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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What is the meaning of the words "incardination" and "excardination?"

A. 1. First of all, it is important to understand that before a deacon or a priest can be ordained, he must be formally attached to a certain Diocese. This is to ensure that the cleric is not wandering around from diocese to diocese without any formal accountability to any Bishop. The attachment to a diocese is called the "incardination." When a priest obtains permission to transfer to another diocese, the following takes place:

a. The bishop in the new diocese must accept the priest, such being called the "incardination."

b. The bishop from the present diocese releases the priest to the new diocese, such being called the "excardination."

In the transfer from one Diocese to another, the "excardination" cannot take place until such time as the new "incardination" has taken place. This ensure that the priest is not left for any period of time with full accountability to a bishop.

The following Canon Laws relate the the incardination and excardination of priests:


Can. 265 Every cleric must be incardinated either in a particular church or personal prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or society endowed with this faculty, in such a way that unattached or transient clerics are not allowed at all.

Can. 266 §1. Through the reception of the diaconate, a person becomes a cleric and is incardinated in the particular church or personal prelature for whose service he has been advanced.

§2. Through the reception of the diaconate, a perpetually professed religious or a definitively incorporated member of a clerical society of apostolic life is incardinated as a cleric in the same institute or society unless, in the case of societies, the constitutions establish otherwise.

§3. Through the reception of the diaconate, a member of a secular institute is incardinated in the particular church for whose service he has been advanced unless he is incardinated in the institute itself by virtue of a grant of the Apostolic See.

Can. 267 §1. For a cleric already incardinated to be incardinated validly in another particular church, he must obtain from the diocesan bishop a letter of excardination signed by the same bishop and a letter of incardination from the diocesan bishop of the particular church in which he desires to be incardinated signed by that bishop.

§2. Excardination thus granted does not take effect unless incardination in another particular church has been obtained.

Can. 268 §1. A cleric who has legitimately moved from his own particular church to another is incardinated in the latter particular church by the law itself after Five years if he has made such a desire known in writing both to the diocesan bishop of the host church and to his own diocesan bishop and neither of them has expressed opposition in writing to him within four months of receiving the letter.

§2. Through perpetual or definitive admission into an institute of consecrated life or into a society of apostolic life, a cleric who is incardinated in the same institute or society according to the norm of ? can. 266, §2 is excardinated from his own particular church.

Can. 269 A diocesan bishop is not to allow the incardination of a cleric unless:

1/ the necessity or advantage of his own particular church demands it, and without prejudice to the prescripts of the law concerning the decent support of clerics;

2/ he knows by a lawful document that excardination has been granted, and has also obtained from the excardinating bishop, under secrecy if need be, appropriate testimonials concerning the cleric’s life, behavior and studies;

3/ the cleric has declared in writing to the same diocesan bishop that he wishes to be dedicated to the service of the new particular church according to the norm of law.

Can. 270 Excardination can be licitly granted only for just causes such as the advantage of the Church or the good of the cleric himself. It cannot be denied, however, except for evident, grave causes. A cleric who thinks he has been wronged and has found an accepting bishop, however, is permitted to make recourse against the decision.

Can. 271 §1. Apart from the case of true necessity of his own particular church, a diocesan bishop is not to deny permission to clerics, whom he knows are prepared and considers suitable and who request it, to move to regions laboring under a grave lack of clergy where they will exercise the sacred ministry. He is also to make provision that the rights and duties of these clerics are determined through a written agreement with the diocesan bishop of the place they request.

§2. A diocesan bishop can grant permission for his clerics to move to another particular church for a predetermined time, which can even be renewed several times. Nevertheless, this is to be done so that these clerics remain incardinated in their own particular church and, when they return to it, possess all the rights which they would have had if they had been dedicated to the sacred ministry there.

§3. For a just cause the diocesan bishop can recall a cleric who has moved legitimately to another particular church while remaining incardinated in his own church provided that the agreements entered into with the other bishop and natural equity are observed; the diocesan bishop of the other particular church, after having observed these same conditions and for a just cause, likewise can deny the same cleric permission for further residence in his territory.

Can. 272 A diocesan administrator cannot grant excardination or incardination or even permission to move to another particular church unless the episcopal see has been vacant for a year and he has the consent of the college of consultors.

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