Canon law

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Canon law (from Ancient Greek : κανών, kanon, a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church (both the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches), the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. [1] The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these four bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally [2] a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

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Etymology

Greek kanon / Ancient Greek : κανών, [3] Arabic qaanoon / قانون, Hebrew kaneh / קָנֶה, 'straight'; a rule, code, standard, or measure; the root meaning in all these languages is 'reed'; see also the Romance-language ancestors of the English word cane .[ citation needed ]

In the fourth century, the First Council of Nicaea (325) calls canons the disciplinary measures of the Church: the term canon, κανὠν, means in Greek, a rule. There is a very early distinction between the rules enacted by the Church and the legislative measures taken by the State called leges, Latin for laws. [4]

Canons of the Apostles

The Apostolic Canons [5] or Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles [6] is a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees (eighty-five in the Eastern, fifty in the Western Church) concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, incorporated with the Apostolic Constitutions which are part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. [4]

Catholic Church

Image of pages from the Decretum of Burchard of Worms, an 11th-century book of canon law. Extract from Burchard of Worms' Decretum.jpg
Image of pages from the Decretum of Burchard of Worms, an 11th-century book of canon law.

In the Catholic Church, canon law is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the Church's hierarchical authorities to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. [7] It was the first modern Western legal system [8] and is the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, [9] [10]

In the Latin Church, positive ecclesiastical laws, based directly or indirectly upon immutable divine law or natural law, derive formal authority in the case of universal laws from the supreme legislator (i.e., the Supreme Pontiff), who possesses the totality of legislative, executive, and judicial power in his person, [11] while particular laws derive formal authority from a legislator inferior to the supreme legislator. The actual subject material of the canons is not just doctrinal or moral in nature, but all-encompassing of the human condition, [12] and therefore extending beyond what is taken as revealed truth.

The Catholic Church also includes the main five rites (groups) of churches which are in full union with the Holy See and the Latin Church:

  1. Alexandrian Rite Churches which include the Coptic Catholic Church, Eritrean Catholic Church, and Ethiopian Catholic Church.
  2. West Syriac Rite which includes the Maronite Church, Syriac Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
  3. Armenian Rite Church which includes the Armenian Catholic Church.
  4. Byzantine Rite Churches which include the Albanian Greek Catholic Church, Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church, Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia, Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, [13] Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, Macedonian Greek Catholic Church, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Romanian Greek Catholic Church, Russian Greek Catholic Church, Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, Slovak Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
  5. East Syriac Rite Churches which includes the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syro-Malabar Church.

All of these church groups are in full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and are subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches .

History, sources of law, and codifications

The Catholic Church has what is claimed to be the oldest continuously functioning internal legal system in Western Europe, [14] much later than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. What some might describe as "canons" adopted by the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem in the first century would later be developed into a highly complex legal system encapsulating not just norms of the New Testament, but some elements of the Hebrew (Old Testament), Roman, Visigothic, Saxon, and Celtic legal 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. [15] In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus vetus (all law before the Code) and the jus novum (the law of the Code, or jus codicis). [15]

The canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which had developed some different disciplines and practices, underwent its own process of codification, resulting in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches promulgated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II. [16]

Roman canon law is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code, [17] principles of legal interpretation, and coercive penalties, though it lacks civilly-binding force in most secular jurisdictions. One example where conflict between secular and canon law occurred was in the English legal system, as well as systems, such as the U.S., that derived from it. Here criminals could apply for the benefit of clergy. Being in holy orders, or fraudulently claiming to be, meant that criminals could opt to be tried by ecclesiastical rather than secular courts. The ecclesiastical courts were generally more lenient. Under the Tudors, the scope of clerical benefit was steadily reduced by Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. The papacy disputed secular authority over priests' criminal offenses. The benefit of clergy was systematically removed from English legal systems over the next 200 years, although it still occurred in South Carolina in 1827.[ citation needed ] In English Law, the use of this mechanism, which by that point was a legal fiction used for first offenders, was abolished by the Criminal Law Act 1827.

The academic degrees in canon law are the J.C.B. (Juris Canonici Baccalaureatus, Bachelor of Canon Law, normally taken as a graduate degree), J.C.L. (Juris Canonici Licentiatus, Licentiate of Canon Law) and the J.C.D. (Juris Canonici Doctor, Doctor of Canon Law). Because of its specialized nature, advanced degrees in civil law or theology are normal prerequisites for the study of canon law.

Much of Canon Law's legislative style was adapted from the Roman Law Code of Justinian. As a result, Roman ecclesiastical courts tend to follow the Roman Law style of continental Europe with some variation, featuring collegiate panels of judges and an investigative form of proceeding, called "inquisitorial", from the Latin "inquirere", to enquire. This is in contrast to the adversarial form of proceeding found in the common law system of English and U.S. law, which features such things as juries and single judges.

