(The Revised Complementary Norms)



Can. 8 §2


Particular laws are promulgated in the manner determined by the legislator; they begin to oblige one month from the date of promulgation, unless a different period is prescribed in the law.




Laws and decrees made by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria shall be promulgated by publication in the Acta of the Bishops’ Conference or any other organ, as the Conference may deem appropriate, after a review of the same by the Apostolic See.  Such particular norms will come into force after one month of their promulgation.  




Can. 230 §1


Lay men whose age and talents meet the requirements prescribed by decree of the Episcopal Conference, can be given the stable   ministry of Lector and of Acolyte through the prescribed liturgical rite.  The conferral of this ministry does not, however, give them a right to sustenance or remuneration from the church.




The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria Prescribes and Decrees the following prerequisites for lay men to be installed formally in the ministry of Lector and Acolyte:

  1. The ministry of Lector or Acolyte is to be conferred by the diocesan bishop or his delegate only on suitable candidates who must have been carefully chosen and recommended by the parish priest.


  1. Both ministries are to be conferred only where there is genuine need in the parish. They are not to serve as tittles of honour or reward for service to the Church.


  1. A prospective candidate must have genuine faith, good morals and a good

reputation in the community


  1. He must be properly married or, if single, must have completed at least 20 years of age. An installed Lector or Acolyte who, subsequent to his

installation, loses full communion with the Church becomes automatically incapable of exercising this ministry.


  1. The maximum age permitted for installation is 60 years.


  1. Candidates for installation must have successfully undergone a program of formation in view of their respective ministries in a recognized ecclesiastical institute for sacred studies or any other formal setting of formation approved by the diocesan bishop. The course content of the Program must be duly approved by the Bishops’ Conference.


  1. Those to be installed are to freely draw up and present to the local Ordinary a signed petition in which they request to be installed as Lectors.


  1. Before installation, each candidate is to sign a document in the presence of the Ordinary or his delegate and two witnesses, in which he states that he shall render his services faithfully and with commitment in the spirit of Christian charity and mission, without demanding remuneration.


  1. As much as possible, installation ceremonies should be done in the respective parishes or at least in the deaneries.


  1. A certificate, signed and sealed by the Ordinary is to be given to each minister, preferably as part of the ceremony itself.



(See Ministeria Quaedam, 5)

  1. As minister of the Word, the Lector must be fluent in speaking and reading the language or major languages of the Church community he is to serve.


  1. He must have the ability to proclaim the Word of God in an appropriate and meaningful way to make it come alive to the community that hears it proclaimed.


  1. He must be duly formed in the doctrines of the Church so that he can teach them to other members of the faithful especially through catechetical lessons.


  1. He must be able to instruct those who have been designated to read at liturgical celebrations in a temporary or ad hoc manner.




(See Ministeria Quaedam, 6)


  1. The stable Acolyte is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (CIC, 1983 Canon 910).


  1. He is also a minister of exposition and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, without the faculty to bless, in special circumstances where the priest or deacon is not available or impeded (CIC, 1983, Can.943).


  1. Before installation, it must be ascertained that the candidate knows the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith and well grounded in the rites and norms of divine worship as well as the meaning of the symbols of the sacred liturgy.


  1. The Acolyte is to play an active role in liturgical celebrations and help in the training of altar servers.


  1. While exercising his ministry he should wear an approved distinctive garb that is decorous and suitable to his function.


  1. Those who are intimately acquainted with the sacramental and liturgical celebration of the Church are to be preferred in choosing candidates for installation as Acolytes.





Can. 236

Those who aspire to the permanent deaconate are to be formed in the spiritual life and appropriately instructed in the fulfillment of the duties proper to that order, in accordance with the provisions made by the Episcopal Conference.


  1. Young men are to reside for at least three years in a special house, unless the diocesan bishop for grave reasons decides otherwise.


  1. Men of more mature years, whether celibate or married, are to prepare for three years in a manner determined by the same Episcopal Conference.



Where the pastoral needs of the church necessitate the ministry of a permanent deacon in the diocese, the following norms are to be followed:



  1. General Norms

The man must have solid faith, sound morals and good reputation in the community.


 (i)   Before ordination to the permanent deaconate candidates, whether married or unmarried, must have completed 35 years of age.


(ii)   A married candidate must have been validly married in the Church for at least ten years, have an exemplary married life, and have the consent of his wife before being accepted.


 (iii)   The minimum qualification for the permanent deaconate is a General Certificate of Education or its equivalents, with at least a credit in English.


  1. Norms on Formation

(i)   There shall be a full time, three years program of formation for permanent deacons in an approved house of formation with qualified teachers and competent formators.


 (ii)   The candidates should be taught the principal courses in the Sacred Sciences as obtainable in the faculties of Theology in the  Major Seminaries, including Sacred Scriptures, Liturgy, Dogmatic or Systematic Theology, Catechetics, Church History, Canon Law, Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, etc.


(iii)   Dioceses have to work out ways and means of supporting their candidates.


 (iv)  In order to fulfill the requirement of 35 years of age and 10 years of married life for ordination as permanent deacon, prospective candidates are required to have completed 32 years of age and 7 years of marriage before admission into the program of formation for the permanent diaconate.


 (v)   It is the responsibility and right of the diocesan Bishop to admit intending candidates and to decide on their suitability, in consultation with those in charge of their formation.        


  1. Norms on Spiritual and Liturgical Life

(i)   Morning and evening prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours are to be said, preferably celebrated in community.


 (ii)   Meditation, spiritual study periods, rosary are to be built into a daily program.


(iii)   If they have not already been installed as Lectors and Acolyte, candidates are to be admitted into these ministries during the period of formation.  They are

 to exercise these ministries often, especially at daily Eucharist.


(iv) On Sundays they should attend the Parish Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, do the readings during this ceremony if possible, or in those parishes with solemn vespers on Sundays, lead the people in the prayer of the psalms, etc.


 (v)   Periodic retreats and spiritual conferences are to form part of their spiritual formation programme.





Can. 276 §1, 3o:

Priest and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily, in accordance with their own approved liturgical books; permanent deacons are to recite that part of it determined by the Episcopal Conference.




The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs that permanent deacons

shall recite morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the hours daily.



Can. 281 §1

Since clerics dedicate themselves to the ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve the remuneration that befits their condition, taking into account both the nature of their office and the conditions of time and place.  It is to be such that it provides for the necessities of their life and for the just remuneration of those whose services they need.


Par. 2

Suitable provision is likewise to be made for such social welfare as they may need in infirmity, sickness and old age.



  1. In view of the provisions of canon 281, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria recommends that all priests serving the Church in Nigeria be placed on stipends, monthly or otherwise, that enable them to take care of their personal needs, as well as meet the legitimate needs of family members, especially their parents, and fulfill the demands of charity.



  1. Besides the stipend, adequate provisions are to be made for the feeding and housing of priests, as well as for transportation as may be needed for the apostolate.


  1. Clear diocesan policies are to be formulated regarding the care of priests in

the event of illness, hospitalization, and/or incapacitation.  It should never be the case that priests become the responsibility of their biological families when they find themselves in such conditions.


