Monday, January 19, 2009

The Juridic aspects of the administration of baptism

I am a parish priest and I have at times been confronted with unusual requests from people—both from my and from other parishes in Metro Manila—to administer baptism to their children or relatives. To cite a few: a young mother requested that her infant son be baptized in the hospital before they check out after delivery; another couple wanted their baby baptized in their home to facilitate the reception that would follow; on other hand, a returning Catholic born-again wanted to be baptized in the presence of his family to set an example. What does Canon Law lay down for all of these?

The Minister of Baptism

The fundamental physiognomy in the intervention of the minister is the same in all the sacraments: he acts in persona Christi and the effect is always a grace of Christ, not of the minister who applies the sacramental sign. Thus, his role is purely instrumental. In this regard, the juridic requirements for the administration of baptism follow closely the requirements of the sacrament as instituted by Christ.

a. Requirements for validity. For validity, the minister of Baptism is any human person:
1) who carries out the sacramental sign in its essential elements;

2) who has the due intention of doing what the Church wants in this regard. Thus, the juridic norms regulating the different kinds of ministers affect only the licitud of the administration of the sacrament.

b. Requirements for licitude.
1) The ordinary ministers of Baptism, as established by the Code, are the following:

a) Any cleric—Bishop, priest or deacon (c.861, §1)—who is not suffering from any canonical penalty restricting him from exercising such function.

b) Especially entrusted to the Parish Priest. In the old Code, Baptism was reserved to the parish priest. In the new Code, it is only especially entrusted, and this for reasons of good administration—i.e., for the pastoral and record-keeping aspects of the administration of the sacrament (c.530, 1º).

In any case, c.862 emphasizes this special connection of the administration of Baptism to the parish priest: Outside the case of necessity, it is not lawful for anyone, without the required permission, to confer baptism in the territory of another, not even upon his own subjects. It would seem, however, that such permission should not be denied without serious reason.

c) Special prerogative of the Bishop over adult baptism. The baptism of adults, at least those who have completed fourteen years of age, is to be referred to the Bishop so that it may be conferred by him, if he judges it expedient (c.863). This is consistent with the fact that all the process of Christian initiation of adults has been placed in a particular way within the context of the power of the diocesan Bishop.

2) The extraordinary ministers of Baptism in normal circumstances. Can.861, §2 states: If the ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or other person deputed for this function by the local ordinary confers baptism licitly….

3) Extraordinary minister of Baptism in case of necessity. This is a scenario which is distinct from the cases when the ordinary minister is simply absent or impeded. By this is understood not only the danger of death, but also—by extrapolation—the prolonged situation of absence of the ordinary minister. In this case, the extraordinary minister is any person with the right intention (c.861, §2). The absolute necessity of baptism for salvation is the justification for this criterion that the Church has always maintained.

The Celebration of Baptism

a. Place for Baptism. The Code both stipulates the ordinary place for baptism, and prohibits—except in case of necessity—certain places.

1) Proper Place: Church or oratory. Outside the case of necessity, the proper place for baptism is a church or oratory (c.857, §1). The Code further prioritizes the locality of such church or oratory as follows:

1º Proper parish. As a rule adults are to be baptized in their own parish church and infants in the parish church proper to their parents, unless a just cause suggests otherwise (c.857, §2). In this regard, the Code provides for the possibility of facilitating access to Baptism by multiplying the churches or oratories that can have a baptismal font within the same parish (c.858).

2º Another parish. If due to grave inconvenience, because of distance or other circumstances, a person to be baptized cannot go or be taken to the parish church or to the other church or oratory mentioned in c.858, §2, baptism may and must be conferred in some nearer church or oratory… (c.859).

2) Another Fitting Place. In the case of grave inconvenience previously mentioned, if not even another church in a parish other than that of the one to be baptized is possible, c.859 ends by allowing baptism to be celebrated even in some other fitting place.

