HVS/NS Non-Human Conference Constitution
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- 1 Constitution for the Conference on Non-Human Sentience
Constitution for the Conference on Non-Human Sentience
Article I: Nature of the Conference
- Identification and Authority: The Conference will be known as the Papal Conference on Non-Human Sentience, convened under the authority of His Holiness Leo, Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, and Servant of the Servants of God, the Fourteenth of that Name.
- Type of Body: The Conference is an extraordinary gathering of Catholic Ordinaries under the specific sanction of the Roman Pontiff; it holds no juridical rights under Canon Law, except those granted under particular and temporary sanction by the Roman Pontiff.
Article II: Organization of the Conference
- Location: The Conference shall be held in Rome, at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. All General Sessions of the Conference shall be held in this location, and no actions by the Conference or any of its bodies may be undertaken in any other location.
- Other Locations: Bodies of the Conference may be sanctioned by the General Session to undertake meetings and discussion at other locations within the City of Rome; however, no actions may be taken or recorded in such locations.
- Duration and Schedule: The Conference shall be inaugurated by his Holiness, Pope Leo XIV upon (date) and shall meet daily while in session, excepting Sundays. All meetings of the General Session will convene daily at 1000, and recess at 1300. At the discretion of the President, Vice-President, or Convenor, additional daily meetings of the General Session may be convened between the hours of 1400 and 1600. Schedule
- Temporary Recesses: The Conference shall hold itself in temporary recess from General Sessions and the Convention of Committees upon all major feast days of the Church.
Article III: Admission of Attendance
- Advisors: The Conference shall permit the admission of Advisors whose credentials have been reviewed and approved prior to the inauguration of the First General Session, by the Conference Organizing Committee established for that purpose. After the inauguration, applications for the status of Advisor will be considered by the Conference Officers acting in Committee. Advisors will have unlimited admission to all General Sessions of the Conference, and shall be admitted to all duly Convened meetings of any Committee they are approved to advise. Advisors’ credentials may be revoked by the Conference Officers acting in Committee, or by majority vote of the General Session.
- Observers: The Conference shall permit the admission of Observers whose credentials have been reviewed by the Vigilanzi using criteria supplied by the Conference Organizing Committee. Observers will be admitted to all General Sessions, and may be invited to attend Convened meetings of Committees at the discretion of the Committee Convenor. Such invitations may be revoked at any time by the Convenor or by majority vote of the Committee. A limited number of credentials for admission as an Observer may be granted for the entire duration of the Conference; others may be granted on a session-by-session or day-by-day basis. Observers’ privileges to attend any meetings of the Conference, whether General Session or Committee, may be summarily revoked at any time by the Vigilanzi if the individual in question is determined to constitute a risk to the security or safety of any of the Conference Delegates. Observers’ privileges to attend any General Session may be summarily revoked by the Convenor if their actions are determined to constitute an impediment to the conduct of the business of the Conference.
Article IV: Delegates
- Powers: The business of the Conference shall be undertaken by the Delegates. The Delegates shall exercise all lawful powers and acts permitted by Canon Law or by this Constitution.
- Number: The number of Delegates which shall constitute the whole Conference shall be fixed prior to the inauguration of the First General Session by the Conference Organizing Committee. This number may be altered by the acceptance of additional Delegates approved in General Session by a majority of the Conference, and ratified by the Conference Officer acting in Committee, or by the resignation of Delegates.
- Terms: The term of a Delegate shall be the entire duration of the Conference.
- Credentials: Delegates issued credentials shall be Catholic Ordinaries whose professional skills or personal experience shall benefit the Conference, as determined by the Conference Organizing Committee. Individuals considered for credentialing as a Delegate must give their consent and signify their willingness to abide by the Constitution of the Conference and to place themselves under the authority of the Conference Officers for purposes of conducting the business of the Conference.
- Qualifications: Delegates shall present written recommendations including their name, diocese or jurisdiction, and relevant experience and qualifications to the Conference Organizing Committee. The Conference Organizing Committee will review the qualifications of each candidate and verify the candidate’s willingness to serve as specified in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, and present qualified candidates to the Officers of the Conference for enrollment.
- Enrollment: Credentialed Delegates will be enrolled on the Conference Roster and accorded all of the rights and privileges granted under the Constitution of the Conference. Delegates will be accepted by the Conference Officers acting in Committee, unless a unanimous vote of all Officers acting in Committee is taken to reject the Delegate.
- Resignations: Any Delegate may resign at any time. Resignations shall be made in writing, dated, addressed to the Conference President, and will take effect at such time specified therein or, if no time is specified therein, on the date of the resignation letter’s receipt by the President. It shall not be necessary for the Conference to accept the resignation in order for it to be effective.
- Removals: A Delegate may be removed for cause at any General Session of the Conference duly called and constituted, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Delegates present at the meeting.
- Compensation: Delegates shall not be entitled to any compensation for their services.
