Brotherhood of the Clerics Statutes

Chapter I


Article 1.º


1. According to Canon Law, the Brotherhood of the Clerics, which resulted from the merging of three Brotherhoods - "Three were the Brotherhoods in which the Secular Clergy paid their reverent adorations. The first of Our Lady in the Sacred Temple of the Holy House of Mercy erected in the year 1642 when the Statutes were created. The second of the Glorious St. Peter ad vincula, erected in the Church of Our Lady of Grace beyond the walls of this City in the year of 1655, in which their Statutes were reformed. The third of the Blessed St. Philip Neri, erected in the Church of St. Anthony of the Porta de Carros, in the year 1666" - according to the statutes of 1815, with headquarters in their own church and building since 1757, in this city and diocese of Porto, is a canonical public, collegial and perpetual legal entity of the Catholic Church, subject in Canon Law to rights and obligations consistent with its nature (canon 113, § 2), constituted by a universality of persons or clerical association of priests (canon 302), to perform, in the name of the Catholic Church, the office indicated in these Statutes, in the order of the public ecclesial good (canon 116, §1), canonically erected by decree of the Bishop of Porto and under his superior direction (canons 301, §1, 305, §1, 312, §1, no. 3 and 315), which is governed by these Statutes, by the General Norms of Associations of Faith and by Canon Law.

2. According to Concordat Law, the Brotherhood is a canonical legal entity to which the Portuguese State recognises civil legal personality, which is governed by Canon Law and by the Portuguese Law, applied by the respective authorities, and has the same civil capacity as the Portuguese Law assigns to public legal entities, since they are of the same nature (Article 11, no. 1 of the 2004 Concordat).

3. According to the Portuguese Law, the Brotherhood is a religious association. 


Article 2.º


The seat of the Brotherhood is at the Church of the Clerics, Rua de S. Filipe Nery.  4050-546 Porto.


Article 3.º


1. The purpose of this Brotherhood is to:

a) To promote the spiritual union of the diocesan clergy of Porto with each other, with the bond of brotherhood and prayer, and to foster mutual cooperation in common work - the edification of the Body of Christ (canon 275, §1); 

b) Foster the pursuit of holiness in the exercise of the ministry, by means of an adequate and properly approved life plan and by fraternal assistance, and to foster union with the Bishop himself (canon 278, §2);

c) Practice fraternal charity, providing valuable spiritual assistance during life and suffrage after death, and materially assisting elderly Priests in sickness and invalidity, endeavouring to create the work necessary for this purpose in collaboration with other spiritual and mutual aid Associations;

d) Promote public worship in its church, especially developing devotion to its illustrious Patron Saints and the Aggregation to the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the festivities of the following Patron Saints are deemed mandatory: Our Lady of the Assumption, St. Philip Neri and St. Peter ad Vincula; and, whenever possible, the Monthly Worship, the Sacred Lausperene and the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament;

e) Pray for the living brothers and to pay for the souls of the deceased brothers, in harmony with what is established in these Statutes;

f) Administer the "Church Factory" and the headquarters of the Brotherhood, its facilities, assets, historical archives, vestments, implements and movable property, in view of their genuine conservation, maintenance and security, in collaboration and in harmony with the official agencies of the Portuguese State that keep historic monuments and artistic values;

g) Pastoral welcoming the numerous tourists who visit the Church and the Tower, providing them with the appropriate artistic and religious information, as a privileged opportunity for evangelization, and taking care of the good order and respect they must maintain in a sacred place, suspending visits during the acts of worship;

h) Carry out other activities, if resources and economy allow so, such as meetings of piety, spiritual and pastoral training for the clergy, evangelization for the laity and charity for the needy;

i) Collaborate institutionally with other spiritual or assistance associations to Clerics, in particular with the Priestly Fraternity of Porto, and with their unions, federations or confederations, namely through the provision of facilities and cooperation in training and assistance activities.

2. The diocesan Bishop of Porto may assign to the Brotherhood other purposes that are really useful and in keeping with the mission of the Church (canon 114, 1 and 3).