3) Prohibited Places. On the other hand, the Code explicitly prohibits the celebration of baptism, except in case of necessity or permission by the local Ordinary, in certain places. It is interesting to note the difference in the degree of prohibition, manifested by the increasing margin for permitting the contrary:

1º Private homes. Outside the case of necessity, baptism is not to be conferred in private homes, unless the local Ordinary has permitted this for a grave cause (c.860, §1). Thus, the local Ordinary will permit this only for a grave cause.

2º Hospitals. Baptism is not to be celebrated in hospitals, unless the diocesan Bishop has decreed otherwise, except in case of necessity or some other compelling pastoral reason (c.860, §2). The local Ordinary can permit this without any limitation by the Code; and—it would seem—even the competent Chaplain or priest in case of some other compelling pastoral reason.

4) Other Canonical Requisites. Here we are referring to dispositions of the Code, not just purely ritual requirements (which would be in the particular rituals and liturgical books).

a) Baptismal font. Every parish is to have a baptismal font, with due regard for the cumulative right already acquired by other Churches. The local Ordinary (…) may permit or order (…) that there be a baptismal font in another church or oratory within the boundaries of the parish (c.858, §§1-2). The mens legislatoris is clear: In the places where baptism is to be ordinarily administered, there should be a fixed baptismal font.

b) Choice of name. Parents, godparents and the parish priest are to see that a name foreign to a Christian mentality is not given (c.855).

c) New Holy Oil. The minister must use oils pressed from olives or from other plants that have been recently consecrated or blessed by the Bishop; he is not to use old oils unless there is some necessity (c.847, §1). This oil of catechumens—as it is called—is blessed by the Bishop in the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday. The accepted praxis is that the Holy Oil consecrated in the most recent Holy Thursday be used.

b. Registry and Proof of Baptism.

The juridic situation that arises from the reception of this sacrament demands that the necessary measures are taken to safeguard not only the public good of the Church, but also the rights of the faithful that stem from it. Thus, the Code stipulates the following general principles:

1) Registry in the place of Baptism. In contrast to the criterion of the CIC17—which required communication of the fact of baptism to the parish where the baptized has (or will establish) his domicile or quasi-domicile—the new Code stipulates just keeping one registry, precisely in the place where the baptism took place. The subjects responsible for this are:

1º The parish priest of the place where the Baptism is celebrated must carefully and without delay record in the baptismal book the names of those baptized, making mention of the minister, parents, sponsors, witnesses if any, and the place and date of the conferred baptism, together with an indication of the date and place of birth (c.877, §1).

2º The minister of baptism, whoever it is—if Baptism was administered neither by the parish priest nor in his presence—must inform the pastor of the parish in which the Baptism was administered, so that he may record it in accord with c.877, §1 (c.878).

2) Testimonial proof of Baptism. Aside from the written record, Canon Law admits testimonial proof of the administration of Baptism, with different degrees of proof two cases:

1º If it is not prejudicial to anyone, to prove the conferral of Baptism, the declaration of a single witness who is above suspicion, or the oath of the baptized person if the Baptism was received at an adult age (c.876).

2º All other cases require at least one witness, other than the baptized person. Thus, the Code stipulates that one who administers Baptism is to see to it that, unless a sponsor is present, there be at least a witness by whom the conferral of Baptism can be proved (c.875).

3) Data in the Baptismal Registry. As previously mentioned, the following data should be
recorded carefully: names of the baptized, minister, parents, godparents, witnesses if any, place and date of Baptism, place and date of birth. Furthermore, the Code distinguishes the following cases:

i) If it is a question of a child born of unmarried mother (c.877, §2):
1º the name of the mother is to be inserted if there is public proof of her maternity or if she asks this willingly, either in writing or before two witnesses;
2º if paternity has been proved either by some public document or by his own declaration before the parish priest and two witnesses, the name of the father is to be inserted;
3º in other cases, the name of the one baptized is recorded without any indication of the name of the father or the parents.
ii) If it is a question of an adopted child (c.877, §3):
1º the names of the adopting parents are to be recorded;
2º and also the names of the natural parents, at least if this is to be done in the civil records, with due regard for the prescriptions of the conference of Bishops.


