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A variety of other commissions and committees support the work of the diocese, most in a non-governance capacity. Some are canonical bodies, i.e. chartered via a canon in the Constitution and Canons, and others are non-canonical.
Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of El Camino Real
Canon 3.11 - Under Officers of the Diocese
Canon 21.5 Re Ecclesiastical Discipline
The Constitution (6.9 and 9.1) gives seat, voice and vote to the chancellor at Convention and includes the chancellor with the secretary and treasurer as officers of the Diocese.
Practically, what does the chancellor do?
It's been said that being chancellor of the diocese is just like being general counsel of a company, only you don't get paid.
Note the difference in 3.11 and 21.5, above. Except in the case of ecclesiastical discipline, the chancellor is the advisor to the whole Diocese, not merely to the bishop, or the parishes, or the clergy. For ecclesiastical discipline, a church attorney is appointed to handle the matter and the chancellor advises the bishop. This would not be the case if the bishop were the subject of the discipline.
As advisor to the Diocese, the chancellor covers not only issues arising under church constitution and canons, but all the temporal matters that may arise. The range of subjects recently has included:
How to seek help
Nancy Cohen is chancellor. Cynthia Maxwell is vice-chancellor. Cynthia deals especially with matters in her legal specialty - employment law. She travels a great deal so the best way to reach her is by email. Nancy deals with anything or finds the right person to do so. Both are volunteers and have limited capacity to deal with numerous issues. The principal client is the Diocese. We will, however, give initial direction on parish legal questions and help the parish get the appropriate help.
Help is there for chancellors. A good network of diocesan chancellors exists. There is an internet workroom in which one can pose questions, peruse model agreements, and get help on specific legal issues. It is also easy to ask and answer questions by email.
An internet site, Church Law Today, is available by subscription the Diocese of El Camino Real is a subscriber.
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