1983 Code of Canon Law

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The 1983 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1983 CIC from its Latin title Codex Iuris Canonici), also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, [1] is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". [2] It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II [3] and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent (27 November) [4] 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.

In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming a legal code, i.e. a codex (book) of law.

Latin Church Automonous particular church making up of most of the Western world Catholics

The Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest particular church of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 sui iuris churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity, according to Catholic tradition, through its direct leadership under the Holy See.

Sui iuris, also spelled as sui juris, is a Latin phrase that literally means "of one's own right". It is used in both civil law and canon law by the Catholic Church. The term church sui iuris is used in the Catholic Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) to denote the autonomous churches in Catholic communion:

A church sui iuris is "a community of the Christian faithful, which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as sui iuris by the supreme authority of the Church" (CCEO.27). The term sui iuris is an innovation of the CCEO, and it denotes the relative autonomy of the oriental Catholic Churches. This canonical term, pregnant with many juridical nuances, indicates the God-given mission of the Oriental Catholic Churches to keep up their patrimonial autonomous nature. And the autonomy of these churches is relative in the sense that it is under the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff.

History

The current Code of Canon Law is the second comprehensive codification of the non-liturgical laws of the Latin Church, replacing the Pio-Benedictine code that had been promulgated by Benedict XV in 1917. [5] See also Canon Law-Codification and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. [6]

The 1917 Code of Canon Law, also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code, was the first official comprehensive codification of Latin canon law. It was promulgated on 27 May 1917 and took legal effect on 19 May 1918. It was in force until the 1983 Code of Canon Law took legal effect and abrogated it on 27 November 1983. It has been described as "the greatest revolution in canon law since the time of Gratian".

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the title of the 1990 codification of the common portions of the Canon Law for the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in the Catholic Church. It is divided into 30 titles and has a total of 1546 canons. The Western Latin Church is guided by its own particular Canons.

Pope John XXIII, when proclaiming a new ecumenical council for the Catholic Church, also announced the intention of revising the 1917 CIC. [3] It was not feasible to revise the Code of Canon Law until after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, so that the decisions of the Council could guide the revision of ecclesiastical laws. Several of the council documents gave specific instructions regarding changes to the organization of the Catholic Church, in particular the decrees Christus Dominus , Presbyterorum Ordinis , Perfectae Caritatis , and Ad gentes . In 1966, Pope Paul VI issued norms to apply these instructions through the motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae .

Pope John XXIII 261st Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope John XXIII was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 to his death in 1963; he was canonized on 27 April 2014. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of thirteen children born to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice.

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Second Vatican Council

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.

The Pontificia Commissio Codici iuris canonici recognoscendo, which had been established in 1963, continued the work of revising the Code of Canon Law through the pontificate of Paul VI, completing the work in the first years of the pontificate of John Paul II.

Sacræ disciplinæ leges

Papal coat of arms of Saint John Paul II John paul 2 coa.svg
Papal coat of arms of Saint John Paul II

On 25 January 1983, [7] with the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges [8] John Paul II promulgated the current Code of Canon Law for all members of the Catholic Church who belonged to the Latin Church. It entered into force the first Sunday of the following Advent, [3] which was 27 November 1983. [4] In an address given on November 21, 1983 to the participants in a course at the Gregorian University in Rome on the new Code of Canon Law, the Pope described the new Code as "the last document of Vatican II". [9]

Promulgation in the canon law of the Catholic Church is the publication of a law by which it is made known publicly, and is required by canon law for the law to obtain legal effect. Universal laws are promulgated when they are published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, and unless specified to the contrary, obtain legal force three months after promulgation. Particular laws are promulgated in various ways but by default take effect one month after promulgation.

Advent Christian church season

Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". The term "Advent" is also used in Eastern Orthodoxy for the 40-day Nativity Fast, which has practices different from those in the West.

This apostolic constitution instituted the 1983 Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church. [10] John Paul II later promulgated a code of canon law for the 22 sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches—the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches —by means of the Apostolic Constitution Sacri Canones of 18 October 1990. [11]

Eastern Catholic Churches Autonomous, self-governing particular Churches in full communion with the Pope

The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, and in some historical cases Uniate Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian particular churches sui iuris in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Headed by patriarchs, metropolitans, and major archbishops, the Eastern Catholic Churches are governed in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, although each church also has its own canons and laws on top of this, and the preservation of their own traditions is explicitly encouraged. The total membership of the various churches accounts for about 18 million, according to the Annuario Pontificio, thus making up about 1.5 percent of the Catholic Church, with the rest of its more than 1.3 billion members belonging to the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church.

