxiliary bishops reporting either to the presiding bishop or to a diocesan bishop.

  5. Pastors. Pastors and local superiors of religious orders shall be responsible for the operations of their parish or chapter, subject only to the directives of their superiors.

  6. Assisting Clergy. Bishops may appoint priests and/or deacons to assist the pastors of parishes in their dioceses.

  7. Clergy Council. The clergy of the denomination may be called together in council by the appropriate bishop or the presiding bishop in order to discuss important issues and provide their leader with input. These councils are inherently advisory and have no decision making powers separate from the proper hierarchy.

  8. Denominational Council. The clergy and laity of the denomination may be called together in council by the presiding bishop in order to discuss important issues and provide their leader with input. These councils are primarily advisory in nature and have no decision making power separate from the proper hierarchy.

Canon VI.    Membership

  1. By Baptism. Any person baptized in a parish of this denomination or by any of its ministers shall become a member of that parish and diocese as well as of the denomination as a whole.

  2. By Reaffirmation. Persons previously baptized with water in the Name of the Triune God in another Christian denomination may be received into a parish’s membership by reaffirmation of faith or, if not confirmed within their previous denomination, by the sacrament of confirmation. These persons also become members of the diocese in which the parish is located and the denomination as a whole.

Canon VII.   The Presiding Bishop

  1. Chief Leader. The presiding bishop shall be the chief spiritual leader, ultimate ecclesiastical authority, and chief executive officer of the denomination.

  2. Term. The term of office of the presiding bishop shall be from installation until death, retirement, resignation, or removal as allowed herein.

  3. Retirement. The presiding bishop may retire after notifying the Clergy Council ninety (90) days prior to his/her planned retirement.

  4. Resignation. The presiding bishop may resign at any time without cause.

  5. Remains a Bishop. A presiding bishop who retires or resigns from office shall remain a member of the council of bishops unless he/she removes him/herself from the membership of the denomination.

  6. Removal. The presiding bishop may be removed from office on grounds of failing to profess or follow the doctrinal statements of the denomination. Heinous violations of civil law are also grounds for removal.

    • The presiding bishop must be formally and specifically charged in a document signed by a majority of the bishops and clergy, of the denomination.

    • The presiding bishop may formally recant if the charge is heresy and the removal proceeding shall then cease.

    • The presiding bishop may argue that his/her beliefs are not heretical. This argument shall be presented to the council of bishops, and if 100% of the council members agree that the beliefs held by the presiding bishop are heresy, the presiding bishop shall be removed from office, excluded from membership in the denomination.

    • If the presiding bishop is convicted of sexual misconduct, pedophilia, aggravated assault/murder, or larceny; he/she shall be removed from office and deposed as a bishop.
  1. Legal Incompetence. If the presiding bishop is declared by a court of law in the state of his/her legal residence to be mentally insane or incompetent, he/she may be removed from office by a unanimous of the council of bishops and clergy of the denomination

  2. Transition. When the presiding bishop chooses to retire or resign, he/she should preside over the selection process for a new presiding bishop in order to maintain a stable transition. The former presiding bishop’s effective retirement or resignation should coincide with the installation of the new presiding bishop.

  3. If No Bishops. If there are no bishops, the primacy shall remain vacant until a new presiding bishop is selected and installed

  4. Selection Process. Within ninety (90) days of the termination of a primacy of the announcement of a planned retirement or resignation, a new presiding bishop shall be selected in accordance with the following:

    • A qualified candidate for presiding bishop shall be a bishop of the denomination or a person qualified to become a bishop in accordance with these canons.

    • The council of bishops shall select three qualified candidates who are willing to be elected for suggestions to the Presiding Bishop.

    • The clergy shall be given a chance to present a candidate for consideration by the council of bishops.

    • The candidate chosen by the presiding bishop shall be deemed selected.

Canon VIII.   Religious Orders

  1. Establishment. Religious orders may be established by the authority of the presiding bishop. Existing religious order may be incardinated into the denomination by authority of the presiding bishop.

  2. Governance. Each order shall have a superior, i.e., minister general, superior general, et cetera, who shall be responsible for all activities of the order.

  3. Diocesan Jurisdiction. Each religious order shall be responsible to the presiding bishop in matters of denominational doctrine.

  4. Religious Order Rules. Each religious order shall provide the presiding bishop with a copy of their Rule of Life. The presiding bishop shall review and approve or disapprove the Rule of Life within the context of the canons of the denomination.

  5. Local Leaders. Each local established religious order operation shall have a local superior. The local superior is responsible for the activities of the local establishment and is responsible to the general superior and the local bishop.

  6. Clergy Members. Members of a religious order who are also bishops, priests, deacons shall be entitled to a seat on the diocesan clergy council.

  7. Local Parish Service. Members of a religious order may serve in local parishes as agreed to by the local superior and the parish pastor.

  8. Formation. The formation process of religious orders is proper to each order. The presiding bishop may request a copy of the formation process, but is removed from amending or deleting any steps in the formation process. All ordinations to orders shall be approved by the presiding bishop.

  9. Religious in Solemn/Permanent Vows. All non ordained religious who are in solemn or permanent vows shall be entitled to the same voting right as denomination clergy.