The institutions and practices of canon law paralleled the legal development of much of Europe, and consequently, both modern civil law and common law bear the influences of canon law. As Edson Luiz Sampel, a Brazilian expert in canon law, says, canon law is contained in the genesis of various institutes of civil law, such as the law in continental Europe and Latin American countries. Indirectly, canon law has significant influence in contemporary society. [18]

Canonical jurisprudential theory generally follows the principles of Aristotelian-Thomistic legal philosophy. [14] While the term "law" is never explicitly defined in the Catholic Code of Canon Law, [19] the Catechism of the Catholic Church cites Aquinas in defining law as "...an ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community" [20] and reformulates it as "...a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good." [21]

Code for the Eastern Churches

The law of the Eastern-rite Churches in full communion with the Roman papacy was in much the same state as that of the Latin or Western Church before 1917; much more diversity in legislation existed in the various Eastern Catholic Churches. Each had its own special law, in which custom still played an important part. One major difference in Eastern Europe however, specifically in the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, was in regards to divorce. Divorce started to slowly be allowed in specific instances such as adultery being committed, abuse, abandonment, impotence, and barrenness being the primary justifications for divorce. Eventually, the church began to allow remarriage to occur (for both spouses) post-divorce. [2] In 1929 Pius XI informed the Eastern Churches of his intention to work out a Code for the whole of the Eastern Church. The publication of these Codes for the Eastern Churches regarding the law of persons was made between 1949 through 1958 [22] but finalized nearly 30 years later. [4]

The first Code of Canon Law (1917) was almost exclusively for the Latin Church, with extremely limited application to the Eastern Churches. [23] After the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965), another edition was published specifically for the Roman Rite in 1983. Most recently, 1990, the Vatican produced the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches which became the first code of Eastern Catholic Canon Law. [24]

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, principally through the work of 18th-century Athonite monastic scholar Nicodemus the Hagiorite, has compiled canons and commentaries upon them in a work known as the Pēdálion (Greek : Πηδάλιον, 'Rudder'), so named because it is meant to "steer" the Church in her discipline. The dogmatic determinations of the Councils are to be applied rigorously since they are considered to be essential for the Church's unity and the faithful preservation of the Gospel. [25]

Anglican Communion

In the Church of England, the ecclesiastical courts that formerly decided many matters such as disputes relating to marriage, divorce, wills, and defamation, still have jurisdiction of certain church-related matters (e.g. discipline of clergy, alteration of church property, and issues related to churchyards). Their separate status dates back to the 12th century when the Normans split them off from the mixed secular/religious county and local courts used by the Saxons. In contrast to the other courts of England, the law used in ecclesiastical matters is at least partially a civil law system, not common law, although heavily governed by parliamentary statutes. Since the Reformation, ecclesiastical courts in England have been royal courts. The teaching of canon law at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was abrogated by Henry VIII; thereafter practitioners in the ecclesiastical courts were trained in civil law, receiving a Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree from Oxford, or a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Cambridge. Such lawyers (called "doctors" and "civilians") were centered at "Doctors Commons", a few streets south of St Paul's Cathedral in London, where they monopolized probate, matrimonial, and admiralty cases until their jurisdiction was removed to the common law courts in the mid-19th century.

Other churches in the Anglican Communion around the world (e.g., the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada) still function under their own private systems of canon law.

In 2002 a Legal Advisors Consultation meeting at Canterbury concluded:

(1) There are principles of canon law common to the churches within the Anglican Communion; (2) Their existence can be factually established; (3) Each province or church contributes through its own legal system to the principles of canon law common within the Communion; (4) these principles have strong persuasive authority and are fundamental to the self-understanding of each of the member churches; (5) These principles have a living force, and contain within themselves the possibility for further development; and (6) The existence of the principles both demonstrates and promotes unity in the Communion. [26]

Presbyterian and Reformed churches

In Presbyterian and Reformed churches, canon law is known as "practice and procedure" or "church order", and includes the church's laws respecting its government, discipline, legal practice, and worship.

Roman canon law had been criticized by the Presbyterians as early as 1572 in the Admonition to Parliament. The protest centered on the standard defense that canon law could be retained so long as it did not contradict the civil law. According to Polly Ha, the Reformed Church Government refuted this, claiming that the bishops had been enforcing canon law for 1500 years. [27]

Lutheranism

The Book of Concord is the historic doctrinal statement of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century. [28] However, the Book of Concord is a confessional document (stating orthodox belief) rather than a book of ecclesiastical rules or discipline, like canon law. Each Lutheran national church establishes its own system of church order and discipline, though these are referred to as "canons."