3. The Brotherhood is a non-profit charity, with solely religious purposes. 


Article 4.º

(Property and financial system)

In all matters concerning the administration of temporal assets, their alienation, wills, foundations, budgets, accounts, books and archives, the provisions relating to Christian Associations apply, and, alternatively, with the necessary adaptations, the rules and principles of the Accounting Standardisation System.


Chapter II

Brotherhood Management

Article 5.º

(Managing bodies)

1. The following bodies are the managing entities of the Brotherhood:

a) General Assembly;

b) Board of Directors;

c) Council for Economic Affairs.

2. The term of office of these managing bodies is three years. They shall remain in office until their replacement.


Article 6.º

(General Assembly)

1. The General Assembly consists of the meeting by lawfully associated brothers.

2. In all matters relating to the sessions, convening of the General Assembly and its operation, the provisions of the General Standards of Christian Associations shall apply.

3. The General Assembly shall decide on all matters not reserved to the superior ecclesiastical authority and not included in the legal or statutory attributions of the other bodies, and namely: 

a) Define the action guidelines of the Brotherhood;

b) Elect the chairman and secretary of the General Assembly, the members of the Board of Directors and of the Council for Economic Affairs;

c) Approve the admission of new Brothers, under proposal of the Board of Directors;

d) Assess and vote, annually, the budget and action program for the following fiscal year, as well as the annual accounts report;

e) Decide on the acquisition, disposal of real estate property and of any other fixed assets, and on acts of extraordinary administration;

f) Approve the admission fee and annual fee, and decide on the amendment to the Statutes;

g) Decide on the termination, merger or spin-off of the Brotherhood;

h) Approve adherence to unions, federations or confederations;

i) Dismiss or decide on the dismissal of the members of the Board of Directors and of the Council for Economic Affairs.


Article 7.º

(Board of Directors)

1. The diocesan Bishop of Porto will always be the Honorary President of the Brotherhood, without assuming any responsibilities in this condition.

2. The Board of Directors is elected by the General Assembly and consists of a chairman (or judge), a vice-chairman, a secretary, a treasurer and a director. 

3. When serious reasons require so, the Bishop of Porto may appoint a commissioner who, on his behalf, temporarily directs the Brotherhood (canon 318, §1), assuming all the powers of the managing bodies.

4. With regard to the operation, provision, election, confirmation and dismissal, the provisions of the General Standards of Christian Associations apply.

5. The Board of Directors shall manage the Brotherhood by namely:

a) Proposing the admission of Brothers, in harmony with the Statutes;

b) Ensuring the rights and duties of the Brothers;

c) Managing the assets of the Brotherhood;

d) Drawing up, annually, and submitting to the Council for Economic Affairs for its opinion, the report on the accounts of the management, as well as the budget and action program for the following year;

e) Ensuring the organisation and operation of the services, being able to make the applicable internal rules and regulations;

f) Organising the staff members and controlling and managing the respective workers;

g) Ensuring compliance with the Law, the Statutes and the deliberations of the managing bodies of the Brotherhood;

h) Ensuring the correct bookkeeping, as per the Law and the Statutes;

i) Acquiring the implements, furnishings, vestments and other necessary objects for the worship, if any, and for the services of the Brotherhood, conserving and restoring existing ones;

j) Safely and profitably investing the Brotherhood capital;

k) With prior permission of the Bishop of Porto, given in writing, to propose and contest legal actions necessary for the defense of the rights of the Brotherhood (canon 1288);

l) Accepting inheritance, bequests and donations, as per the General Standards.


Article 8.º

(Council for Economic Affairs)

1. The Council for Economic Affairs is elected by the General Assembly and consists of a chairman and two advisers. 

2. This Council shall:

a) Audit the assets of the Brotherhood;

b) Ensure respect for Canon Law and the Laws, especially as regards the acquisition, administration and disposal of temporal assets;

c) Audit the bookkeeping and documents of the Brotherhood, whenever deemed convenient;

d) Attend, or be represented by one of its members, the meetings of the General Assembly and of the Board of Directors, whenever it seems convenient, and thereto give the opinions that are requested or there are for good;

e) Provide a written opinion on the report, accounts and budgets;

f) Provide a report on all matters that the General Assembly or the Board of Directors submit to its appraisal;

g) Assist the Board of Directors in the management of the Brotherhood, when requested.


