Canon Law

Notes, Commentary, Papers and Discussion

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Table of Contents

UDayton 2017

REL 584: CANON LAW - Outline for general introductory course in canon law; helpful for pastoral ministers.


Definition of Law

  • a set of norms
  • created by right reason
  • enlightened by faith
  • ordering the life of the ecclesial community
  • promulgated by those entrusted with the care of the community
  • for the purpose of the common good


  • The law the governs the Roman Catholic Church is called Canon Law.
  • Good law embodies the values of a society.
  • Fosters good order in the community of faith.
  • Ambivalent relation between Law and Spirit.
  • ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Lk 11:46
  • Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Gal 3:2
  • Pastoral approach to Canon Law

Role of Law

  • Facilitates societal goals
  • Provides stability and good order
  • Establishes structure, authority, succession
  • Protect rights, provides recourse
  • Shows the right path and mutual expectations


  • Scripture
  • Natural Law
  • Custom
  • Councils
  • Early Christian Writers
  • Popes
  • Bishops
  • Rules of Religious Orders
  • Civil Law
  • Concordats

Literary Forms

  • Theological Statements
  • Legal Statements
  • Exhortation
  • Admonition
  • Directive
  • Precepts
  • Prohibition
  • Penalty
  • Procedure
  • Constitutional


  • Universal / Particular
  • Proper, special
  • Prescriptive / Penal
  • Divine / Human
  • Invalid / Illicit
  • Constitutive
  • Normalcy / Emergency
  • Substantial Observance
  • External / Internal Forum
  • Abrogate / Derogate


  • Theological reflection on law in a community of faith
  • Second Vatican Council marked a shift in self-understanding of the Church, reflected in the Code:
  • Empire to Communion
  • Conflict to Ecumenism
  • Isolation to Integration
  • Static to Dynamic world-view
  • Canon Law, meeting of Theology and Jurisprudence


  • Universal / Particular
  • Legalism / Lawlessness
  • Law / Spirit

Key Terms

  • Ius – aequum et bonum, “the just and the fair”, justice
  • Lex – system of laws
  • “Law is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by one who has care of the community, and promulgated.” ST I-II q.90 a.4.
  • Mos – customary law
  • Kanon - κανών, قانون, קנה, “straight”; a rule, code, standard, or measure; the root meaning in all these languages is “reed” “cane”. The instrument used by architects for making straight lines.

Canon Lawyers

  • Body of law: universal, local, particular
  • Judges and lawyers
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Justice
  • Study of Canon Law:
    • JCL (licenciate), JCD (doctorate)
  • Others:
    • Orthodox (Sacred Canons), Angican
    • Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist


  • Apostolic / Patristic era – rules or “canons” set down by the apostles, and early Christian writers.
    • Council of Jerusalem - “abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” Acts 15:20
    • Pauline Letters – house churches, elders, overseers
    • Tertullian (160-225) Councils were held to decide questions and to represent the whole Christian name.
    • Cyprian to Pope Stephen in 256 - We are not forcing anyone in this matter; we are laying down no law (legem). For every appointed leader has in his governance of the Church the freedom to exercise his own will and judgment, while having one day to render an account of his conduct to the Lord.
  • Ius antiquum (313-1140) – Councils, popes and bishops develop laws as needed for particular situations. Private chronological collections.
    • East: Canons of the Fathers
    • West: Papal Decretal Letters – responses to specific questions.
    • Various private collections.
    • Justinian Code – Civil code issued by Eastern Roman Emperor
    • Pseudo-Isidore – false texts ascribed to popes and councils
  • Ius novum (1140-1563)
    • Gratian's Decree
    • Collection of earlier canons by scholar of canon law
    • Concordance of Discordant Canons
    • Cases, topically arranged.
    • “oldest & weightiest”
    • Corpus Iuris Canonici
  • Ius novissimum (1563-1917)
    • Reformation
    • Trent
    • Attempt at new official collection, never realized.
    • Liber Septimus
  • Ius codicis (1917- )
    • Like European codes: French code, etc. Removes law from context. Unchanging.
    • 1917 – first codification, principal author: Gaspari, promulgated by Pius X. Comprehensive, unified. Legal.
  • 1983 – new codification, team of authors, promulgated by JPII. Less unified in style, etc. Contains theological canons.
    • 1990 – Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches

Key Terms

  • Ius – aequum et bonum, “the just and the fair”, justice
  • Lex – system of laws
  • “Law is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by one who has care of the community, and promulgated.” ST I-II q.90 a.4.
  • Mos – customary law
  • Kanon - κανών, قانون, קנה, “straight”; a rule, code, standard, or measure; the root meaning in all these languages is “reed” “cane”. The instrument used by architects for making straight lines.


  • Salvation is the supreme law.
  • Faith, hope and love come before law.
  • Code is interpreted in the light of VCII.
  • The law means what the law says.
  • Ratio legis est anima legis.
  • Interpretive tools: text and context, Parallel places, Circumstances of the law, Mind of the legislator, type of text.
  • Laws with penalty or restriction are interpreted strictly.
  • Stability of law.
  • Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts

Communities apply law differently.