  1. Similarly, clear diocesan policies are to be formulated, and adequate provisions made, for the decent retirement of priests who can no longer engage in active apostolate by reason of either old age or incapacitation. Among other things, dioceses should consider the option of erecting retirement homes that meet the peculiar needs of priests retirees, while not being segregated from the still active clergy and lay faithful of the local Church.  Care should be taken that such retirement facilities are truly homes, rather than impersonal institutions (Cf. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, I Chose You, September 2004, pp. 44-47).





Can. 284

Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical dress, in accordance with the norms established by the Episcopal Conference and legitimate local custom.




The clerical garb publicly identifies the priest, testifies to the sacredness of his status, vocation and person.  It bears witness to Christ the High Priest and the goods news of salvation which he is ordained to propagate.  By putting on the clerical garb, the priest shows that he is at home with his priesthood (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, I Chose You, p.34).  Therefore, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Diocesan clerics are to wear a white soutane.


  1. Clerics of religious institutes and societies of apostolic life are to wear their distinctive habits.


  1. Alternatively, the clergy may wear a clerical shirt with the Roman collar.






Can. 288

Permanent deacons are not bound by the provisions of canon 284, 285 §§ 3 & 4; 286, 287 §2, unless particular law states otherwise.



  1. In keeping with the provisions of universal law, permanent deacons where they exist, are free to undertake the following activities that are forbidden to the clergy: exercise of public offices (can. 285 §3), administration of temporal goods (can. 285 §4), trade and commerce (can.286), and partisan politics (can. 287 §2).


  1. But in all these, they are to keep to the demands of their sacred calling and be shining examples of integrity to the world.


  1. They are not bound to always put on the clerical garb (canon 284) except while exercising liturgical functions.





Can. 402 §2

The Episcopal Conference must ensure that suitable and worthy provision is made for the upkeep of a Bishop who has resigned, bearing in mind the primary obligation which falls on the diocese which he served.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Assistance from the Holy See to supplement the maintenance of a Bishop Emeritus shall be solicited by the appropriate juridical person.


  1. The diocese where the Bishop emeritus has served most years shall have the primary obligation for his suitable and worthy maintenance (Can.402 §2).


  1. Upon acceptance of his resignation by the Holy See, the Bishop emeritus must put all his legal and financial affairs in order, and preferably make a new will, which will be recognized in civil law.


  1. The Bishop emeritus shall preferably reside in the diocesan retirement home, the parish house of his choice, or any other house provided by the diocese.


  1. If the Bishop emeritus prefers to retire to his diocese of origin among his relations, or if a particular parish or diocese should build such a house for him, the following are to be observed.

(i)   The house is to be modest in size and furnishing.


(ii)   Ownership of this house must be clearly established in civil law, and publicly known by the community.


(iii)   In the case of a house of the Bishop emeritus belonging to a parish or diocese, an agreement as to upkeep, repairs, taxes etc, must be made between the Bishop emeritus and the juridical person concerned.


(iv)  Adequate spiritual care should be provided for each Bishop emeritus.





Can. 455 §1

The Bishops’ Conference can make general decrees only in cases where the universal law has so prescribed, or by special mandate of the Apostolic See, either on its own initiative or at the request of the Conference itself.


  • 2 For the decrees mentioned in par. 1 to be validly enacted at the plenary meeting, they must receive at least two thirds of the votes of those who belong to the Conference with a deliberative vote. These decrees do not oblige until they have been reviewed by the Apostolic See and lawfully promulgated.



The general decrees and laws of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria which have been made in accordance with the provisions of the above dispositions of the universal Code of Canon Law shall be promulgated as prescribed in the legislation on canon 8 above.




Can. 459


  • 1 Relations are to be fostered between Bishops’ Conferences, especially neighbouring ones, in order to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.


  • 2 However, the Apostolic See must be consulted whenever actions on matters undertaken by Conferences have an international character.




The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria commits itself to fostering close cooperation and mutual assistance and edification among our neighbouring Conferences and within our common international Conferences in the interest of the advancement of our common pastoral goals in Africa and the West African sub-region.


Can. 496

The council of priests is to have its own statutes.  These are to be approved by the diocesan Bishop, having taken account of the norms laid down by the Episcopal conference.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Every Diocese is to set up a Presbyteral Council if there is none already in existence.


  1. The Presbyteral Council is to meet at least three times a year.


  1. In drawing up statutes, the sample appended to these norms (appendix 1), or any other samples from another diocese of the country or outside it may be used.




Can. 522:

It is necessary that a parish priest have the benefit of stability, and therefore he is to be appointed for an indeterminate period of time.  The diocesan Bishop may appoint him for a specified period of time only if the Episcopal Conference has by decree allowed this.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria decrees that the appointment of parish priests can be “ad tempus” or for a specified period of time.







Can. 535 §1:

In each parish there are to be parochial registers, that is, of baptisms, of marriage and of deaths, and any other registers prescribed by the Episcopal Conference or by the Diocesan Bishops.  The parish priest is

to ensure that entries are accurately made and that the registers are carefully preserved.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria prescribes that the following additional registers are to be kept in parishes: the register of catechumens, register of reception into full communion with the church as well as records of formal defection from the Church, sick call register, confirmation register and register for mass offerings.





Can. 538 §3

A Parish Priest who has completed his seventy fifth year of age is requested to offer his resignation from office to the diocesan Bishop who, after considering all the circumstances of person and place, is

to decide whether to accept or defer it.  Having taken account of the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference, the diocesan Bishop must make provision for the appropriate maintenance and residence of the priest who has resigned.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. The Opus Securitatis of the Pontificium Opus A.S. Petro Apostolo Pro Clero Missionum is to be carefully implemented and adopted by all dioceses.   By virtue

of this arrangement individual dioceses and priests contribute a determined proportion to the fund raised by the Pontifical work of St. Peters Apostle for the indigenous clergy.


  1. There should be an insurance plan at the diocesan level. The Presbyteral

Council should work out such plan.


  1. A special house for retired priests is to be provided in each diocese. Care should be taken not to encourage priests to retire to their relations.  If they do, adequate spiritual care should be provided such priests.


  1. Every priest shall make a will in accordance with the general format approved by the Episcopal conference (Cf. Appendix IV).





Can. 755 §2

It is a matter likewise for Bishops and, in accordance with the law, for

Episcopal Conference, to promote (ecumenical) unity and, in line with the various needs and opportunities of the circumstances, to issue practical norms which accord with the provisions laid down by the supreme authority of the church.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Bishops have a duty to foster ecumenism, which means the search for Christian unity in faith, Church governance and sacraments.


  1. Bishops are to promote love and respect towards other Christians. They are to foster healthy dialogue between them and the Catholic faithful.


  1. Those who lack full or any communion with the Church by reason of differences in belief systems and practices are to be always accorded the full dignity due to human persons and their fundamental rights respected.


  1. Pastors of the Church are to foster greater co-operation and social interaction between Catholics and other Christians. This may include exchange of visits and mutual attendance of celebrations without compromising Catholic obligations.