Article 9.º


For a fair cause, members of the managing bodies can be dismissed by the Bishop of Porto, after a preliminary hearing. 


Article 10.º


1. One month prior to the date appointed for the election, the Board of Directors shall have the electoral register stamped at the lobby of the Brotherhood headquarters in alphabetical order.

2. Elections for the managing bodies shall be held at the headquarters of the Brotherhood every three years, by secret ballot, to the plurality of votes of the Brothers who may participate in the electoral process.

3. The call notice for the General Assembly in cases of election shall be sent within thirty days before it is held. 

4. Proposals of lists for election of the management bodies shall be submitted to the Chairman of the General Assembly no later than 15 days before the date appointed for the election.

5. The lists, once accepted, shall be immediately affixed at the Brotherhood headquarters and, at that moment, the electoral roll shall be delivered to the respective representative.

6. Complaints must be made within a maximum of three days after the deliberation of the Chairman of the General Assembly or its affixation, and it shall be decided within a maximum of forty-eight hours, communicating the respective decision, in writing, to the representative of each list.

7. The decision related to the complaints by the Chairman of the General Assembly rests hierarchically on the Bishop of Porto, with suspensive effect, regarding the exclusion or omission of voters or eligible voters or electoral lists.

8. Against any irregularities occurring in the electoral act, entitlement to challenge such irregularities will be ensured in the minutes by the representative of the list or by the delegates present, or the written presentation in that act. The irregularity will be deemed remedied in the absence of challenge.

9. Once the electoral act has ended, the Chairman of the election shall proclaim the elect members, and all that has occurred during the election shall be drawn up and signed by the Chairman and the Secretary.

10. Within eight days of the proclamation of the elect members, the Judge will send a certified copy of the minutes of the election and the request for confirmation of the elect members to the Bishop of Porto (Article 22, paragraphs 2, 4 and 5 of the General Standards).

11. Within the same period, a hierarchical appeal may be lodged against the Bishop of Porto against decisions on the complaint or challenge concerning any irregularity that occurred during the voting process and in the partial or general assessments related to the election.

12. The decree of confirmation shall be notified by the Judge to each elected member, duly authenticated with the white seal or stamp, of a diploma for the respective investiture.

13. The new management bodies shall take office whenever possible on the first business day of the three-year period for which they have been elected, which shall be conferred by the Chairman of the General Assembly or by his alternate.

14. The minutes of the investiture shall be drawn up in proper book. 

15. The retiring members of the management bodies will remain in office until the investiture of the elected members.

16. The provisions of canons 146 to 156 and 164 to 179 of the Code of Canon Law apply to the election, and the General Assembly may approve an electoral regulation that simplifies the electoral process described in the previous paragraphs, in accordance with article 31 of the General Standards.

17. The debtors of the Brotherhood, the employees of the Brotherhood, those who are in dispute or have a conflict of interests with it, those who have previously been dismissed from positions of office, those who are civilly insolvent and those who no longer meet the conditions of Admission as a Brother may not be elected.


Article 11.º

(Ecclesiastical Guardianship)

The Brotherhood is subject to the Ecclesiastical Guardianship of the Bishop of Porto according to the following terms:

1. It is subject to the canonical erection of the ecclesiastical authority (canon 312 and article 19 of the General Standards).

2. Its statutes and its revision or amendment need the approval of the ecclesiastical authority, after approval by two-thirds of the votes of the Brothers present at the General Assembly (canon 314 and articles 4 and 28, paragraph 2, of the General Standards).

3. Self-governed freely, under the upper administration or superior direction of the ecclesiastical authority, under whose supervision it is submitted, and it can be visited by it (canons 305 §1, 315 and 319 § 1, and article 7 of the General Standards):

4. A hierarchical appeal to the ecclesiastical authority against the decisions made by the Board of Directors or by the General Assembly (canons 1732 to 1739) can be lodged, herein covering electoral collegial acts (canon 119, no. 1).

5. The ecclesiastical authority shall confirm the elected members (canons 179 and 317 and article 22, nº 5, of the General Standards).

