Canons 3

Canon XVI
Finances

1. Parish Donations. All donations received by a parish at any of its services or at any other time become part of the general funds of that parish, unless specifically collected for a distinct purpose.
2. Diocesan Donations. All donations received by a diocese at diocese-wide services or at any other time become part of the general funds of that diocese, unless specifically collected for a distinct purpose.
3. Denominational Donations. All donations received by the denomination at denomination-wide services or at any other time become part of the general funds of the denomination, unless specifically collected for a distinct purpose.
4. Business Operations. Business operations of parishes, dioceses, and the denomination shall have separate accounting systems. Profits not reinvested in the business venture shall be turned over to the general fund of the parish, diocese, or denomination and counted as a donation from the business.
5. Moneys Belong to Denomination. All moneys received by the denomination or any parish, diocese, religious order, or other entity comprising it shall legally be considered the property of the denomination and under the ultimate control of the primate.
6. Property Belongs to Denomination. All church property, both real and personal, shall be the property of the denomination, not the individual parish, diocese, religious order, or other entity.
7. Parish Budgets. Parish pastors, with their staffs and their parish councils, shall annually prepare realistic parish budgets for the upcoming year to be negotiated with and approved by the congregation or council of the parish. Once approved by both the congregation and pastor, the budgeted line item expenditures may only be exceeded by the same percentage that real donation receipts exceed budgeted receipts without specific approval from both the pastor and parish council. Expenditures exceeding 200% of a budgeted item require the approval of the congregation or the diocesan bishop. If the pastor and congregation fail to concur on the budget, the diocesan bishop should be consulted. The diocesan bishop may at any time alter a parish budget, with or without the consent of the pastor, council, or congregation.
8. Diocesan Budgets. Diocesan bishops, with their staffs and the clergy council of their dioceses, shall annually prepare realistic diocesan budgets for the upcoming year to be negotiated with the clergy of the diocese. Once approved by both the clergy and bishop, the budgeted line item expenditures may only be exceeded by the same percentage that real donation receipts exceed budgeted receipts without the approval of either the primate or both the diocesan bishop and the diocesan clergy. If the bishop and clergy fail to concur on the budget, the primate should be consulted. The primate may at any time alter a diocesan budget, with or without the consent of the bishop or clergy.
9. Denominational Budgets. The primate and his staff shall annually prepare a budget for the denominational organization and present it to the council of bishops and the denominational clergy conference, both of which may either approve the budget or recommend changes. The primate may then either make the recommended changes or adopt the budget as is.Property. Money and property of subordinate organizations is under normal circumstances the legal property of the denomination, though for practical purposes under the operational control of the subordinate organization. With approval of the primate, subordinate organizations may make special arrangements to hold title to property in another manner.
10. Financial Support of Dioceses and Denominations. The primate and the council of bishops shall determine the means of supporting the dioceses. Such determined support shall be binding on the clergy, parishes, and dioceses and may be collected automatically. They support should be of sufficient magnitude to allow the dioceses and denomination to provide the church with the service responsibilities assigned to them but not so large as to build diocesan treasuries at the expense of parish programs. Evaluation of such needs shall be made on an annual basis prior to the budgeting process and shall be conveyed in writing to each parish pastor. Reasonable consistency shall be maintained between dioceses. Members of the church, both clergy and laity, have a serious responsibility to provide for the financial support of the diocesan and denominational offices and ministries.
11. Sources of Salaries. Ideally clergy of a church are paid from a central authority, thus enabling poor parishes to have clergy on par with those of wealthy parishes. Until such a central system becomes feasible within a diocese or the denomination, if clergy or staff from a particular parish are paid, the parish should endeavor to achieve a level of justice among other clergy within the diocese and denomination.
12. Religious Order Support. Religious orders shall determine within themselves their method of financial self-sufficiency. Religious orders are also responsible for contributing to the financial support of the dioceses and denomination, and should be included by the council of bishops when determining the overall financing plan of the denomination.
13. Public Information. All budgets, records of expenditures, and records of donations and receipts shall be considered public information and may be published.
14. Fiscal Year. The fiscal and budgetary year of the denomination and all of its constituent organizations shall be the secular calendar year, beginning on January 1.
15. Parish Bank Accounts. The diocesan bishop, parish pastor, and other persons as approved by the bishop shall be valid signatories of all parish bank accounts. Only one signature shall be necessary to draw a check.
16. Diocesan Bank Accounts. The primate, diocesan bishop, and other persons as approved by the primate shall be valid signatories of all diocesan bank accounts. Only one signature shall be necessary to draw a check.
17. Denominational Bank Accounts. The primate and other persons as approved by the primate shall be valid signatories of all denominational bank accounts. Only one signature shall be necessary to draw a check.
18. Religious Order Bank Accounts. The prefect for religious orders, abbot, and other persons as approved by the prefect or primate shall be valid signatories on all order bank accounts. Only one signature shall be necessary to draw a check.
19. Religious Order Budgets. Budgets for specific houses or operations of religious orders shall be developed in a manner similar to that for parishes. Budgets for order-wide operations shall be developed in a manner similar to that for dioceses.



