CL 271 Governance in the Church: Vatican II to Pope Francis

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Module Level

Level 8

Time Allowance

Lectures 24 Written Work 16 Private Study 20


Continuous Assessment 25% Final Examination 75%

Module Aims

The course facilitates students:

  • To explore how Conciliar ecclesiology shaped ecclesiastical organisation and decision making structures, promoting greater involvement of all the faithful in Church governance in the Code of 1983.
  • How ecclesial juridical structures and governance can respond to the rapidly changing pastoral landscape in the various parts of the world and the new evangelisation.

Indicative Syllabus

  • Evolution of Papal Primacy and the doctrine of Papal Infallibility: historical, theological and juridical dimensions
  • Recovery of Collegiality: from Vatican II to the Code of 1983
  • Synodality: from Vatican II to Pope Francis
  • Curia: Historical Evolution and Towards Reform
  • The Governance and the Organisation of a Diocese
  • Parish, Pastors and Pastoral Councils: Current and Future Challenges and Models
  • Religious Institutes: Charism and Law

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the module students will be able to:  Appreciate the relationship between: primacy and infallibility; the Roman Pontiff and the College of Bishops; collegiality and synodality; universal and particular churches; organisation and charism.  Understand the role of the diocesan bishop, clergy and faithful in the structures of governance in the particular and local church.  Explore and identify the changes and reforms needed in ecclesial structures in the universal and particular churches to meet the new evangelisation and evolving pastoral realities.


  • The Code of Canon Law (1983) The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (New York 2000) The Canon Law: Letter and Spirit (London 1995) J.T. Martín de Agar, A Handbook on Canon Law (Montréal 2007) J. Coriden, Introduction to Canon Law (New York 2004) J.I. Arrieta, Governance Structures with the Church (Montréal 2000) J. Coriden, The Parish in Catholic Tradition (New York 1997)