As to the questions posed at the start, the following can be said in summary:
1) It is categorically prohibited by c.860, §1 to administer baptism in a private home, unless the local Ordinary has permitted this for a grave cause.
2) It is likewise prohibited by c.860, §2 to administer baptism in the hospital, unless any one of the following reasons exist:

a) a case of necessity—e.g., danger of death of the child—as judged by the competent Chaplain or priest, or indeed by anyone in the case of danger of death of the child.

b) another compelling pastoral reason—as judged by the competent Chaplain or priest, e.g., the family would be going to a place far from the parish Church or any other ordinary minister of Baptism.

c) permission by the local Ordinary—who can give this, at his own discretion, without any limitation by the Code

Friday, January 16, 2009

The right to the sacrament of baptism

Every now and then I get invited to the baptism of babies and I have sometimes wondered at the number of godparents—ranging from just a couple to as many as a dozen on one occasion! Another matter that had baffled me is the difficulty, at times, to get children baptized. I am referring especially to the poor people, who seem to postpone the baptism of children for lack of financial means both for the baptismal ceremony and the traditional reception attached to it.
What does Canon Law really say about this?

THE Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (n.1213). This Sacrament is so fundamental to the whole juridic order of the Church—like the acquiring of citizenship to the civil order—that one article would not suffice to discuss the canonical aspects of it. Thus, let me tackle this question in parts.

Nature and Sacramental Structure of Baptism

a. The Sacramental Sign
Like all sacraments of the New Law, Baptism is a sacramentum—i.e., a visible sign through which is expressed and is effected an invisible reality: the res sacramenti. Without going into what is properly sacramental theology, c.849 outlines the elements of the sacramental sign of Baptism, which is washing with true water together with the required form of words. What interests us is the canonical regulation of this sign.
1) The remote matter for validity is true water (c.849). This has always been understood to mean what can be perceived by the senses and ordinarily considered as water, and not another liquid. Thus, even if—chemically—dirty river water may have more impurities than—for example—an infusion of tea leaves, the former is considered water (albeit dirty) and constitutes valid remote matter for baptism, while the latter is not considered as water (it is tea) and is thus an invalid matter for baptism.
For licitud, outside a case of necessity, the water to be used in the conferral of baptism should be blessed in accord with the prescriptions of the liturgical books (c.853).

2) The proximate matter for validity is the act of washing. The visible sign is washing (ablution), which historically had been done by immersion, by pouring (infusion), or by sprinkling (aspersion). The very name of the sacrament comes from the Greek baptizein—“to submerge” or “to introduce into water”—which symbolizes the act of burying the person to be baptized in the death of Christ, from which he emerges with Christ’s Resurrection (cf. CCC, n.628).
For licitud, Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring, the prescriptions of the conference of bishops being observed (c.854). Thus, the clear will of the universal legislator is to let particular law determine the specific way that is most adequate to the circumstances and usage of each region.
3) The form: For validity, the verbal form is what is prescribed in the liturgical books, the essential elements of which are the words pronounced by the minister during the ablution, with the intention of baptizing, and which should express: the minister (active subject), the person to be baptized (passive subject), the action of baptizing, the unity of the divine nature and the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. In the Latin Rite, the formula is: I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
For licitud, Baptism should be administered in accord with the order prescribed in the approved liturgical books, except for the case of urgent necessity when only what is required for the validity of the sacrament must be observed (c.850). It is noteworthy that, in contrast to civil law, the name of the person does not have much canonical significance. Nevertheless, the CIC establishes that parents, godparents and parish priests are to see that a name foreign to a Christian mentality is not given (c.855).

b. The reality caused by Baptism: the res sacramenti.
The theologico-canonical effects of Baptism, the reality caused by the sacramental sign, are summarized in c.849 as follows:
1) Liberation from sin. By Baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin personal sins (CCC, n.1263).
2) Divine filiation. Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of divine nature” (CCC, n.1265).
3) Baptismal character: The faithful are configured to Christ by an indelible character, since in this sacred rite, one’s association with the death and resurrection of Christ is represented and carried out (LG, n.7). By Baptism he shares in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission; Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers (CCC, n.1268).
4) Incorporation to the Church: By Baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with duties and rights which are proper to Christians, in keeping with their condition, to the extent that they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stand in the way (c.96). For this reason, Baptism is not only the first among the sacraments, but the door for all the rest. Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn (CCC, n.1271).