Canon XVII
Concentration of Duties

1. One Parish. If there is only one parish within the denomination, the primate may choose to fill the roles of pastor and diocesan bishop, or he may appoint others to these positions. In this case, the finances of the parish, diocese, and denomination need not be distinguished.
2. Zero or One Diocese. If there is zero or one diocese within the denomination, the denominational and diocesan clergy councils shall be the same. The primate may act as diocesan bishop (i.e., “zero dioceses”), or he may effectively create a single diocese and appoint a diocesan bishop. In these cases, the finances of the diocese and denomination need not be distinguished.
3. Diocese with One Parish. If there is only one parish within a diocese, the diocesan bishop may serve as pastor of the parish. In this case, the finances of the parish and diocese need not be distinguished.



Canon XVIII
Personnel

1. Paid or Volunteer. All functional positions, clerical and lay, within the denomination may be paid or volunteer in accordance with work requirements and budgeting constraints.
2. Director of Human Resources. There shall be a director of human resources as part of the denominational staff who shall be responsible for maintaining personnel records of all active and inactive bishops, priests, and deacons of the denomination, administration of the retirement system, and maintaining denominational membership records. The primate or other person on the primate’s staff may serve as the director of human resources.
3. Departments. The denomination or a diocese may establish departments (such as finance or information services) or institutions (such as a publishing house or seminary) which are part of the administrative structure of the denominational or diocesan office.
4. Primate’s Subordinates. Diocesan bishops, the prefect for religious orders, and denominational department heads shall report to the primate.
5. Bishops’ Subordinates. Parish pastors, leaders of religious orders, and diocesan department heads shall report to the regional dean, diocesan bishop, or prefect for religious orders as appropriate.
6. Pastors’ Subordinates. Parish staff members shall report ultimately to the parish pastor.
7. Hiring and Firing Authority. Bishops, department heads, or pastors shall have hiring and firing authority over their staffs, subject to appropriate approvals by superiors as established by the director of human resources.
8. Hired for Competency. All persons shall be hired on basis of competency alone, except that preference may be given to members of the denomination or to other Christians.
9. Retirement Policy. The director of human resources may establish and manage a retirement policy, approved by the primate, for the participation at their option of each paid employee.


Canon XIX
Confirmation

1. Candidates. Candidates for confirmation shall be baptized Christians or shall be catechumens whose baptism will take place along with confirmation.
2. Minimum Age. Persons confirmed shall be at least twelve years of age unless the social customs and traditions of a particular local community normally allow for confirmation at an earlier age.
3. Instruction. Persons confirmed shall have been instructed in and shall demonstrate knowledge of the Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the liturgy, Christian ethics, and cChurch history. Catechetical classes should include at least thirty hours of instruction. The office of the primate shall issue standard preconfirmation tests, which shall be administered by the diocese.
4. Special Cases. Special cases may be made by the diocesan bishop, on consultation with the pastor, for persons with learning disabilities.
5. Minister of the Sacrament. The sacrament of confirmation is normally administered by the diocesan bishop, although special dispensation to confirm may be given by the bishop to the parish pastor under extraordinary circumstances.
6. Reception When Previously Confirmed. Persons transferring membership from another Christian denomination who have already been confirmed should be encouraged to attend adult catechetical classes. Normally they would be received into membership in the Ecumenical Catholic Church by reaffirmation of faith. Under certain circumstances they may be received by confirmation upon agreement of the new member and pastor. The diocesan bishop may require class attendance and/or confirmation if it is deemed that the prior instruction or confirmation distinctly inadequate.
7. Reception of Those Not Confirmed. Persons transferring membership from another Christian denomination who have not been confirmed, or persons baptized as adults but not yet confirmed by the bishop, may be received as voting members by the parish pastor without confirmation. They should be encouraged to continue catechetical instruction (if not already completed) and to be confirmed by the bishop at the next convenient time.