  1. When the need to offer charity arises, there is to be no discrimination on the basis of differing beliefs or church affiliation.


  1. Ecumenical dialogue is to be based on truth, openness, mutual respect towards all parties and a sincere desire to mend the differences and restore unity. Pastors are to employ helpful utterances that enhance unity, especially in their sermons, consciously avoiding the use of negative criticisms that render the

achievement of the goals of ecumenism even more difficult.


  1. Associations that favour ecumenism at all levels such as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Bible Society of Nigeria, etc are to be prudently promoted.


  1. Ecumenical initiatives in the context of liturgical celebrations have to be prudently evaluated to avoid scandal, taking into consideration the peculiar context of Nigeria.


  1. The norms on mixed marriage issued by this conference are to be observed scrupulously. Dispensation from the canonical form of marriage, although a

means of ecumenism, should be prudently granted in strict compliance with the norms (Can.1127 §2).


  1. There shall be special care and solicitude for families in mixed marriages. This care is to be considered a special form of ecumenism.








Can. 766

The laity may be allowed to preach in a church or oratory if in certain

circumstances it is necessary, or in particular cases it would be advantageous, according to the



provisions of the Episcopal Conference and without prejudice to Can. 767 §1



Christ, the Lord has sent out his Church to preach to all nations (Matt. 28:19).  This mandate is given to the whole people of God and all God’s people are bound to participate in the mission of the Church, however, each according to his condition or state.  The Sacred Hierarchy has the primary responsibility of proclaiming the word of God (cf. Acts 6:2-4; L.G. 25, 28, AA.2).  The Laity share in this work (cf. AA.2).  Wishing to involve the laity more with the work of preaching, the Code of Canon Law establishes: “The laity may be allowed to preach in the church or oratory if in certain circumstances it is necessary, or in particular cases it would be advantageous, according to the provisions of the Episcopal Conference and without prejudice to canon 767 §1” (Can. 766)


The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria hereby gives the following norms:

  1. The homily is reserved to priest or deacon (Can. 767 §1). Therefore, no lay person is to give the homily during a Eucharistic celebration.


  1. In celebrations in which there is no priest or deacon, the catechist or any other lay person approved by the parish priest may preach.



  1. Lay persons of proven ability or special competence may be allowed to preach to the gathered faithful on special occasions, such as feast of the family, Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, celebration for fostering works of charity or missions, provided their exhortations are considered to be very opportune and they are given at the completion of the Eucharistic celebration.


  1. Lay persons who may be permitted to preach in the church or oratory should, in addition to due knowledge, lead exemplary Christian life and be docile to the magisterium and legitimate local pastors.






CANON 722 Par. 2

In expounding Christian teaching on radio or television, the


Can. 722 §2


In expounding Christian teaching on radio or television, the provisions of the Episcopal Conference are to be observed.  Can. 831 §2:  It is for the Episcopal Conference to lay down norms determining the requirements for clerics and members of religious institutes to take part in radio and television programmes which concern Catholic doctrine or morals.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Because of the impact of Radio/TV and the written word on the society, it is necessary that each diocese should have a team carefully selected for the mass media. At least one cleric or religious shall be well trained in this field and assigned to lead this team as a full time ministry.  A capable lay person, with the requisite competence and proven faith and integrity may also be assigned this office.


  1. The diocesan communications personnel are to use the media to teach and propagate the Catholic faith as well as to correct erroneous and misleading view about the Church and her teachings.


  1. Notwithstanding the government directive banning the ownership of Radio

and TV stations by religious bodies, studios may be established in dioceses or regions to facilitate making Radio and TV programmes.


  1. As much as possible dioceses are to make use of the time allocated to them

for programs on government Radio/TV, or buy airtime from existing Radio and TV stations.


  1. The existing Catholic newspapers are to be improved in quality and circulation, and work towards a daily or twice weekly newspaper.


  1. Priests and religious and knowledgeable lay people are to be encouraged to write religious articles I Nigerian daily newspapers.


  1. To ascertain the doctrine and quality of Radio/TV programmes and also articles for the press the people who are in charge of communications are to preview and where necessary correct and edit these before releasing them to the public.


  1. Catholic publications and cassettes in the vernacular are to be promoted in each diocese.


  1. Each diocese is to work out concrete ways of engaging the lay faithful to be effectively involved in the transmission of the Good News and the Church’s teachings and pastorals activities using the available avenues provided by modern means of communication.








Can. 775 §3

The Bishops’ Conference may establish a catechetical office whose principal purpose is to assist individual dioceses in catechetical matters.



The Committee for Religious Education, Catechesis and Bible of the Catholic

Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria is to be responsible for promoting all catechetical initiatives at the national level.  The Secretary to this Committee is to coordinate its activities from the national Catholic Secretariat.






Can. 788 §3

It is the responsibility of the Episcopal Conference to establish norms concerning the arrangement of the catechumenate, determining what should be done by catechumens and what should be their prerogatives.




The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs that the norms issued by it in the National Directory for Christian initiation published in 1981 shall be followed.





Can. 792    

The Bishops’ Conference is to establish and promote means by which those who come to their territory from the missions, for the purpose of work or study, are to be given fraternal welcome and helped with suitable pastoral care.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria leaves the normative dispositions on the pastoral care of all persons who come into the country for the purposes of work, study or sojourn to the determination of the affected dioceses.






Can. 804 §1

The formation and education in the Catholic religion provided in any school, and through various means of social communication, is subject to the authority of the church.  It is for the Episcopal Conference to issue general norms concerning this field of activity and for the diocesan Bishop to regulate and watch over it.



The Education Policy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria published in 2005 is to be meticulously applied in all educational institutions owned by the Church in all dioceses of the country.






Can. 844 §4

If there is a danger of death, or if, in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion  with the Catholic church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the Catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria leaves the judgment of the existence of such grave or urgent need to the diocesan Bishop.





Can. 854

Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion of by pouring, in accordance with the provisions of the Episcopal Conference.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria upholds Baptism by pouring as the

preferred mode of administering Baptism within its territory.






Can. 877 §3

In the case or an adopted child, the names of the adopting parents are to be registered and, at least if this is done in the local civil registration, names of the natural parents in accordance with pars. 1 and 2 subject, however, to the rulings of the Episcopal Conference.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as stipulated in the code that in the case of an adopted child, the names of the adopting parents are to be registered while the names of the natural parents are to be recorded in a secret register which will be kept in the secret archives of the diocese.




Can. 891

The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion, unless the Episcopal Conference has decided on a different age, or there is a danger of death or, in the judgment of the minister, a grave reason suggests otherwise.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria establishes 10 years as the minimum age for confirmation.







Can. 895

The names of those confirmed, the minister, the parents, the sponsors and the place and date of the confirmation are to be recorded in the confirmation register of the diocesan curia or, wherever this has been prescribed by the Episcopal Conference or by the diocesan Bishop, in the register to be kept in the archive.  The parish priest must notify the parish priest of the place of the baptism that the confirmation was conferred so that it be recorded in the baptismal register, in accordance with canon 534 §2.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs that Confirmation registers are to be kept in every parish.




