Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Modification of Parishes

Any alteration to a parish requires preparation and adherence to Canon Law. This guide walks you step by step through each process and the corresponding Canonical requirements.

Alienation of Property

The following points outline the procedure to be followed when selling a property the value of which falls between the minimum and maximum amounts defined by the Episcopal Conference (value greater than $25,000 and less than $3,500,000 – as of November 2022).

Unless a church will remain in use as a place for Catholic divine worship to which the faithful have a continued rite of access (e.g. if it is to be sold to a different ritual Church sui iuris), it is to be relegated to profane use prior to alienation

If it becomes necessary to alienate the edifice, various options, in decreasing order of preference are:

  • continued use as a place of Catholic worship
  • use as a place for the exercise of other Catholic apostolates or ministries
  • for profane but not sordid use in keeping with the dignity of the edifice as a former church
  • demolition of the edifice, recovering the land

Prior to alienation all of the sacred goods of the church must be removed for use in other sacred edifices or to be stored in ecclesiastical custody. Altars can never be relegated to profane use; therefore, if they cannot be removed, they must be destroyed.

Relevant canons: 1291-1298, 50, 51, 127, 166

Once the Parish has determined that the contemplated sale fits into the overall facilities plan for the property, they should proceed as follows.

Altars do not lose their dedication or blessing when the church does. Altars can never be turned over to profane use for any reason.

It is well established ecclesiastical jurisprudence that to merely close a church with no intention to turn it over to profane use, is juridically equivalent to relegating it to profane use. Therefore, one cannot lawfully permanently close a church without first employing the provisions of canon 1222 §2.

 Send the following documentation to the AoC Property Management Office:

  • Two appraisals for the property that include photos of the outside and inside of the property. Appraisals should be completed such that valuation is determined according to the highest and best use of the property. They may also determine value according to intended use, if that is different from the highest and best use.
  • A letter from and signed by the pastor, including documentation of the approval of a majority of the members of both the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils consenting to the proposed sale.
    • The letter should clearly state the requested the minimum selling price for which permission is sought.
    • Include, as well, a short history of the property and the reasons the parish wishes to sell the property. Also explain the current use of the property (occupied for parish use, vacant, occupied and in use by a tenant, etc).
  • When you have all of the documentation referenced above, please send it to the Director of Property Management. Once he reviews the documentation for completeness, he will then move it forward to the Chancellor, who will present it to the Archdiocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors. (These two councils meet separately and at different times of the months. Documentation is needed three weeks prior to the scheduled council meeting in order for it to be added to the agenda.)

If the councils have consented to the sale and permission has been granted by the Archbishop, notification of permission will be sent to the pastor.

After obtaining permission to sell, any proposed realtor contract must be sent to the Archdiocesan Finance Office for review and approval prior to contracting with the realtor. When a potential buyer is identified, the Director of Property Management will assist you in working with the Archdiocesan Real Estate Attorney, whom he will put you in contact with, to guide you through all the legal documentation.