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Statutes of the
EUROPEAN FORUM OF NATIONAL LAITY COMMITTEES (ELF)
Name, Legal Status, Seat
The European Forum of National Laity Committees (hereafter referred to as the “Forum”) is an association for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world according to can. 215 CIC. The Forum is an instrument of collaboration between the National Committees and Councils of the Catholic Laity in European countries (hereafter referred to as “National Committees”). It has no authority to give directions to National Committees. It considers itself, however, as an advocate for the European Laity, especially in relation to church, civil and political institutions at European level.
The legal body of the Forum is the ELF e.V., registered at the Amtsgericht Bonn.
Purpose and Activities
1. The Forum intends to promote the mutual exchange of experiences and information between its members on questions of European importance. Especially issues concerning the Church’s mission in the world, pastoral work and the promotion of Christian values are emphasized in the relations.
2. In order to realize that purpose the following activities are used:
- Maintaining contacts and enhancing co-operation with
- a) the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), the Commission of the European Bishops’ Conferences (ComECE),
- b) other Church institutions at European level,
- c) civil and political institutions on the European level,
- d) lay organisations of other Christian traditions as well as European ecumenical movements,
- e) the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
- Drawing up and addressing analyses or motions to European and national civil and political institutions and the public in order to promote Christian values
- Organising conferences
- Inducing studies on present day problems in the Church and in the world
National Committees having the approval of their episcopate are eligible as members of the Forum.
The Presidents’ Council is entitled to decide that this condition has been met and to admit those National Committees which request membership.
A National Committee can lose membership of the Forum by dissolution, resignation or exclusion. Dissolution or resignation operates without delay. Exclusion can only be decided by the Presidents’ Council, ruling by a two-thirds majority of the members present.
Reasons for exclusion are:
- lack of preconditions for eligibility according to article 3
- refusal to pay the membership fees for more than two years
The bodies of the Forum are the Presidents’ Council, the Statutory Assembly, the Steering Committee and the President.
- Members of the Presidents’ Council are the President of the Forum and the presidents of the National Committees which are members of the Forum.
- A National President can delegate his/her membership, permanently or occasionally, to another member of his/her National Committee.
- The members of the Steering Committee take part in the Presidents’ Council in an advisory capacity, if they are no delegates.
- The Presidents’ Council sets the aims of the Forum’s work between the meetings of the Statutory Assembly along the lines determined by it.
- It elects the Steering Committee (except the President).
The Presidents’ Council meets at least once a year. In between, it works by e-mail or other means of communication. Votes taken outside formal meetings by oral or internet means must be confirmed in written form afterwards.
The draft agenda for the Presidents’ Council is circulated at least one month beforehand. Within two weeks of receiving the draft agenda, Presidents of National Committees may forward to the President items to be included in the agenda; the supplemented agenda must be available at the beginning of the meeting.
- The Presidents’ Council takes its decisions by an absolute majority of its members present or represented by written authority. In the case of a tie after further discussion a second vote is taken. In case of a further tie, the motion is rejected.
- Voting is done by show of hands unless a secret ballot is requested by a member or for issues of a personal nature.
- In deliberations by mail, decisions are taken by an absolute majority of all members of the Presidents’ Council.
The Presidents’ Council may invite to meetings any person whose duties or expertise seems to be of value.
The Statutory Assembly is the topmost body and is composed of the delegations of the National Committees who are members of the Forum.
Each delegation has three votes. The right to vote depends on the payment of the membership fee to the “Europaisches Laienforum (ELF) e. V.”.
- The Statutory Assembly sets the general orientations as well as the aims and missions of the Forum.
- It amends the Statutes of the European Laity Forum by an absolute majority of the delegates present.
- It decrees the dissolution of the Forum. A two-thirds majority of the votes of all the members is required for that decision.
- It determines the membership fees which must be paid to the ELF e.V..
The following persons may be invited as observers:
- representatives of the CEEC and the ComECE;
- representatives of organisations of the Church at European level;
- representatives of the Pontifical Council for the Laity;
- representatives of the laity of European countries not represented in the Forum;
- ecumenical observers;
- other persons who can make specific contributions to the work of the Forum.
