About MPJPs

‘Public Juridic Person’ (PJP) is the term the Church uses for an entity established by canon (Church) law to perform a specific function. The most common PJPs are dioceses, parishes and Religious Institutes (e.g. Religious Orders).

In recent years, some Religious Institutes have transferred their ministries (e.g., schools, hospitals, aged care) to newly established PJPs. As these new entities have an exclusive responsibility for Church ministries, they are often known as ‘ministerial’ public juridic persons to distinguish them from traditional PJPs.

The features of Ministerial PJPs include:

  • being largely autonomous in canon law (similar to Religious Institutes);
  • having an exclusive focus on Church ministries (unlike Bishops and Leaders of Religious Institutes who have a broader mandate);
  • governance by a college of canonical stewards (whereas diocese and parishes are governed by a single person);
  • canonical stewards can be, and almost always are, lay people (other PJPs require their canonical stewards be a vowed Religious or an ordained cleric); and
  • a clear and set demarcation of roles with the boards they appoint to govern their ministries.

Some MPJPs were established by the Apostolic See through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and are known as PJPs of pontifical right. Others were established by a Diocesan Bishop or a Province of Bishops. MPJP structures are often unique – reflecting the needs of their ministries, their founding charism and their resources.

MPJPs have operated in Australia for over 25 years. Over that time, they have provided stable governance and the continuance of the Catholic identity of Church ministries. MPJPs ensure their ministries continue to work with the disadvantaged and marginalised and to evolve to meet the needs of the contemporary Church and society.

MPJPs operating in Australia


MPJPs, their structures and their ministries


Timeline of the establishment of Australian MPJPs


Infographic of the impact of MPJP ministries in 2022


Further reading


AMPJP (2021) AMPJP Framework for Canonical Stewards

AMPJP Formation Framework for Canonical Stewards resource list 2023-05-11


McMullen, Gabrielle and Oakley, Paul Ministerial PJPs advancing lay leadership in the Australian Church Australasian Catholic Record, Vol. 97, (2020) No. 4, Oct 2020: 450-459 https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=120741672379588;res=IELHSS


McMullen, Gabrielle and Laverty, Martin. ‘Learnings from the development of new lay-led church entities in Australia’ Australasian Catholic Record, The, Vol. 97, No. 2, Apr 2020: 131-143 https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=120741672379588;res=IELHSS


M. Wright, ‘The Development of the Ministerial Public Juridic Persons: Questions and Challenges’, This presentation was given by Sr Mary Wright IBVM at the 52nd Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand. It was originally published in the CLSANZ Proceedings 2018 and is reproduced by the Association of Ministerial PJPs  with the permission of the Editorial Board of the CLSANZ.


John H. Thornber, and Michael Gaffney (2014) Governing in Faith: Foundations for Formation Connor Court Publishing, Ballarat


Thornber,_John_-_What_Must_I_Do_and_Be_If_Im_to_Lead_a_PJP? Paper on Formation for Canonical Governance’ 6th International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership, Sydney, 12-14 August 2013


C. Bouchard, ‘100th Anniversary – Sponsors are Called to be Prophets and Reformers’, Health Progress 100, no. 3 (2019): 50–57 https://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/may-june-2019/100th-anniversary—sponsors-are-called-to-be-prophets-and-reformers


J Minda, ‘Ministry ponders practical, theological implications of lay sponsorship model’, Catholic Health World, January 15, 2019 https://www.chausa.org/publications/catholic-health-world/article/january-15-2019/ministry-ponders-practical-theological-implications-of-lay-sponsorship-model


F.G. Morrisey and S. Holland, ‘Ministerial Juridic Persons and Their Communion with Diocesan Bishops’, Health Progress 97, no. 6 (2016): 68–71; https://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/November-December-2016/ministerial-juridic-persons-and-their-communion-with-diocesan-bishops


Catholic Health Association of the United States, ‘Ministerial Juridic Person: The Growing Role for Laity in Canonical Sponsorship of Catholic Health Care’, Health Progress 95, no. 5 (2014): 60–3;  https://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/september-october-2014/ministerial-juridic-person-the-growing-role-for-laity-in-canonical-sponsorship-of-catholic-health-care


S. Holland, ‘Vatican Expert Unpacks Canonical PJP Process’, Health Progress 92, no. 5 (2011): 50–62; https://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/september-october-2011/vatican-expert-unpacks-canonical-pjp-process