While there have been many vernacular translations of the Code, only the original Latin text has the force of law. [12]

Ecclesiological inspiration of the 1983 Code

The Vatican II Decree Optatam totius (no. 16), in view of the decision to reform the existing Code, laid down that "the teaching of Canon law should take into account the mystery of the Church, according to the dogmatic constitution De Ecclesia". The 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code was in fact structured according to the Roman law division of "norms, persons, things, procedures, penalties". The 1983 Code, in total contrast, was deliberately given a much more doctrinal-theological structure. John Paul II described the ecclesiological inspiration of the Code in this way: [3]

The instrument, which the Code is, fully corresponds to the nature of the Church, especially as it is proposed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in general, and in a particular way by its ecclesiological teaching. Indeed, in a certain sense, this new Code could be understood as a great effort to translate this same doctrine, that is, the conciliar ecclesiology, into canonical language. If, however, it is impossible to translate perfectly into canonical language the conciliar image of the Church, nevertheless, in this image there should always be found as far as possible its essential point of reference.

Thus the 1983 Code is configured, as far as possible, according to the "mystery of the Church", the most significant books – Two, Three and Four – corresponding to the munus regendi, the munus sanctificandi, and the munus docendi (the "missions" of governance, of worship/sanctification, and of teaching) which in turn derive from the kingly, the priestly and the prophetic roles or functions of Christ. [13]

Structure in detail

The 1983 Code of Canon Law contains 1752 canons, [14] or laws, most subdivided into paragraphs (indicated by "§") and/or numbers (indicated by "°"). Hence a citation of the Code would be written as Can. (or Canon) 934, §2, 1°. [15]

Subdivisions

The Code is organized into seven Books, which are further divided into Part, Section, Title, Chapter and Article. Not every book contains all five subdivisions. Organized hierarchically, the subdivisions are

Most of the Code does not utilize all these subdivisions but one example is

The basic unit of the Code is the canon. Its subdivisions appear as

Some canons contain "numbers" without "paragraphs", while most canons contain "paragraphs", and most "paragraphs" do not contain "numbers".

Outline

This is the outline of the seven books of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Explains the general application of laws
Goes into the rights and obligations of laypeople and clergy, and outlines the hierarchical organization of the Church
Christian ministry, missionary activity, education, and social communication
Sacraments and other acts of worship; places of worship; feast-days and fast-days
Ownership, contracts, and wills; akin to the civil Business Law
Crimes and punishment
Procedural law; trials and tribunals; special processes; penal procedures; administrative procedures

Summary

Book I. General Norms (Cann. 1–203)

This part of the Codex contains the general rules concerning

Legal sources are laws (including custom as a special way of legislation because of the need of the approval of the legislator), which contain universal regulations, general decrees (legislative or executory), instructions and statutes which refer to a special group, and in case of statutes are legislated by this group itself, and administrative acts, which only decide single cases.

Persons are physical persons or juridic persons. Not everyone is considered a "physical person" according to the definition of the 1983 Code, because one is constituted a person with consequent duties and rights only by baptism.

The Codex specifies conditions for the validity of a juridical act, especially in relation to form, coercion, misapprehension and lack of participation.

Legal power is divided into the three authorities of legislative, executive and judicial. The ability to conduct juridical acts can be attached to an office or it can be delegated to a person. Appointment and loss of ecclesiastical office are regulated.

Time regulates prescription, which goes along with the national regulations, but can only be achieved in good faith, and definitions of time.

Book II. The People of God (Cann. 204–746)

Book two describes the "People of God". It discusses the general rights and obligations of members of the church, and then discusses the ordering of the church, from the Holy See to the local parish.

The hierarchical constitution of religious and secular institutes and societies of apostolic life is shown to a degree adequate to explain the scope of applicability of the regulations of part two. A religious institute is a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows. This book is divided into three parts:

The Christian faithful shows the obligations of the faithful in common, those of the lay and those of the sacred ministers or clerics with special consideration of the formation and incardination and excardination of clerics and personal prelatures. Furthermore, the associations of the Christian faithful especially their recognition as a juridic person are constituted, divided in public, private associations and those of the lay.