6. The ecclesiastical authority may, with just cause, remove the officers of the Brotherhood after a preliminary hearing (canon 318, § 2).

7. The ecclesiastical authority may appoint a commissioner or a provisional management committee to direct the Brotherhood for serious reasons and in special circumstances (canon 318, §1, and article 23 of the General Standards).

8. The Brotherhood manages its ecclesiastical assets with autonomy, but it has to render an account of the administration every year to the ecclesiastical authority, after the General Assembly has approved them (canons 319 and 1257, §1, and articles 42, no. 4 and 50 of the General Standards).

9. The Brotherhood receives the canonical mission to pursue its ends in the name of the Catholic Church, practicing, in the form of a decree, acts covered by delegated ecclesiastical authority (canon 313 and 19 of the General Standards).

10. The Brotherhood can be suppressed by the ecclesiastical authority, officially or upon proposal of the General Assembly (canon 320 and article 46 of the General Norms).

11. Acts of extraordinary administration can only be validly performed after a licence is given by ecclesiastical authority (canons 1290 to 1298 and article 28, no. 2, and 47 of the General Standards).

12. Adhesion to unions, federations or confederations requires approval of the ecclesiastical authority (article 28, nº 2, of the General Standards).

13. The Bishop of Porto is entitled to call and chair all sessions of the managing bodies, either by him or by means of a delegate.

14. The Bishop of Porto may grant exemptions from the remaining canonical restrictions provided for in the laws of the Catholic Church for public christian associations, in accordance with Canon 87 of the Code of Canon Law.


Chapter III


Article 12.º

(Categories of Brothers)

1. This Brotherhood shall have a double category of Brothers: effective and auxiliary.

Presbyters may be admitted as effective brothers in the legitimate use of their canonical faculties. Brothers raised to the Episcopate can remain in this capacity.

Deacons and laymen of both sexes, who are of age, may be admitted as auxiliary brothers, who attentive to their moral probity and devotion to the works of Catholic worship, should be ready to assist the Brotherhood, both in the development of worship and in the provision of material aid.

§ Sole paragraph. Only effective Brothers can vote e be elected for the managing bodies of this Brotherhood. 

2. Among the Brothers, those who, at the discretion of the Board of Directors and under the approval of the General Assembly, will be considered as benefactors to become such for outstanding aid or services rendered to this Brotherhood.

3. The insignia of the Brothers is a medal, bearing on one side the image of Our Lady of the Assumption and, on the other, the pontifical arms bearing the inscription "Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Assumption, St. Peter ad vincula and St. Philip Neri, of the Poor Clerics of Porto, 1642-2012", attached to a white and yellow ribbon.


Article 13.º

(conditions to belong to the Brotherhood)

1. All Presbyters of the Diocese of Porto, in the exercise of their ministry, have the right to apply for admission as associates of the Brotherhood, provided they are not impeded by Canon Law or by these Statutes.

2. An Auxiliary Brother can only be admitted if introduced by an Effective Brother.

3. The person who has rejected the Catholic Faith, has abandoned ecclesiastical communion, or who has incurred excommunication or applied or declared suspension (canon 316, §1) cannot be validly admitted to the Brotherhood.

4. The decision that does not admit any Presbyter as an associate of the Brotherhood rests on a hierarchical appeal to the Bishop of Porto, to be lodged within 15 working days of the notification or knowledge of the decision, with grounds and for any just cause (canon 1737).


Article 14.º

(Dismissal of Brothers)

1. The Board of Directors, after admonition and preliminary hearing, will dismiss the Brothers who no longer fulfill the requirements of the previous article after being legitimately admitted.

2. The Brothers who are once again in conditions for admission will be readmitted.

3. The Brothers who, without a just cause, do not accept the offices for which they have been elected, will be dismissed.

4. A hierarchical appeal shall be submitted to the Bishop of Porto, based on any just cause, regarding the decisions for the dismissal of any Brother. It shall be lodged within 15 working days of the notification or knowledge of the decision regarding the dismissal (canon 316, §2 and 1737).


