Resolution of Conflict and Advocacy
Accusations of misconduct of any kind by someone entrusted with an office in the Church is a traumatic event for the accused, the alleged victim, and for the parish, diocese, or religious congregation involved. Clergy or religious may find themselves accused of various types of misconduct in their functioning. Some persons may have been harmed in some way by the misconduct of a representative of the Church. Canon Law Professionals is able to assist those who have been accused of misconduct, as well as those victims who might desire a canonical remedy for harm they have experienced, and ensure that our clients are treated fairly and appropriately by the Church authority to whom they are subject.
A canonical advocate can assist a victim of wrongdoing to bring forward an allegation to the appropriate Church authority and to insure that the Church authority takes proper and timely action. Likewise, a canonical advocate can assist a person accused of wrongdoing or misconduct to go through the canonical processes which they are facing and to exercise fully their right of defense. However, Canon Law Professionals DOES NOT offer civil legal advice and DOES NOT interfere in any way with the civil or criminal proceedings that might be associated with misconduct.
Canon law allows a person to freely appoint an advocate that is qualified and approved to represent the client in a canonical procedure, hearing, or trial. This person must be properly skilled in the field of canon law and should have a degree in canon law. The advocate assists the client, but also is committed to seek the truth in the matter.
Having a canonical advocate is not always necessary, but for both sides of a misconduct case having a canonical advocate is often useful. Many people find the use of canonical counsel important as they try to understand canon law and the particular action that is swirling around them. Whenever one’s rights are threatened in any way within the Church, one is prudent to engage a competent canonical advocate as soon as possible. Our canonists assist our clients to navigate the various procedures, time periods, and canonical requirements so that their rights are protected and justice is served.
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Mediation and Arbitration Services
Conflict may be painful, but it is natural ... even for the Church.
Jesus told us: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) While, surely all of us try to follow this command, human nature frequently leads us to failure. We want to be peacemakers, but we get annoyed and upset with one another. We have disagreements and, even in the Church, we have conflict.
Conflict allows us the opportunity for growth and development if we deal with it in an open and accepting manner. Some people tend to shy away from conflict to avoid dealing with problems. Others tend to attack or blame the offending party. When this happens, more pain is inflicted on the injured party and on ourselves, and we do not allow the opportunity for growth or reconciliation within the community.
Most of the time we are able to overcome conflicts with others by hard work, collaboration and remembering Our Lord’s words. Nonetheless, there are times when all of our hard work and prayer do not bring the resolution and conciliation we seek. The assistance of others may be necessary as we are told in Matthew 18:15-17.
How does mediation work?
Mediation is a process of voluntary, cooperative dispute resolution where a trained professional assists parties in reaching a mutually agreed-upon solution for their conflict. With the aid of the mediator, parties focus on the problem at hand, and not on the individual. Mediation allows for conflict to be resolved while honoring the dignity of the persons involved. The burden and the reward of the resolution of the conflict resides within the parties themselves; not the mediator.
Mediation provides the opportunity to work together with our brothers and sisters in a respectful, conciliatory manner which allows the entire community to benefit.
Mediation allows more creativity in solving a dispute rather than relying on the oftentimes arbitrary outcome of civil litigation.
Mediation allows people to move toward community and gives the opportunity for a long-lasting solution to conflicts.
Mediation helps focus on the underlying issues in a dispute, not just on the conflicting positions. It helps people to move past bad feelings and reach a mutually agreed on solution.
Why Canon Law Professionals?
Canon Law Professionals offers trained mediators for resolving many types of disputes that arise within the Church. While there are many good intentioned, well-trained mediators available in most communities, Canon Law Professionals offers the additional facet of mediators who have worked with and for the Catholic Church. We bring a respectful, canonical perspective and an understanding of the unique concerns and conflict issues within the Catholic Church.
We bring a Catholic perspective and understanding to bear upon the process in order to assist in healing wounds caused by conflict.
Canon Law Professionals offers neutral facilitators and consultants to help groups, such as parish councils, deal with difficult issues.
We assist congregations that have become divided or polarized, and we provide workshops and seminars to help communities deal more effectively with future conflicts.
We facilitate meetings and gatherings so that the objectives of the conveners are completed in the most efficient manner possible.
We help in planning and goal setting.
Who could benefit from mediation?
Individuals – Unfortunately, differences between individuals can grow and embroil an entire community. Mediation helps individuals resolve their disputes. Conflict resolution allows individuals to make their own decisions and make peace with their neighbors before the conflict grows.
Parishes or religious communities – Differences among groups of people can tend to grow into unmanageable situations as individual concerns move the group. Mediation helps groups focus on the issues at hand and helps them come to an agreed upon solution. Employment issues within parishes, divided or contentious parish councils, problems between pastors and parishioners, can all be remedied through mediation.
Employees and management of parochial schools, Catholic colleges and universities, and Catholic health care facilities.
Those considering legal action against the Church.
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Canonical Representation for Religious Communities or Individual Religious
Canon Law Professionals represents both individuals and communities in the various types of religious life. We know that occasionally persons in religious communities desire a change of their status and need canonical assistance to do so. Also, occasionally a religious has a conflict with the pastor or diocesan bishop with whom they work, or in whose diocese they reside. Finally, we know the personal, vocational, and community damage that conflict within religious communities can cause. At Canon Law Professionals, we help our Religious clients navigate through these difficulties while respecting the rights, duties and obligations of all.
Those in religious life sometimes face conflicts involving their rights or duties. For example, departure from a religious community is often a choice that people make, or, in some cases, involuntarily have made for them. Other Religious desire to transfer from one type of religious community to another, or desire to move from religious life to another type of religious vocation such as being a hermit or a consecrated virgin. Finally, there are diocesan priests who desire assistance in becoming members of a religious community, or Religious priests who wish to leave their communities and affiliate with a local diocese. In any of these cases, canonical representation for the religious community, for the individual, and occasionally for a diocese helps ensure that all parties are dealt with properly and fairly. Canon Law Professionals has advocates that have worked with both religious communities and members and we have experience working with indults of exclaustration, departure, and even canonical dismissal.
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Canonical Representation for Parishes
For many of us, our parish is like our family. However, even within a family we sometimes experience conflict. In a parish there are times when those employed by the parish have conflicts with pastors or administrators. There are issues over which parishes find themselves divided. In a time where parishes are being closed, merged, or relocated, there are often concerns by parishioners over the methods by which these restructurings are accomplished and making sure that the rights and obligations of all the interested parties are respected. Canon Law Professionals has trained mediators that can help parishes and parishioners in making peace where there has previously been conflict. In addition, our canonists are able to advise clients regarding whether administrative recourse is an appropriate course of action, or whether there may be other avenues by which their issues could be resolved.
There are many people who give generously to their parishes or to the diocese. One’s will is a common means by which people bequeath funds or property to the Church. Most of the time, these gifts are freely given and freely accepted, and they become a benefit to both the person giving and the Church receiving the gift. Ordinarily, a civil attorney is the appropriate professional to prepare such a will. However, there are times when the person wishing to give a gift may want their gift used for a specific item (e.g., a new building) that the Church cannot use at the time. An advocate can help the parties find common ground that allows the gift to be used with the intent of the donor, but gives the Church the freedom to exercise appropriate discretion if it becomes necessary.
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