  • Can. 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.
  • Reception of law demonstrates the wisdom or folly of law.
  • Application of the law involves discretion – there is latitude and discretion.
  • Prudence
  • Οἰκονομία – oikonomia
  • Ἐπιείκεια – reasonable, pastoral response
  • Equity
  • Canon 11
  • Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who
  • have been baptized in the Catholic Church
  • or received into it,
  • possess the sufficient use of reason, and,
  • unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.

Book One: General Norms

  • Title I: Ecclesiastical Laws
  • Title II: Custom
  • Title III: General Decrees and Inst
  • Title IV: Singular Administrative Acts
  • Title V: Statutes and Ordinances
  • Title VI: Physical and Juridic Persons
  • Title VII: Juridical Acts
  • Title VIII: Power of Governance
  • Title IX: Ecclesiastical Offices
  • Title X: Prescription
  • Title XI: The Reckoning of Time
  • Can. 1 The canons of this Code concern only the Latin Church.
  • Can. 2 Liturgy is in Liturgical books.
  • Can. 3-4 Treaties, acquired rights remain in effect.
  • Can. 5-6 Contrary customs abrogated. 1917 Code is abrogated.

Eccesiastical Laws

  • Can. 7 A law comes into being when it is promulgated.
  • Can. 8 §1 Universal ecclesiastical laws are promulgated by publication in the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis'… and bind at once. §2 Particular laws are promulgated in the manner determined by the legislator; they begin to oblige one month promulgation.
  • Can. 9 Laws concern matters of the future, not those of the past…
  • Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who were baptized in the catholic Church or received into it, and who have a sufficient use of reason and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, who have completed their seventh year of age.
  • Can. 12 §1 Universal laws are binding everywhere on all those for whom they were enacted.
  • Can. 13 §1 Particular laws are not presumed to be personal, but rather territorial, unless the contrary is clear.
  • Can. 17 Interpretive tools: text and context, Parallel places, Circumstances of the law, Mind of the legislator.
  • Can. 18 Laws with penalty or restriction are interpreted strictly.
  • Can. 19 If no law (lacuna) (not a penal matter) consider… laws enacted in similar matters, the general principles of law observed with canonical equity, the jurisprudence and practice of the Roman Curia, and the common and constant opinion of learned authors.
  • Can. 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law,….
  • Can. 22 Some matters remitted to civil law of the territory.


  • Can. 23 A custom introduced by a community of the faithful has the force of law only if it has been approved by the legislator, in accordance with the following canons.
  • Can. 24 No custom which is contrary to divine law … or unreasonable can acquire the force of law.
  • Can. 25 No custom acquires the force of law unless it has been observed, with the intention of introducing a law, by a community capable at least of receiving a law.
  • Can. 26 Custom acquires the force of law when specifically approved, or observed for 30 continuous and complete years.
  • Can. 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

General Decrees and Inst

  • General Decrees – issued only by the legislator, e.g. diocesan bishop, pope.
  • General Executory Decrees – help implement laws and decrees, can be given by those with executive power, e.g. curia.
  • Instructions – are binding, but are limited to explaining the law. given by those with executive power, e.g. curia.

Singular Administrative Acts

  • Admin Acts By those with executive power.
  • Strictly interpreted,
  • Limited to a single case
  • Invalid if contrary to law or acquired rights
  • Decree is a decision is given or a provision made for a particular case. Must be in writing after investigation.
  • Rescript is issued in writing, granting a privilege, dispensation or other favor at someone's request.
  • Privilege is a favor given by a special act for the benefit of certain persons
  • Dispensation is the relaxation of a merely ecclesiastical law in a particular case, by one who made the law, or has the authority to dispense

Statutes and Ordinances

  • Statutes are the rules of a group of persons containing purpose, constitution, governance and manner of acting.
  • Ordinances are the rules for an assembly, meeting or celebration.

Physical and Juridic Persons

  • PJP By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and constituted a person in it, with the duties and the rights. 18 is age of majority, at age 8, one is presumed to have the use of reason.
  • Can 102 Domicile is acquired by residence in the territory of a parish, or at least of a diocese. Quasi-domicile is temporary residence
  • Can. 108 §1 Consanguinity is reckoned by lines and degrees.
  • Can. 110 Civil adoption is accepted as canonical adoption
  • Can. 111-2 Ascription to ritual Church sui iuris.
  • Can. 115 Juridic persons in the Church are either aggregates of persons or aggregates of things.
  • Can. 116 Public juridical persons are aggregates of persons or of things which are established by the competent ecclesiastical authority so that, within the limits allotted to them in the name of the Church, and in accordance with the provisions of law, they might fulfil the specific task entrusted to them for the public good. Other juridical persons are private.
  • Can. 117 …Public: Statutes are approved by the competent authority.
  • Can. 119 On elections
  • Can. 120 Juridical person are by nature perpetual. It ceases to exist, however, if it is lawfully suppressed by the competent authority, or if it has been inactive for a hundred years.
  • Can. 121-3 Juridic persons can be aggregated or divided, respecting the rights of all.

Juridical Acts

Juridic Act Robleda definition: “an externally manifested act of the will by which a certain juridical effect is intended.”

