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The members of the College of Consultors are purely and freely chosen by the bishop.[1] The bishop considers them as the ones who can help him most in the governance of the diocese. This implies that the college of consultors is not simply a body or committee in the diocese. The college has its juridical functions determined by the code of canon law. The members of the college of consultors assist the bishop in his juridical concerns regarding the diocesan governance in accordance with the canonical provisions. When the law requires the diocesan bishop to consult or seek consent of the college, it involves the whole college of consultors not one or two members. Since the members are freely chosen by the bishop, they enjoy the confidence and trust of the diocesan bishop.[2]

The college of consultors remain during sede vacante.[3] “During the sede vacante the college of consultors enjoy the active power while the presbyteral council ceases.”[4] “It implies that the former is more permanent in the diocesan juridical structure than the later.”[5] The following functions of the college of consultors are determined by law:[6]

Sede Vacante

Since the consultors themselves are to select the diocesan administrator when a see is vacant, there will obviously be an interim time when there is no one in the place of the diocesan bishop to preside. In that case, the consultor who is senior by ordination presides over the college.

  1. if there is no auxiliary bishop, the college assumes the governance of a vacant see in the interim before the selection of a diocesan administrator (c. 419);

  2. the college is to elect a diocesan administrator within eight days of receiving notice that the see is vacant (c. 421, §1);[7]

  3. when a see has been vacant for a year, a diocesan administrator can grant excardination or incardination only with the consent of the college of consultors (c. 272);

  4. some of the members are to be consulted by the pontifical legate prior to selection of a diocesan or coadjutor bishop (c. 377, §3);

  5. a coadjutor bishop takes possession of his office by showing his letter of appointment to the diocesan bishop and the college of consultors (c. 404, §1);

  6. if the see is impeded, a coadjutor and auxiliary bishop take office by showing their letters of appointment to the college of consultors (c. 404, §3);

  7. when a see is impeded and there is no coadjutor, or he also is impeded, the college of consultors is to select a priest to govern the diocese if the diocesan order of succession is not available (c. 413, §2);

  8. in the absence of an auxiliary bishop, the college is to notify the Apostolic See of the death of the diocesan bishop (c. 422);

Diocesan Administrator
  1. chancellors and other notaries cannot be removed from office by a diocesan administrator without the consent of the college (c. 485);

  2. the diocesan administrator is to make his profession of faith in the presence of the college (c. 833, 4°);

  3. the college must give its consent before the diocesan administrator can issue dismissorial letters (c. 1018, §1, 2°);

Temporal Goods

a. Finance

  1. prior to naming a finance officer, the diocesan bishop is to consult with the college (c. 494, §1);

  2. the finance officer cannot be removed from office during his term without the diocesan bishop’s having also consulted the college (c. 494, §2);

b. Act of Administration – Acquisition, Retention & Alienation

  1. the diocesan bishop must consult with the college prior to placing more important acts of administration (c. 1277);

  2. the diocesan bishop, likewise, needs the college’s consent for acts of extraordinary administration (c. 1277); The amount: ???

  3. the diocesan bishop also needs its consent for alienation of property beyond the amount specified by the conference of bishops (c. 1292, §1). The amount: ???


The diocesan bishop is certainly free to consult matters of importance with the college of consultors. However, its consultative role should not undermine the role of presbyteral council.

Prepared by,

Fr. Dominic Santhiyagu J.C.L

Penang Diocese

Updated: 17 February 2022

** Most of this written work is taken from “New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law” by John P. Beal.

[1] Cfr. Can. 502, §1. [2] O. R. Orlando, “A comparative Study Between the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors on the Governance of a Diocese”, Thesis – Santo Tomas, Manila 2016, p. 108. [3] Cfr. Can. 502, §2. [4] O. R. Orlando, “A comparative Study Between the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors on the Governance of a Diocese”, p. 110. [5] Ibid. [6] Cf. J.P. Beal et. al. (eds.), “New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law”, Paulist Press, New York 2000, p. 662. [7] No Diocesan administrator within 8 days, “the Metropolitan is to designate the diocesan Administrator (421§2), the College of Consultors loses its right of election, Metropolitan has no legal responsibility to consult the College when he designates the diocesan administrator.” J.P. Beal, p. 553.



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