Can. 961 §2

It is for the diocesan Bishop to judge whether the conditions required in paragraph 1 no. 2 are present; mindful of the criteria agreed with the other members of the Episcopal Conference, he can determine the cases of such necessity.



  1. The judgment about the existence of the required conditions for granting general absolution, that is, grave necessity, is left to the diocesan Bishop. Priests are not free to presume the existence of such grave necessity.


  1. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria establishes the following criteria for judging the grave necessity of Can. 961 §1, 2° for general absolution.

(i)   Genuine pastoral needs of a stable nature arising from the size of a parish or Catholic community and insufficient number of priests can be sufficient grave necessity, if the priests available cannot be reasonably expected to provide

individual and integral confessions for the penitents within three months.


(ii)    Other situations except those of major feasts or pilgrimage, may arise in which the faithful could be unduly deprived of the sacrament for a lengthy period of time because there is an unavoidable shortage of confessors and the time available to the confessors present makes individual confession impossible.


  1. The participants of such penitential services have to be instructed to make an individual confession of their grave sins in due time before receiving another general absolution. However, the confessors should also offer opportunity for

individual confession to those who wish to do so.


  1. After observing the above conditions, the diocesan Bishop can permit the granting of general absolution, which is to be imparted after a well prepared and celebrated penitential rite.





Can. 964 §2

As far as the confessional is concerned, norms are to be issued by the Episcopal Conference, with the provision however that confessionals, which the faithful who so wish may freely use, are located in an open place, and fitted with a fixed grille between the penitent and the confessor.




The Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs as follows:

  1. Confessionals fitted with gratings and located in an open place in the Church are to be ordinarily used for the sacrament of penance, to protect the privacy of penitents.


  1. Other prudent places and means may be used for a reasonable and just cause, like sickness, old age of penitent, etc, provided due precaution is taken.






Can. 1O31 §3

The Conference of Bishops’ may determine a norm by which an older age is required for the presbyterate and the permanent diaconate.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria retains the age limits stipulated in this Canon, namely, the priesthood may be conferred only on those who have completed their twenty-fifth year of age. Those who are destined for the priesthood are to be admitted to the order of the diaconate only when they have completed their twenty-third year. Those to be ordained as permanent deacons are to have completed thirty-five years of age whether they are married or not.





Can. 1062 §1

A promise of marriage, whether unilateral or bilateral, called an engagement, is governed by the particular law which the Episcopal Conference has enacted, after consideration of such customs and civil laws as may exist.



The traditional rite of formal acquaintance of in- laws with the exchange of traditional symbolic gifts as may be obtainable in the different culture groups, is seen as equivalent of engagement. This rite is governed by customary and civil laws that obtain in the country. The rites are to be adhered to, provided they do not contradict divine or canon law.




Can. 1067

The Episcopal Conference is to lay down norms concerning the questions to be asked of the parties and concerning the publication of marriage banns, and the other appropriate means of enquiry to be carried out before marriage. Only when he has carefully observed these norms may the parish priest assist at a marriage.




The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria lays down the following norms concerning the enquiry and other modes of investigations to ascertain the freedom of the parties and fulfillment of the requisite conditions for the lawful and valid celebration.


  2. 1. When the parties come for the registration for marriage the parish priest or his assistant is personally to interview the intending spouses separately.


  1. They are to answer the questions under oath, unless it is certain that they are truthful and trustworthy.


  1. The parish priest or his assistant is to record the answers as accurately as possible. This record is to be signed by the interviewed party and preserved in the parish archives.


  1. The interviewing priest is to question the parties on these and other points.

(1) Name, date and place of birth, religion, date and place of baptism, first Holy Communion, Confirmation, Easter duty. (These could be unnecessary, if Baptismal card contains the relevant information), communion with the church (any excommunication or interdict).


 [ii] Residence and Contact Address(es), domicile or quasi-domicile(s) (home town or parish)


 [iii] Names and addresses and religion of parents


 [iv] Freedom to marry. Impediments — impotence and (sterility — not an impediment but very important for Nigeria under fraud/deceit and error of quality). Vows of celibacy or clerical celibacy; consanguinity or affinity, crime and public honesty; previous marriage, either Christian, civil or customary.


 [v] Due knowledge — what do the parties understand Christian marriage to be? Are they aware that marriage is between one man and one woman and that is indissoluble? Any conditions attached?


[vi] How long have they known each other and how well?


[vii] Parental and family support for the marriage.


  1. A form of these questions can be prepared by each diocese. A period of three months pre-marriage instruction is obligatory. A certificate of the completed instruction should be demanded.


  2. The publication of banns is the traditional way of making the Catholic community aware of the coming marriage and of giving the community the opportunity of manifesting reasonable objections to the marriage and of informing the pastor of any impediment.


  1. The banns are to be sent to the home parish of the parties and are to be published for at least three consecutive Sundays in the church of the town of origin of the parties and also in the church of the place where the parties are actually residing.


  1. Publication of the banns in the bulletin satisfies the obligation in no. 2. Also fixing the names on the notice board is acceptable.


  1. Parish priests and vicars are to be punctual in replying banns and should not use the banns to extort the payment of levies and other contributions.


  1. After 6 weeks of sending out banns and no reply comes, a reminder is to be sent. At the expiry of another 6 weeks, the priest can approach the local Ordinary for permission to go ahead with the marriage.


  1. The reply to the banns should be made with an authentic document, duly signed and sealed with parish stamp by the parish priest or vicar.





  1. If after the pre-marriage investigation by means of questioning the parties and by the publication of banns, doubt remains about the freedom of the parties to marry or there is a doubt about the success of the marriage, the parents of the parties are to be interviewed, under oath.


  1. The parish priest or his assistant is to use any other opportune and prudent means to satisfy himself about the requirements for a valid and lawful celebration of marriage and about the reasonable hope of the success of the marriage.





Can. 1083 §1

A man cannot validly enter marriage before the completion of his sixteenth year of age, nor a woman before the completion of her fourteenth year.

  • 2: The Episcopal Conference may establish a higher age for the lawful celebration of marriage.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria establishes 18 years as the lawful minimum age of marriage for both the man and woman wishing to be joined in Holy Matrimony.






CAN 0N 1112 Par. I

Can. 1112

Where there are neither priests nor deacons, the diocesan Bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages, if the Bishops’ Conference has given the prior approval and the permission of the Holy See has been obtained.



The use of lay persons as official marriage assistants may be allowed by the diocesan Bishop in a case of necessity where the official ministers are not

available or are impeded.






Can. 1120

The Episcopal Conference can draw up its own rite of marriage, in keeping with those usages of place and people which accord with the Christian spirit, it is to be reviewed by the Holy See, and it is without prejudice to the law that the person who is present to assist at the marriage is to ask for and receive the expression of



The Conference has decided to refer this case to the Liturgical Commission and the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) for the deep study and adaptation it






Can. 1121 §1

As soon as possible after the celebration of a marriage, the parish priest of the place of celebration or whoever takes his place, even if neither has assisted at the marriage, is to record in the marriage register the names of the spouses, of the person who assisted and of the witnesses, and the place and date of the celebration of the marriage; this is to be done in a manner prescribed by the Bishops’ Conference or by the diocesan Bishop.



