Question from Jill on 2/21/2008:
Someone was inquiring about church ownership on a previous post. Maybe I misunderstood the posters question but doesn't Jesus Christ own the Church?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 3/13/2008:
God in a sense owns the whole world, although he has granted humanity stewardship over creation.
Church property is subject to laws by both the civil authority and canon law. Civil law ownership is determined by the laws of the particular nation or state.
Canon law ownership is subject to the ownership law of the Code of Canon Law.
A parish church building is owned by the parish as "juridic person." A "juridic person" is the canonical equivalent of a "civil corporation." Just as a corporation can own property civilly, a juridic person can own property canonically.
A juridic person is an artificial person, a legal construct. In contrast, a physical person is a real person with arms, legs, head, etc. Both a physical person and a juridic person can own property at canon law, just as both a physical person and a civil corporation can own property at civil law.