May 26, 2017

Canon law limits appointment authority of archdiocesan administrator

By Sean Gallagher

In this week’s publication of appointments of priests to serve in faith communities across central and southern Indiana, archdiocesan administrator Msgr. William F. Stumpf named several priests to lead parishes as administrators, but none to lead as pastors.

That is because the Church’s Code of Canon Law does not allow an administrator of an archdiocese or diocese to appoint a pastor of a parish until that local church has been without a bishop to lead it for one year.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the previous archbishop of Indianapolis, was appointed by Pope Francis on Nov. 7, 2016, to lead the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. He was installed as archbishop of Newark on Jan. 6.

Following the procedures stipulated by canon law, the seven priests who are members of the College of Consultors of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis elected Msgr. Stumpf to be archdiocesan administrator on Jan. 9.

An administrator of a parish has the same authority that a pastor has, but he is not assigned to lead it for a specific period of time as a pastor is.

A diocesan administrator leads a diocese in the absence of a bishop but is restricted in his authority. For example, he cannot close or establish a parish. Such limits, including not being able to appoint pastors of parishes within a year of a diocese not having a bishop, are included in the Code of Canon Law to ensure the next bishop has the full freedom to govern the diocese as he sees fit once he is appointed by the pope. †

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