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5.13.5 Procedures for Ministerial Faculties and Approvals

5.13.5.1 Priests with Archdiocesan Faculties Wishing to Exercise Ministry Outside the Archdiocese


A priest with archdiocesan faculties who wishes to exercise ministry outside the archdiocese (whether for a single event such as a wedding, baptism, funeral, or other ceremony) or has other reasons to exercise ministry for a limited period or a particular assignment (such as a retreat, convocation, or other ministry) may request a letter of suitability from the archdiocese through the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

The request should be made as soon as the priest has received the invitation or other details of the ministerial activity, except in emergency situations such as funerals. The letter of suitability shall affirm that the priest is in good standing in the archdiocese with full faculties; has no record of any canonical, criminal, behavioral, sexual, financial, or other issues; and is authorized to minister for the particular activity. See the Statement of the Ordinary/Major Superior.

If the priest will be away from his parish during a weekend, he should make prior arrangements to make sure all sacramental needs are accommodated.

5.13.5.2 Visiting Priests: Hospitality or Presiding at a Single Event in the Archdiocese

A parish or other location may allow a priest from outside the archdiocese who is not impeded by canon law to receive short-term hospitality and to celebrate private Mass if the priest is known to the pastor/administrator and his suitability to minister has been confirmed by the pastor/administrator.

However, if the priest has been invited to preside at a single event such as a public Mass, wedding, baptism, funeral, or other ceremony, the visiting priest must also present to the pastor/administrator a current letter of suitability from his diocesan bishop/ordinary or religious superior. The letter of suitability shall affirm that the priest is in good standing in his diocese/religious institute; has no record of any canonical, criminal, behavioral, sexual, financial, or other issues; has full faculties in the location of his current assignment; has proof of current certification of VIRTUS or equivalent training; and is authorized to be present in the archdiocese for the particular activity. Prior to the event, a copy of the letter of suitability shall be forwarded to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. See the Statement of the Ordinary/Major Superior.

In evaluating any request, the location must first confirm that the individual priest is not listed on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles No Faculties List and the location must carefully review the documentation presented by the visiting priest. A parish should not hesitate to ask questions, request other references or identifying documents such as a passport, or contact the priest's diocese or religious superior for verification by telephone. If there are any doubts or unresolved issues, permission for a priest or religious to engage in ministry should always be denied or referred to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. Vigilance is essential with respect to priests and religious who come to the archdiocese even for hospitality or a single event. If for any reason pastors/administrators wish more in-depth screening of a visiting priest, they should refer the matter to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy in advance of the event.

The parish does not provide a salary, benefits, health insurance, a vehicle, or car insurance for visitors.

The Office of Vicar for Clergy can answer questions or provide additional guidance for visiting priests.

5.13.5.3 Short-Term Faculties (Up to Two Months in the Archdiocese)

Priests coming for extended holidays, for study programs, or by invitation and who want a parish experience, or priests coming to assist in a parish to help with ministry needs (such as those who are in the archdiocese for summer supply) may receive short-term faculties from the archdiocese. The faculties are issued by the vicar for clergy; they include the particulars of the priest's stay and the reason for his presence in the archdiocese.

If the visiting priest will be staying up to two months in the archdiocese and will be doing ministry during this time, the pastor/administrator should request short-term faculties for the visiting priest through the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

To obtain short-term faculties from the archdiocese for a visiting priest, the pastor/administrator, the parish life director, or the visiting priest himself should submit to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy​ the following:

  • An Application for Short-Term Faculties form is completed by the priest applicant.

  • A letter of suitability from the visiting priest's diocesan bishop/ordinary or religious superior shall affirm that the priest is in good standing in his diocese/religious institute; has no record of any canonical, criminal, behavioral, sexual, financial, or other issues; has full faculties in the location of his current assignment; has proof of current certification of completion of VIRTUS or equivalent training; and is authorized to be present in the archdiocese. See the Statement of the Ordinary/Major Superior. The letter of suitability must indicate the permitted length of time that the priest has been given to be in the archdiocese.

  • The application should include the pastor's request letter from the sponsoring parish, with references and any other sources in support of the request.