The Statutory Assembly meets at least once every two years. It is convoked by the President, in special cases upon request by five National Presidents.
The draft agenda for the meeting is circulated by the Steering Committee at least three months beforehand. Within one month of receiving the draft agenda, National Presidents may forward to the Steering Committee items to be included in the agenda, which shall be circulated at least one month before the meeting.
The Statutory Assembly can only deal with items on its agenda, as agreed at the beginning of its meeting. If a National Committee’s delegation wishes to put forward a motion concerning an item which is not on the draft agenda, it must introduce it before the beginning of the meeting in a written text to the President, duly signed by delegates of at least three delegations.
Decisions are taken by an absolute majority of votes cast. In the case of a tie, after further discussion a second vote is taken. In case of a further tie, the motion is rejected.
Voting is done by show of hands unless a secret ballot is requested by a delegate or for issues of a personal nature.
The President is elected by the Statutory Assembly for a four-year mandate, renewable once.
- The President induces activities of the Forum and coordinates them.
- He/She is responsible for the functioning of the Forum bodies in cooperation with the Steering Committee.
- He/She proposes initiatives in close connection with the other decision-taking bodies.
- Implementing their decisions he/she represents the Forum.
If he/she must publish a statement during the time between the meetings of the decision-making bodies, he/she must at least contact the Steering Committee by letter, telephone or e-mail.
The President chairs the Study Assembly and the meetings of the bodies of the Forum. With the agreement of the body concerned, he/she can delegate the chair of a meeting.
Members of the Steering Committee are the President, the Secretary and up to five other members elected by the Presidents’ Council. The members (except the President) are elected from among the delegations of the Forum members for a four-year mandate, renewable once. After standing down for a period of two years, they may be elected again.
- The Steering Committee is the executive body of the Forum and is responsible to the Statutory Assembly.
- It takes part in the President’s mission of animation and coordination.
- It deals with current affairs, prepares the Study Assemblies and the meetings of the other bodies and takes part in them in an advisory function, if its members are no delegates.
The Steering Committee can – for particular purposes - invite members from among participants of the previous Statutory Assembly or from among persons in charge of National Committees who are members of the Forum.
If a member of the Steering Committee is no more able or willing to exercise his/her mandate, the Steering Committee proposes a candidate for election by the Presidents of the National Committees until the next meeting of the Presidents’ Council.
The Steering Committee generally meets three times a year. In between, it works by e-mail or by other means of communication.
- Unless other dispositions are agreed upon with the National Committee involved, the National Committee to which the Secretary belongs is responsible for the Forum Secretariat.
- The Secretary sees to it that the participants are informed about the decisions taken as soon as possible and in the appropriate languages.
In order to promote dialogue and discussion between the National Committees, Study Assemblies shall be organised at least every two years.
National Committees and invited laity committees from other countries can delegate up to five persons to the Study Assemblies. Persons named in article 16 can be invited as observers.
Studies can be delegated or contracted and external experts can be called to cooperate. Before being published in the name of the Forum, resulting documents, motions or letters must be approved by the decision-taking bodies of the Forum.
If a resolution or motion is to be voted by the Statutory Assembly or the Presidents’ Council, the body can create a Resolution Commission, which, in the spirit which governed the vote and in dialogue with the Steering Committee, establishes the final version of the text and supervises the translations.
Languages of the Forum
- The official languages of the Forum are English, French and German. The Steering Committee will ensure that all communications and documents intended for the Statutory Assemblies and Study Assemblies are competently translated into these languages and circulated with minimum delay.
- The Presidents’ Council’s and Steering Committee’s own documents are circulated in one of the Forum’s languages upon which they agree.
Simultaneous translation will be provided between the three Forum working languages at least for plenary sessions of the Statutory and Study Assemblies.
Proposed amendments to the Statutes can be presented by a National Committee in writing to the Steering Committee, which in turn informs the Statutory Assembly, along with its opinion on the proposals. The Presidents must have been informed at least three months before the date of the Statutory Assembly.
This version of the Statutes was approved at Vienna/Austria on July 2nd, 2012.
It supersedes all previous versions of statutes and standing orders.