Article V: Meetings
- General Sessions: The Conference will convene all General Sessions based upon the schedule determined by Article II, Section 3 of the Conference Constitution. The General Sessions will be held at the Conference location specified in Article II, Section 1 of the Conference Constitution. This provision will constitute sufficient notice for the General Sessions. In the event of a quorum of Delegates not being present at a General Session, the business of the Conference shall be transacted at the next Session.
- Special Sessions: Special sessions of the Conference may be called by the Roman Pontiff. In the event of a vacant or impeded See, this Conference shall be held adjourned sine die. A special session may also be called upon the written request of two thirds of the then serving Delegates, with the ratification of the Conference Officers acting in Committee, presented to the Roman Pontiff for his approval.
- Attendance: A Delegate may be excused from attendance at a General Session of the Conference by presenting a request for excuse in writing which is accepted by the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee. A Delegate absent from two General Sessions will be dropped from the Conference Roster for purposes of calculating a Quorum. Such a Delegate may be reinstated by majority vote of the Conference Officers acting in Committee.
- Quorum: A General Session of the Conference shall be considered duly constituted when a quorum is present. A quorum shall consist of a simple majority of the Delegates on the Conference Roster. For purposes of particular Conference actions, a quorum shall consist of a simple majority of all Delegates on the Conference Roster. A Session may be adjourned without a vote at any time a quorum is not present.
- Voting: For all regular business of the Conference, an affirmative vote of fifty percent of the Delegates present at a duly constituted Session, plus one, will constitute a majority and determine the authorization of any resolution, action, or memorandum. The exceptions to this shall be the amendment of the Conference Constitution, the removal of Delegates, and the submission of Conference Documents to the Roman Pontiff, which shall require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Delegates present at a duly constituted Session.
- Conflict of Interest: No Delegate shall participate in the discussion of, or vote upon, any business of the Conference which may result in improper benefit of money, property, jurisdiction, or service to themselves, their jurisdiction, or their ordinary. For voting purposes, Delegates withdrawing from a discussion or vote for reasons of conflict of interest shall not be included in the quorum.
- Rules: The rules of the Conference to facilitate the conduct of its sessions shall be provided by the Conference Officers acting in Committee. All such rules shall be maintained in a separate document of rules, a copy of which shall be provided to each Delegate at the time of their enrollment. Any amendments or additions to the rules shall be provided in writing to each Delegate within 30 days of the adoption of such amendments or additions. The Conference may suspend or waive the rules for the period of any meeting or part of any meeting, with the approval or upon the recommendation of the Conference Officers acting in Committee, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Directors present, and reinstate them by the same procedure.
- Records: The Conference shall maintain records of all Sessions, including at a minimum a listing of those present, and the disposition of each proposed resolution or action, including the names of the Delegates presenting and endorsing (if applicable) such resolutions or actions, and whether each resolution or action was affirmed or rejected. The Conference shall also maintain records of all official correspondence transmitted or received in the Conference’s name, and any other notices or documents specified in this Constitution. Records of each session shall be distributed to all Delegates no later than sixty days after the session. All Conference records shall be maintained in the Archives of the Vatican City State, and shall be available for viewing by any Delegate or any individual required by statute or permitted by the Roman Pontiff.
Article VI: Officers
- Positions: The Roman Pontiff shall designate the following Conference Officers: A President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Proctor, and a Convenor. The Roman Pontiff may also designate by appointment other officers or assistants to these officers. Any number of offices may be held by a single individual, except that the President may not hold any other office. In the event of the inability of any Officer to discharge his or her duties, the Roman Pontiff may appoint an individual to discharge those duties pro tempore, or may replace the Officer. The Roman Pontiff shall also be an Officer of the Conference for particular purposes.
- President: The President shall attend and preside at all General Sessions, shall open all sessions of the Conference except those opened by the Roman Pontiff, shall conduct all extraordinary business during General Sessions, and shall also act as Convenor of the Conference Officers acting in Committee. The President may designate a President pro tempore to open or preside at any session in the event of his/her inability to discharge these duties. In the absence of such designation, if the President is incapacitated, the Vice President shall function as President pro tempore.
- Vice President: The Vice President shall have the custody of all materials, documents, records, and matters submitted to the Conference for consideration, shall receive all requests from Advisors and other interested parties to address the Conference, and shall ensure that the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee make appropriate dispositions of all such requests. The Vice President shall also assume the functions of the President in the event of the President’s inability to discharge his duties.
- Secretary: The Secretary shall ensure the accurate recording of all proceedings of the Conference, and shall have custody of the Conference’s records. The Secretary will accept the enrollment of credentialed Delegates and maintain the Conference Roster The Secretary shall give or ensure the giving of all required notices. The Secretary shall have custody of the Conference Seal, and shall be empowered to affix the Conference Seal to any instrument requiring it, attesting the affixing by his or her signature.
- Proctor: The Proctor shall act as the Roman Pontiff’s personal representative to the Conference, when the Roman Pontiff is not present in person, and shall have final disposition in all matters of dispute. The Proctor shall also be empowered to accept and transmit questions or requests to the Roman Pontiff by the Conference, and to convey the Roman Pontiff’s response to the Conference.