Part II is entitled, "The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church". This part describes the composition, rights and obligations of the Supreme Authority of the Church, consisting of the Roman Pontiff, the College of Bishops, the Synod of Bishops, the College of Cardinals, the Roman Curia and the Papal legates. A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and seek to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within. Societies of apostolic life do not use a vow.

Book III. The Teaching Function of the Church (Cann. 747–833)

Book III describes the teaching function of the church. The forms of teaching are the ministry of the Divine Word in the forms of the preaching of the word of God and the catechetical instruction, the missionary action of the church, the Catholic education in schools, Catholic universities and other institutes of higher studies and the ecclesiastical universities and faculties, the instruments of communication and books in particular and finally the profession of faith.

Book IV. The Sanctifying Office of the Church (cann. 834–1123) [16]

In book four the function of the church and its religious acts are explained. This book is composed of three parts

The sacraments are baptism, confirmation, the most holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders and marriage. These sacraments are described with conditions, ceremony and participants.

Other acts of divine worship are sacramentals, the liturgy of the hours, ecclesiastical funerals, the veneration of the saints, sacred images and relics and the vow and oath.

Sacred places are those which are dedicated for divine worship or for the burial of the faithful. The Code knows five kinds of sacred places: churches, oratories and private chapels, shrines, altars and cemeteries. Sacred times are holy days of obligation, feast days and days of penance.

Book V. The Temporal Goods of the Church (Cann. 1254–1310)

This part of the Corpus Juris is the regulation of the civil law. There are instructions concerning the acquisition and administration of goods especially the acquisition by bestowal either through an act inter vivos or through an act mortis causa and contracts with special care of alimentation.

Book VI. Sanctions in the Church (Cann. 1311–1399)

Book VI contains the canonical equivalent to secular criminal law. The book has two parts:

The first part declares the necessity of a violation of a law and shows the limits and requirements of such a penal law. It determines reasons, which eliminate the punishment as lack the use of reason, nonage (less than seventeen years), mistake in law or facts, missing causality or intent and self-defence. It also describes social cases as complicity, wilful default and attempt. Possible penalties are censures (excommunication and suspension), expiatory penalties (prohibition or an order concerning residence in a certain place or territory, privation of a power, office, function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title or insignia) and penal remedies and penances. Finally the right of the application and cessation of penalties is regulated

The second part shows individual delicts, divided into delicts against religion and unity of the church, those against ecclesiastical authorities and the freedom of the church, those against special obligations, those against human life and freedom, usurpation of ecclesiastical functions and delicts in their exercise, and the crime of falsehood. In addition to these cases (and those stated in other laws) the external violation of a divine or canonical law can be punished when the special gravity of the violation demands punishment and there is an urgent need to prevent or repair scandals.

Book VII. Processes (Cann. 1400–1752)

Book VII contains the legal procedure. It is divided in 5 parts.

Part I

The first part trials in general defines the court system, its two local instances and the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge with the representation by the tribunals of the Apostolic See, especially the Roman Rota. It determines the participants of the lawsuit, the judge, the auditors and relators, the promoter of justice, the Defender of the Bond, the notary, the petitioner, the respondent, and the procurators for litigation and advocates. Finally it describes the discipline to be observed in tribunals, with the duty of judges and ministers, the order of adjudication, the time limits and delays, the place of the trial, the persons to be admitted to the court, the manner of preparing and keeping the acts, and the actions and exceptions in general and specific.

Part II

The contentious trial begins with the introductory libellus of litigation and the citation and notification of juridical act. The joinder of the issue occurs when the terms of the controversy are defined by the judge, through a decree of the judge. Further on, this part explains the trial of the litigation, especially the absence of a party, the intervention of a third person and the proofs. There are six kinds of proof: declarations of the parties, documents, testimonies, experts, judicial examination and inspection, and presumptions. After taking evidence the acts are published, the case concluded and then discussed. The case ends with the sentence of the judge. The sentence can be challenged by complaint of nullity and by appeal. Finally the res judicata and restitutio in integrum, the execution of the judgement, the judicial expenses and gratuitous legal assistance are regulated. As an alternative to this contentious trial there is the possibility of an oral contentious process.