Canon XX
Marriage

1. Definition. Sacramental marriage is the commitment of Christian persons to each other for intimate life together. It is a symbol of the love and unity between Christ and His Church, is a means of grace by which the Holy Spirit strengthens His people for ministry and service, and is intended to be lifelong.
2. Both Must Be Baptized. Persons who receive the sacrament of Christian marriage in this denomination must be baptized Christians. If a partner is not baptized, that partner must be baptized prior to the marriage. It is imperative in such a case that the desire for baptism be derived from faith in Jesus Christ and not simply a desire to be married.
3. Witness of Vows When One Not Baptized. The Church may from time to time be called upon to witness vows of commitment between a baptized Christian and a person who is not. For pastoral reasons a member of this church’s clergy may participate in or lead such an event, and church facilities may be used. These vows are similar to Christian marriage, and the same guidelines apply, but the event does not confer the sacrament of Christian marriage. For such events, a liturgy similar to, but distinct from, the liturgy of sacramental marriage shall be used; the liturgy used shall not imply sacramentality, and it may be adapted to incorporate the religious beliefs of the non-Christian partner. Relationships of this nature witnessed and blessed by this church shall be considered as those of Paragraph 7.e. (not f.) below should dissolution and remarriage be sought. If the non-Christian partner subsequently becomes a Christian, it is then appropriate to ratify the previous vows and confer the sacrament of Christian marriage, either through a simple ratification process or through a full celebration.
4. No Authority When Neither Baptized. This church has no reason or authority to witness commitment vows if neither of the persons making such vows is a baptized Christian.
5. Sincere Love and Permanent Intent. Persons to be married must sincerely love each other and must intend their marriage to be a lifelong intimate sharing physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.
6. Minimum Age and Knowledge of Each Other. Persons to be married must be at least eighteen (18) years old, and they must have known each other sufficiently long to be able to knowledgeably enter into a permanent commitment with one another.
7. Free from Other Marriage Vows. Persons to be married must be free from binding vows of marriage. Such freedom is determined by the following:
a. Persons who have never been married or made similar vows of commitment to any other person are free to marry.
b. All marriages and interpersonal commitments are terminated by death. The surviving partner is free to remarry.
c. A person who has been legally married to another person but in which case the vows have not been solemnized by a Christian church or other religious body must provide a legal decree of divorce or annulment issued by an authorized government entity, which decree was issued at least six months prior to the proposed wedding date. Similar action is necessary if a person has been in a legal civil union or other arrangement legally requiring dissolution within the state’s system. Likewise, previously recorded legal domestic partnerships, or other similar legal arrangements, must be retracted in writing and in accordance with the proper procedures of the issuing governmental authority.
d. A person who has made commitment vows to another person but in which case the vows were neither a legal marriage nor solemnized by a Christian church or other religious body must provide a signed written document from the person desiring marriage. The statement must attest to the termination of the relationship at a date which was at least six months prior to the proposed wedding date.
e. A person who has been married in a non-Christian, pseudo-Christian, or semi-Christian religious ceremony or whose former partner was not a baptized Christian must provide a written explanation as to why the solemn vows in the former ceremony are no longer valid. Typically reasons of new or renewed Christian faith will suffice. The priest must then evaluate the reasons and may consult the parish pastor or diocesan bishop if necessary. The requirements of paragraphs “c” or “d” must also be met, depending upon the legal status of the former marriage.
