The Definition of “Canonical Status”
For a community, association, monastic order, or otherwise, wishes to receive canonical approval, it must indicate, by supplying documents and in a general letter, to the Holy See, the intentions, beliefs and practices of the said community, etc. If it is found that the community, etc. is in communion with the Catholicos Patriarch, canonical approval is usually granted. This means that the community, association, monastic order, etc. must meet certain criteria. Doctrinal statements within the documents provided, must be in agreement with those of the Holy See and, to varying degrees, all the other Spiritual Communities within the Assembly of Jerusalem. While the doctrines of Spiritual Communities are to be in agreement with one another, obviously the practices, and use of liturgical texts and history, etc. will vary from one community to another. These varying expressions of the one faith are permitted, as long as the doctrinal beliefs are in harmony with the other Spiritual Communities. All liturgical texts, and most practices, must be approved by the Holy See.
When a community, order or association is designated as “canonical status pending”, this indicates that there may have been recent changes in the documents of the community, etc. or the community’s mission has changed in nature. When a community, etc. is approved as “canonical”, in most cases it means that all of the materials that were originally submitted to the Holy See were approved by a religious authority, in most cases the Catholicos himself. The canonical status of any community, order, etc. depends on the original documents and mission remaining intact and adhered to by its clerics and laity. If the Holy See receives letters of concern from members of a Spiritual Community, or Monastic Order, etc. in reference to the doctrines, practices or statements of clerics, the canonical status will be reviewed or designated as pending until a review can be made. The pending status helps others to understand that the Assembly of Jerusalem is currently reviewing or will review the matter when time permits. In some cases, a review may take several months.
The faithful should bear in mind that another reason that a Spiritual Community would be designated as canonically pending, is due to the fact that it may be preparing for transitioning from the Didache to the Aurayta. In this latter case, the Holy See will require that Spiritual Community to ensure that it is ready for observance of Aurayta.
From time to time, an ecclesiastical competency review is made of clerics. This is usually, but not always, for high ranking clerics. This helps ensure that the cleric is competent to teach, guide and guard the flock entrusted to him/her. On some occasions, if necessary, a cleric’s canonical status may be designated as pending. In this case, it should indicate to the faithful that the cleric is currently undergoing disciplinary action and further information would be provided for those affected. In other instances, a cleric may be laicized. A laicized cleric is not permitted to celebrate the various sacraments — for example, perform baptisms (except as a lay person), Qurbana Qadisha, confessions, marriages, etc.
Any person that is designated as “In Good Standing” is a person recognized as a brother or sister in the congregation who is not undergoing any particular disciplinary and who has been an active member of their local congregation for at least six months without disciplinary action. (See the page on “Excommunication“)