Short-term faculties will not be given without these documents. Short-term faculties will automatically lapse at the end of two months if a shorter period is not specified.​

Priests who receive short-term faculties are required to undergo a background check (fingerprinting) under the California Education Code before commencing their ministry in the archdiocese and must attend archdiocesan safe environment training or provide proof of current certification if they are in the archdiocese for more than 15 days.

Non-U.S. citizens are responsible for obtaining the proper visas for their stay. Generally, R-1 visas are not appropriate for priests obtaining short-term faculties. Locations are not permitted to sponsor an R-1 visa for any priest, regardless of the length of his stay.

Priests who receive short-term faculties do not receive an archdiocesan assignment, are not hired by the parish, and are not eligible for regular compensation, archdiocesan health insurance, or other employee benefits. Parishes are encouraged to arrange for and fund temporary medical benefits and may contact the archdiocesan Insurance Department for details.

Applications for short-term faculties, with all supporting materials, must be submitted to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy at least 30 days before the visiting priest's anticipated arrival in order to enable the office to process the required documentation. However, even if all documentation is timely submitted, the granting of faculties is not assured. All questions about short-term faculties should be directed to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

5.13.5.4 Long-Term Faculties (More Than Two Months in the Archdiocese)

Qualified priests who expect to be in the archdiocese for more than two months and who wish to have faculties to minister during their stay must apply to the vicar for clergy. This includes priests who may be in the archdiocese on sabbatical, for formal studies, or for other commitments. The Office of the Vicar for Clergy will respond to these applications according to the needs of the archdiocese. All priests who receive long-term faculties are given a letter specifying their ministerial duties and privileges while in the archdiocese. The Priest Personnel Board may be consulted concerning assignments, as appropriate.

Extern priest applicants may be granted faculties and considered for assignment as follows: (a) by presentation for an office (ex officio) by a diocesan bishop/ordinary or major superior; (b) by pastors, administrators, or parish life directors who may recommend an applicant; or (c) the applicant may apply directly.

All applications are handled by the Office of the Vicar for Clergy​ and, as appropriate, shall include the following:

  • An Application for Long-Term Ministry is completed by the priest applicant and submitted to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

  • A letter of suitability affirms that the priest is in good standing in his diocese/religious institute; has no record of any canonical, criminal, behavioral, sexual, financial, or other issues; has full faculties in the location of his current assignment; has proof of current certification of completion of VIRTUS or equivalent training; and is authorized to be present in the archdiocese. See the approved text for this letter in the Statement of the Ordinary/Major Superior.

  • A statement from the diocesan bishop/ordinary indicates the permitted length of time that the priest has been given to be in the archdiocese and any other factors relevant to his presence in the archdiocese. The Office of the Vicar for Clergy will contact any recommending diocesan bishop/ordinary directly.

  • If the priest is being recommended by a parish, the application should include a request letter from the sponsoring parish, with references and any other sources in support of the request.

  • Student priests provide a copy of the acceptance letter from their educational institution and any information concerning financial aid, and any other educational support or teaching, research, or similar obligations related to their studies.

  • An interview by the Office of the Vicar for Clergy—in person or by electronic means—is a required part of the application process.

Non-diocesan priests assigned by their superiors to minister in the archdiocese as externs do not need to file an Application for Long-Term Ministry, but they are required to submit information to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy and comply with archdiocesan policies on the letter of suitability, visas, interviews, background checks, safe environment training, and similar matters.

Pastors, administrators, and parish life directors recommending a priest should contact the Office of the Vicar for Clergy to discuss the particular needs of the parish, the needs of the archdiocese, the applicant, and the details of the assignment, including pertinent financial arrangements.

Applications for long-term faculties will be reviewed and, if approved, faculties and the assignment letter are issued by the vicar for clergy. Faculties for externs are generally granted for a term of one year and are reviewed annually. Long-term faculties granted to student priests will be renewed annually during the expected term of their studies; generally, student faculties will not be extended beyond the end of the academic program or if the student priest is not actively pursuing his studies.

Extern priests are required to undergo a background check (fingerprinting) under the California Education Code before commencing their ministry in the archdiocese and must attend archdiocesan safe environment training within 15 days of their arrival in the archdiocese.