United Methodist Church

The Book of Discipline contains the laws, rules, policies, and guidelines for The United Methodist Church. Its last edition was published in 2016.

See also

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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 Eastern Catholic canon law govern the 23 Eastern Catholic particular churches sui iuris.

Catholic Church and ecumenism

The Catholic Church has engaged in the modern ecumenical movement especially since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the issuing of the decree Unitatis redintegratio and the declaration Dignitatis humanae. It was at the Council that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was created. Before that time, those outside of the Catholic Church were categorised as heretics or schismatics.

Roman Catholic (term) Catholics in full communion with the Pope; members of the Latin Church, the largest part of the Catholic Church but which does not include the Eastern Catholic Churches

Roman Catholic is a term sometimes used to differentiate members of the Catholic Church in full communion with the pope in Rome from other Christians who also self-identify as "Catholic". It is also sometimes used to differentiate adherents to the Latin Church and its Roman rite from other Catholics, i.e. adherents of the Eastern Catholic Churches of various Eastern rites. It is not the official name preferred by the Holy See or bishops in full communion with the pope as a designation for their faith or institution.

Glossary of the Catholic Church Wikipedia glossary

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.

A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its practices.

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.

Canon 844 is a Catholic Church canon law contained within the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which defines the licit administration and reception of certain sacraments of the Catholic Church in normative and in particular exceptional circumstances, known in canonical theory as communicatio in sacris.

Canon (canon law) Church law promulgated by a synod or ecumenical council or by an individual bishop

The word "canon" comes from the Greek kanon, which in its original usage denoted a straight rod that was later the instrument used by architects and artificers as a measuring stick for making straight lines. Kanon eventually came to mean a rule or norm, so that when the first ecumenical council—Nicaea I—was held in 325, kanon started to obtain the restricted juridical denotation of a law promulgated by a synod or ecumenical council, as well as that of an individual bishop.

The Eastern Catholic canon law is the law of the 23 Catholic sui juris (autonomous) particular churches of the Eastern Catholic tradition. Eastern Catholic 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 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 Eastern Catholic 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 Catholic 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".

References

  1. Boudinhon, Auguste. "Canon Law." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 9 August 2013
  2. 1 2 Wiesner-Hanks, Merry (2011). Gender in History: Global Perspectives. Wiley Blackwell. p. 37.
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Canon"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  4. 1 2 3 Metz, René (1960). "What Is Canon Law?". The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Section VIII: The Organization of the Church. 80. New York: Hawthorn Books Inc.
  5. Shahan, Thomas (1908). "Apostolic Canons". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  6. "The Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles". Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  7. Ramstein, Fr. Matthew (1948). Manual of Canon Law. Terminal Printing & Pub. Co., p. 3
  8. Berman, Harold J. Law and Revolution, pg. 86 & pg. 115
  9. Dr. Edward N. Peters, CanonLaw.info Home Page, accessed June-11-2013
  10. Raymond Wacks, Law: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd Ed. (Oxford University Press, 2015) pg. 13.
  11. Canon 331, 1983 Code of Canon Law
  12. Vatican Archive. "Code of Canon Law". Vatican.va. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  13. "The Other 23 Catholic Churches and Why They Exist". Ascension Press Media. 2019-01-21. Retrieved 2019-12-14.
  14. 1 2 Peters, Dr. Edward, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap. "Home Page". CannonLaw.info.
  15. 1 2 Ramstein, pg. 13, #8
  16. Blessed John Paul II, Ap. Const. (1990). "Apostolic Constitution Sacri Canones John Paul II 1990".
  17. Ramstein, pg. 49
  18. "canon law." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 9 August 2013.
  19. Gray, Msgr. Jason. "Home Page". JGray.org. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  20. In Brief §1976. Catechism of the Catholic Church. USCCB Publishing. ISBN   9781574557251. Summa Theologica I-II, 90, 4
  21. Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Moral Law§1951
  22. "In 1959, John XXIII, announced for the first time his decision to reform the existing corpus of canonical legislation"https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P1.HTM
  23. Canon 1, 1917 Code of Canon Law.
  24. Ford, Don (June 2007). "Canon Law Research Guide". GlobaLex . Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  25. Patsavos, Lewis J. (2013). "The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  26. Doe, Norman, "The Contribution of Common Principles of Canon to Ecclesial Communion in Anglicanism", The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, London: The Anglican Communion Office, 2008, p. 97.
  27. Ha, Polly (2010). English Presbyterianism, 1590-1640. Stanford University Press. ISBN   9780804759878 . Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  28. Bente, Friedrich., ed. and trans., Concordia Triglotta, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), p. i

Further reading

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