In keeping with the norms of the Code of Canon Law, the parish priest or his representative should see to it that the following important data about a marriage are properly recorded as soon as the marriage rite is over: names of spouses, assistant, official witnesses, date and place of marriage. These data should be entered into a proper marriage register which is to be adequately preserved.






Can. 1126

It is for the Episcopal Conference to prescribe the manner in which these declarations and promises, which are always required, are to be made, and to determine how they are to be established in the external forum, and how the non- Catholic party is to be informed of them.



  1. 1. In accordance with the prescription of Canon the Catholic Conference of determines as follows:


[I] The Catholic party is to make the declaration and promise required by Canon1125 and 1066 and 2 in writing in the presence of the parish priest or his representative and of the non-Catholic party and at least a parent or a very close relation of both the Catholic and non- Catholic parties. The declaration and promise are to be read out by the Catholic with his or her hand on the Bible. The declaration and promise can be made according to the format proposed by the Bishops’ Conference (see appendix II).


 [II) The parish priest or his representative, together with the non-Catholic party and the parents or close relatives mentioned above are to sign as witnesses after the document signed by the Catholic party has been clearly explained to them.


  1. Banns must be published for mixed marriages, disparity of cult or mixed religion, and due investigations carried out. This may follow the format proposed by the Bishops’ Conference (See appendix III).




Can. 1127 §2

If there are grave difficulties in the way of observing the canonical form, the local Ordinary of the Catholic party has the right to dispense from it in individual cases, having however consulted the Ordinary of the place of the celebration of the marriage; for validity, however, some public form of celebration is required. It is for the Episcopal Conference to establish norms whereby this dispensation may be granted in a uniform manner.



In accordance with the norms of Can. 1127 §2, CBCN establishes the following norms:

  1. The dispensation from canonical form can only be granted where there is sufficient guarantee about the faith of the Catholic party. It is left to the local Ordinary to determine if the danger of defection from the Catholic faith exists or not.


  1. Before the dispensation is granted, the Catholic community is to be prepared by good catechesis on the fact that marriage outside the Catholic Church with dispensation from canonical form does involve defection from Catholic faith.


  1. In the application for the dispensation from the canonical form the Catholic party must indicate the public form of celebration which they intend to have.










Can. 1236 §1

In accordance with the traditional practice of the church, the table of a fixed alter is to be of stone, indeed of a single natural stone.  However, even some other worthy and solid material may be used, if the Episcopal Conference so judges.  The support of the base can be made from any material.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria directs that, in the place of a single natural stone for the table of fixed altar, other worthy and solid material like marble or wood may be used.










Can. 1246 §2

The Bishops’ Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, suppress certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.



In accordance with the prescriptions of Can. 1246 §.2, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria hereby declares that:


  1. The following celebrations are to be retained as Holy days of obligation: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Assumption of Our Lady, and the feast of All Saints.


  1. The following celebrations are transferred to a Sunday before or after the days on which they fall: the Epiphany and the feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.


  1. The following celebrations are suppressed as holy days of obligation and are to be celebrated as solemnities on the day in which they fall; the feast of Mary the Mother of God, the feast of St. Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul and the feast of Immaculate Conception.








Can. 1251

Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.



  1. All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. The days and times of penance for the universal church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.


  1. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria lays down that abstinence from meat or favourite dish or drink or from smoking is to be observed on all Fridays, except when a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be

observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.


  1. In addition the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria recommend other forms of

Penance, such as, regular attendance at morning Mass, Stations of the Cross, an hour of adoration, help to the poor, visits to the sick and prisons or free service to the needy


  1. Pastors and Confessors should give adequate instructions to Christ’s faithful entrusted to their care to communicate to them the genuine concept of penance.





Can. 1226

The faithful are to give their support to the church in response to appeals and in accordance with the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria decrees that only appeals for funds that have been duly approved by the Bishops’ Conference or the competent Local Ordinary are to be made in the Church.


Can. 1265 §2

The Episcopal Conference can draw up rules regarding collections, which must be observed by all, including those who from their foundation are called and are ‘mendicants’.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria decrees as follows:

  1. There shall be no unauthorized collection in the name of or on behalf of the church.


  1. As much as possible schedule and times for collections shall be carefully prepared (on a national, regional, diocesan and parochial basis) and copies of the same made available to the local Ordinaries, parish priests or mission superiors, chaplains and the finance committee of the church bodies concerned.


  1. All collections shall be made after prior information or notice of at last two Sundays before the actual collection day. Such information or notice shall include the auspices under which such a collection is to be made, and the purpose for the same.


  1. The Finance Committee, or the Parish Priest with at least two members of the church, shall supervise and handle such collections.


  1. The proceeds from such collections shall be duly receipted by the treasurer and the financial secretary of the body, or the parish priest or mission superior or

chaplain, and two other members.


  1. The sum realized shall be remitted by the treasurer or the parish priest or mission superiors or chaplain to the appropriate destination within seven days.









Can. 1277

In carrying out acts of administration which, in the light of the financial situation of the diocese, are of major importance, the diocesan Bishop must consult the finance committee and the college of

consultors. For acts of extraordinary administration, except in cases expressly provided for in the universal law or stated in the documents of foundation, the diocesan Bishop needs the consent of the committee and of the college of consultors. It is for the Episcopal Conference to determine what are to be regarded as acts of extraordinary administration.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria determines acts of extraordinary administration in canon 1277 as follows:

  1. Transactions involving 10% of the Annual Revenue of Diocese or juridical body.


  1. Any transactions not in the approved annual budget.






Can. 1292 §1

Without prejudice to the provision of Can. 638 par.3, when the amount of the goods to be alienated is between the minimum and maximum sums to be established by the Episcopal Conference for its region, the

Competent authority in the case of juridical persons not subject to the diocesan Bishop is determined by the juridical person’s own statutes. In other cases, the competent authority is the diocesan Bishop acting with the consent of the finance committee, of the college of consultors, and of any interested parties. The diocesan Bishop needs the consent of these same persons to alienate goods which belong to the diocese itself.


  • 2 The additional permission of the Holy See also is required for the valid alienation of goods whose value exceeds the maximum sum, or if it is a question of the alienation of something given to the Church by reason of a vow, or of objects which are precious by reason of their artistic or historical significance.




The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria establishes the minimum and maximum sums for alienation in the light of canon 1292 par.1 thus: 1 Million Naira and 10 Million Naira respectively.






Can. 1297

It is the duty of the Episcopal Conference, taking into account the local circumstances, to determine norms about the leasing of ecclesiastical goods, especially about permission to be obtained from the competent

ecclesiastical authority.




In accordance with can.1297 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria determines as follows:

  1. Leasing of Ecclesiastical goods which diminishes or worsens the economic situation of the church cannot he validly done without a grave reason and the written consent of the competent superior.


  1. Leasing of Ecclesiastical goods whose value is more than 25% of the fixed asset of the diocese cannot be validly done unless with the consent of the Apostolic See. In the case of other juridical bodies subject to the Bishop the written consent of the diocesan Bishop is required.