The Juridic Relevance of Baptism
The juridic dimension of Baptism stems from two principles, which can be gleaned from the Instruction on the Baptism of Children, issued by the SCDF in 1980, as follows.[1]
1º Baptism is necessary for salvation. It is both a sign and an instrument of the love of God. It is a gift.
2º Baptism incorporates the human person to the Church. Measures must be established to guarantee his posterior development in it.

a. Juridic Consequences of the Necessity of Baptism for Salvation
The theological doctrine of the necessity of baptism for salvation—in fact or at least in intention—expressed in c.849, is the basis not only of the fundamental right of all men to its reception, but also the canonical foundation of many aspects of its regulation. Noteworthy are the following:
1) The general disposition for the baptism of adults: Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized (c.864). Can.865, §1 specifies the minimum requirements that adults:
a) have manifested the will to receive Baptism;
b) be sufficiently instructed in the truths of faith and in Christian obligations;
c) be tested in the Christian life by means of the catechumenate;
d) be exhorted to have sorrow for personal sins.
2) The general dispositions for the baptism of infants of Catholic parents: Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, parents are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be properly prepared for it (c.867, §1).
3) The disciplinar exceptions in case of urgency or danger of death: (cc.850; 853; 857; 860; 862; 865, §2; 867, §2). So taxative is this principle that it capacitates and legitimates any person with the right intention to confer baptism in case of necessity (c.861, §2).
a) Infant of Catholic parents: An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without any delay (c.867, §2).
b) Infant even of non-Catholic parents: The infant of Catholic parents, in fact of non-Catholic parents also, who is in danger of death is licitly baptized even against the will of the parents (c.868, §2).
c) Live fetuses: If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be baptized if this is possble (c.871).
d) Adult in danger of death: An adult in danger of death may be baptized if, having some knowledge of the principal truths of faith, the person has in any way manifested an intention of receiving Baptism and promises to observe the commandments of the Christian religion (c.865, §2).
4) General guarantees for its valid reception:
a) Conditional reiteration in case of doubt. If there is a doubt whether one has been baptized or whether baptism was validly conferred, and the doubt remains after serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally (c.869, §1).
b) Baptism of foundlings. A foundling or abandoned child is to be baptized unless upon diligent investigation proof of baptism is established (c.870).

b. Juridic Dimension of the Incorporation to the Church
The capital canon of Title I: Baptism—like all the other opening canons of the titles corresponding to the other sacraments in the Code—immediately declares the juridic situation effected by the reception of the sacrament of Baptism: Baptism [is] the gate to the sacraments, by which men and women … are reborn as children of God [and] are incorporated in the Church (c.849). The incorporation to the Church—understood as People of God juridically constituted—that is carried out by Baptism has serious juridic consequences. Among these we can point out the following:
1) Canonical guarantees for its licit administration to infants. Since an infant is incorporated to the Church without his conscious consent, there must be sufficient guarantees that the gift he receives in Baptism will have a fair chance for growth and development. These guarantees operate on the adults who will play a part in the child’s growth and development—i.e., his parents, godparents or whoever takes their place.
a) The parents of an infant who is to be baptized and likewise those who are to undertake the office of godparent are to be properly instructed in the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations which are attached to it (c.851, §2).
b) For the licit baptism of an infant it is necessary that the parents or at least one of them or the person who lawfully takes their place, gives consent (c.868, §1, 1º) and there be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such a hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be put off (2º).
2) By Baptism, a person is constituted as a Christian faithful, a subject in the ecclesial juridic order, who participates in the priestly, prophetic and royal function of Christ (cf. cc.96 & 204). This brings about the subject’s ecclesial personality—i.e., the members of the People of God are not just individuals comprising a people, but rather persons: personae in Ecclesia Christi. This in turn has several consequences:
a) Baptism is the origin and basis of the fundamental rights and duties of the faithful. On it is founded the radical equality of the faithful, their common dignity, their common call to holiness and their co-responsibility for the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one’s own condition and functions (cf. c.208). Just as the dignity of the human person gives rise to a series of fundamental human rights and duties, from the condition of baptized—call it Christian dignity—are derived the fundamental rights and duties of the faithful.
b) Baptism determines the passive subjects of merely ecclesiastical laws, which bind those baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and who enjoy the sufficient use of reason and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age (c.11).
c) Baptism capacitates a person for the other sacraments, and thus for Christian worship. Conversely, one who has not received Baptism cannot be validly admitted to the other sacraments (c.842, §1).