Canon IX.   Sacraments

  1. Baptism. Those who are presented for Baptism shall be baptized with water in the Name of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  2. Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic Celebration is the central act of worship in the denomination. The Eucharist is to be celebrated every Sunday using one of the approved rituals of the denomination. Bread and Wine/Grape Juice are the matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. The Sacrament of the Eucharist can only be confected by a bishop or priest.

  3. Reconciliation. It is a pastoral obligation to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to the faithful. The faithful are to be encouraged to seek the sacrament. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can only be confected by a bishop or a priest.

  4. Confirmation. Candidates for confirmation shall be baptized Christians or shall be catechumens whose baptism will take place along with confirmation.
    The presiding bishop/diocesan bishop is the ordinary minister of the sacrament of confirmation. Permission may be granted in special circumstances to a priest to celebrate the sacrament.

  5. Matrimony. Sacramental marriage is the commitment of Christian persons to each other for intimate life together. It is a symbol of the love and unity between Christ and His Church; it is a means of grace by which the Holy Spirit strengthens His people for ministry and service, and is intended to be lifelong.

    • Persons to be married must sincerely love each other and must intend their marriage to be a lifelong intimate sharing physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

    • Persons to be married must be at least eighteen (18) years old and they must have known each other sufficiently long to be able to knowledgeably enter into a permanent commitment with one another.

    • Persons to be married must be free from binding marriage vow.

  6. Holy Orders / Diaconate:

    • Persons desiring ordination to the deaconate shall communicate such desire to their parish pastor and diocesan/presiding bishop. The pastor/bishop shall meet with the person desiring ordination and shall discuss the meaning of ordination and the various roles of deacons in the Church.

    • After discussing their desires with their pastor/bishop and giving prayerful consideration to the topics of discussion, persons may apply for candidacy to the deaconate. Candidacy is a time of further thought, meditation, study, and prayer to prepare for ordination.

    • Although a person may be discouraged from doing so by his pastor/bishop, any person meeting the qualifications may apply for diaconal candidacy.

    • Applicants to diaconal candidacy shall have completed high school and shall be at least twenty (20) years old.

    • If an application for candidacy is approved, the bishop, together with the applicant, shall determine a specific plan which will, barring any unusual circumstances lead to ordination.

    • Prior to ordination, diaconal candidates shall have completed the educational plan negotiated between the bishop and the candidate.

    • If necessary, a candidacy period may be established for deacons transferring from another jurisdiction during which period they would fulfill any additional obligations set down by the bishop.

    Holy Orders / Presbyter:

    • Persons desiring ordination to the priesthood shall communicate such desire to their parish priest/bishop. The parish priest/bishop shall meet with the persons desiring ordination and shall discuss the meaning of ordination and the various roles of priests in the Church.

    • After discussing their desires with their priest and bishop and giving prayerful consideration to the topics of discussion, persons may apply for candidacy to the priesthood. Candidacy is a time of further thought, meditation, study, and prayer to prepare for ordination.

    • Although a person may be discouraged from doing so by his pastor or bishop, any person meeting the qualifications may apply for candidacy to the priesthood. Ordination to the permanent deaconate does not preclude one’s late ability to apply for ordination to the priesthood.

    • Applicants to priesthood candidacy under thirty (30) years of age shall have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree or least four years of college work. Persons over thirty (30) years of age shall have either a bachelor’s degree or life experience which could be deemed equivalent.

    • An ordained deacon may at any time apply for candidacy to the priesthood.

    • If an applicant for candidacy is accepted, the bishop together with the applicant, shall determine a specific plan which will, barring any unusual circumstances, lead to ordination.

    • Persons in a sacramental marriage who desire ordination to the priesthood must meet, together with their spouse, with the bishop prior to acceptance as a candidate. They shall discuss the meaning of simultaneous sacred vows. If the spouse refuses consent to the candidacy or ordination, the approval of the presiding bishop must be obtained in order to continue the ordination process.

    • If necessary, a candidacy period may be established for priest transferring from another jurisdiction during which period they would fulfill any educational or other requirements set down by the bishop.

Holy Orders / Episcopacy:

    • The presiding bishop chooses bishops as appropriate from the priest of the denomination.

    • In addition to the educational requirements of priests, it is desirable that a person to be ordained to the episcopate hold an advanced degree in theology and have been a priest for no less than three (2) years.

Canon X.   Liturgies and Services

  1. Presiding Bishop Issues Liturgy. The presiding bishop shall issue the formal liturgy of the denomination, including the Mass, the daily offices, the Rites of Sacraments, and other various services. At the presiding bishop’s sole discretion, this may include the authorization to routinely use the liturgies of other denominations.

  2. No Routine Deviation. No service shall routinely deviate from the issued liturgies of the denomination or the specifically authorized liturgies of other denominations

  3. Ecumenical Services. Clergy of this denomination may participate in ecumenical worship services, including those that significantly differ from this denomination’s official liturgy, provided such services do not contradict basic Christian theology and provided that such events do not become substitutes for the use of the denomination’s official liturgy as the basis for worship life.

  4. Interfaith Services. The clergy of this denomination may participate in multi religious or interfaith services and events provided that the context makes clear the multi religious nature and it is obvious that participation does not in any way imply acceptance of all of the beliefs expresses in the activity.

 
             
Copyright Catholic Church, Inc. 2009