  1. Ecclesiastical goods cannot be validly leased for more than 10 years without

the written consent of the competent superior.  In case of the diocese, the diocesan Bishop needs the consent of both the finance committee and the college of consultors.


  1. Ecclesiastical goods valued at less than 25% of the fixed asset of the juridical body and whose lease is not for over 10 years may be leased with the written consent of Superior which is given after consultation with the body’s finance council.


  1. Leasing of Ecclesiastical goods must be by contract according to the provisions of the Nigerian Law.







Can. 1421 §2

The Episcopal Conference can permit that lay persons also be appointed judges. Where necessity suggests, one of these can be chosen in forming a college of judges.



The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria fully accepts this legislation where the necessity calls for it.






Can. 1425 §4

In the trial at first instance, if it should happen that it is impossible to constitute a college of judges, the Bishops’ Conference can for as long as the impossibility persists, permit the Bishop to entrust cases to a sole clerical judge.  Where possible, the sole judge is to associate with himself an assessor and an auditor.



The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria states, in accordance with canon 1425 par. 4, that the prerogative to permit sole judges at the first instance of judgment belongs to the Bishops’ Conference and only in situations of impossibility of constituting a college of judges. Any contrary practice is illicit and the judgment issued by the improperly constituted tribunal null by virtue of canon 1622, no.1. Diocesan Bishops desirous of constituting a sole judge tribunal of first instance are to formally apply for it through the Chairman of the Episcopal Committee on Canon Law.





Can. 1714:

The norms for agreements, for mutual promises to abide by an arbiter’s award, and for arbitral judgments are to be selected by the parties. If the parties have not chosen any, they are to use the law established by Episcopal Conference, if such exists, or the civil law in force in the place where the pact is made.


Can. 1733 §2  The Episcopal Conference can prescribe that in each diocese there be established a permanent office or council which

would have the duty, in accordance with the norms laid down by the Conference, of seeking and suggesting equitable solution. Even if the conference has not demanded this, the Bishop may establish such an office or council.



The norms enacted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria shall be followed in all cases of mediation and arbitration within the territory of this Episcopal Conference (See appendix V).











The Bishop and the priests of this Diocese share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ by their baptism and, in a special way, by their call to Holy Orders. While all members of the church belong to the one body of Christ, priests, by their ordination, are called to a unique ministry in the Church. The Bishop and the priests are called to the same mission: to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to build the Body of Christ.


The Presbyteral Council will be a place for mutual, open reflection and fraternal dialogue between the Bishop and the priests of the diocese.


Conscious of our responsibility to the Diocese and the communion of the Catholic church; aware of the bonds of fraternity among all priests of this diocese, diocesan and religious; seeking to strengthen and promote the bond of unity and affection among all the people of God of this Diocese; mindful of the Second Vatican Council and in conformity with the revised Code of Canon Law; we the Bishop and presbyters of the Diocese of New Hope, do hereby establish the Presbyter Council of the Diocese.



The preamble sets forth the theological and canonical basis for the establishment of the Council. It need not be in legal form, and does not have legal effect, but should reflect the ecclesiology of the diocese in question.


Since this is a sample, dioceses are encouraged to reflect and to design a preamble suited to their needs.




The name of this body shall be “The Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of New Hope”.


This article is fundamental. No attempt at elegance or rhetoric is in place here. Best to just substitute the name of the diocese in the place of “New Hope “.



The purpose of this Presbyteral Council shall be:

  1. To provide a forum for the full and free discussion of all issues of pastoral concern in the diocese.


  1. To aid the diocesan Bishop in the governance of the diocese according to the norm of law so that the pastoral welfare of the people of God committed to the Bishop with the cooperation of the presbyters may be carried on as effectively as possible.


  1. To search for and to propose ways and means for effective pastoral ministry.


  1. To represent the unity and diversity of the priests of the diocese.


This article sets out the purpose of the .organization. No action outside the purpose stated by the constitution is allowable, so the purpose should be stated as broadly as possible as in this example.




Sec. I. The membership shall consist of the diocesan Bishop, twelve elected members, four ex-officio members, members of the college of consultors sitting in accordance with section 3 hereof, and five appointed members.


This article sets out the membership of the Council Canon 497 specifies that there are to be the three classes of members specified here, but leaves it to the Council to determine how large the council should be (though it may not be less than three,), and how many members there should be of each class.


Sec. 2. The elected members shall be elected by mail ballot by and from among the priests of the ten vicariates of the diocese (one each) and the priests engaged in special ministry (one) and the retired priests (one), each for a term of five years and until their successors are chosen. Elections shall be held by mail ballot in December of each year, and terms shall begin January 1. A majority of the votes cast shall elect. Terms shall be staggered so that vicariate terms and not more than one other term expire each year. Each priest of this diocese, each priest of another diocese living in this diocese and each religious priest living in this diocese and exercising some office for the good of the diocese shall be eligible to vote and to be elected, each in his respective constituency. Disputed cases concerning eligibility to vote and to be elected shall be decided by the Elections and Membership Committee. The vacancy of any elected member’s seat shall be filled by a special election in his constituency for the unexpired portion of the term.


Each diocese should set a number appropriate for its circumstances.  The cursive type in this and the following paragraphs indicates material elements that could be varied according to local need. Each diocese may vary the number of elected members and the way the diocese is divided into electoral constituencies, provided that, at least, “about half” (canon, 497,) of the total membership be elected and that the drawing of the constituencies provides for the full diversity of ministries and the various legions of the diocese, in so far as possible (‘canon 499,) Canon 497 seems to set a minimum rather than a target. There would be nothing to prevent a diocese from having substantially more than half the members elected, but to have fewer than about half elected appears proscribed.

The Constitution should also specify the time and manner of election and the length of term. Time and manner of election are up to the diocese to decide. Term office is a matter for each to decide provided that the Council is renewed in whole or in part not less often than every five years (canon 421). Canon 498 requires active vote (ability to vote) and passive vote (ability to be elected) for all incardinated secular priests, non-incardinated secular priests and religious priests living in and exercising some office for the good of the diocese, leaving open the question of other priests with domicile or quasi domicile; within these restrictions, dioceses may make different decisions about who may vote or hold office, and should specify their decision in a section such as this.


Sec. 3. The ex-officio members shall be the Auxiliary Bishop, the Vicar General, the Chancellor, the Episcopal Vicar for the West, and any member of the College of Consultors whose term on the Council shall otherwise expire while he is still a consultor, for the duration of his term as a Consultor.


Ex-officio members may vary in number and office from diocese to diocese, and each diocese should specify in section such as this the particular office chosen for automatic membership.


Sec. 4. The appointed members shall be appointed by diocesan Bishop for a term of five years, which can be renewed upon expiration at the discretion of the Bishop. Terms shall be staggered so that only one appointment is made each year. The vacancy of any appointed member’s seat shall be filled by appointment

by the Bishop for the unexpired portion of the terms.



Sec. 1. The officers of the Presbyster Council shall be the president, the chairman, the vice-chairman, the secretary and the treasurer.


The distinction between the President and the Chairman is based on canon law and customary interpretation.