  • Can. 124 §1 Requirements: performed by a person who is legally capable, and it must contain those elements which constitute the essence of the act, as well as the formalities and requirements which the law prescribes.
    • §2 Presumed to be valid.
  • Can. 125 §1 Irresistible force invalidates.
    • §2 Fear or deceit make the act voidable.
  • Can. 126 Ignorance or Error concerning the substance of the act invalidates… unless the law provides differently. Minor error may make it voidable.
  • Can. 127 §1 If the law requires advice or consent, lack of it invalidates the act.
    • §2 Must seek and obtain consent. Must seek advice.
    • §3 All must give advice and consent sincerely, sometimes confidentially.
  • Can. 128 Whoever unlawfully causes harm to another by a juridical act, or indeed by any other act which is deceitful or culpable, is obliged to repair the damage done.
  • Canon 128 Restitution or reparation required if damage is illegitimately inflicted by a juridic act.

Power of Governance

  • Can. 129 §1 Those in orders are qualified for the power of governance / jurisdiction which is in the church by divine constitution §2 Laity cooperate (not participate) in the same power.
  • Can. 131. §1 Ordinary power pertains to the office, delegated power is given to a person. §2 Ordinary power can be proper or vicarious.
  • Can. 134 §1 Ordinary means, the Pope, the diocesan Bishops and their vicars, and those over a local church. Also superiors of men's religious institutes and societies.
  • Can 135. Power of governance is legislative, executive and judicial. Only executive power can be delegated.
  • Can. 142 §1 Delegated power ceases by: 1. fulfillment, 2. expiration under it's terms: time, cases, purpose 3. revocation communicated to delegate, 4. resignation accepted by delegator.
  • Can. 143 §1 Ordinary power ceases with the loss of office.

Ecclesiastical Offices

Ecclesial Office is a function established in a stable manner for clerics and for laypersons with VCII. Church HR.

  • Can. 145 Ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose.
    • Ch. I : The Provision of Ecclesiastical Office
      • Art. 1: Free Conferral
      • Art. 2: Presentation
      • Art. 3: Election
      • Art. 4: Postulation
    • Ch. II : Loss of Ecclesiastical Office
      • Art. 1: Resignation
      • Art. 2: Transfer
      • Art. 3: Removal
      • Art. 4: Privation
    • Election: all must be summoned to elect within 3 months. No proxy votes. Vote must be free.
  • Can. 172 §1. Each vote must be free, secret, certain, absolute and determined for validity. §2. Conditional votes invalid.
  • Collect votes, ensure no extra votes, count and record results.
  • Requires simple majority, unless law specifies otherwise.
  • Can. 177. Elected must accept, otherwise a new election occurs.
  • Can. 180ff. Postulation: Vote for one canonically impeded. At least 2/3 majority, usually dispensed impediment. Request of higher authority within 8 days.
  • Can. 184 §1. Loss of Ecclesiastical Office by (death) time, age, resignation, transfer, removal or privation. §2. Death of conferror doesn't cause loss of office, nor by disability or incompetence. §3. Should notify conferror.
    • Must be competent and free to resign. Must be in writing or orally with two witnesses. Accepted within 3 months.
  • Can. 190-191 Transfer to vacant office, prior office vacant when new office is taken.
  • Can. 192-195 Removal from office for grave cause. Privation as a penalty.


  • Prescription is the canonical version of statutes of limitation.
  • Can. 197 Prescription, as a means of acquiring or of losing a subjective right, or as a means of freeing oneself from obligations, is, apart from the exceptions prescribed in the canons of this Code, accepted by the Church in the manner in which it is adopted in the civil legislation of each country.

The Reckoning of Time

  • 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. “Useful time.”
  • Can. 203. First day is not counted, final day is counted.

Book Two: People of God

  • Part I – Christ's Faithful (outline)
    • Title I: Obligations and Rights of Christ's Faithful
    • Title II: Obligations and Rights of the Lay Faithful
    • Title III: Sacred Ministers or Clerics
      • Chapter I: Formation of Clerics
      • Chapter II: Enrollment or Incardination
      • Chapter III: Obligations and Rights of Clerics.
      • Chapter IV: Loss of the Clerical State.
    • Title IV: Personal Prelatures.
    • Title V: Associations of Christ's Faithful
      • Chapter I: Common Norms.
      • Chapter II: Public Associations of Christ's Faithful.
      • Chapter III: Private Associations of Christ's Faithful.
      • Chapter IV: Special Norms for Lay Associations.

Notion of Rights

  • Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis

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Magna Carta

  • Freedom of the English Church
  • Protection of barons
  • Swift justice
  • Limits on fines
  • Inheritances protected
  • Standard weights and measures

US Constitutional Rights

  • Am.One: Freedom of Press, Religion, Assembly, and Speech
  • Am.Four & Five: Security of Person and Property
  • Am.Six: Fair, Impartial, Speedy Trial
  • Am.Fourteen: Prohibition of Slavery
  • Am.Fifteen: People Born Inside U.S. are Citizens
  • Am.Sixteen: Right to Vote Regardless of Race or Previous Condition of Servitude

Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Civil and political rights

  • Life: 1) Freedom from torture and slavery, 2) Right to Physical Integrity, 3) Marriage, family and reproduction, 4) Access to Water and sanitation, 5) Healthcare
  • Fair trial: Hearing, Confront accusers, Representation
  • Freedoms: 1) Speech, Information and communication technologies, 2) Conscience and religion, 3) Movement, 4)Non-refoulement vs. right to asylum
  • Political Self-determination: 1) Vote, 2) Representation
  • Others
    • Keep and bear arms
    • Responsibility to Future generations
    • Sexual orientation and gender identity

