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Underutilized Church Property

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Keynote speech given during the “Real Estate & The New Evangelization” conference by Carlo Dalla Vedova, world renowned canon & civil lawyer, expert in properties belonging to religious communities and congregations, exploring the issue of underutilized Church property.

Looking at real examples and case studies of real estate management both done right and gone wrong, Carlo Dalla Vedova explores what to do with empty and underutilized spaces, how to manage these properties and how to handle the legal implications of real estate and keep the canon law principles, while also giving practical advice and solutions for Church property management.

The Church is a universal institution. The Holy See is a state, part of the UN, with diplomatic relations in many countries. Because of this, there is a need to work within international law and local jurisdiction as well as follow the internal laws that regulate the Church’s life (rules and regulations applicable worldwide through canon law). These internal rules are guided both by the principle of law (codified law) and the spirituality and mission of the Church, whose salvific mission must always be held foremost.

When it comes to real estate, this is no different. Worldwide, the Church is facing a real issue of underused property. Real estate as a physical asset of the Church must be regulated by both domestic jurisdiction and canon law. And as a temporal asset of the Church it needs to follow the principles of proper administration of temporal goods.

If the we follow these management principles (transparency, responsibility, vigilance prudence), keep canon law principles (use of church property for religious properties and alternative uses in keeping with the Church’s salvific mission), while complying to national and international laws, real estate will continue to be an asset that grows and remains part of the Church’s patrimony for future generations.

Carlo Dalla Vedova

Carlo Dalla Vedova received his law degree from University of Rome “La Sapienza” in 1988, he received his Diploma in European Law from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, his Canon Law Degree in 1991 and his Doctorate in Canon Law in 1995 from Pontifical Lateran University.

He is admitted before the Ecclesiastic Courts (I and II grade) and the Studio Rotale of the Supreme Court of the Rota Romana of the Holy See. He is currently a partner of the Italian firm Dalla Vedova Studio Legale Rome/Milan. He is a legal and institutional specialist to public entity and public international organizations and embassies in Rome.

He also specializes in criminal practice, having litigated in the Italian Supreme Court, and in the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg EHRC for protection of human rights. Mr. Dalla Vedova has lectured at Loyola University in Rome, Washington College of Law, Gonzaga University in Florence, St. Stephen’s School Rome, and American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.

He is the recipient of the 2017 “Praeses Elit Award” from Trinity College Law Society Dublin, Ireland, for his human rights protection work.

©2022 Global Institute of Church Management and Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate at the University of Notre Dame. All rights reserved.

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