The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port of Spain (under then Archbishop Louis Gonin) was incorporated as a body corporate on the 4th day of August, 1870 under and by virtue of the Roman Catholic Archbishop Ordinance No. 268 of 1870 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the principal Ordinance’) and as such, became a legal entity in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The principal ordinance was amended by subsequent legislation in the years 1870, 1890, 1905, and 1960 with a final amendment in the year 1963 under then Archbishop Finbar Ryan.
By virtue of its legislative authority, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port of Spain, Corporation Sole has conducted its civil affairs since 1870 to the present day.
What does this mean?
While the Church’s end is an eternal one, it must carry out its work in the world and thereby within a temporal dimension. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 dedicates an entire book V to “The Temporal Goods of the Church” which is described as having a fourfold purpose: for divine worship, for the support of the clergy and other ministers, for the apostolate and for works of charity towards the poor and the needy (canon 1254).
In basic terms, these temporal goods are what the Church acquires to fulfil its mission through works such as Catholic education, social services, building and maintaining churches, supporting clergy. It administrates these activities through the Archdiocesan curia and offices and parishes. These temporal goods belong to the public juridic person who legitimately (canon law and civil law) acquires them.
The civil incorporation means that The Roman Catholic Archbishop legitimately acquires temporal goods in the pursuance of its mission but this does not change the canonical status of the temporal goods belonging to The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port of Spain. In other words, the Church has been legitimately incorporated through civil law as a legal entity and is able to acquire, alienate and administer temporal goods, remembering always that the Church is a spiritual reality and thus its aims and objectives is always ordered to the spiritual good.
Happy anniversary! We thank God for His blessings over these years and pray that He will continue to guide His Church in Trinidad and Tobago to act justly, love mercifully and walk humbly with Him. Amen.
Submitted by: Chancellor: Sr Lystra Long, OP