Economic, social and cultural rights

  • Education
  • Free Trade
  • Employment

Obligations and Rights of the Christian Faithful

Canons 208-233

  • –Legal rights, mimicking human rights
  • –Rights flowing from the nature of the church
  • –Rights flowing from the nature of the human being
  • Can. 204 §1 Christ's faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Christ through baptism, are constituted the people of God. For this reason they participate in their own way in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. They are called, each according to his or her particular condition, to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world.
  • §2 This Church, established and ordered in this world as a society, subsists in the catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him.
  • Can. 205 Those baptized are in full communion with the catholic Church here on earth who are joined with Christ in his visible body, through the bonds of profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance.
  • Can. 207 Clerics and Lay; and Religious drawn from both.
  • Can. 208 Flowing from their rebirth in Christ, there is a genuine equality of dignity and action among all of Christ's faithful.
  • Canon 209 §1 Christ’s faithful are bound to preserve their communion with the Church at all times.
  • Canon 210 Right to lead a holy life, and to promote the growth of the Church.
  • Canon 211 Right to strive so that the divine message of salvation may more and more reach all people of all times and all places.
  • Canon 212 §1. Christian obedience to teachers of faith. §3 Right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and prestige, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters that concern the good of the Church.
  • Can. 213 Right to be assisted by pastors with Word of God and the Sacraments.
  • Can. 214 Right to worship in their own rite.
  • Can. 215 §1 All have the right to assembly.
  • Can. 216 Right to lay pastoral action.
  • Can. 217 Right to Christian education
  • Can. 218 A just freedom for research in the sacred sciences.
  • Can. 219 Right to freedom from coercion in choosing a state in life.
  • 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.
  • Can. 221 §1 Christ's faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church.
  • Can. 222 §1 Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church. §2 They are also obliged to promote social justice.
  • Can. 223 §1 In exercising their rights, … they must take account of the common good of the Church, as well as the rights of others and their own duties to others.

Lay Obligations and Rights

  • Can. 225 Lay Apostolate §1 Lay people are deputed to the apostolate by baptism and confirmation, - right and obligation. §2 They also permeate and perfect the temporal order of things with the spirit of the Gospel.
  • Can. 226 §1 Married couples strive for the building up of the people of God through their marriage and family. §2 Parents have the most serious obligation and primary duty and the right to educate children and raise in the Church.
  • Can. 227 Laity have freedom in secular affairs. Heed Church teaching and don't present personal opinion as that of the church if it is not.
  • Lay Obligations and Rights
  • Canon 228 §1 Suitable lay people can have offices.
  • Canon 229 Duty and the right to Christian teaching, can get theology degrees and teach it.
  • Canon 230 §1 Men can be given the “stable ministry” of lector and of acolyte. (Rarely done because the canon excludes women.) §2 All lay people can exercise the roles of lector, commentator, cantor, etc. §3 Broader ministries in case of necessity.
  • Canon 231 §1 Lay ministers should have formation, and act conscientiously, earnestly and diligently fulfill this role. §2 They have the right to a worthy remuneration and benefits.



  • Can. 232 Church has right to train ministers.
  • Can. 233 §1 All community to foster vocations, especially families, educators, clerics. §2 Attention to mature vocations.
  • Can. 234 §1 Minor seminaries to be retained and fostered. §2 Human and scientific formation, as well as religious.
  • Can. 235 §1 Religious formation and instruction in the duties of priesthood needed. §2 Non-resident seminarians to have someone to ensure formation in the spiritual life and in discipline.
  • Can. 236 Permanent Deacons need spiritual formation: 1° young seminarians are to be resident for three years, 2° older seminarians, even married ones have three years program.


  • Can. 265 Every cleric incardinated. Transient clerics disallowed.
  • Can. 266 Original incardination at diaconate.
  • Can. 267- Process for transferring incardination and temporary moves between dioceses.

Clerical Obligations and Rights

  • Can. 273 Respect and obedience to the Pope and their bishop
  • Can. 274 §1 They have power of ecclesiastical governance. §2 Clerics to do job bishop gives them.
  • Can. 275 §1 Clerics united in cooperation, prayer and cooperation. §2 To promote the mission of laity.
  • Can. 276 §1 To seek holiness. §2 Through: 1) pastoral ministry; 2) spiritual life, Word and Eucharist; 3) liturgy of the hours daily; 4) spiritual retreats; 5) regular mental prayer, penance, etc.
  • Can. 277 Perfect and perpetual continence and prudence required.
  • Can. 278 §1 The secular clergy have the right of association.
  • Clerical Obligations and Rights
  • Can. 279 §1 Studies should continue, but avoid profane novelties and pseudo science.
  • Can. 280 Common life recommended
  • Can. 281 To get a just remuneration, social welfare and insurance.
  • Can. 282 To live simply. §2 Can use excess goods for charitable works.
  • Can. 283 §1 Not to be long absent from the diocese without the at least presumed permission of their proper Ordinary. §2 They may take a rightful and sufficient holiday every year.
  • Can. 284 To wear suitable ecclesiastical dress.
  • Clerical Obligations and Rights
  • Can. 285 To shun completely everything that is unbecoming to their state. §3 Not assume public office. §4 Not to administer goods of others or act as surety.
  • Can. 286 Business, commerce or trade forbidden without permission.
  • Can. 287 To do their utmost to foster among people peace and harmony based on justice but no political parties or trade unions except to protect the Church or common good.
  • Can. 288 Deacons Permanent deacons are not bound by dress, or prohibitions on public office, business and political activity.
  • Can. 289 Not to volunteer for military and to take advantage of exemptions.