Sec. 2. The president of the council shall be the diocesan Bishop. The president shall have the right to call meetings of the council to preside over meetings of the council, to place matters of concern on the agenda of the council, to accept or reject (except where otherwise provided by Canon Law) the results of the council’s deliberations, and to promulgate officially decisions arising therefrom.


Canon 500 says that it is for the diocesan Bishop to preside over the Council, hence the title of the office. Normally, the Bishop will ‘preside over’ the Council in the same way that the Pope usually ‘presides over’ and Ecumenical Council, i.e., without actually being on the chair, and perhaps even from a distance.


Sec. 3. The chairman shall preside at meetings of the council not presided over by the president, shall be the chief executive officer of the council, and shall have the duties prescribed for this office by the parliamentary authority and by such standing rules as the council shall adopt.


The Bishop may preside from the chair if and when he chooses, however, and he may put items on (but not keep them off,) the agenda (canon 500). He also has the duty to listen to the Council, and the right to decide to accept or reject its advice except in certain cases, and to promulgate decision based on its work (canon 500).


Sec. 4. The vice-chairman, the secretary and the treasurer shall have the duties prescribed for their respective offices by the parliamentary authority and by such standing rules as the council shall adopt.


The Chairman should be given all usual rights and duties of the person described in parliamentary law generally as President or Chairman, except for those cases presided over in person by the Bishop.


Sec. 5. The officers other than the president shall be elected by and from among the members of the council for a term of two years beginning on January 1st of each even numbered year, and until their successors are elected. No member shall hold more than one office, or be re-elected to the same office for more than two consecutive terms. In the event of a vacancy in an elected office, the council shall elect an officer to fill the unexpired portion of the term.


Unless an individual diocese chooses to fix by Constitution some particular duty for one of these offices, a reference such as this is sufficient. Dioceses are free to choose the manner of election, terms, etc. of officers of the Council, there being no directives from the Code on this point. Pertinent permanent decisions should, however, be recorded in a section such as this.







Sec. 1. The council shall meet not less often than every other month, on an annual schedule to be adopted by the council, and the president, the chairman or any four members.


Number and timing of meetings vary from diocese to diocese, the seriousness of the charge go in canon 495 suggests that meetings be reasonably regular.


Sec. 2. A simple majority of the members including a majority of the elected members shall constitute a quorum.


Unless a quorum required majority of the elected as well total members, the spirit of canon 497 would be in danger.


Sec. 3. The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the council in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with Canon Law, this constitution, and any special rules of order the council may adopt.


A parliamentary authority should be specified to cover rules and controversies not settled by the Constitution and not decided on by the Council by standing rule. It may perhaps be noted that any standing rule that limits free exercise of the rights of members (e.g., by making it easier to cut off debate) itself requires a two- thirds majority for adoption.



Sec. 1. The council shall have an executive committee, an election and membership committee and such other standing or special committees as shall be necessary to carry on the work of the council.


Committees may be, but need not be, specf1ed in the Constitution. In the interest of simplicity and generality, no specifics are given here except those committees referred to elsewhere in this document. Whether by Constitution or pursuant thereto, each Council will need to create such committees as Priestly Life and Ministry, Justice and Peace, Personnel, etc.


Sec. 2. The executive committee shall consist of the officers of the council. This committee shall prepare the agenda for meetings of the council, and shall coordinate where necessary the work of the other committees. The executive committee shall not have the power to act in the name of the council except as specifically authorized by the council.


The language here delegates power to the Executive Committee in view of the serious responsibilities of the Council itself. 

Sec. 3. The elections and membership committee shall consist of not fewer than three members appointed by the chairman and confirmed by the council. This committee shall have supervision over matters pertaining to eligibility to vote and to be elected, and shall conduct the elections for elected members of the council.


The Constitution may also provide for the President, Chairman, and/or Executive Committee to name such adhoc Committees as may be needed from time to time, for the short term needs of the Council.


Sec. 4. Other committees may be created by the council, and shall have the rights and duties that the council shall from time to time specify. Their members shall be appointed by the chairman and confirmed by the council.





Sec. 1. The operating budget for the council shall be prepared by the treasurer and approved by the council. The budget shall then be included in the diocesan budget preparation process and ultimately approved by the diocesan Bishop.


Where there is a stable method of preparing and adopting the diocesan budget, a diocese might choose to be more explicit here. In the interest of generality, and because such things seem to change frequently even in any one diocese, the process here has been laid down only in general terms.


Sec. 2. The operating budget shall provide for necessary funds to be provided by the diocese to cover the expenses of the council.


If the Council envisions soliciting contributions from the priests to make up all or part of its budget, provision for this should be included here.



Sec. 1. This constitution may be amended by a vote of two- thirds of the members of the council, provided that the amendment has been submitted in writing at the previous meeting of the council, and subject to the concurrence of all those eligible to vote in council membership elections and to the approval of the diocesan Bishop.


Note that under this rule, 2/3 of all the members (not just those present at the time) must vote to approve an amendment, but only a majority of those voting (not of all the eligible priests) need concur. Diocese may choose stricter or looser standards.

Sec. 2. This constitution shall be adopted by a two-thirds mail ballot of the presbyterate of the diocese and the subsequent approval of the diocesan Bishop, and shall become effective ten days after the date of such approval.


Note here that 2/3 of those voting are needed to ratify the Constitution. Dioceses may choose a stricter or looser rule.








The declaration and promise can be done with the following format:


I……………………………………………………………the undersigned Catholic, wishing to contract marriage with ………………………………………………………..a baptized/an unbaptized non-Catholic do hereby declare that I am prepared to remove all dangers of defecting from my Catholic faith. I also sincerely promise to do all in my power to have all the children born of this marriage baptized and brought up in the Catholic church. So help me God and the Holy Gospel which I touch with my hand.


………………………………                                                                               The Catholic Party


The above declaration and promise made by  ……………………………………………………………..a Catholic have been done in my presence.

I am aware of the declaration and promise.



The non-Catholic Party


The above declarations and promise have been witnessed by:


  1. ………………………………………………………………….

           Parish Priest or Parish Vicar.


  1. ……………………………………………………………………

Parent/Close relation of the Catholic/ Responsible witness


  1. …………………………

Parent/Close relation of the Non-Catholic Party


  1. The original of the document is to be preserved in the parish archives while an authentic copy is to accompany the application for the permission or dispensation for a mixed marriage.









I,       ………………………….a Catholic, living at ……………………………… (Parish), Son/Daughter of ………………………………………………………………………………………….


and  …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

(Mother) wishing to marry …………………………………….. a non-baptized person, hereby humbly beg for dispensation from the

impediment of disparity of cult.

The reasons are:


  1. Cessation of public concubinage
  2. Removal of grave scandal
  3. The danger of a civil marriage only
  4. The danger of a native law and custom marriage only
  5. The suspicion of dangerous familiarity
  6. Difficulty for the Catholic Party


  1. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


N.B. If any of the above reasons do not apply, cancel those inapplicable and add any others which do apply.






