Parish Registration

I’ve tried a forum search because I know there were threads about this but came up empty. My understanding is that a Catholic may register with the parish in which his home is geographically located and/or at a different parish. In other words we are not restricted to or obliged to register with our geographically located parish.
What I need is the Church source documentation to back this up. Can anyone help with this?

I’ll check Canon Law later today. That’s the only place I can imagine such a regulation would be found…

You would need to check with you diocese since this is something the local Bishop can require. Most diocese allow anyone to register at any parish, however every Catholic is required to register at a parish.

This question pops up every now and again. See canon 518 (and those immediately before and after it).

Here’s something I once posted in another thread:

There are actually 3 different and very distinct things here.

  1. Parish membership is determined by the place where you actually live. Parishes are territorial. There are some exceptions like the military Archdiocese, ethnic parishes, and some college parishes. But outright membership in a parish is not something one chooses. It’s determined by canon law (c 518). Catholics have a right to receive the Sacraments and other spiritual goods of the Church from their proper pastor–and that means the place where they actually reside.

  2. Registration in a parish is purely an administrative function of the parish. It means being on the mailing list; it means that the church has an unofficial record of your Sacraments (the official one is always at the place of Baptism); it means that the parish keeps a record of your donations to that parish. Registration though means nothing in terms of being eligible for things which require the jurisdiction of the proper pastor–like weddings, baptism of ones children, etc. Being registered can be a useful thing, but ultimately it doesn’t carry any “force” in canon law. A parishioner who is not registered at his proper parish is still entitled to the Sacraments from that proper pastor, but the process does help in large parishes where the pastor might not know everyone. Being registered does not actually make one entitled to anything at that parish (see the last sentence in #1).

  3. Attendance: Catholics are free to attend Mass and the other public liturgical functions of the Church anywhere they choose. So attending somewhere else, either occasionally or regularly is perfectly fine. It’s your choice. Just remember that the only priest who has an outright obligation to provide the Sacraments is your proper pastor (#1). [Yes, there are times when “any priest” has certain obligations, but that’s not realy relevant to what you’re asking about]

I hope that helps to clear things up because there’s a common misconception among many Catholics that parish membership and parish registration are somehow the same thing–this is not at all the case.

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