Loss of Clerical State

  • Canon 290 Ordination never becomes invalid. Clerical state is lost by: 1) Annulment of ordination; 2) penalty of dismissal; 3) by a rescript of the Apostolic See for gravest reasons.
  • Canon 291 Obligation of celibacy may be dispensed separately by pope.
  • Canon 292 Former cleric looses rights and obligations, offices, etc.
  • Canon 293 Only Rome can reinstate.

Personal Prelature

  • Canon 294 Personal prelatures may be established by the Apostolic See after consultation with the Episcopal Conferences concerned. There are priests and deacons. Only one example: Opus Dei: founded by Josemaria Escriva 1928.
  • Canon 295 §1 Governed by statutes laid down by the Apostolic See.
  • Canon 296 Lay people can dedicate themselves by agreement as defined in statutes.
  • Canon 297 The statutes define the relationships with local ordinaries where they act.



The christian faithful can associate - this section describes how their associations attain canonical status and why they might want to.

  • Associations are groups of people, not religious communities, who work together for living the gospel, Christian teaching or worship, or other works of the gospel.
  • They may be associated with religious, guilds, societies, etc.
  • They may be non-canonical or de facto, e.g. KofC or St. Vincent de Paul Society
  • They may be private with just their statutes approved
  • They may have juridical personality and hold church goods.
  • They may be public juridic persons acting in nominae ecclesiae.

A juridic person is a legal construct; it is an artificial person,created by ecclesiastical authority and it has canonical obligations and rights (c.113, 2). Examples are dioceses (c.373), parishes (c.515, 3), seminaries (c. 238, 1), religious institutes (c.634, 1), or a ministerial public juridic person established to sponsor a catholic hospital system.

  • Can. 298 Catholics can gather in associations. May be de facto, private or public.
  • Can. 299 §1 Association may be by private agreement. §2 They retain their private character even if recognized by the church. §3 To be recognized as Catholic, the statutes must be reviewed.
  • Can. 300 Can't be called Catholic without consent of the bishop.
  • Can. 301 A public association acts in the name of the Church – public juridic person.


  • Can. 302 Clerics can make their own associations.
  • Can. 303 Associations can share the spirit of a religious order.
  • Can. 304 Statutes contain: goal, seat, governance and the conditions of membership, manner of action. Private – reviewed, public – approved.
  • Can. 305 Under the vigilance of the bishop.

Public Associations

  • Can. 312 §1 Established by Pope or bishop. §2 With written permission.
  • Can. 313 Public associations are Juridic persons acting in the name of the church.
  • Can. 314 Statutes must be approved.
  • Can. 315 Public associations can act on their own initiative under the guidance of bishop / pope.
  • Can. 316 Membership limited to Catholics in full communion.

Public Associations

  • Can. 317 §1 Statutes can appoint the moderator, if it doesn't the bishop can confirm or appoint. The chaplain, if any, is appointed by the bishop. §4 Political leaders can't be moderators in public associations for exercise of the apostolate.
  • Can. 318 In a crisis, the bishop can appoint a commissioner to direct the association in his name for the time being.
  • Can. 319 Use temporal goods in freedom, but accounting required. Goods are considered ecclesiastical goods bound by Book Five of the code.
  • Can. 320 Dissolution by inactivity or active dissolution by the one who erected.
  • Can. 321-326 – Private associations more autonomous.

Part II – Hierarchical Constitution

  • Section I: Supreme Authority of the Church.
    • Pope, Cardinals, Curia, Legates.
  • Section II: Particular Churches and Their Groupings.
    • Title I: Particular Churches and the Authority
      • Particular Churches, Bishops, Impeded or Vacant See
    • Title II: Groupings of Particular Churches.
      • Provinces and Regions, Metropolitans, Councils, Episcopal Conferences.
    • Title III: Internal Ordering of Particular Churches.
      • Synod, Curia, Council of Priests and College of Consultors, Canons, *
      • Pastoral Council, Parishes, Parish Priests, Vicars Forane, Rectors

Supreme Authority


  • Can. 330 Just as, by the decree of the Lord, Saint Peter and the rest of the Apostles form one College, so for a like reason the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, are united together in one.
  • Can. 331 Head of the College of Bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the universal Church here on earth. …Has supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church.
  • Can. 332 From the moment he accepts election to the supreme pontificate. …He is immediately to be ordained Bishop. Resignation must be free and made manifest.
    • §2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.
  • Can. 333 There is neither appeal no recourse against a judgment or a decree of the Roman Pontiff.
    • Motu Proprio - from the Pope on his own initiative, may be legislative
    • Apostolic Constitution – formal act, e.g. erecting a diocese, organizing curia
    • Encyclical – general circular letter, epistle
    • Apostolic Letter - less solemn, may be doctrinal or declaring saint or basilica
    • Apostolic Exhortation - like apostolic letter - e.g. after synod.
    • Common Declaration - joint statement of religious leaders
    • Homily, Audience, Discourse, Message - common teaching.

