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54 Jurist 22 (1994)
The Vindication of Parish Rights

handle is hein.journals/juristcu54 and id is 28 raw text is: THE JURIST 54 (1994) 22-39

Individual members of the Catholic faithful possess explicit rights
and obligations within their Church. The new list of their rights and
duties in the 1983 Code of Canon Law was a celebrated innovation.
Even though it is still a struggle to have those rights recognized more
than ten years after the promulgation of the code, they are a very
significant and welcome addition to the Church's canonical discipline.
Communities of the faithful, that is, parishes and other local con-
gregations, also have rights and obligations within the Church.' They
have not yet found their way into the code or any other official legis-
lation, but they do exist. A brief listing of parish rights and duties
appears below. Who can claim these rights, and how can they do so?
These are the two questions to be addressed in this essay: who can
vindicate the rights and press the obligations of local communities of
the Catholic faithful, and what are the means by which they can do so?2
A brief addendum treats a related question: do non-parochial local
communities of the faithful possess rights and obligations?
The bold assertion of the rights and obligations of Catholic parishes
and other local congregations is based squarely on the theological fact
* J.C.D. (Gregorian University, Rome, 1961), J.D. (The Catholic University of
America, 1972). Academic Dean and Professor of Canon Law, Washington Theological
Union, Silver Spring, MD.
1 This article is the third in a series on parish rights. The first, The Foundations
of the Rights of Parishes: The Bases for the Canonical Rights of Parishes and Other
Local Catholic Communities, appeared in lus in Vita et in Missione Ecclesiae (the acts
of the international symposium held at the Vatican on the tenth anniversary of the
promulgation of the Code of Canon Law, April 19-24, 1993), ed. Pontifical Council on
the Interpretation of Legal Texts (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994) 505-
525; the second, The Rights of Parishes: The Canonical Rights and Obligations of
Roman Catholic Parishes and other Local Congregations of the Catholic Faithful,
appeared in Studia Canonica 28 (1994) 293-309.
2 These questions were treated by Ernesto Cappellini, La tutela dei diritti delle
communith territoriali: diocesi e parrocchia, Monitor Ecclesiasticus 113 (1988) 85-

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