The name of the organisation shall be “The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference”, hereinafter referred to as “the Conference.”
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (which is comprised of the Catholic Bishops of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland) is an organisation, approved by the Holy See, of diocesan Bishops and others equivalent in Canon Law, serving in the ecclesiastical Provinces of Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, in and through which members exercise their pastoral office jointly through the pooling of wise counsel and experiences in matters concerning their common interest in order to promote that greater good which the Church offers humankind especially through formation and programmes of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the age.
Members of the Conference are by law diocesan bishops, those equivalent to them in law, coadjutors and auxiliaries, and other bishops who perform within the territory served by the Conference a pastoral work entrusted to them by the Apostolic See or the Episcopal Conference; not, however, titular bishops outside these categories, nor vicars general.
The Bishops of the SACBC during their last “ad limina” visit to Rome
Aim of the Conference is to foster the spirit of communion within the universal Church and between the particular churches. The particular aim of the Conference is to provide the bishops of the territories mentioned above with facilities for consultation and united action in such matters of common interest to the Church as consultation and co-operation with other hierarchies; the fostering of priestly and religious vocations; the doctrinal, apostolic and pastoral formation of the clergy, religious and laity; the promotion of missionary activity, catechetics, liturgy, lay apostolate, ecumenism, development, justice and reconciliation, social welfare, schools, hospitals, the apostolate of the press, radio, television, and other means of social communication; and any other necessary activity.
In furtherance of the above, the Conference shall be entitled:
* to issue statements of common policy
* to promote and foster any movement, institution or undertaking that shall be deemed consistent with its aim
* to negotiate with the government or with any other person or body
* to provide appropriate means for the achievement of its purpose
* The Conference shall hold two ordinary plenary sessions annually.
* An extraordinary plenary session may be convened, either at the request of two-thirds of the members of the Administrative Board, or of one-third of all the members of the Conference.
* All members of the Conference shall have a deliberative vote. However, only diocesan Bishops, those equivalent to them in law and coadjutor Bishops have a deliberate vote in the making or changing of the statutes.
* Any member of the conference, prevented from attending a plenary session, may nominate one of his clergy to represent him without voting powers. The act of delegation or nomination shall be in writing.
* It is desirable that, for fraternal dialogue with the Conference, the representative of the Holy See for the territory of the Conference should be invited to at least the first meeting of each plenary session of the Conference. Furthermore, it shall be in order for him to be present at other meetings of the Conference, either by a special mandate of the Holy See, or by the invitation of the Conference.
* It shall be in order for the Conference, through its Administrative Board, to invite non-members to attend meetings of the plenary session.
* Decisions of the Conference are juridically binding only in those cases prescribed by the common law, or specified by a special mandate of the Holy See (given either “Motu Proprio” or in response to a petition from the Conference) when they are made in due form by a two-thirds majority of the members, reviewed by the Apostolic See and lawfully promulgated.
* Promulgation of such decrees will be done by publication as an ‘Official Document’ of the conference. In certain cases another method of promulgation may also be prescribed.
* Other, non-juridically binding resolutions of the Conference shall be deemed valid if they are passed by a two-thirds majority of the members, except when a choice has to be made between two or more practical applications of a proposal accepted in principle, in which case an absolute majority (i.e. more than half the votes) will suffice. If the absolute majority is not reached at the first ballot, further ballots shall be taken, after each of which the proposal receiving the least number of votes shall be eliminated until a decision is reached. If more than one proposal receives the least number of votes, a vote of the meeting shall be taken to decide by a simple majority which proposal is to be eliminated. It is recommended that an individual bishop make these non-juridically binding resolutions his own with a view to unity and charity with his brother bishops, unless serious reasons he has carefully considered in the Lord prevent it. He promulgates these decisions and norms in his diocese in his own name and proper authority, whenever the Conference cannot definitively circumscribe the power, which each bishop personally discharges in the name of Christ.
* The bishop who decides not to implement a juridically non-binding decision in his diocese is invited, for the sake of unity of action within the Conference, to notify the President about his decision.
* In urgent cases, requiring a decision of the Conference when a plenary session cannot be held, the Administrative Board may submit the relevant propositions to the members and receive their votes by post; and any proposition receiving the favourable vote of two-thirds of the members shall be considered validly adopted.
* The Conference President shall be elected in plenary session by an absolute majority of votes. If such a majority is not reached at the first or second ballot, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes at the second ballot shall be sole candidates for the third and final ballot. Thereafter the Conference Vice-Presidents shall be elected according to the same procedure. Auxiliary bishops cannot be elected to the offices of president and vice-president.
* The Chairmen and the Vice-Chairmen of the Departments shall be elected according to the same procedure.
* The plenary session shall elect a President, a First Vice-President and a Second Vice-President of the Conference for a term of three years renewable for a further term.
* The Vice-Presidents shall assume such rights and duties as may be assigned to them from time to time by the President or the plenary session or the Administrative Board
* Should the President be impeded or absent from the Conference Territory, the first Vice-President shall be Acting President; assuming all the rights and duties of the President; should the first Vice- President also be impeded or absent from the Territory, the role of Acting President shall devolve on the second Vice-President, and should he also be impeded or absent from the Territory, an Acting President shall be elected by the Administrative Board from amongst its members.
* The Conference shall have an Administrative Board as its Standing Committee, and it shall comprise the President, the Vice-Presidents, and the Chairperson (or, in his absence, the Vice-Chairperson) of each Department. A Cardinal member of the Conference shall ex officio be a member of the Administrative Board.
* A quorum of the Administrative Board shall be constituted by two-thirds of its members.
* A resolution of the Administrative Board shall be valid if passed by a simple majority of those present.
* The Administrative Board is to prepare the agenda for the plenary sessions and to ensure that decisions taken at the plenary sessions are properly executed.