Canonical Regulations on Senate of Priests
Can. 495 §1In each diocese there is to be established a council of priests, that is, a group of priests who represent the presbyterium and who are to be, as it were, the Bishop's senate. The council's role is to assist the Bishop, in accordance with the law, in the governance of the diocese, so that the pastoral welfare of that portion of the people of God entrusted to the Bishop may be most effectively promoted.
§2In vicariates and prefectures apostolic, the Vicar or Prefect is to appoint a council composed of at least three missionary priests, whose opinion, even by letter, he is to hear in the more serious affairs.
Can. 496The council of priests is to have its own statutes. These are to be approved by the diocesan Bishop, having taken account of the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference.
Can. 497As far as the designation of the members of the council of priests is concerned:
1°about half are to be freely elected by the priests themselves in accordance with the canons which follow and with the statutes;
2°some priests must, in accordance with the statutes, be members ex officio, that is belong to the council by reason of the office they hold;
3°the diocesan Bishop may freely appoint some others.
Can. 498 §1The following have the right to both an active and a passive voice in an election to the council of priests:
1°all secular priests incardinated in the diocese;
2°priests who are living in the diocese and exercise some useful office there, whether they be secular priests not incardinated in the diocese, or priest members of religious institutes or of societies of apostolic life.
§2Insofar as the statutes so provide, the same right of election may be given to other priests who have a domicile or quasi-domicile in the diocese.
Can. 499The manner of electing the members of the council of priests is to be determined by the statutes, and in such a way that as far as possible the priests of the presbyterium are represented, with special regard to the diversity of ministries and to the various regions of the diocese.
Can. 500 §1It is the prerogative of the diocesan Bishop to convene the council of priests, to preside over it, and to determine the matters to be discussed in it or to accept items proposed by the members.
§2The council of priests has only a consultative vote. The diocesan Bishop is to consult it in matters of more serious moment, but he requires its consent only in the cases expressly defined in the law.
§3The council of priests can never act without the diocesan Bishop. He alone can make public those things which have been decided in accordance with §2.
Can. 501 §1The members of the council of priests are to be designated for a period specified in the statutes, subject however to the condition that over a five year period the council is renewed in whole or in part.
§2When the see is vacant, the council of priests lapses and its functions are fulfilled by the college of consultors. The Bishop must reconstitute the council of priests within a year of taking possession.
§3If the council of priests does not fulfil the office entrusted to it for the welfare of the diocese, or if it gravely abuses that office, it can be dissolved by the diocesan Bishop, after consultation with the Metropolitan, in the case of a metropolitan see, the Bishop must first consult with the suffragan Bishop who is senior by promotion. Within a year, however, the diocesan Bishop must reconstitute the council.
Can. 502 §1From among the members of the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop freely appoints not fewer than six and not more than twelve priests, who are for five years to constitute the college of consultors. To it belong the functions determined by law; on the expiry of the five year period, however, it continues to exercise its functions until the new college is constituted.
§2The diocesan Bishop presides over the college of consultors. If, however, the see is impeded or vacant, that person presides who in the interim takes the Bishop's place or, if he has not yet been appointed, then the priest in the college of consultors who is senior by ordination.
§3The Episcopal Conference can determine that the functions of the college of consultors be entrusted to the cathedral chapter.
§4Unless the law provides otherwise, in a vicariate or prefecture apostolic the functions of the college of consultors belong to the council of the mission mentioned in can. 495 §2.