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Reflections: Catholic Basics Section (Canon Law)

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Canon Law / Church Courts



Also See: Canon Law (Topic Page)

Note: Items herein are not comprehensive

Reminder: Items herein are for informational purposes only. All items herein may not currently apply. All items herein are subject to change without notice.

Source (1917 Code): Peters

"Can. 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 7 A law is established when it is promulgated." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2306 Penal remedies are: 1° Admonition; 2° Correction; 3° Precept; 4° Vigilance." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1 The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1547 Proof by means of witnesses is admitted in all cases, under the direction of the judge." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1549 All persons can be witnesses unless the law expressly excludes them in whole or in part." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1311 The Church has its own inherent right to constrain with penal sanctions Christ's faithful who commit offences." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1476 Anyone, whether baptized or not, can bring action in a trial; a party legitimately summoned must respond." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 99 Whoever habitually lacks the use of reason is considered as incapable of personal responsibility and is regarded as an infant." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 220 No one may unlawfully harm the good reputation which a person enjoys, or violate the right of every person to protect his or her privacy." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 18 Laws which prescribe a penalty, or restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception to the law, are to be interpreted strictly." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 110 Children who have been adopted in accordance with the civil law are considered the children of that person or those persons who have adopted them." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 213 Christ's faithful have the right to be assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, especially by the word of God and the sacraments." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2286 Vindicative penalties are those that directly tend to the expiation of a delict [offense] such that their remission does not depend on the cessation of contumacy in the delinquent." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2195 § 1 By the term delict in ecclesiastical law is understood an external and morally imputable violation of a law to which a canonical sanction, at least an indeterminate one, is attached." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1321 §1 No one can be punished for the commission of an external violation of a law or precept unless it is gravely imputable by reason of malice or of culpability." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1713 In order to avoid judicial disputes, agreement or reconciliation can profitably be adopted, or the controversy can be submitted to the judgement of one or more arbiters." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 49 A singular precept is a decree which directly and legitimately enjoins a specific person or persons to do or omit something, especially in order to urge the observance of law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 21 In a case of doubt, the revocation of a pre-existing law is not presumed, but later laws must be related to the earlier ones and, insofar as possible, must be harmonized with them." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 201 §1 Continuous time means unbroken time. §2 Canonical time is time which a person can so use to exercise or to pursue a right that it does not run when one is unaware, or when one is unable to act." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1502 A person who wishes to sue another must present a petition to a judge who is lawfully competent. In this petition the matter in dispute is to be set out and the intervention of the judge requested." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1343 If a law or precept gives the judge the power to apply or not to apply a penalty, the judge may also, according to his own conscience and prudence, modify the penalty or in its place impose a penance." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1313 §1 If a law is changed after a delict (offence) has been committed, the law more favorable to the accused is to be applied. §2 If a later law abolishes a law or at least the penalty, the penalty immediately lapses." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1477 Even if the petitioner or respondent has appointed a procurator or advocate, they themselves are nevertheless always bound to be present at the trial according to the prescript of the law or of the judge." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2208 § 1 A recidivist in the legal sense is one who, after a condemnatory sentence, commits again a crime of the same sort under such circumstances, particularly of time, so that pertinacity in bad will can be prudently identified." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1607 A principal case which has been dealt with in judicial fashion is decided by the judge by a definitive judgement. An incidental matter is decided by an interlocutory judgement, without prejudice to can. 1589" (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 4 Acquired rights and privileges granted to physical or juridic persons up to this time by the Apostolic See remain intact if they are in use and have not been revoked, unless the canons of this Code expressly revoke them." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 218 Those who are engaged in fields of sacred study have a just freedom to research matters in which they are expert and to express themselves prudently concerning them, with due allegiance to the magisterium of the Church." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1715 §1 Agreements and mutual promises to abide by an arbiter's award cannot validly be employed in matters which pertain to the public good, and in other matters in which the parties are not free to make such arrangements." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1346 Whenever the offender has committed a number of offences and the sum of penalties which should be imposed seems excessive, it is left to the prudent decision of the judge to moderate the penalties in an equitable fashion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1446 §1 All the Christian faithful, and especially bishops, are to strive diligently to avoid litigation among the people of God as much as possible, without prejudice to justice, and to resolve litigation peacefully as soon as possible." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1349 If a penalty is indeterminate and the law does not provide otherwise, the judge is not to impose graver penalties, especially censures, unless the seriousness of the case clearly demands it. He may not impose penalties which are perpetual." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1419 §1 In each diocese and for all cases which are not expressly excepted in law, the judge of first instance is the diocesan Bishop. He can exercise his judicial power either personally or through others, in accordance with the [applicable] canons." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 214 The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2 For the most part the Code does not determine the rites to be observed in the celebration of liturgical actions. Accordingly, liturgical laws which have been in effect hitherto retain their force, except those which may be contrary to the canons of the Code." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 3 The canons of the Code neither abrogate nor derogate from the agreements entered into by the Apostolic See with nations or other political societies. These agreements therefore continue in force exactly as at present, notwithstanding contrary prescripts of this Code." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1314 Generally, a penalty is ferendae sententiae, that is, not binding upon the offender until it has been imposed; if the law or precept expressly establishes it, however, a penalty is latae sententiae, so that it is incurred ipso facto when the delict (offence) is committed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1636 Although the Bishop has the right to erect a tribunal anywhere in his diocese that is not exempt, nevertheless, he shall establish within the hall of his see that place that will ordinarily be for trials: and there shall be prominent there an image of the Crucifixion and a book of the Evangelists." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1527 §1 Any type of proof which seems useful for the investigation of the case and is lawful, may be brought forward. §2 If a party submits that proof, which has been rejected by the judge, should be admitted, the judge is to determine the matter with maximum expedition (expeditissime)." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 85 A dispensation, or the relaxation of a merely ecclesiastical law in a particular case, can be granted by those who possess executive power within the limits of their competence, as well as by those who have the power to dispense explicitly or implicitly either by the law itself or by legitimate delegation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1526 §1 The onus of proof rests upon the person who makes an allegation. §2 The following matters do not require proof: 1° matters which are presumed by the law itself; 2° facts alleged by one of the litigants and admitted by the other, unless their proof is nevertheless required either by law or by the judge." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1628 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1629, a party who considers him or herself to be injured by a judgement has a right to appeal from the judgement to a higher judge; in cases in which their presence is required, the promoter of justice and the defender of the bond have likewise the right to appeal." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1341 The Ordinary is to start a judicial or an administrative procedure for the imposition or the declaration of penalties only when he perceives that neither by fraternal correction or reproof, nor by any methods of pastoral care, can the scandal be sufficiently repaired, justice restored and the offender reformed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1345 Whenever the offender had only an imperfect use of reason, or committed the offence out of fear or necessity or in the heat of passion or with a mind disturbed by drunkenness or a similar cause, the judge can refrain from inflicting any punishment if he considers that the person's reform may be better accomplished in some other way." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 97 §1 A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age, has attained majority; below this age, a person is a minor. §2 A minor who has not completed the seventh year of age is called an infant and is considered incapable of personal responsibility; on completion of the seventh year, however, the minor is presumed to have the use of reason." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 223 §1 In exercising their rights, Christ's faithful, both individually and in associations, must take account of the common good of the Church, as well as the rights of others and their own duties to others. §2 Ecclesiastical authority is entitled to regulate, in view of the common good, the exercise of rights which are proper to Christ's faithful." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1738 The person having recourse always has the right to the services of an advocate or procurator, but is to avoid futile delays. Indeed, an advocate is to be appointed ex officio if the person does not have one and the Superior considers it necessary. The Superior, however, can always order that the one having recourse appear in person to answer questions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 100 A person is said to be: a resident (incola) in the place where the person has a domicile; a temporary resident (advena) in the place where the person has a quasi-domicile; a traveler (peregrinus) if the person is outside the place of a domicile or quasi-domicile which is still retained; a transient (vagus) if the person does not have a domicile or quasi-domicile anywhere." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2278 § 1 Suspension is a censure by which a cleric is prohibited from office or benefice or both. § 2 The effects of suspension can be separated; but, unless otherwise provided, suspension generally imposed includes all the effects that are enumerated in the [applicable canons]; otherwise, suspension from office or from benefice contains only the effects specified in either." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2313 § 1 The chief penances ordered are: 1° Recitation of determined prayers; 2° Performing a pious pilgrimage or other work of piety; 3° Observing a special fast; 4° Putting alms to pious uses; 5° Performing spiritual exercises in a pious or religious house for a certain number of days. § 2 The Ordinary, according to his prudence, can add penances to the penal remedy of admonition and correction." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2268 § 1 Interdict is a censure by which the faithful, remaining in the communion of the Church, are prohibited those sacred things that are enumerated in the [applicable canons]. § 2 The prohibition can be either direct through a personal interdict when persons themselves are interdicted from the use of things; or indirect through a local interdict when the dispensation of or participation in such things is prohibited in certain places." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 222 §1 Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers. §2 They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the Lord's precept, to help the poor from their own resources." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 26 Unless it has been specifically approved by the competent legislator, a custom which is contrary to the canon law currently in force, or is apart from the canon law, acquires the force of law only when it has been lawfully observed for a period of thirty continuous and complete years. Only a centennial or immemorial custom can prevail over a canonical law which carries a clause forbidding future customs." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 227 To lay members of Christ's faithful belongs the right to have acknowledged as theirs that freedom in secular affairs which is common to all citizens. In using this freedom, however, they are to ensure that their actions are permeated with the spirit of the Gospel, and they are to heed the teaching of the Church proposed by the magisterium, but they must be on guard, in questions of opinion, against proposing their own view as the teaching of the Church." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 8 §1 Universal ecclesiastical laws are promulgated by publication in the official commentary, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, unless another manner of promulgation has been prescribed in particular cases. They take force only after three months have elapsed from the date of that issue of the Acta unless they bind immediately from the very nature of the matter, or the law itself has specifically and expressly established a shorter or longer suspensive period (vacatio)." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 221 §1 Christ's faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church, before the competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law. §2 If any members of Christ's faithful are summoned to trial by the competent authority, they have the right to be judged according to the provisions of the law, to be applied with equity. §3 Christ's faithful have the right that no canonical penalties be inflicted upon them except in accordance with the law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1312 §1 The penal sanctions in the Church are: 1° medicinal penalties or censures, which are listed in cann. 1331-1333; 2° expiatory penalties, mentioned in Can. 1336; §2 The law may determine other expiatory penalties which deprive a member of Christ's faithful of some spiritual or temporal good, and are consistent with the Church's supernatural purpose. §3 Use is also made of penal remedies and penances: the former primarily to prevent offences, the latter rather to substitute for or to augment a penalty." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1552 § 1 By the term ecclesiastical trial there is understood those controversies over which the Church has the right of adjudication, in the presence of an ecclesiastical tribunal, legitimately discussed and decided. § 2 The objects of a trial are: 1° The prosecution and vindication of the rights of the physical or juridic persons or juridic declarations made concerning such person; and this kind of trial is called contentious; 2° Crimes duly assessed for the imposition or declaration of penalties; and this kind of trial is called criminal." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2269 § 1 A general interdict, whether local over a diocesan territory or a republic, or personal over the people of a diocese or republic, can be issued only by the Apostolic See or by its mandate; but a general interdict over a parish or the people of a parish and a particular interdict, whether local or personal, can also be imposed by the Bishop. § 2 Personal interdict follows persons everywhere; a local [interdict] does not apply outside the place of the interdict, but all those in the place of an interdict, even externs and exempt [ones] outside of special privilege, are bound to observe it." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2305 § 1 Degradation contains within itself deposition, the perpetual privation of ecclesiastical habit, and the reduction of the cleric to the lay state. § 2 This penalty can only be carried out for a delict expressed in law, or if it is a cleric who is already deposed and deprived of ecclesiastical habit, if he continues to give grave scandal for a year. § 3 One form is verbal, that is, by edict, which can only be imposed by sentence so that all of its juridic effects take place immediately without execution; the other form is real, if the solemn prescripts in the Roman Pontifical are observed." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1608 §1 To give any judgement, the judge must have in his mind moral certainty about the matter to be decided in the judgement. §2 The judge must derive this certainty from the acts of the case and from the proofs. §3 The judge must conscientiously weigh the evidence, with due regard for the provisions of law about the efficacy of certain evidence. §4 A judge who cannot arrive at such certainty is to pronounce that the right of the plaintiff is not established and is to find for the respondent except in a case which enjoys the favor of law, when he is to pronounce in its favor." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 5 §1 Universal or particular customs presently in force which are contrary to the prescripts of these canons and are reprobated by the canons of this Code are absolutely suppressed and are not permitted to revive in the future. Other contrary customs are also considered suppressed unless the Code expressly provides otherwise or unless they are centenary or immemorial customs which can be tolerated if, in the judgment of the ordinary, they cannot be removed due to the circumstances of places and persons. §2 Universal or particular customs beyond the law (praeter ius) which are in force until now are preserved." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 6 §1 When this Code comes into force, the following are abrogated: 1° the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917; 2° other laws, whether universal or particular, which are contrary to the provisions of this Code, unless it is otherwise expressly provided in respect of particular laws; 3° all penal laws enacted by the Apostolic See, whether universal or particular, unless they are resumed in this Code itself; 4° any other universal disciplinary laws concerning matters which are integrally reordered by this Code. §2 To the extent that the canons of this Code reproduce the former law, they are to be assessed in the light also of canonical tradition." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2255 § 1 Censures are: 1° Excommunication; 2° Interdict; 3° Suspension. § 3 Excommunication can affect only physical persons, and therefore, if they are imposed on moral persons, they are understood to apply only to those individuals who concurred in the delict; interdict and suspension [can affect] even a community, such as a moral person; excommunication and interdict [can affect] even laity; suspension [affects] only clerics; interdict [can affect] also a place; excommunication is always a censure; interdict and suspension can be both a censure and a vindicative penalty; but in doubt they are presumed censures." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2270 § 1 A local interdict, whether general or particular, does not forbid the administration of the Sacraments and Sacramentals to the dying, those things being observed that ought to be observed, but it does prohibit in that place any divine office or sacred rites, with due regard for the exceptions in § 2 of this canon and in Canons 2271 and 2272. § 2 On the day of the birth of the Lord, Easter, Pentecost, most holy Body of Christ [Corpus Christi], and the Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a local interdict is suspended and there is prohibited only the conferral of orders and the solemn blessing of weddings." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2275 Those personally interdicted: 1° Cannot celebrate divine offices or, except for the preaching of the word of God, assist at them; but if they are passively assisting, it is not necessary to expel them; but if they are actively assisting, which involves some participation in the celebration of divine offices, those interdicted after the laying down of a condemnatory or declaratory sentence are to be repelled, [likewise if] they are notoriously interdicted; 2° Are prohibited from ministering, confecting, and receiving Sacraments and Sacramentals, according to the norm of Canons 2260, § 1, and 2261; 3° Are bound also by the prescription of Canon 2265; 4° Lack ecclesiastical burial according to the norm of Canon 1240, § 1, n. 2." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1342 §1 Whenever there are just reasons against the use of a judicial procedure, a penalty can be imposed or declared by means of an extra-judicial decree; in every case, penal remedies and penances may be applied by a decree.§2 Perpetual penalties cannot be imposed or declared by means of a decree; nor can penalties which the law or precept establishing them forbids to be applied by decree. §3 What the law or decree says of a judge in regard to the imposition or declaration of a penalty in a trial, is to be applied also to a Superior who imposes or declares a penalty by an extra-judicial decree, unless it is otherwise clear, or unless there is question of provisions which concern only procedural matters." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1548 §1 Witnesses must tell the truth to a judge who lawfully questions them. §2 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1550 §2, n. 2 the following are exempted from the obligation of replying to questions: 1° clerics, in those matters revealed to them by reason of their sacred ministry; civil officials, doctors, midwives, advocates, notaries and others who are bound by the secret of their office, even on the ground of having offered advice, in respect of matters subject to this secret; 2° those who fear that, as a result of giving evidence, a loss of reputation, dangerous harassment or some other grave evil will arise for themselves, their spouses, or those related to them by consanguinity or affinity." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1478 §1 Minors and those who lack the use of reason can stand before the court only through their parents, guardians or curators, subject to the provisions of §3. §2 If the judge considers that the rights of minors are in conflict with the rights of the parents, guardians or curators, or that these cannot sufficiently protect the rights of the minors, the minors are to stand before the court through a guardian or curator assigned by the judge. §3 However, in cases concerning spiritual matters and matters linked with the spiritual, if the minors have the use of reason, they can plead and respond without the consent of parents or guardians; indeed, if they have completed their fourteenth year, they can stand before the court on their own behalf; otherwise, they do so through a curator appointed by the judge." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Trusting therefore in the help of divine grace, sustained by the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, with certain knowledge, in response to the wishes of the bishops of the whole world who have collaborated with me in a collegial spirit, and with the supreme authority with which I am vested, by means of this Constitution, to be valid forever in the future, I promulgate the present Code as it has been set in order and revised. I command that for the future it is to have the force of law for the whole Latin Church, and I entrust it to the watchful care of all those concerned in order that it may be observed. So that all may more easily be informed and have a thorough knowledge of these norms before they have juridical binding force, I declare and order that they will have the force of law beginning from the first day of Advent of this year 1983, and this notwithstanding any contrary ordinances, constitutions, privileges (even worthy of special or individual mention), or customs." (Pope John Paul II, 1/25/83)

"Can. 1344 Even though the law may use obligatory words, the judge may, according to his own conscience and prudence: 1° defer the imposition of the penalty to a more opportune time, if it is foreseen that greater evils may arise from a too hasty punishment of the offender; 2° abstain from imposing the penalty or substitute a milder penalty or a penance, if the offender has repented and repaired the scandal, or if the offender has been or foreseeably will be sufficiently punished by the civil authority; 3° may suspend the obligation of observing an expiatory penalty, if the person is a first-offender after a hitherto blameless life, and there is no urgent need to repair scandal; this is, however, to be done in such a way that if the person again commits an offence within a time laid down by the judge, then that person must pay the penalty for both offences, unless in the meanwhile the time for prescription of a penal action in respect of the former offence has expired." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2214 § 1 The Church has the native and proper right, independent of any human authority, of coercing delinquents subject to her by penalties, both spiritual and also temporal. § 2 She shall always have before her eyes the advice of the Council of Trent, session 13, on ref., chap. 1: 'Let Bishops and other Ordinaries bear in mind that they are pastors and not prosecutors and that they ought so to preside over those subject to them so as not to lord it over them, but to love them as children and brethren and to strive by exhortation and admonition to deter them from what is unlawful, that they may not be obliged, should [their subjects] transgress, to coerce them by due punishments. In regard to those, however, who should happen to sin through frailty, that command of the Apostle is to be observed, [namely] that