College of Bishops

  • Can. 336 The head of the College of Bishops is the Supreme Pontiff, and its members are the Bishops by virtue of their sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its members.
  • Can. 337 The College of Bishops exercises its power over the universal Church in solemn form in an Ecumenical Council.
  • Can. 338 It is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff alone to summon an Ecumenical Council.
  • Can. 339 All Bishops, have the right and the obligation to be present at an Ecumenical Council.
    • §2 Some others besides, can be summoned to an Ecumenical Council, to whom it belongs to determine what part they take in the Council.
  • Can. 340 Suspended if Apostolic See becomes vacant.

Synod of Bishops & Cardinals

  • Can. 342 The synod of Bishops is a group of Bishops selected from different parts of the world, who meet together at specified times to promote the close relationship between the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops…. defense and development of faith and morals, ecclesiastical discipline, mission of the Church in the world. Doesn't issue decrees.
  • Can. 349 The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a special College, whose prerogative it is to elect the Roman Pontiff in accordance with the norms of a special law…. questions of major importance, daily care of the universal Church.

Curia and Papal Legate

  • Can. 360 The Supreme Pontiff usually conducts the business of the universal Church through the Roman Curia.
  • Can. 361 In this Code the terms Apostolic See or Holy See mean not only the Roman Pontiff, but also, unless the contrary is clear from the nature of things or from the context, the Secretariat of State, the Council for the public affairs of the Church, and the other Institutes of the Roman Curia.
  • Can. 363 §1 To Legates of the Roman Pontiff is entrusted the office of representing in a stable manner the person of the Roman Pontiff in the particular Churches, or also in the States and public Authorities, to whom they are sent. Information, assistance, communication.
  • Pastor Bonus 1988 - In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors.
  • Dicastery, Congregation, Tribunal, Council, Office, Commission, etc.

Particular Churches

  • Can. 369 A diocese is a portion of the people of God, which is entrusted to a Bishop to be nurtured by him, with the cooperation of the presbyterium, in such a way that, remaining close to its pastor and gathered by him through the Gospel and the Eucharist in the Holy Spirit, it constitutes a particular Church. In this Church, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ truly exists and functions.
  • Can. 373 It is within the competence of the supreme authority alone to establish particular Churches; once they are lawfully established, the law itself gives them juridical personality.
  • Can. 374 §1 Each diocese or other particular Church is to be divided into distinct parts or parishes.


  • Can. 375 §1 By divine institution, Bishops succeed the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who is given to them. They are constituted Pastors in the Church, to be the teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers of governance.
  • §2 By their episcopal consecration, Bishops receive, together with the office of sanctifying, the offices also of teaching and of ruling, which however, by their nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its members.
  • Can. 376 Bishops to whom the care of a given diocese is entrusted are called diocesan Bishops; the others are called titular Bishops.
  • Can. 377 §1 The Supreme Pontiff freely appoints Bishops or confirms those lawfully elected. Ecclesiastical provinces submit lists, Legate submits list of three terna after consulting bishops, diocesan curia, clerics, laity.
  • Can. 378 §1 To be a suitable candidate for the episcopate, a person must: 1° be outstanding in strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues, and possess those other gifts which equip him to fulfill the office in question; 2° be held in good esteem; 3° be at least 35 years old; 4° be a priest ordained for at least five years; 5° hold a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred sciences.

Diocesan Bishop

  • Can. 381 The diocesan Bishop has all the ordinary, proper and immediate power required for the exercise of his pastoral office.
  • Can. 391 §1 The diocesan Bishop governs the particular Church entrusted to him with legislative, executive and judicial power, in accordance with the law.
    • §2 The Bishop exercises legislative power himself. He exercises executive power either personally or through Vicars general or episcopal Vicars, in accordance with the law. He exercises judicial power either personally or through a judicial Vicar and judges, in accordance with the law.
  • Canons on auxiliaries and coadjutors, and on episcopal succession.

Regional Organization

  • Can. 435 An ecclesiastical province is presided over by a Metropolitan, who is Archbishop in his own diocese. The office of Metropolitan is linked to an episcopal see, determined or approved by the Roman Pontiff.
  • Can. 439 §1 A plenary council for all the particular Churches of the same Episcopal Conference is to be celebrated as often as the Episcopal Conference, with the approval of the Apostolic See, considers it necessary or advantageous.
  • §2 The norm laid down in §1 is valid also for a provincial council to be celebrated in an ecclesiastical province whose boundaries coincide with the boundaries of the country.
  • Can. 447 The Episcopal Conference, a permanent institution, is the assembly of the Bishops of a country or of a certain territory, exercising together certain pastoral offices for Christ's faithful of that territory. By forms and means of apostolate suited to the circumstances of time and place, it is to promote, in accordance with the law, that greater good which the Church offers to all people.