All men—properly disposed—have a right to receive Baptism. This is in stark contrast to the case of the other sacraments—to which only the baptized have a right—and is premised on the fact that the only Mediator and way to salvation is Christ, who is made present to all in His Body, the Church (LG, n.14); therefore, membership in the Church is necessary for salvation. Since one gains entry to the Church through Baptism, this sacrament is thus understood as the object of a right of all men duly disposed to receive it. While the Code does not expressly state the right of all men to receive Baptism, c.748, §1 clearly implies it: All persons are bound to seek the truth in matters concerning God and God’s Church; by divine law they also are obliged and have the right to embrace and to observe that truth which they have recognized.
Thus, its reception cannot be in any way hindered by financial incapacity or other such reasons.

[1] Cf. SCDF, Instruction Pastoralis actio (20.X.1980), in AAS, 72 (1980), 1137-1156.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Towards Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans: Looking at the Bigger Picture (Part II)

LAST 20 October 2009, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the former dicastery of Pope Benedict XVI—surprised the world with an announcement of a forthcoming Apostolic Constitution that would pave the way for the establishment of Personal Ordinariates for groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world, who have expressed their wish to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. The announcement went on to say that the forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.

After forestalling useless speculations related to the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy—i.e., of concluding that perhaps soon Catholic priests will be allowed to get married too—let us now focus on the really important novelty of this forthcoming Constitution: the Personal Ordinariate as such.

What is a Personal Ordinariate?

Even if for the specific case of the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans we have to wait for the forthcoming Apostolic Consititution, the reference made (in the Vatican announcement) to Military Ordinariates allows us to foresee some of its characteristics.

The figure of the Military Ordinariate was introduced into Church Law by the Apost. Constitution Spirituali Militum Curae, signed by John Paul II on 21.IV.1986. According to this document, Military Ordinariates, which may also be called Army Ordinariates, and are juridically comparable to dioceses, are special ecclesiastical circumscriptions, governed by proper statutes issued by the Apostolic See, in which will be determined in greater detail the prescriptions of the present Constitution.
It is therefore a form of what in Canon Law is known as a personal ecclesiastical circumscription, which has the following constitutive elements:

1) A group of faithful—a portion of the people of God, delineated not by the fact of their domicile or quasi-domicile (as in the territorial circumscriptions, like the diocese or territorial prelature), but by their having certain personal qualities.

In the case of the military Ordinariate, this delineating quality is their relationship with the armed forces, specifically (quoting from the aforementioned document):

— the faithful who are military persons, as well as those who are at the service of the armed forces provided that they are bound to this by civil law;
— all the members of their families, wives and children, even those who, though independent, live in the same house, as well as relatives and servants who also live with them in the same house;
— those who attend military training schools, or who live or work in military hospitals, hospices for the elderly, or similar institutions;
— all the faithful, both men and women, whether or not they are members of a religious institute, who carry out in a permanent way a task committed to them by the Military Ordinary, or with his consent.