they reprove, entreat, and rebuke them in all kindness and patience, since benevolence toward those to be corrected often effects more than severity, exhortation more than threat, and charity more than force. But if on account of the gravity of the offence there is need of the rod, then is rigor to be tempered with gentleness, judgment with mercy, and severity with clemency, that discipline, so salutary and necessary for the people, may be preserved without harshness and they who are chastised may be corrected, or, if they are unwilling to repent, that others may, by the wholesome example of their punishment, be deterred from vices.'" (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 2279 § 1 Simple suspension from office, with no limitations being added, forbids every act, whether of the power of orders and jurisdiction, or even merely of administration, of the involved office, except for the administration of the goods of one's own benefice. § 2 Suspension: 1° From jurisdiction generally forbids every act of jurisdictional power in both fora, whether ordinary or delegated; 2° From divine things [restricts one] from every act of the power of orders, whether one has obtained it from ordination or through privilege; 3° From orders [restricts one] from every act of the power of orders received from ordination; 4° From sacred orders [restricts one] from every act of the power of orders received from sacred ordination; 5° From the exercise of a certain an definite order [restricts one] from every act of the designated order; one suspended is also prohibited from conferring that order and from receiving a higher order and from exercising one received after suspension; 6° From the conferral of a certain and definite order [restricts one] from conferring that order, but not from conferring an inferior or superior one; 7° From a certain and definite ministry, for example, hearing confessions, or office, for example, one with care of souls, [restricts one] from every act of that ministry or office; 8° From pontifical orders [restricts one] from every act of the power of episcopal orders; 9° From pontificals [restricts one] from the exercise of pontifical acts according to the norm of Canon 337, § 2." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"As the Church's principal legislative document founded on the juridical legislative heritage of revelation and tradition, the Code is to be regarded as an indispensable instrument to ensure order both in individual and social life, and also in the Church's own activity. Therefore, besides containing the fundamental elements of the hierarchical and organic structure of the Church as willed by her divine founder or as based upon apostolic, or in any case most ancient, tradition, and besides the fundamental principles which govern the exercise of the threefold office entrusted to the Church itself, the Code must also lay down certain rules and norms of behavior... As a matter of fact, the Code of Canon Law is absolutely necessary for the Church. Since the Church is organized as a social and visible structure, it must also have norms: in order that its hierarchical and organic structure be visible; in order that the exercise of the functions divinely entrusted to it, especially that of sacred power and of the administration of the sacraments, may be adequately organized; in order that the mutual relations of the faithful may be regulated according to justice based upon charity, with the rights of individuals guaranteed and well-defined; in order, finally, that common initiatives undertaken to live a Christian life ever more perfectly may be sustained, strengthened and fostered by canonical norms." (Pope John Paul II, 1/25/83)

"During the course of the centuries the Catholic Church has been accustomed to reform and renew the laws of canonical discipline so that in constant fidelity to its divine founder, they may be better adapted to the saving mission entrusted to it. Prompted by this same purpose and fulfilling at last the expectations of the whole Catholic world, I order today, January 25, 1983, the promulgation of the revised Code of Canon Law. In so doing, my thoughts go back to the same day of the year 1959 when my predecessor of happy memory, John XXIII, announced for the first time his decision to reform the existing corpus of canonical legislation which had been promulgated on the feast of Pentecost in the year 1917. Such a decision to reform the Code was taken together with two other decisions of which the Pontiff spoke on that same day: the intention to hold a synod of the Diocese of Rome and to convoke an ecumenical council. Of these two events, the first was not closely connected with the reform of the Code; but the second, the council, is of supreme importance in regard to the present matter and is closely connected with it. If we ask why John XXIII considered it necessary to reform the existing Code, the answer can perhaps be found in the Code itself which was promulgated in the year 1917. But there exists also another answer and it is the decisive one: namely, that the reform of the Code of Canon Law appeared to be definitely desired and requested by the same council which devoted such great attention to the Church... Turning our minds today to the beginning of this long journey, to that January 25, 1959 and to John XXIII himself who initiated the revision of the Code, I must recognize that this Code derives from one and the same intention, the renewal of Christian living. From such an intention, in fact, the entire work of the council drew its norms and its direction." (Pope John Paul II, 1/25/83)

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