The appointment, functions and removal of rectors are determined by the law for each of the several types of rector.
Rectors of Churches. Rectors of churches are priests who have charge of churches that are neither parochial nor capitular nor annexed to the house of a religious community or society of apostolic life (Codex iuris canonici c., 556; Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientatium c., 304). In the case where one has the right according to law to present or elect the rector, the diocesan bishop's approval must be secured. This approval is necessary even if the church belongs to an exempt religious institute. If the Church is connected with a seminary or college under the care of clerics, the superior of the seminary or college is the rector of the church, unless the diocesan bishop makes other provisions (CIC c., 557 §3; CCEO c., 305 §3).
Functions reserved to pastors (CIC c., 530; CCEO c., 290 §2) may not be performed by the rector of a church (CIC c., 558; CCEO c., 306 §1). However, he may celebrate divine services solemnly in his church in accordance with the terms of the legal foundations and without prejudice to parochial rights (CIC c., 559; CCEO c., 306 §2). He possesses the right to give permission to say Mass there, to administer the Sacraments and to perform other sacred functions according to law. The rector is responsible, under the authority of the local ordinary, for the administration of the property of the church, as well as for its maintenance (CIC c., 562; CCEO c., 309). In certain circumstances, the local ordinary may regulate the hours of divine services in the church and he may also require the rector to celebrate certain functions in his church and to make the church available for use by certain persons or groups (CIC c., 560; CCEO c., 307).
The rector may be removed for a just cause. If the rector is a religious, the provision of CIC c., 682 §2 or CCEO c., 1391 §2 is to be applied (CIC c., 563; CCEO c., 310).
Rectors of Seminaries. The rector of a seminary is the immediate representative of the diocesan bishop in the internal government and supervision of the diocesan seminary. The rector is appointed by the diocesan bishop and he may be removed by him.
By virtue of the exemption of the seminary from parochial jurisdiction (CIC c., 262; CCEO c., 336 §2), the rector possesses all the rights of a pastor over those who dwell therein, with the exception of certain restrictions concerning Matrimony and Penance. Only a local ordinary, the pastor of the local parish or his delegate can validly assist at marriages there, and the rector may hear the confessions of his students only when they seek him out for that purpose and freely request it in particular cases (CIC c., 985; CCEO c., 734 §3). He can dispense from the laws of fast and abstinence and from feasts of obligation (CIC c., 1245). The rector also enjoys the right to attend the diocesan synods (CIC c., 463 §1, 6°; CCEO c., 238 §1, 4°).
Rectors of Universities. To qualify as a Catholic university, the institution must be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority (CIC c., 808; CCEO c., 642 §1). Ecclesiastical universities are established through erection by the Holy See or with its approval (CIC c., 816 §1; CCEO c., 649). In the Latin Church, rectors of Catholic and ecclesiastical universities are called to particular councils and have a consultative vote in them (CIC c., 443 §3, 3°).
Bibliography: j. abbo and j. hannan, The Sacred Canons, 2 v. (2d ed. St. Louis 1960) 1:358, 479–486; 2:891, 1368. j. b. cox, The Administration of Seminaries (Catholic University of America Canon Law Studies, 67; Washington 1931). j. j. markham, The Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities of Studies (Catholic University of America Canon Law Studies, 384; Washington 1957). Codex iuris canonici (Rome 1918; repr. Graz 1955).
[r. j. murphy]