Non-U.S. citizen externs who apply for an assignment must obtain an R-1 visa (for temporary nonimmigrant religious workers) in order to work and be provided with compensation. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, through the Office of the Vicar for Clergy, has sole authority to be the sponsoring agency for R-1 visas. Locations are not permitted to sponsor a priest for an R-1 visa. Under current law, non-U.S. citizen externs are required to return to their home country after five years; accordingly, the faculties of a priest with an R-1 visa will not extend beyond five years.

Priests with student visas generally may not have long-term faculties from the archdiocese and may not receive compensation for any ministerial activities.

Priests who come into the archdiocese and begin to minister without following the procedures outlined in this section will be disqualified for consideration for any faculties or assignment and generally will be asked to leave the archdiocese unless other particular arrangements are made in writing with the priest's home diocese or religious institute.

Religious institutes and non-diocesan entities may have clergy present in the archdiocese at one of their facilities or any other location in the archdiocese. If a priest is present for a reason other than a short retreat or a vacation of less than a month, the religious institute or non-diocesan entity is required to advise the vicar for clergy of the priest's presence in the archdiocese and of the priest's canonical status. That priest will not have faculties in the archdiocese unless he formally applies for and receives them.

5.13.5.5Visas and Permanent Residency

In the process to obtain an R-1 visa, the archdiocese will assist priests who are not citizens of the United States and whom it wishes to assign to ministry. However, the archdiocese will support for permanent residency only those in the process of incardination. Generally, priests who are permanent residents and become pastors will be expected to apply for U.S. citizenship. For specific information about visas and permanent residency ("green cards"), contact the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

5.13.5.6 Overview of Assignment Designations for Extern Priests

These descriptions are intended to give a general overview of the most common assignments for extern priests:

Parish Administrator

The extern priest is appointed and assigned as full-time parish administrator. He receives a salary, a vehicle, housing and room and board, health insurance, car insurance, ongoing formation, and retreat allowances from the parish on the same basis as a pastor. Retirement and other benefits may be provided if the priest becomes incardinated or is otherwise eligible.

Associate Pastor

The extern priest is assigned as a full-time associate pastor in a parish. He receives a salary, a vehicle, housing and room and board, health insurance, car insurance, ongoing formation, and retreat allowances from the parish on the same basis as a diocesan priest in full-time ministry. He is expected to participate fully in the life of the parish and archdiocese on the same basis as a diocesan priest. Retirement and other benefits may be provided if the priest becomes incardinated or is otherwise eligible.

Priest Minister

An extern priest may be assigned as the priest minister in a parish that is assigned a parish life director or another leadership option without a resident pastor/administrator. A priest minister collaborates with the parish life director to meet the sacramental, spiritual, and administrative needs of the parish. This assignment may be full- or part-time. If the assignment is full-time, the priest minister will receive compensation from the parish and serve on the same basis as an associate pastor. If the assignment is part-time, compensation will be determined in collaboration between the parish and the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.

Resident Priest

The extern priest holds an archdiocesan or non-diocesan assignment outside of parish ministry or is a student. If the priest is a student, the parish provides room and board, health insurance, and an allowance. Other resident priests are provided room and board in the parish; salary, vehicle, and other benefits, if any, are provided by the place of assignment other than the parish.

5.13.5.7 Incardination and Excardination

This policy implements the norms of the Code of Canon Law governing the incardination and excardination of clerics. The archdiocese does not recruit priests from other dioceses or religious institutes. However, the vicar for clergy welcomes inquiries from priests who are interested in incardination and encourages priests to meet with the vicars early in their discernment process.

Experience has shown that incardination requires careful discernment and interaction between the archdiocese and a priest considering incardination.

Process for Incardination of Extern Priests

The process for incardination of extern priests into the archdiocese is as follows:

  • A priest who is interested in incardinating in the archdiocese must submit a letter of intent, to which the archbishop will express his opposition. This opposition is to preclude the application of the "automatic incardination" referred to in Canon 268.

  • A period of assessment commences from the date the priest submits his letter of intent. This period allows the parties to discern whether the proposed transfer of incardination truly serves the good of the local Church in the archdiocese as well as the spiritual welfare of the individual priest. This period of assessment involves continuous service in at least two different assignments (made by the archdiocese) for a period of approximately five years.

