- Competences of Collegial Organs in a Particular Church in the Exercise of Executive Power According to the Code of Canon Law of 1983by Miroslaw Sitarz
A very significant post-conciliar canonical development reflecting a more communal, less monarchical, view of church governance has been the notable activity of diocesan consultative organs (classified perhaps somewhat questionably as “collegial” in this work). Some of those organs, like presbyteral councils (cc. 495–501), have comprehensively addressed broad pastoral concerns; other organs, such as diocesan finance councils (cc. 492–493), have focused on more specialized issues involving temporal goods. Said organs, some required and others facultative, have assisted diocesan bishops in the informed exercise of their diocesan governance role, particularly its executive or administrative dimensions. This dissertation by a Polish canonist and translated into English, thoughtfully explores varied aspects of the nature and functioning of such organs as an expression of the conciliar-inspired and multi-faceted role of the People of God in its interaction with the hierarchical community, especially diocesan bishops.
After a brief listing of abbreviations of primary and secondary sources (5–6) and a helpful introduction to the main thrusts of the dissertation [End Page 674](7–11), it is divided into two main parts. The first part (13–134), subdivided into three chapters, presents the position of collegial bodies in the bishop’s exercise of executive power in the particular church. Chapter one examines the theological-legal bases for the establishment of such organs and highlights the principles undergirding the bishop’s relationship to such organs, especially in light of the 2004 Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops. Chapter two explains the notion of such organs, be they single-person or multi-person, obligatory or facultative, and the various authorities in the particular church. Finally, chapter three deals with the various competences of such collegial organs: governance, consultative, creative, representative, liturgical, or coordination-oriented.
The second part of the dissertation (135–240) contains two chapters followed by a set of general conclusions. This part presents legal norms governing the object and procedure of said organs exercising the aforementioned competences. Chapter one discusses in some detail various aspects of administrative acts as the object of such competences, whereas chapter two addresses the specific procedures regulating the practical realization of such competences. The dissertation concludes with a lengthy bibliography (241–267) and a detailed table of contents (269–274). Even given certain drawbacks, the dissertation should prove useful to various readers: professors and students in an academic context, bishops in particular churches, their key staff persons, and members of various collegial organs, especially those with canonical training given the technical nature of the dissertation.
The usefulness of the dissertation is related to its generally careful reflection on certain aspects of the nature and functioning of various collegial organs although the use of the term “collegial” in regard to such organs might have been clarified more adequately. Furthermore, the author does not discuss in significant detail the various areas of competence of said organs or the Code Revision Commission’s drafting of such texts. Another positive dimension was the dissertation’s thoughtful discussion of administrative acts.
Regrettably, readers in North America will be disappointed at the significant absence of especially English but also French canonical sources. Understandably, this well-annotated Polish dissertation is heavily Polish in the literature it cites and quotes; but it also incorporates references to sources in Latin, Italian, and Spanish. Furthermore, and also quite [End Page 675]understandably, there is no reference to distinctly North American diocesan governance issues. Accordingly, canonists and those in diocesan ministry in the United States and Canada should be cognizant of such limitations, but they may still profit from the frequently well-focused consideration of various theological-canonical issues pertinent to executive governance in the particular church.