f. A person who has been married to another Christian in a religious ceremony of this denomination or any other Christian denomination must provide a written explanation as to why the solemn vows in the former ceremony are no longer valid. This applies regardless of the legal status of the marriage and regardless of whether the term “”marriage”” was used or if it was replaced by a euphemism such as “holy union,” “commitment ceremony,” or “blessing.” Typical reasons include new self-acceptance of one’s sexual orientation or abuse and/or abandonment by the former partner. If available, a formal annulment or dissolution statement from the solemnizing church should also be provided. If the marrying priest and parish pastor find the explanation adequate, it shall be passed on to the diocesan bishop for approval. The bishop may, if deemed necessary, meet with the person desiring remarriage and/or the former partner. The requirements of paragraph “c” must also be met if the former marriage had legal status. If not, the requirements of paragraph “d” must be met unless an annulment or dissolution statement from the solemnizing church are provided.
g. The existence of a legal or religiously solemnized subsequent marriage shall be taken as ipso facto evidence of the dissolution of previous relationships, unless their is direct evidence to the contrary. The requirements of this article shall apply only to the most recently terminated legal marriage and, if different, the most recently terminated formal relationship.
8. Support of Existing Children. A person to be married must demonstrate proper and satisfactory support of any minor children from all previous marriages or relationships.
9. Three or More Divorces. A person with three or more former marriages or committed relationships broken by divorce or similar action or inaction may not be married in this denomination without approval of the primate.
10. Annulment of Heterosexual Marriages of Gay People.This church recognizes the complex social pressures which may compel persons of homosexual nature to enter into heterosexual relationships and marriages, and to deny one’s sexuality to oneself and the world. When a person enters into a homosexual marriage, previous heterosexual marriages entered into during such periods of confusion and/or denial shall be annulled by this church upon request and shall not count as previous relationships, except that legal divorces or separations must be obtained where applicable.
11. Legal Recognition. Persons desiring legal recognition for their marriage must comply with the legal requirements of the state and must supply the marrying priest with any required paperwork at the time of the marriage.
12. Premarital Counseling. Persons to be married must undergo at least three hours of premarital counseling with the marrying priest prior to the marriage. This counseling must commence at least two months before the wedding. The counseling must include open discussions about the various expressions of sexuality and the specific appropriateness of the particular choice made by the persons desiring marriage. The denomination does not condone heterosexual marriages by persons of primarily homosexual nature.
13. Discretion of Minister. Any priest or bishop of this denomination may perform an authorized marriage and may refuse to perform a marriage for any reason. A deacon may perform a marriage if a priest or bishop is not available or for special pastoral reasons.
14. Heterosexual and Homosexual Identical. No distinction shall be made in this denomination or any of its constituent organizations or authorities between heterosexual and homosexual marriages nor between marriages sanctioned by the state and those not, provided they represent sacramental vows of union.
15. Dissolution. A marriage solemnized in this denomination may be dissolved upon written request, generally from both partners, to the bishop of the diocese in which the persons were married or currently are members. The bishop is free to grant or not grant a dissolution. Legally married couples must obtain a legal divorce or annulment before the dissolution is granted. A person previously married in this denomination who desires remarriage in this denomination or recognition of any subsequent marriage performed outside this denomination must have the former marriage formally dissolved by this denomination.
16. Clergy Desiring Marriage. Deacons, priests, or bishops desiring to be married must consult their bishop or the primate prior to marriage to review the meaning of simultaneous sacred vows.
17. Special Arrangements. In special circumstances, arrangements for marriages in conflict with these canons may be approved by the primate.
18. Statistics of Marriage. The statistics of all marriages performed in this denomination must be reported by the officiant to the denominational director of human resources, who shall maintain a central recordkeeping system of marriages and dissolutions.


