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54 Jurist 387 (1994)
The 1987 NCCB Norms for Priests and Their Third Age

handle is hein.journals/juristcu54 and id is 393 raw text is: THE JURIST 54 (1994) 387-408

THE 1987 NCCB NORMS FOR PRIESTS
AND THEIR THIRD AGE
JOHN B. HESCH*
Canon 538, §3 asks pastors who reach the age of seventy-five to
submit their resignations from office to the diocesan bishop who is to
decide whether to accept or defer them. The diocesan bishop is to see
to the decent support and housing of retired pastors taking into account
norms established by the episcopal conference. This is one of several
dozen instances in which the 1983 Code of Canon Law attributes
legislative powers to conferences of bishops.'
In the United States of America the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops (NCCB) has promulgated a set of norms in light of the pro-
vision of canon 538, §3.2 After an examination of the background and
meaning of the canon and a brief look at similar norms promulgated by
some other conferences, these American norms will be studied in some
detail.
* D.Min., J.C.D. (Catholic University of America, 1984, 1994). Published post-
humously.
I For a listing of such instances see James H. Provost, Title II: Groupings of
Particular Churches, in The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary [CLSA
Commentary], ed. James A. Coriden et al. (New York/Mahwah: Paulist, 1985) 370-372.
Also see J. T. Martin de Agar, Legislazione delle conferenze episcopali complementare
(Milan: Dott. A. Giuffr  Editore, 1990).
2 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Norms for Priests and Their Third Age
(Washington: United States Catholic Conference [USCC], 1988); see also idem, Imple-
mentation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law: Complementary Norms (Washington:
USCC, 1991) 50-52; the norms may also be found in Code of Canon Law Annotated
[Navarre Commentary], ed. Ernesto Caparros et al. (Montreal: Wilson & Lafleur Lim-
itre, 1993) 1417-1419, and in THE JURIST 53 (1993) 432-434. The term third age was
borrowed from Helen Morrison, The Third Age: Retirement Concepts for Clergy and
Religious (Cincinnati: NACPA, 1986) and is used by the National Association of Church
Personnel Administrators [NACPA]. The introduction to the norms states that retirement
from a diocesan appointment does not imply an end to ministry; hence the term third
age is used instead of retirement.

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