Congregation for Clergy, Mass intentions in a will, 6 December 2014, Private.


A diocesan bishop wrote to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy seeking guidance on fulfilling Mass intentions left in a bequest to a parish. The Prefect of the Congregation responded offering three options for addressing the situation. The correspondence between the diocesan bishop and the Congregation follows.




CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY

His Eminence

Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect

Vatican City

June 23, 2014

Your Eminence:

I write you about what appeared to be a simple case, but substantial canonists suggest that it might be one referred to your Congregation’s attention.

In causa mortis a man wills US $2,000 and wishes nine (9) Masses celebrated a year, three (3) each for three (3) individuals around three (3) specific dates specific to each. No specific stipe is mentioned; the provincial offering is US $5.00. This corpus is not specified as an endowment and would not easily generate US $45.00 per year if invested for nine (9) Masses. Thus, it could be treated as a pious trust rather than a non-autonomous pious foundation. As a pious trust the corpus could be distributed, and in approximately 45 years it would be depleted if not invested at interest. It is unlikely that the provincial stipe will remain at US $5 for that term, however.

I think the amount must be spent down, as it were, in accordance with the mass stipe in force at the time of the accepted testamentary donation, irrespective of the foreseeable spike, in time, in the sum established for the Mass stipe.

As an aside, could the Mass intentions be fulfilled in multi-intentional masses (Mos iugiter)? Would the civil executor of the will need to be asked permission? The parish is one of the largest in the diocese and has an abundance of requests for mass intentions each year.

Even without the intervention of the civil executor it would seem that there is no intrinsic reason not to allow the intentions to be fulfilled at multi-intentional Masses. I am mindful that there used to be a debate among theologians whether the fruit of the Mass is finite or infinite. To my mind this debate has been decided by the introduction of concelebration as it is now. At concelebration a single Mass is offered, yet each concelebrating priest is allowed to receive a stipe for this one Mass. So the rule of one Mass per stipe is only a disciplinary one, not a theological necessity. Mos iugiter proves this assertion further.

I would welcome your instruction in this whole matter. What is the proper and best practice given the scenario I have indicated?

Assuring you of my esteem and respect for you and your ministry in the Congregation for Clergy and requesting your prayers, may we remain

One in the Lord,

(Signed)




CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

Vatican City

12 August 2014

Prot. N. _______

The Most Reverend _______

United States of America

Your Excellency,

I have received your letter of 23 June last, concerning the bequest to a parish in your Diocese of US $2000, for the celebration of nine annual Masses.

I am very grateful to you for your observations as to possibilities for addressing the difficulty of generating appropriate stipends for the Masses to be offered.

The Congregation would suggest three possibilities, in order to resolve the question:

1. Your first suggestion that the bequest be treated as a pious trust (cf. can 1302) rather than a non-autonomous pious foundation (cf. can. 1303 §1, 2°), thereby permitting the capital to be used to fulfill the purpose of the trust, would appear to be a lawful solution. However, the capital should be invested to generate some return for the benefit of the trust, even though a type of investment which grants immediate access to capital will inevitably reduce the level of the return available. Additionally, the Congregation would need to authorize the reduction of the Mass obligations to zero, when the fund is depleted (cf. can 1308 §1). The Dicastery is favorably disposed to grating that authorization at this stage, if you choose to proceed on this basis.

2. If Your Excellency wishes to accept this bequest as a non-autonomous pious foundation, you could ask this Congregation to reduce the Mass obligations, perhaps to two annually for each person, depending on the income that the investment is likely to generate (cf. can 1308 §1). In the event of an increase in the provincial stipend, it may be necessary to request a further reduction. The Dicastery would also be favorably disposed to granting such a request.

3. Your Excellency is also at liberty to refuse permission to accept the pious foundation, if you judge that revenue does not correspond to the obligation (cf. can 1304 §1).

The Congregation does not consider that the intentions of the testator, as you have expressed them, can be fulfilled by the celebration of multi-intentional Masses. This would require the free consent of the testator (cf. Art. 2 §1 Mos iugiter). Even the consent of the executors would not suffice to change his clearly expressed wishes, which must be fulfilled most diligently (cf. can. 1300).

If Your Excellency would kindly advise the Dicastery of the manner in which you wish to proceed, any necessary permission concerning the reduction of Mass obligations will be forwarded to you.

Thanking you for your letter, I offer you my assurances of prayers and best wishes, and I remain,

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Beniamino Cardinal Stella

Prefect




CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY

His Eminence

Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect

Vatican City

November 12, 2014

Prot. N. _______

Your Eminence:

Your guidance in your letter of 12 August of this year concerning a US $2,000 bequest for the celebration of annual Masses was very helpful.

After consultation with the interested parties (for twelve intentions actually), it seems prudent to elect the first option you offered. So that I may establish a Pious Trust for _______ Parish, _______ in accord canon 1302, I hereby petition for the faculty from the Congregation of the Clergy to allow the trust obligation of offering the annual, single-intentioned Masses to terminate when the capital funding has been depleted (cf. can 1308 §1). A draft of the decree for your further advice is enclosed.

Since this type of bequest is not uncommon in this country, I also ask your permission to publish our correspondence on this matter only in appropriate professional canonical literature.