- Convenor: The Convenor shall conduct all regular business during General Sessions, shall ensure that all business of the General Sessions is conducted according to the Rules, and shall act as Speaker on behalf of the Conference in correspondence with the Roman Pontiff and any Church offices.
- Terms of Office: The Officers, except the Convenor, shall be appointed by the Roman Pontiff and shall serve for the duration of the Conference. The Convenor of each General Session shall be appointed separately by the Roman Pontiff and serve from the opening of the General Session for which he is appointed, until the adjournment of that Session.
- Resignation and Removal: An Officer may resign at any time by delivering a written resignation to the Roman Pontiff.
- Compensation and Reimbursement: Officers may not receive any compensation for their services as officers.
Article VII: Committees
- Conference Officers: The Officers of the Conference shall act in Committee as needed in matters of establishing or accepting credentials, attendance, determining Rules, ratification of special sessions, Committee membership, and other business as required. When the Conference is not in session, the Conference Officers acting in Committee shall execute correspondence and conduct business on behalf of the Conference, without, however, being empowered to transact any business that would normally require a vote of the Conference.
- Conference Committees: The Conference shall establish four Committees to undertake particular tasks relating to the mission of the Conference. There shall be a Committee on Science, a Committee on Ontology, a Committee on Non-Human Theology, and a Committee on Catholic Doctrine.
- Additional Committees: The Conference may recommend the establishment of additional Committees upon a majority vote of all Delegates present at a duly constituted General Session. Such recommendations will be submitted to the Roman Pontiff for approval.
- Membership: Membership upon Conference Committees shall consist of two categories: Voting and Non-voting. Voting membership is limited to enrolled Conference Delegates, non-voting membership may be extended to Advisors approved under Article III, Section 1 of the Conference Constitution.
- Terms and Vacancies: The term of committee membership shall run for the duration of the Conference, except where the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee may provide otherwise. Terms of committee members appointed to fill vacancies on the committee due to resignation or removal shall also run for the duration of the Conference, except where the Officers of the Conference acting in Committee may provide otherwise.
- Meetings: Regular meetings of Committees of the Conference will be held based on the Conference schedule as established in Article II, Section 3 of the Conference Constitution. Special meetings of the Committees may be called a majority of Committee members, with the approval of the Committee Convenor, upon thirty days’ notice. Notice need not specify the purpose of the meeting or business to be transacted.
- Quorum and Voting: A committee meeting shall be considered duly constituted when a quorum consisting of a majority of all of the committee’s members, voting and non-voting, is present. The affirmative vote of a majority of members present at a duly constituted meeting of the Committee shall suffice for internal actions of the Committee, an affirmative vote of the majority of voting Committee members is required to constitute action of the committee for external recommendations or actions.
- Resignations and Removals: Members of Committees may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Committee Convenor or the Conference President, which resignation shall take effect at the time of delivery. Voting members of a Committee may be removed at any time by resolution adopted by a majority of the Delegates present at a duly constituted session of the Conference. Non-voting members may be removed by the Convenor or by majority vote of the Committee. Non-voting members’ membership may be restored by an affirmative vote of the majority of Officers of the Conference acting in Committee, upon petition by the removed member.
- Officers: Each Committee shall have a Convenor, appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The Convenor shall conduct all regular business during Committee meetings, shall ensure that all business of the Committee is conducted according to the Rules, and shall act as Speaker on behalf of the Committee in correspondence with the General Session. The Convenor may designate a Convenor pro tempore function in the event of his/her inability to discharge these duties, and may delegate at his discretion the role of speaker to the General Session.
- Rules: The rules of the Committee to facilitate the conduct of its meetings shall be provided by the Conference Officers acting in Committee. All such rules shall be maintained in a separate document of rules, a copy of which shall be provided to each Committee member. Any amendments or additions to the rules shall be provided in writing to each Committee member within 10 days of the adoption of such amendments or additions. The Committee may suspend or waive the rules for the period of any meeting or part of any meeting, with the consent of the Convenor, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members present, and reinstate them by the same procedure.
- Minutes and Records: Committees shall keep written records of all committee actions and shall provide these to the Board within 30 days of the action. External resolutions or actions recommended by the Committee to the Conference shall be provided in writing to the Secretary and the Convenor of the Conference in advance of the session at which the Conference shall consider such resolutions or actions.
Article VIII: Amendments and Publication
- Amendments: The Conference Constitution may be amended, repealed, or altered, in whole or in part, and new articles may be adopted, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Delegates present at any duly constituted General Session of the Conference, upon ratification by the Roman Pontiff.
- Publication: The Conference Constitution shall be set forth in a written document, a copy of which shall be provided to each Delegate at the time of their enrollment. Any amendments or additions to the Constitution shall be provided in writing to each Delegate within 30 days of the adoption of such amendments or additions. A copy of this Constitution shall be maintained at the Vatican Archives and shall be available for viewing by any Delegate or any individual required by statute or permitted by the Roman Pontiff.
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