Rorate Caeli

What is a Personal Prelature?

This is probably a good time for everyone following the Vatican-SSPX negotiations to read five paragraphs from the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  Art. 297 is the most important one relative to the SSPX situation. 

The proposed statutes (which none of us have seen) are what will decide whether or not an ordinary can simply block the SSPX from a diocese (like the FSSP has experienced since 1988) or if there will be explicit language guaranteeing a traditionalist version of religious freedom with respect to a hostile diocesan bishop.

Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or for different social groups.
Can. 295 §1. The statutes established by the Apostolic See govern a personal prelature, and a prelate presides offer it as the proper ordinary; he has the right to erect a national or international seminary and even to incardinate students and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.
§2. The prelate must see to both the spiritual formation and decent support of those whom he has promoted under the above-mentioned title.
Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it.
Can. 297 The statutes likewise are to define the relations of the personal prelature with the local ordinaries in whose particular churches the prelature itself exercises or desires to exercise its pastoral or missionary works, with the previous consent of the diocesan bishop.