Part III

Part three defines special processes and their special regulations, the process for declaring the nullity of marriage, cases of separation of spouses, process for the dispensation from a marriage ratum sed non consummatum, the process in the presumed death of spouses, and cases for declaring the nullity of sacred ordination. This part also shows methods of avoiding trials.

Part IV

Part four shows the proceedings of the penal process, with the preliminary investigation, the trial, and the adhesive procedure.

Part V

The last part shows the methods of proceeding in administrative recourse, which can be made by any person who claims to have been aggrieved by a decree, and the removal or transfer of pastors with display of the reasons for the removal or transfer.

The final canon, 1752, ends with the teleological and juridical principle that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls (commonly formulated Salus animarum lex suprema est.)

Amendments

After the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, popes have amended it five times, with changes to 39 canons in total (111, 112, 535, 750, 838, 868, 1008, 1009, 1086, 1108, 1109, 1111, 1112, 1116, 1117, 1124, 1127, 1371, and 1671–1691). [17]

1. Ad tuendam fidem

On 18 May 1998 Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem , which amended two canons (750 and 1371) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and also two canons (598 and 1436) of the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, so as to add "new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions." [18]

2. Omnium in mentem

On 26 October 2009 Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio Omnium in Mentem , which amended five canons (1008, 1009, 1086, 1117, 1124) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law clarifying that, among those in Holy Orders, only bishops and priests received the power and mission to act in the person of Christ the Head while deacons obtained the faculty to exercise the diakonias of service, Word, and charity. The amendments also removed formal defection from the Catholic faith as excusing Catholics from the canonical form of marriage. [19] [20]

3. Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus

On 15 August 2015 Pope Francis issued the motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus , which amended twenty-one canons (1671–1691) to reform the process of determining matrimonial nullity. The document was made public on 8 September 2015. [21] [22]

4. De concordia inter codices

On 31 May 2016 Pope Francis issued the motu proprio De concordia inter codices , which amended ten canons (111, 112, 535, 868, 1108, 1109, 1111, 1112, 1116 and 1127) to reconcile the norms of the Code of Canon Law with those of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. He did so after consultation with a committee of experts in Eastern and Latin canon law organized by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. [23]

5. Magnum principium

On 3 September 2017 Pope Francis issued the motu proprio Magnum principium , which amended one canon (838) to grant episcopal conferences authority over liturgical translations. [24]

6. Communis vita

On 19 March 2019, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter given motu proprio Communis vita. [25] It institutes ipso facto dismissal of religious who are absent for a full year illegitimately from their religious house. It replaces canons 694 and 729 in their entirety, with a vacatio legis of 10 April 2019.

Notable canons

Canon 97 reduces the canonical age of majority from 21 to 18, according to the consensus of civil law.

Canon 332 governs papal resignations

Canons 823 to 824 obliges bishops to censor material concerning faith or morals.

Canon 844 regulates communicatio in sacris.

The implementation of Canon 915 is quite controversial. See the article Canon 915 for more information.

Canon 916 prohibits clergy in mortal sin from celebrating Mass, and forbids laypeople in mortal sin from receiving the Eucharist, except when they have a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess, in which case they must make an Act of Perfect Contrition and confess their mortal sins as soon as possible.

Canon 919 §1 establishes a one-hour fast before the reception of the Eucharist (this fast does not include water or medicine).

Related Research Articles

The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the Pope’s name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular Churches and provides the central organization for the Church to advance its objectives.

Prelate high-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means 'carry before', 'be set above or over' or 'prefer'; hence, a prelate is one set over others.

In law, motu proprio describes an official act taken without a formal request from another party. Some jurisdictions use the term sua sponte for the same concept.

An apostolic constitution is the most solemn form of legislation issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman law.

An episcopal conference, sometimes called a conference of bishops, is an official assembly of the bishops of the Catholic Church in a given territory. Episcopal conferences have long existed as informal entities. The first assembly of bishops to meet regularly, with its own legal structure and ecclesial leadership function, is the Swiss Bishops' Conference, which was founded in 1863. More than forty episcopal conferences existed before the Second Vatican Council. Their status was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council and further defined by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio, Ecclesiae sanctae.

The canon law of the Catholic Church is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. It was the first modern Western legal system and is the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, while the unique traditions of Oriental canon law govern the 23 Eastern Catholic particular churches sui iuris.