  • If the interested priest is deemed ineligible, or the archdiocese concludes that his incardination is not necessary or advantageous to the archdiocese, he will be informed in writing by the archbishop as promptly as feasible.

  • The priest seeking incardination provides the Office of the Vicar for Clergy with a report of a comprehensive medical evaluation. The priest seeking incardination is given a psychological assessment conducted by an assessor selected by the archdiocese.

  • The archdiocese conducts a background check covering relevant issues, such as personal histories, credit, criminal and other civil litigation, and such other issues as may be appropriate and available from the locations where the priest was formed and has served.

  • The vicar for clergy contacts the regional bishop(s), pastors/administrators, or other supervisors under whom the priest has served during his assessment period, along with other priests who have served with him and selected leaders of the parish or other apostolates, to seek their vota (observations and opinions) concerning the wisdom of incardinating the priest. The Priest Personnel Board interviews the priest and gives its votum.

  • The archdiocese generally will not incardinate a priest who is eligible to participate in the archdiocesan Qualified Retirement Plan unless the priest will serve in full-time active ministry for a sufficient period to be fully vested.

  • The priest applicant will be informed by the archbishop of his willingness to incardinate the priest in the archdiocese. A copy of the letter will be sent to the priest's ordinary. Then, a diocesan priest is invited to obtain a formal Letter of Excardination from his own diocesan bishop. If the priest is a member of a religious institute, he will be required to obtain an Indult of Departure from his religious institute before he can be considered for incardination.

  • Once the Letter of Excardination or the Indult of Departure is received by the archbishop (Canon 269.2), a formal Letter of Incardination can be presented to the priest, at which time the incardination is effective. A copy of that letter is sent to the excardinating ordinary.

5.13.5.8 Inappropriate Fund-Raising by Visiting and Extern Priests

All locations and priests, including visiting and extern priests, are required to be familiar with and adhere to the archdiocesan policy on stipends and service fees. Visiting priests and externs may not solicit funds from the faithful, their parish, or their place of assignment on behalf of their home diocese or institute or for any other benefit not related to the archdiocese, unless it is for a particular purpose and the details have been approved in writing by the moderator of the curia or the archdiocesan Society for the Propagation of the Faith and such details are provided to the parties solicited. Such efforts involve special tax advice. In connection with these limitations, no priests, including any visiting and extern priests, are allowed to establish any enterprises through which such solicitations are made, without specific written approval and review by the moderator of the curia and the Office of the Legal Counsel. Violations of this policy may result in a loss of faculties or other referrals.

5.13.5.9 Taxes and Social Security

​All priests, including religious whose communities are not officially and formally recognized as exempt from income taxes for their members by the U.S. government, must pay federal and state income tax as well as Social Security tax based on income during each calendar year. The source of salary will provide the priest with an official statement of income (Form W-2​) by January 31 of each year. Estimated personal income taxes, including Social Security/Medicare payments, must be paid quarterly by all visiting priests, even if they will not stay here long or will never qualify for benefits (under "Compensation and Benefits for Priests," see Social Security Medicare).

Both federal and state tax returns must be filed. The federal tax return Form 1040 includes the Social Security payment report. The State of California tax form is Form 540. Both of these must be filed (postmarked at the post office) by April 15 of each year, unless an extension has been requested and received by the priest.

Generally, the source of salary will include in the salary an additional amount to pay Social Security self-employment tax, so the actual out-of-pocket cost should be very little. Failure to pay these taxes may result in severe fines from the government and may affect one's visa status, the ability to renew a visa, or the ability to return to the United States at a later time. These taxes are NOT optional. They MUST be paid.

The Social Security (Form SE) part of the federal taxes is based on W-2 income as well as an additional amount for housing, currently set at $12,000 per year. Check with the pastor to determine the housing value to use for this form only. Only religious whose community has formally opted out of the Social Security system do not participate. Any decision by anyone else to opt out of Social Security may have a serious impact on the archdiocese's ability to consider him for incardination or continued ministry in the archdiocese.​


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