2) An Ordinary—a proper pastor (a priest, but preferably a bishop because of his episcopal functions), with power of jurisdiction which is (again quoting from the aforementioned document):
— personal, in such manner that it can be exercised in regard to the persons who form part of the Ordinariate, even if at times they are beyond the national boundaries;
— ordinary, both in the internal and external forums—i.e., it is a power that comes with the office itself and not through a delegation by another (e.g., the Pope);
— proper—that is to say not vicariously, like what happens with the former military vicar (who acted in behalf of the Pope) or the actual apostolic vicars in the apostolic vicariates.
— cumulative with the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, because the persons belonging to the Ordinariate do not cease to be the faithful of that local Church of which they are members by reason of domicile or rite.

3) A Presbyterate—composed of priests who, endowed with the necessary gifts for carrying out fruitfully this special pastoral ministry, give service in the Personal Ordinariate. These can be of different categories:
— those who are formed in the seminary that the Ordinariate may erect with the approval of the Holy See, and promoted to Holy Orders and incardinated in the Ordinariate once they have completed the specific spiritual and pastoral formation;
— other members of the secular clergy who may be incardinated into the Ordinariate according to the norms of Canon Law;
— still other priests—both secular and religious—who, with the consent of their own Ordinary, serve in the Ordinariate (by adscription).

Relationship of the Faithful of the Personal Ordinariate with the Diocesan Bishop and the Local Parishes.

Some journalists have expressed fears of possible frictions between the projected Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans and the local Churches. If we recall, that same apprehension had been raised (and sadly still seems to be raised in certain quarters) in the case of another kind of personal ecclesiastical circumscription—i.e., the Personal Prelature.

This type of apprehension can arise if one forgets that personal ecclesiastical circumscriptions should be understood from the viewpoint of the ecclesiology of Vatican II. From this point of view, it becomes clear that among the Pastors of the Church, there is neither rivalry nor competition, but rather communion and collaboration. Thus, the provision of this type of personal circumscription is the result of the desire of providing help to the local Churches, through the creation of entities which are capable of carrying out a special pastoral activity that goes beyond the normal possibilities of the dioceses for their faithful. Thus, a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1992—with the significant name of Communionis notio—had precisely pointed out how these entities created by the Holy See for peculiar pastoral tasks are harmoniously inserted in communion with the local Churches.

It could be expected, therefore, that the upcoming Apostolic Constitution—aside from the particular statutes of every Personal Ordinariate that shall be subsequently erected—will guarantee the rights of the Local Ordinaries and the way of harmonizing the activities of the priests of the Ordinariate with the authority of the local parishes, including norms regarding such matters as how a faithful becomes part of the Ordinariate, what registries are to be kept, etc.

Similarities and Differences with Personal Prelatures

The press has compared the upcoming Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans to Personal Prelatures, specifically with Opus Dei. A notable difference would be that the projected personal ordinariates for former Anglicans would depend on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, instead of the Congregation for Bishops or the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith as is provided for the erection of personal prelatures. Another difference would be the use of a particular liturgy in the case of the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, whereas the only existing Personal Prelature has no liturgy of its own and does not even print its own Ordo for daily Masses and Liturgy of the Hours.

Beyond the obvious differences, however, it is more interesting to note the elements common to all these personal jurisdictions. As an imminent canonist had recently pointed out, in reaction to the announced Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans, Personal Ordinariates, Military Ordinariates and Personal Prelatures constitute in each case that type of personal circumscripton expressly willed by Vatican Council II, which are superimposed with the local Church (insofar as their faithful also belong to the diocese), in order to carry out a specialized pastoral activity. Beyond the pastoral phenomenon of Opus Dei, up till now the personal prelature—as typified in cc. 294-297 of the Code of Canon Law—has been mentioned as a possible solution to the pastoral needs arising from human mobility (e.g., care of migrants, refugees, seafarers and overseas workers). Now it has come to light that this type of personal circumscriptions might also be of great use in the area of ecumenism. (Cf. Eduardo Baura, Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross [Rome], in an interview published recently in