Diocesan Administration

  • Can. 460 The diocesan synod is an assembly of selected priests and other members of Christ's faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan community, assists the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the following canons.
  • Can. 469 The diocesan curia is composed of those institutes and persons who assist the Bishop in governing the entire diocese, especially in directing pastoral action, in providing for the administration of the diocese, and in exercising judicial power.
  • Can. 492 §1 In each diocese a finance committee is to be established, presided over by the diocesan Bishop or his delegate. It is to be composed of at least three of the faithful, expert in financial affairs and civil law, of outstanding integrity, and appointed by the Bishop.
    • §2 The members of the finance committee are appointed for five years but when this period has expired they may be appointed for further terms of five years.
    • §3 Persons related to the Bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity are excluded from the finance committee.
  • Can. 495 §1 In each diocese there is to be established a council of priests, that is, a group of priests who represent the presbyterium and who are to be, as it were, the Bishop's senate. The council's role is to assist the Bishop.
  • Can. 502 §1 From among the members of the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop freely appoints not fewer than six and not more than twelve priests, who are for five years to constitute the college of consultors.
  • Can. 511 In each diocese, in so far as pastoral circumstances suggest, a pastoral council is to be established. Its function, under the authority of the Bishop, is to study and weigh those matters which concern the pastoral works in the diocese, and to propose practical conclusions concerning them. … clerics, members of institutes of consecrated life, and especially lay people.


  • Can. 515 §1 A parish is a certain community of Christ's faithful stably established within a particular Church, whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, is entrusted to a parish priest as its proper pastor.
  • Can. 517 §2 Entrust parish to lay person with priest for sacramental ministry.
  • Can. 518 As a general rule, a parish is to be territorial.
  • Can. 522 It is necessary that a parish priest have the benefit of stability, and therefore he is to be appointed for an indeterminate period of time.
  • Can. 536 §1 If, after consulting the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop considers it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish.
  • Can. 537 In each parish there is to be a finance committee to help the parish priest in the administration of the goods of the parish.
  • Can 538 §3 A parish priest who has completed his seventy fifth year of age is requested to offer his resignation from office to the diocesan Bishop.

Part III – Consecrated Life

Consecrated Life

  • Can. 573 §1 Life consecrated through profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living, in which the faithful follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, and are totally dedicated to God, who is supremely loved. By a new and special title they are dedicated to seek the perfection of charity in the service of God's Kingdom, for the honor of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world. They are a splendid sign in the Church, as they foretell the heavenly glory.
    • §2 Christ's faithful freely assume this manner of life in institutes of consecrated life which are canonically established by the competent ecclesiastical authority. By vows or by other sacred bonds, in accordance with the laws of their own institutes, they profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Because of the charity to which these counsels lead, they are linked in a special way to the Church and its mystery.
  • Can. 579 Provided the Apostolic See has been consulted, diocesan Bishops can, by formal decree, establish institutes of consecrated life in their own territories.
  • Aggregations, fusions, unions, mergers, suppression, etc.
  • Can. 586 §1 A true autonomy of life, especially of governance, is recognized for each institute.
  • Can. 587 §1 To protect more faithfully the vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of the institute are to contain, in addition to those elements which are to be preserved in accordance with can. 578, basic norms about the governance of the institute, the discipline of the members, the admission and formation of members, and the proper object of their sacred bonds.
  • Can. 588 §1 In itself, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay.
  • Can. 596 §1 Superiors and Chapters of institutes have that authority over the members which is defined in the universal law and in the constitutions.

Vows & Community

  • Can. 599 The evangelical counsel of chastity embraced for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, is a sign of the world to come, and a source of greater fruitfulness in an undivided heart. It involves the obligation of perfect continence observed in celibacy.
  • Can. 600 The evangelical counsel of poverty in imitation of Christ who for our sake was made poor when he was rich, entails a life which is poor in reality and in spirit, sober and industrious, and a stranger to earthly riches. It also involves dependence and limitation in the use and the disposition of goods, in accordance with each institute's own law.
  • Can. 601 The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ, who was obedient even unto death, obedience to lawful Superiors in accordance with each institute's own constitutions.
  • Can. 602 The fraternal life proper to each institute unites all the members into, as it were, a special family in Christ. It is to be so defined that for all it proves of mutual assistance to fulfill their vocation. The fraternal union of the members, rooted and based in charity, is to be an example of universal reconciliation in Christ.

Religious Life Typology

  • Hermits, Virgins & New Forms….
  • Religious Institutes – vows in community, monastic, evangelical, apostolic, mendicant, etc.
  • Societies of Apostolic Life – mission & community – vows are absent or secondary.
  • Secular Institutes – vows outside community, with governance
  • Hermits – vows under bishop
  • Consecrated Virgin – no vows, consecrated by bishop
  • New Forms – Ecclesial families

TypologyPersons in Consecrated Life


  • Can. 617 Superiors are to fulfill their office and exercise their authority in accordance with the norms of the universal law and of their own law.
  • Can. 620 Major Superiors are those who govern an entire institute, or a province or a part equivalent to a province, or an autonomous house.
  • Can. 627 §1 Superiors are to have their own council, in accordance with the constitutions, and they must make use of it in the exercise of their office.
  • Can. 631 §1 In an institute the general chapter has supreme authority in accordance with the constitutions. It is to be composed in such a way that it represents the whole institute and becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. Its principal functions are to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in can. 578 and to foster appropriate renewal in accord with that patrimony. It also elects the supreme Moderator, deals with matters of greater importance, and issues norms which all are bound to obey.
  • Can. 634 §1 Since they are by virtue of the law juridical persons, institutes, provinces and houses have the capacity to acquire, possess, administer and alienate temporal goods, unless this capacity is excluded or limited in the constitutions.