Canon XXI
Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate

1. Communicate Desire. Persons desiring ordination to the permanent diaconate shall communicate such desire to their parish pastor and diocesan bishop. The pastor and bishop shall meet with the person desiring ordination and shall discuss the meaning of ordination and the various roles of deacons in the Church.
2. Application for Candidacy. After discussing their desires with their pastor and bishop and giving prayerful consideration to the topics of discussion, persons may apply for candidacy to the permanent diaconate. Candidacy is a time of further thought, meditation, study, and prayer to prepare for ordination.
3. Anyone Qualified May Apply. Although a person may be discouraged from doing so by either his pastor or bishop, any person meeting the qualifications may apply for diaconal candidacy.
4. Minimum Education and Age. Applicants to diaconal candidacy shall have completed high school and shall be at least 20 years old.
5. Application Form. Persons applying for candidacy to the diaconate shall complete a formal application issued by the denominational office; they shall submit the completed form as directed. The director of vocations and the bishop shall review the application, communicate or meet with the applicants, and determine specifically what additional examinations, interviews, or recommendations shall be required to process the application. When all of the additional requirements have been completed, the bishop shall either accept or reject the applications.
6. Rejection of Application. If an application for candidacy is rejected, the applicant shall be provided in writing with the specific reasons for the rejection.
7. Plan of Candidacy Period. If an application for candidacy is accepted, the bishop, together with the applicant, shall determine a specific plan which will, barring any unusual circumstances, lead to ordination. The candidacy may last from one month to five years, depending on various circumstances including the applicant’s position with regard to the qualifications for ordination. Candidacy assignments may include, but are not necessarily limited to, school or individual study, parish work, and directed meditation. A copy of the detailed plan for candidacy, signed by both bishop and applicant, shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources.
8. Timely Following of Plan. Candidates must follow the plans of their candidacy and must complete specific requirements within the assigned time frame. Failure to do so shall, at the bishop’s discretion, result in extension or termination of the candidacy. Candidates shall be informed in writing of the extension or termination at least one month prior to the scheduled completion of candidacy. All extensions or terminations shall specify in writing the reasons for the action, and a copy of the letter shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources.
9. Married Applicants. Persons in a sacramental marriages who desire ordination must meet, together with their spouse, with the bishop prior to acceptance as a candidate. They shall discuss the meaning of simultaneous sacred vows. If the spouse refuses consent to the candidacy or ordination, the approval of the primate must be obtained in order to continue the ordination process.
10. Education. Prior to ordination, diaconal candidates shall have completed the portion of the educational plan negotiated between the bishop and candidate and must sign a commitment to complete any post-ordination studies within a specified period of time. Educational requirements for the diaconate are dependent upon the nature of the diaconal ministry intended. All deacons are expected to be knowledgeable to varying degrees in Scripture, theology, liturgics, Church history, ethics, and the canon law of the Ecumenical Catholic Church. It should not be construed, however, that all deacons must complete formal seminary education.
11. Diocesan Submittal of Names to Denomination. At least one month prior to the ordination of deacons, the bishop to perform the ordination shall submit the names of the persons to be ordained to the denominational director of human resources for review.
11. Denominational in Nature. Although vocational functions and candidate reviews may be handled at the diocesan level, ordination is denominational in nature. Clergy ordained by one bishop or in one diocese automatically have faculties wherever they may be and are free to relocate across diocesan boundaries. Therefore ultimate approval of ordinations rests at the denominational level. At least three months prior to any ordination, a bishop must submit vocational information and paperwork to the denominational office. The primate and denominational director of human resources should no unreasonably withhold approval of a candidate approved at the diocesan level. Nonetheless, no bishop shall ordain any candidate without having first received specific approval from the denominational office. Bishops who violate this procedure are subject to disciplinary action, including removal from office.
12. Not Guarantee of Position. Ordination to the diaconate shall not guarantee the availability of a paid or volunteer position, nor shall the availability of a position be a qualification or prerequisite for ordination.
13. Transferring Deacons. Deacons in other denominations who transfer their membership to this denomination may apply to the diocesan bishop for acceptance into the diaconate of this denomination. The diocesan bishop shall have the prerogative to accept or reject the application. Copies of intended acceptances shall be submitted to the denominational director of human resources at least one month prior to the date of formal acceptance. Rejections shall state the specific reasons for rejection in writing to the applicant. Typically rejections would arise from functional or theological differences between the diaconate of the other denomination and this denomination. Rejections should always include recommendations for other possible courses of action, including, but not limited to, application for diaconal candidacy. Copies of such rejection letters shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources.
14. Candidacy Period. If necessary, a candidacy period may be established for deacons transferring from another denomination during which period they would fulfill any educational requirements for ordination set down by the bishop.
15. Ratification. Persons permanently ordained deacon in other Christian denominations shall have their ordination ratified by the bishop as part of the reception ceremony. Persons who were called deacons but were not ordained shall be ordained into this denomination’s diaconate.
16. Special Arrangements. In special circumstances, arrangements for ordinations in conflict with these canons may be approved by the primate.


