Laity has right over church property: court

October 12, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kerala, October 11, 2012: The Kerala High Court has ruled that the laity has right over church property.
Parishioners, independently or together as a committee of administrators, are competent to represent the parish and claim rights over the property of the church, Justice K. Vinod Chandran gave the ruling yesterday.

The court passed the ruling while hearing a case over property rights between parishioners and church authorities of ‘Mukkad Thirukudumba’ Church in Sakthikulangara, Kollam in Kerala.

As per Canon Law, church property is vested in the hands of the bishop or the vicar and clearly mandates consent from either the bishop or the vicar for initiating a litigation.The court said that the competence of the parishioners cannot be doubted even going by the Canon Law; less so by the law applicable to this land.

Church and its properties would not vest in the Pope or the archbishop and the maxim “Roma locuta est, causa finite est” (Rome has spoken, case is closed) no longer survives, the court observed in the judgment.
“Canon Law, as it exists now, realizes the fences erected by civil law and cautiously veers away from any transgression thereof,” it said.

The court also pointed out that Canon Law was discussed only to answer the right of the parishioners and it shouldn’t be understood that Canon Law would override the civil law of the land.
Canon Law can have theological or ecclesiastical implication to the parties, but such personal law cannot have any legal impact, the judge quoted from a full bench decision of the high court.

– times of india

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