Assuring you of my esteem and respect for you and your ministry in the Congregation for Clergy and requesting your prayers, may we remain

One in the Lord,

(Signed)

Enclosure [Draft]




By the Grace of God and Favor of the Apostolic See

BISHOP OF ______ Hereby Establishes the _________ PIOUS TRUST

This Pious Trust with _______ as Trustor on behalf of _______ who has provided a gift of Two-Thousand dollars ($2,000.00) to _______ Parish, _______, as Trustee represented by its Pastor, _______is hereby established in accord with Canon 1302 of the Code of Canon Law.

The obligations to celebrate the following twelve (12) single-intentioned Masses annually are attached to the gift as follows:

_______ for four (4) intentions: on or about December 6, September 8, during the Christmas Octave (or in the Christmas season), during the Easter Octave (or soon thereafter);

_______ for four (4) intentions: on or about August 19, October 6, during the Christmas Octave (or in the Christmas season), during the Easter Octave (or soon thereafter); and

_______ for four (4) intentions: on or about October 31, July 28 during the Christmas Octave (or in the Christmas season), during the Easter Octave (or soon thereafter).

These obligations are accepted by the Pastor on behalf of the Trustee. The Masses shall be offered in the church serving _______ Parish, _______ as provided by me and my successors (c. 954).

With the Faculty of the Congregation for Clergy Prot. N. _______ granted on December 6, 2014, the obligations for the celebrations of these Masses as provided herein shall terminate and be reduced to zero when the funds entrusted herein have been depleted as foreseen (c. 1308 §1).

These Trust funds made possible through the provisions made in the estate of _______ shall be the property of and are to be invested by _______ so that the growth and earnings of the Trust investment(s) shall inure solely to the benefit of the Trust. Furthermore, the Trust investment(s) shall provide for the invasion of the principal at any time as that reduction might be necessary to meet solely the expenses of Mass intentions and investment fees.

It is anticipated that the Provincial Mass intention rate shall fluctuate from time to time. The Trust shall expend the currently prevailing rate for each intention (c. 952). The intentions may be scheduled far enough in advance and in a manner that appears prudent to the Pastor.

When the expenses of the Mass intentions and the investment fees can no longer be met by the Fund, the Trust shall be deemed terminated. With the permission of the Diocesan Bishop, whatever principal that remains shall be deemed the property of the Parish without any further obligation.

The investment(s) of the Trust funds shall be at the discretion of the Pastor, having for validity, consulted the Parish Finance Council. The required permission for such investment(s) is hereby granted (c. 1284 §2, 6°).

A copy of this document and proof of the fulfillment of its obligations are to be kept and denoted specifically in the special book of the parish for Mass intentions. Yearly, at the time of visitation, compliance is to be demonstrated to the diocesan bishop (cc. 957-958).

Done this _______ day of _______ , at my Chancery.

(Signed)

[End Draft]




CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

Vatican City

6 December 2014

Prot. N. _______

The Most Reverend _______

United States of America

Your Excellency,

I have received your letter of 12 November last, together with your draft decree, concerning the bequest to the parish of _______, of US $2000, for the celebration for twelve annual Masses.

Your draft decree appears to cover all the necessary issues. I therefore enclose the rescript of the Congregation, authorizing the reduction of the Mass obligation to zero, when the trust fund has been exhausted (cf. can. 1308 §1).

With regard to your request to publish the correspondence in this matter in appropriate canonical journals, I have no objection, providing that the names of individuals appearing in the documentation are removed, in order to protect their privacy.

Thanking you for your letter, I offer you my assurances of prayers and best wishes, and I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Beniamino Cardinal Stella

Prefect

Enclosure: 1




CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

Prot. N. _______

Most Holy Father

His Excellency _______, Bishop of _______ declares as follows:

By his last will and testament, the late _______ bequeathed US $2,000 (Two thousand United States Dollars) to the parish _______, for the purpose of providing for the offering of four Masses annually for each of three specific intentions, making a total of twelve Masses annually, on or about specific dates.

The capital sum bequeathed will not generate sufficient income to meet, in perpetuity, the offering established for each of the Masses to be offered, in accordance with can. 952.

It is desired to accept the bequest as a trust, in accordance with can. 1302 §1, to invest the same, in order to generate some income for the benefit of the trust, and then to use that income, together with necessary capital withdrawals, in order to meet the offerings for the celebration of the Masses. It is asked that, when the capital is depleted, the obligation to celebrate the Masses, for which the trust was established, will also end (cf. can. 1308 §1).

CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS, ATTENTIS EXPOSITIS AB EPISCOPO _______ ET PECULIARIBUS RERUM ADIUNCITPERSPECTIS, GRATIAM BENIGNE CONCEDIT, SUPPLENTE IN RELIQUIS SANCTITATE SUA DE ECCLESIAE THESARUO.

Datum Romae, ex Congregatione pro Clericis,

Die VI mensis decembris anno MMXIV

Beniaminus Card. Stella

Praefectus

Mons. Antonius Neri

Subsecretarius




Congregation for the Clergy, Mass Intentions in Will, 6 December 2014, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and CLSA Advisory Opinions, 2015, 9-17.