Canon XXII
Ordination to the Presbyterate

1. Communicate Desire. Persons desiring ordination to the presbyterate shall communicate such desire to their parish pastor and diocesan bishop. The pastor and bishop shall meet with the persons desiring ordination and shall discuss the meaning of ordination and the various roles of priests in the Church.
2. Application for Candidacy. After discussing their desires with their pastor and bishop and giving prayerful consideration to the topics of discussion, persons may apply for candidacy to the presbyterate. Candidacy is a time of further thought, meditation, study, and prayer to prepare for ordination.
3. Anyone Qualified May Apply. Although a person may be discouraged from doing so by either his pastor or bishop, any person meeting the qualifications may apply for candidacy to the priesthood. Ordination to the permanent diaconate does not preclude one’s later ability to apply for ordination to the priesthood.
4. Minimum Education and Age. Applicants to presbyterial candidacy under 30 years of age shall have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree or at least four years of college work. Persons over 30 years of age shall have either a bachelor’s degree or life experience which could be deemed equivalent.
5. Deacons May Apply. An ordained deacon may at any time apply for candidacy to the presbyterate. The application shall be of the same form as that of a layperson.
6. Application Form. Persons applying for candidacy to the presbyterate shall complete a formal application issued by the denominational office; they shall submit the completed form as directed. The director of vocations and the bishop shall review the application, communicate or meet with the applicants, and determine specifically what additional examinations, interviews, or recommendations shall be required to process the application. When all of the additional requirements have been completed, the bishop shall either accept or reject the applications. The application process of an ordained permanent deacon applying for ordination to the priesthood shall be the same as that of a layperson. A transitional deacon may incorporate both diaconal and presbyterial ordination in one process.
7. Rejection of Application. If an application for candidacy is rejected, the applicant shall be provided in writing with the specific reasons for the rejection.
8. Plan of Candidacy Period. If an application for candidacy is accepted, the bishop, together with the applicant, shall determine a specific plan which will, barring any unusual circumstances, lead to ordination. The candidacy may last from one month to five years, depending on various circumstances including the applicant’s position with regard to the qualifications for ordination. Candidacy assignments may include, but are not necessarily limited to, school or individual study, parish work, and directed meditation. A copy of the detailed plan for candidacy, signed by both bishop and applicant, shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources. Candidates for the presbyterate may, in accordance with their personal sense of calling and at the discretion of the bishop, be ordained and serve as deacons prior to ordination to the presybterate. During this transitional time, they area also free to choose to remain deacons and not continue with presbyterial ordination. Likewise, the bishop is free to reevaluate the candidate’s qualifications and may with good cause terminate the plans for presbyterial ordination.
9. Timely Following of Plan. Candidates must follow the plans of their candidacy and must complete specific requirements within the assigned time frame. Failure to do so shall, at the bishop’s discretion, result in extension or termination of the candidacy. Candidates shall be informed in writing of the extension or termination at least one month prior to the scheduled completion of candidacy. All extensions or terminations shall specify in writing the reasons for the action, and a copy of the letter shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources.
10. Married Applicants. Persons in a sacramental marriages who desires ordination must meet, together with their spouse, with the bishop prior to acceptance as a candidate. They shall discuss the meaning of simultaneous sacred vows. If the spouse refuses consent to the candidacy or ordination, the approval of the primate must be obtained in order to continue the ordination process.
11. Transitional Diaconate. Candidates for the presbyterate may, in accordance with their personal sense of calling and at the discretion of the bishop, be ordained and serve as deacons prior to ordination to the presbyterate. They may also choose to remain deacons and not continue with presbyterial ordination.
12. Education. In the ideal situation, the denomination coniders the normal educational requirements for ordination to the presbyterate include completion of a master’s degree in religion or divinity from an institution approved by the denominational office, including courses in Scripture, theology, liturgics, cChurch history, ethics, pastoral theology and counseling. In addition, candidates shall have completed education provided by the denomination on the theology, liturgy, and canon law of the Ecumenical Catholic Church. The denomination may offer similar courses, with or without granting degrees, that can fulfill all or part of these requirements in lieu of receiving the master’s degree. Persons with academic backgrounds of similar level and quality in different but related fields may be ordained without or prior to receiving the master’s degree in religion or divinity at the discretion of the bishop. Such persons may be required to take supplemental courses in one or more areas from the denomination or a seminary, depending on the details of their academic background. For pastoral reasons, at the discretion of the bishop, ordination may take place in the midst of the education and training process. In such circumstances, the ordinands shall vow to complete their established training programs within a specific timeframe not to exceed five years. It is recognized, however, that until the organization reaches a certain size, this ideal may not be practicable. Therefore, ordinations may be approved for persons with considerably less educational experience than delineated herein. Plans of action, both prior and subsequent to ordination should take into account both this ideal, the practicality of achieving it, and the potential advantages to the local community of loosening the ordination requirements.
13. Diocesan Submittal of Names to Denomination. At least one month prior to the ordination of priests, the bishop to perform the ordination shall submit the names of the persons to be ordained to the denominational office for review.
14. Denominational in Nature. Although vocational functions and candidate reviews may be handled at the diocesan level, ordination is denominational in nature. Clergy ordained by one bishop or in one diocese automatically have faculties wherever they may be and are free to relocate across diocesan boundaries. Therefore ultimate approval of ordinations rests at the denominational level. At least three months prior to any ordination, a bishop must submit vocational information and paperwork to the denominational office. The primate and denominational director of human resources should no unreasonably withhold approval of a candidate approved at the diocesan level. Nonetheless, no bishop shall ordain any candidate without having first received specific approval from the denominational office. Bishops who violate this procedure are subject to disciplinary action, including removal from office.
15. Not Guarantee of Position. Ordination to the presbyterate shall not guarantee the availability of a paid or volunteer position, nor shall the availability of a position be a qualification or prerequisite for ordination.
16. Transferring Priests. Priests or ministers in other denominations who transfer their membership to this denomination may apply to the diocesan bishop for acceptance into the presbyterate of this denomination. The diocesan bishop shall have the prerogative to accept or reject the application. Copies of intended acceptances shall be submitted to the denominational director of human resources at least one month prior to the date of formal acceptance. Rejections shall state the specific reasons for rejection in writing to the applicant. Typically rejections would arise from functional or theological differences between the ministerial orders of the other denomination and this denomination. Rejections should always include recommendations for other possible courses of action, including, but not limited to, application for presbyterial or diaconal candidacy. Copies of such rejection letters shall be sent to the denominational director of human resources.
17. Candidacy Period. If necessary, a candidacy period may be established for priests transferring from another denomination during which period they would fulfill any educational requirements for ordination set down by the bishop.
18. Ratification. Persons permanently ordained priest or minister in other Christian denominations shall have their ordinations ratified and regularized by the bishop as part of their reception ceremony. Persons who were called pastors or ministers but were not ordained shall be ordained into this denomination’s presbyterate.
19. Special Arrangements. In special circumstances, arrangements for ordinations in conflict with these canons may be approved by the primate.