Article 15.º

(Rights of the Effective Brothers)

Each Brother is entitled to:

a) Participate in the votes fixed by the Board of Directors;

b) Be remembered at a monthly Mass celebrated on Sundays, by the living and deceased Brothers, as well as in the prayers of all the Brothers, especially in the moments of greatest need, and the Anniversary Mass of the deceased Brothers each year;

c) Be visited in sickness, promoting the reception of the sacraments and material aid, according to the possibilities of the Brotherhood;

d) The signs on the Carillon of the Clerics on the day of their death;

e) Promote the objectives of the Brotherhood and participate in its managing bodies, under the terms of the Law and these Statutes;

f) Elect and, up to the age of 75, be elected to the offices to be proficient by Law and by these Statutes;

g) Vote in sessions of the managing bodies in which they take part;

h) Receive the Insignia, the Statutes and the list of Brothers, as well as be informed of any illness and death.


Article 16.º

(Duties of the Effective Brothers)

Each Effective Brother has the following duties:

a) Contribute to the accomplishment of the objectives of the Brotherhood;

b) Raise the credit and prosperity of the Brotherhood;

c) Accept the office for which they were elected;

d) Participate in legitimately convened assemblies and meetings;

e) Pray for deceased Brothers;

f) Attend the funerals and annual suffrage for the deceased brothers.


Article 17.º

(Rights and Duties of Auxiliary Brothers)

Each Auxiliary Brother is entitled to:

a) The signs on the Carillon of the Clerics on the day of their death;

b) Pursue the objectives of the Brotherhood;

c) Receive the Insignia, the Statutes and the list of Brothers, as well as be informed of any illness and death;


Each Auxiliary Brother has the following duties:

a) Contribute to the accomplishment of the objectives of the Brotherhood;

b) Pay the admission fee proposed by the Board of Directors and approved by the General Assembly;

c) Pay the fees approved by the General Assembly, within the applicable deadlines;

d) Participate in legitimately convened assemblies and meetings;

e) Pray for deceased Brothers on a weekly basis;

f) Attend the funerals and annual suffrage for the deceased brothers.


Chapter  IV

Final Provisions

Article 18.º


1. With regard to the procedures and acts and the way of acting, the Brotherhood will take into consideration the Canon Law, the proper rules of Christian Associations, the provisions established in these Statutes and the guiding principles and decisions of the Bishop of Porto.

2. The management acts of the Brotherhood shall obey the principles of canonical legality and justice, hierarchical obedience and respect for competences, communion and collaboration, respect for the public good of the Church, protection of the rights and interests of the faithful members, equality and proportionality, impartiality, good faith, de-bureaucracy and efficiency, always acting in the name of the Catholic Church aimed at the salvation of souls.


Article 19.º

(Council for the culture)

There shall be a council for the culture, composed of Effective and Auxiliary Brothers, as well as citizens who have rendered relevant services to the Brotherhood or have cooperated in any way for the attainment of the purposes of the Brotherhood. The purpose of this Council, to be established and appointed by the Board of Directors, is to provide an opinion on the cooperation with the civil authorities regarding the assets of the Brotherhood that integrate the Portuguese cultural heritage and the program of cultural activities of the Brotherhood.


Article 20.º

(Legal representative)

The Brotherhood is represented, in and out of court, by the President of the Board of Directors, who acts on behalf of the Brotherhood and not on his own behalf (canon 118). 


Article 21.º

(Statutory limitation)

All acts and contracts entered into on behalf of the Brotherhood with third parties in good faith or in bad faith shall be null and void, unless the licence required by Canon Law has been obtained in advance for the practice of that act or for the execution of such contract (article 11, no. 2, of the 2004 Concordat).


Article 22.º

(Effect and revocatory action )

These Statutes, approved at the Extraordinary General Assembly, chaired by His Most Reverend Excellency, Bishop António Maria Bessa Taipa, Auxiliary Bishop of Porto, in his capacity as Chairman of the General Assembly, held on April 15th, 2013, at the Auditorium of the Episcopal Palace of Porto, will be in force on the first day of the month following their approval by his Most Reverend Excellency, Bishop Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Bishop of Porto, and the previous ones, approved on March 23rd, 2007, will be superseded.