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Updated: May 10, 2021

by Rev. Fr. Dominic Santhiyagu, J.C.L.

dated 13 January 2021


Can a Diocesan priest be a founder of an association which is foreign to his nature as catholic priest?

Refer to Canon 278

278 §1 – Secular clerics have a right to associate with others for the purpose of pursuing

ends which befit their clerical state.

278 §2 – They are encouraged to hold high those associations which foster their holiness.

278 §3 – “They are forbidden to be involved with any association or group which is

incompatible with the Clerical state or which impedes the fulfillment of clerical



  1. Read the canon.

  2. All clergy are free to join or form associations. Therefore, they are free to seek something that is close to their heart. However, getting the blessings of the local ordinary in the formation of the association will be an added advantage for the clergy.

  3. It is the duty of the cleric to “preserve the necessary link with the ecclesiastical authority.”[2]

  4. One’s conscience will tell the real purpose of the association and to be truthful before the authority.

  5. If the association is beyond the scope of canon law, the cleric has to be accountable to his ordinary. His permission is to be sought in order to avoid unnecessary problems with civil authorities.

Canonically, diocesan clergy are free to form associations that are civil in nature. However, being members of the clergy, they are duty bound to inform the local ordinary and seek his approval in the formation of the association.

[1] John Bael, “New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law”, p. 361 [2] Ibid. p. 360



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