Canon XXIII
Ordination of Bishops

1. Primate Chooses. The primate shall choose bishops as appropriate from the priests or from those qualified to be priests.
2. Education Requirements. In addition to the educational requirements of priests, it is desirable that a person to be ordained to the episcopate hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in administration or have had a least five years of administrative responsibility in secular or ecclesiastical business.
3. Transferring Bishops. A bishop of another denomination who becomes a member of this denomination may be received into the episcopate by the primate. This reception shall not involve consecration if the bishop is already in apostolic succession. If apostolic succession is in doubt, the prior consecration shall be ratified as part of the reception ceremony. If the bishop served in a denomination which does not consecrate bishops or makes no claim to apostolic succession, the bishop shall be consecrated into the historic episcopate.
4. Functioning Not Guaranteed. Reception of a previously consecrated bishop into this church’s membership, and recognition of the validity of the bishop’s orders, does not necessarily imply that the person will function as a bishop within this church.


Canon XXIV
Confession

1. Available on Request. Priests and bishops of this church shall make themselves available to Christians for the sacrament of penance and to hear confessions as requested.
2. Absence of Priest. In the absence of priest or bishop, a deacon or layperson may hear confessions and pronounce forgiveness.
3. Sacred Secrecy. The role of the confessor shall be viewed as an intermediary for God. As such, information gained by the confessor, whether bishop, priest, deacon, or layperson, during a confession shall not be considered the confessor’s, but God’s, and shall always be held with absolute secrecy unless released by the person making confession. In order for the concept of confession to work, this sacred obligation must supersede all other obligations, including any imposed by the state or the legal system.
4. Counselling Confidentiality Rules Different. The sacred obligation to secrecy applies only to sacramental confession. Ministers who gain information in counseling or another encounters that they are required by law to report to state agencies should do so.
5. Seek Permission to Report. A confessor gaining information which legally must be reported should so inform the person making the confession and should ask permission to make the report. However, the report may only be made if such permission is granted by the penitent.



Canon XXV
Liturgies and Services

1. Primate Issues Liturgy. The primate shall issue the formal liturgy of the denomination, including the Mass, the daily offices, the rite of Baptism, the rites of the minor sacraments, the rite of burial, and various other services. At the primate’s sole discretion, this may include the authorization to routinely use the liturgies of other denominations.
2. Primate Issues Calendar. The primate shall issue the calendar and lectionary to be used by this denomination.
3. Similar to Others. The liturgies, calendar, and lectionary shall be reasonably similar to those of other liturgical Christian denominations and shall reflect the theology of the Church Universal and this denomination.
4. No Routine Deviation. No service shall routinely deviate from the issued liturgyies of the denomination or the specifically authorized liturgies of other denominations.; Hhowever, occasional use of experimental or modified liturgies, or those of other denominations, may be allowed by a bishop or pastor, provided such liturgies are consistent with the theology of the Church Universal and this denomination. With approval of the pastor and the diocesan bishop, parishes may, however, also offer supplemental services based upon or using historic liturgies approved by the primate on a regular basis provided they do not supplant the weekly use of the issued liturgy of the Ecumenical Catholic Church.
5. Operating Policies. The primate shall issue operating policies detailing the authorized liturgies of other denominations, any authorized or recommended deviations from them, and the regulations of the liturgical calendar and lectionary. All diocesan bishops shall ensure that these policies are followed at all parishes and functions within their dioceses.
6. Ecumenical Services. Clergy of this denomination may participate in ecumenical worship services, including those that significantly differ from this denomination’s official liturgy, provided such services do not contradict basic Christian theology and provided that such events do not become substitutes for the use of the denomination’s official liturgy as the basis for its worship life.
7. Interfaith Services. Clergy of this denomination may participate in multireligious or interfaith services and events provided that the context makes clear the multireligious nature and it is obvious that participation does not in any way imply acceptance of all of the beliefs expressed in the activity.