In the Catholic Church, a declaration of nullity, commonly called an annulment and less commonly a decree of nullity, is a judgment on the part of an ecclesiastical tribunal determining that a marriage was invalidly contracted or, less frequently, a judgment determining that ordination was invalidly conferred.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the lowest ecclesiastical subdivision in the Catholic episcopal polity, and the primary constituent unit of a diocese. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, parishes are constituted under cc. 515–552, entitled "Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars."

Formal act of defection from the Catholic Church

A formal act of defection from the Catholic Church was an externally provable juridic act of departure from the Catholic Church, which was recognized from 1983 to 2010 in the Code of Canon Law as having certain juridical effects enumerated in canons 1086, 1117, and 1124. The concept of "formal" act of defection was narrower than that of "notorious" defection recognized in the 1917 Code of Canon Law and still narrower than the concept of "de facto" defection. In 2006, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts specified in what a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church consisted. In 2009, all mention of a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church and of any juridical effects deriving from it was removed from the Code.

Episcopal conference of Bulgaria is an ecclesiastical institution, consisting of bishops of the Catholic dioceses in the country. It is birritual because it includes in its composition dioceses in Latin and Byzantine-Slavic rites. Episcopal Conference in Bulgaria is the governing body of the Catholic Church in Bulgaria and performs almost the same features as the Holy Synod in Orthodox churches.

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, a person is a subject of certain legal rights and obligations. Persons may be distinguished between physical and juridic persons. Juridic persons may be distinguished as collegial or non-collegial, and public or private juridic persons. The Holy See and the Catholic Church as such are not juridic persons, since juridic persons are created by ecclesiastical law. Rather, they are moral persons by divine law.

The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, much later than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. The history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus novissimum and the Code of Canon Law. In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus vetus and the jus novum. Eastern canon law developed separately.

The term ratum sed non consummatum or ratum et non consummatum refers to a juridical-sacramental category of marriage in Catholic matrimonial canon law. If a matrimonial celebration takes place (ratification) but the spouses have not yet engaged in intercourse (consummation), then the marriage is said to be a marriage ratum sed non consummatum. The Tribunal of the Roman Rota has exclusive competence to dispense from marriages ratum sed non consummatum, which can only be granted for a "just reason". This process should not be confused with the process for declaring the nullity of marriage, which is treated of in a separate title of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The matrimonial nullity trial reforms of Pope Francis are the reforms of Catholic canon law governing such trials, made public 8 September 2015. The reforms were effected by two separate apostolic letters from Pope Francis, the motu proprio Mitis iudex dominus Iesus amending the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the motu proprio Mitis et misericors Iesus amending the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. This was in response to the Bishops who, during the Synod on the Family of 5-9 October 2014, called for simplification of the procedure whereby a legally invalid marriage is declared null.

Oriental canon law is the law of the 23 Catholic sui juris particular churches of the Eastern Catholic tradition. Oriental canon law includes both the common tradition among all Eastern Catholic Churches, now chiefly contained in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as to the particular law proper to each individual sui juris particular Eastern Catholic Church. Oriental canon law is distinguished from Latin canon law, which developed along a separate line in the remnants of the Western Roman Empire, and is now chiefly codified in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The jurisprudence of Catholic canon law is the complex of legal theory, traditions, and interpretative principles of Catholic canon law. In the Latin Church, the jurisprudence of canon law was founded by Gratian in the 1140s with his Decretum. In the Oriental canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Photios holds a place similar to that of Gratian for the West.

The philosophy, theology, and fundamental theory of canon law are the fields of philosophical, theological (ecclesiological), and legal scholarship which concern the place of canon law in the nature of the Catholic Church, both as a natural and as a supernatural entity. Philosophy and theology shape the concepts and self-understanding of canon law as the law of both a human organization and as a supernatural entity, since the Catholic Church believes that Jesus Christ instituted the church by direct divine command, while the fundamental theory of canon law is a meta-discipline of the "triple relationship between theology, philosophy, and canon law".

Catholic canon law is the set of rules and principles (laws) by which the Catholic Church is governed, through enforcement by governmental authorities. Law is also the field which concerns the creation and administration of laws.

Vos estis lux mundi is a motu proprio by Pope Francis, promulgated on 9 May 2019. It establishes new procedural rules to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that bishops and religious superiors are held accountable for their actions. It establishes universal norms, which apply to the whole church. The law is effective for a three-year experimental period, coming into force on 1 June 2019.

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