  1. THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTMENT OF ME (Rt. Rev. Very Rev. Monsignor, Rev. Fr.) XYZ, Priest of the ARCH\DIOCESE OF ………………………………………… of No ………………….Read (P. O. Box ………………. in ……………………….. State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also of (here the Priest should put down his home/ permanent address).


  1. I hereby revoke all Wills and Codiciles or otherwise all testamentary dispositions by me at any time heretofore made and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
  2. I appoint XY of ……………………..and CZ of …………………To be the Executors and Trustees of this my Last Will and DECLARE that the expression “my trustees” shall, where the context so admits include the said XY and the said CZ.


  1. I declare that the said XY or CZ and any executor or trustee for the time being hereof or of any assent for carrying into effect the provisions hereof who is a legal practitioner of or engaged in any professional business shall be entitled to charge and be paid for usual professional and other charges for work or business done or transacted by him or his firm in proving my Will or in the execution of or in connection with the trust hereof of any such assent aforesaid.


  1. (Here come the specific gifts, legacies, devises or dispositions of personal properties and effects completely and on entirely as the testator pleases) viz: I GIVE, DEVISE AND BEQUEATH Aa, B. c. to e. f. g. of h, I, j, k ………………………eg


(a)     I give, Device and Bequeath all my Real Property (Lands, Buildings) etc situated and known as Nos. 5 and 17 Benson Lane

Ikoyi in the Lagos State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to my nephew Felix ……………………………………..Of 5 Tete Lane Uwani Enugu.


(b)     I leave all my personal books — all stamps marked -found in my library at the time of my demise to my sister’s youngest son Kelechukwu of the same address — No, 5 Tete Lane Uwani aforesaid and all my personal clothes trunk boxes, suitcases etc, etc. to the Hopeville Rehabilitation Centre run by the Marist brothers of the School at Utulu in the Isuikwuito Local Government Area of Abia State.


(c)     I leave and devote all money accruing to me as gratuity or death benefits and the residue if any of all my entitlements and property to the Parish Priest of my home town for the time being for charity as he would determine.


(d)     I give all the money found in my personal account with the Union Bank, New Cemetery Road Ajegunle in the Lagos State of Nigeria to the Arch/Bishop of Ajao Arch/Diocese in Ogunle State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the purpose of founding an organization for the prevention of cruelty to aspirants to the Religious life.


  • I give and leave my television set, stereo equipment, camera, watch, cassette to etc. etc. etc.


  1. Subject to the foregoing, should any of the devices specific bequests or legacies, herein set up, made or established by me in this my Will and Testament for any reason fail or lapse; such devise, bequest or legacy and/or any other portion of my residuary estate or property shall fall into residue — all which shall be devoted to charity as shall be determined by the Parish of my home Parish ………………………. …………………………………………………….at the time of my demise



  1. IN WITNESS whereof, I, the said …………………………………….. have to this my Will and Testament in this and the preceding sheets of paper herein contained set my hand and seal this ………………….day of ……….. 19 …………


Signed by the above named ………………………………………………………………………….

As and for his last Will in the presence of us both being present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the joint presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses.



Signed          (1)

Name ……………………………………………………………………..


Address …………………………………………………………………..


Occupation ………………………………………………………………



Name           ……………………………………………………………………..


Address        ……………………………………………………………………..


Occupation    ……………………………………………………………………..



Nota Bene:           A Local Ordinary or Vicar and a fortiori the pastor cannot dispose of the property of the Diocese or the vicariate, or Parish by Will, since these, automatically devolve on his successor in office by operation of law. It is therefore understood that any property of any kind which an (ecclesiastic) testator purports to dispose by Will must be one that completely belongs to him the testator, personally and exclusively.


It is also to be noted that the disposal of property held under customary law is governed by the principles of the particular brand of customary law and often are not subject to testamentary disposal in English form — especially where the testator does not have a separate estate in the property and all property of every

kind owned, “intuitu personae”, by the (priest), may be freely disposed by the Will as he pleases.


The above are the formal parts of a typical Will.  Always consult a legal adviser and make sure that he sees and approves the will, before it is signed and sealed.











  1. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria hereby prescribes the following norms for agreement, mutual promises and arbitral judgment. The Board of Arbitration and Administrative Board of Review is henceforth established and this shall exist at the Parochial, Diocesan, Regional and National levels. The terms of service of the members shall depend on the duration of their offices in the case of those enjoying ex-officio membership. All others shall be for five years.


  1. The process of arbitration shall be offered to:
  2. All disputes between individuals, or groups, where the controversy concerns an ecclesiastical matter.


  1. To all disputes between a member of the church and a church administrator or church administrative body, where it is contended that an act or decision (including administrative sanctions and disciplinary actions) has violated church law or formal policy, or where it is contended that an administrative action violated (or threatens to violate) the legitimate exercise of a legitimate right.


  1. The process of arbitration shall not extend to:
  2. Cases involving the validity of marriage


  1. Civil cases


iii.      Cases involving religious communities in their strictly internal affairs


  1. Cases involving the legislation of competent ecclesiastical authority


  1.  Cases involving the infliction of penalties by juridical sentence and those     requiring a special process according to CC. 1671— 1731.


  1. A part can always appeal to a higher board or an Administrative Board of Review.


  1. A Parochial Arbitration Board shall consist of:
  2. The parish priest/mission superior/chaplain


  1. The executive of the parish council



  1. A Diocesan Arbitration Board shall consist of:
  2. Bishop or his delegate


  1. Representatives of the senate of priests


iii.      Representatives of the diocesan laity council


  1. A Regional Arbitration Board shall be made up of:
  2. President and secretary of the provincial conference of Bishops


  1. Priest — chairman of the presbyteral council and the chairman of the diocesan laity council of each diocese in the region (excluding the diocese involved in the case).


  1. The National Arbitration Board shall be made up of:
  2. The President and representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.


  1. Two priests and one layman from each Ecclesiastical Province



  1. The following procedural norms shall be followed:
  2. The parties shall submit to the Arbitration Board the written statements

setting forth the nature of the dispute


  1. The arbitration shall appoint a time and place for hearings and notify the parties not less than 5 days before each hearing.


iii.      The arbitrators shall hear and determine the controversy upon evidence produced. Parties may offer such evidence as they desire and shall produce such additional evidence as the arbitrators may deem necessary for an understanding and determination of the dispute. All evidence shall be taken in the presence of all the arbitrators and all of the parties except where any of the parties is absent in default or has wanted his right to be present.


  1. Order of Proceedings: A hearing shall be opened by the recording of the place, time and date of hearings, attendance, and the receipt by the arbitrators of initial statements setting forth the nature of the dispute and the remedies sought. The arbitrators shall afford frill and equal opportunity to all parties for presentation of relevant proofs.


  1. In the course of the hearing, all decision of the arbitrators shall be by a majority vote. These votes shall be by secret balloting.
  2. All agreements and mutual promises shall be awarded promptly by the arbitrators, not later than thirty (30) days from the date of closing the hearing.


  1. The Administrative Board of Review shall consist of three members to be appointed by the competent ecclesiastical authority. It shall be within the competence of the Administrative Board Review to render decisions on appeals or complaints.

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