Canon XXVI
Ratification and Revision

1. Binding. The canons of this denomination become binding upon ratification by the primate.
2. Primate Revises. Revisions may be established and ratified by action of the primate, except as limited by this canon.
3. Revisions to Be Listed Herein. Additional articles shall be added to this last canon, “Ratification and Revision,” describing, but not detailing exactly, each revision upon its ratification. The revised texts of canons shall simply be changed to indicate the new version. Prior revisions of the canon law of the denomination shall be maintained by the corporate secretary.
4. Page Labeling. Each page of the text of these canons shall include the revision number and date and approval of the primate.
5. Ratification Statement. The ratification statement at the conclusion of these canons shall be updated and signed again with each revision.
6. No Revision Against Creeds. Neither the primate nor any other individual or group may revise the canons in any way, through any process, direct or indirect, to alter the position of the Ecumenical Creeds in defining the theology of this denomination or the whole Church.
7. Primate Cannot Revise During Trial. During a trial for his excommunication, the primate may not revise the canons dealing with such trial in any way, through any process, direct or indirect, without the concurrence of a seventy-five percent (75%) majority of the bishops and clergy.
8. Original Version 1987. The original version of the canon law was ratified by the first primate, Mark Steven Shirilau, on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, January 11, AD 1987.
9. First Revision 1991. Revision #1 (03/19/91) of the canon law corrected a very few minor and insignificant problems in wording, changed the size when a diocesan convention becomes a representative body in Canon XI, altered the percentages in diocesan and denominational assessments in Canon XV, clarified some rules on remarriage in Canon XIX, and modified the educational requirements for the permanent diaconate in Canon XX.
10. Second Revision 1992. Revision #2 (06/14/92) of the canon law added a new Canon XV (“Religious Orders and Monasteries”) and renumbered old canons XV through XXV as XVI through XXVI, respectively. Minor changes were made elsewhere to incorporate the possibility of monasticism within the denomination. Canons XXI and XXII were modified to eliminate two classes of preordination applicants (postulants and candidates). The sizes at which representative bodies are to be established were reduced. Financing of the dioceses and denomination was reorganized in Canon XVI. The following additions (in the new numbering sequence) were also made: VI.3; VIII.8; IX.7; X.15,21; XI.8,20; XII.6,7; XIII.13; XIV.5; XVI.8; XVII.3; XX.15; and XXV.5-6.
11. Third Revision 1993. Revision #3 (05/30/93) of the canon law incorporated the decision of the Third Clergy Conference (12/20/92) on confirmation into Canons VI.5 and XIX.7. Also discussed at the Fourth Clergy Conference and incorporated per said discussion were: (1) paragraphs I.9 and V.11(b) explaining the democratic intent within the hierarchical structure, (2) rewording of III.3 the clarify the limited acceptance of the Athanasian Creed [we question the damnatory clauses], (3) delineating “marriage” between a Christian and a non-Christian in Canon XX, (4) adding Paragraph XXIII.4, (5) defining and allowing associate clergy as per Canon VI.3, and (6) minimizing the use of the default masculine gender.
12. Fourth Revision 1994. Revision #4 (09/29/94) of the canon law brought the defined clergy and lay participation structure into line with actual operations, based upon consensus-building clergy conferences rather than rigidly democratic (though essential powerless) denominational and diocesan conventions. In accordance with this major revision, Canon V was significantly modified, Canons VIII, XI, and XIV were deleted in their entirety, and minor changes were made throughout when the previously defined conventions were referenced. This change was discussed in principal at the fifth clergy conference (07/08/94). Additional changes recommended by the clergy conference and approved by the primate were elimination of the one-year previous knowledge requirement for marriage (XX.6.) and the change of VII.8. from California to the state of the primate’s legal residence. At the clergy conference the importance of noncreedal decisions of the ecumenical councils also came up. Upon unanimous approval of the regional deans, Paragraphs 5-7 of Canon I were modified to specify the council’s creeds as having primary authority (and not every motion passed by the ancient councils), which certainly was the intention when the canon law was originally drafted. Titles were added to each paragraph.
13. Fifth Revision 1996. Revision #5 (01/25/96) of the canon law eliminated some masculine pronouns. It revised slightly the reporting nature of religious orders and replaced the term “governor general” with “abbot” and “prefect for religious orders” as appropriate (XV). It changed the term “tithe” to “assessment” regarding the parishes’ submittal to the diocese and denomination since the current rate is 25%, not 10% (XVI.10-12). It allowed for confirmation of young children when in accordance with local custom and tradition (XIX.2). The revision also allowed for the routine use of approved historic liturgies provided they were used supplementally to the approved ECC liturgy (XXV.4).
14. Sixth Revision 20010. Revision #6 (06/11/200003/25/2001) of the canon law clarified the spiritual and fellowship nature of clergy conferences (V), formally established the corporate secretary (VII.14), allowed for suffragan bishops and apostolic administrators (X), allowed for the establishment of chivalric, lay, and ecumenical orders (XV), revised assessment procedures and finances (XVI), and made some other minor clarifications. incorporated the unpublished revisions of Pentecost 2000 as well as some of the modifications discussed at the clergy conference of February 2001. These changes included (a) clarification that intercommunion is both desirable and denominational in scope [III.9], (b) clarifying the spiritual and fellowship nature of clergy conferences [V], (c) allowing for auxiliary bishops and apostolic administrators [V.3 and X], (d) creating Canon VIII regarding subordinate organizations [filling a blank canon deleted in 1994], (e) allowing for the establishment of chivalric, lay, and ecumenical orders [XV], (f) creating Canon XIV regarding clergy, and (g) modifying Canon XVI regarding finances and property.

R A T I F I C A T I O N

The above text of canon law, being Canons I through XXVI inclusive, of the Ecumenical Catholic Church shall be binding upon said church, all its members and authorities, and every constituent group thereof, this being the sixth revision of the canons, as declared by me, the Most Reverend Mark Steven Shirilau, Primate, this Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, occurring on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 25, AD 2001.
Mark Steven Shirilau
Patriarch, Archbishop, and Primate