Admission and Formation

  • Can. 641 The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to the major Superiors, in accordance with the norms of the institute's own law.
  • Can 642 Requirements: required age, health, suitable disposition, sufficient maturity to undertake the life which is proper to the institute.
  • Can. 646 Novitiate: greater understanding of their divine vocation, and of their vocation to that institute…. experience the life of the institute.
  • Can. 648 At least one year.
  • Can. 654 By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels.
  • Can. 655 3-6 years temporary profession.

Obligations and Rights

  • 662: Following Christ
  • 663: Prayer
  • 664: Conversion
  • 665: Live in a religious house
  • 666: Responsible use of media
  • 667: Enclosure
  • 668: Poverty
  • 669: Sign of consecration
  • 670: All necessities of vocation
  • 671: Living outside the institute
  • 672: Clerical obligations regarding business and politics


  • 673: The apostolate of all religious consists primarily in the witness of their consecrated life. Contemplative life 674, Apostolic life 675.
  • 677: Proper works are works established and run by religious, in keeping with charism. 681: Works entrusted are diocesan works entrusted to institute.
  • 678: Ministry is arranged in collaboration with bishop.
  • 679: Bishop can forbid a religious to live in the diocese.
  • 683: Bishop can visit schools and other ministries.

Separation and Transfer

  • 686-7 Exclaustration: temporarily living apart from the institute, up to 3 years.
  • 691: Departure for very serious reasons
  • 690: Readmission
  • 694-704: Dismissal – very serious. Canonical procedure required.

Secular Institutes & Societies

  • 710-730: A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which Christ's faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and endeavor to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within.
  • 731-746: Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life. Their members, without taking religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to each society. Living a fraternal life in common in their own special manner, they strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions.

Book Three: The Teaching Office

(80 Canons)

  Title I: Ministry of the Divine Word
      Chapter I : Preaching the Word of God
      Chapter II : Catechetical Formation
  Title II: Missionary Activity of the Church
  Title III: Catholic Education
      Chapter I : Schools
      Chapter II : Catholic Universities
      Chapter III : Ecclesiastical Universities
  Title IV : Social Communication
  Title V: The Profession of Faith
  • Canon 747 §1 It is the obligation and inherent right of the Church, independent of any human authority, to preach the Gospel to all peoples, using for this purpose even its own means of social communication, for it is to the Church that Christ the Lord entrusted the deposit of faith, so that by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, it might conscientiously guard revealed truth, more intimately penetrate it, and faithfully proclaim and expound it.
  • 748 §1 All are bound to seek the truth in the matters which concern God and his Church; when they have found it, then by divine law they are bound, and they have the right, to embrace and keep it.
  • 749 §1 In virtue of his office the Supreme Pontiff is infallible in his teaching when, as chief Shepherd and Teacher of all Christ's faithful, with the duty of strengthening his brethren in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act a doctrine to be held concerning faith or morals.
  • §2 The College of Bishops
  • 750 Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal magisterium, which is manifested by the common adherence of Christ's faithful under the guidance of the sacred magisterium. All are therefore bound to shun any contrary doctrines.
  • 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith. Apostasy is the total repudiation of the christian faith. Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
  • 752 Submission of intellect and will: authentic magisterium. 753: authentic magisterium of their Bishops. 754 Observe the constitutions and decrees. 755 §1 College of Bishops and to the Apostolic See to foster ecumenism.

Ministry of Divine Word

  • Canon 756 – Pope and bishops
  • 757 – Priests
  • 578 – Religious
  • 579 – Laity
  • 761 – Through all means


  • Right of Bishops and priests
  • 766 The laity may be allowed to preach in a church or oratory if in certain circumstances it is necessary, or in particular cases it would be advantageous.
  • 767 Homily reserved to clerics


  • 773-4 Serious duty of pastors, laity, parents. Teaching for children, youth, adults.
  • 775 Diocesan norms
  • 777 For children, sacramental preparation, disabled, young adults.
  • 779 Materials and resources
  • 780 Preparation of catechists.

Mission Activity

  • 781 Because the whole Church is of its nature missionary and the work of evangelization is to be considered a fundamental duty of the people of God.
    • Clerical, religious and lay missionaries.
  • 787 Missionaries are to establish a sincere dialogue with those who do not believe in Christ.
  • 788 It is the responsibility of the Episcopal Conference to establish norms concerning the arrangement of the catechumenate.

Catholic Education

  • Canon 793 §1 Parents, and those who take their place, have both the obligation and the right to educate their children.
  • 794 §1 The Church has in a special way the duty and the right of educating, for it has a divine mission of helping all to arrive at the fullness of christian life.
  • 795 Must pay regard to the formation of the whole person.
  • 796 – Catholic Schools: There must be the closest cooperation between parents and the teachers to whom they entrust their children to be educated.
  • 797 Parents must have a real freedom in their choice of schools.
  • 800 The Church has the right to establish and to direct schools for any field of study or of any kind and grade.
  • 803 §1 A catholic school is understood to be one which is under the control of the competent ecclesiastical authority or of a public ecclesiastical juridical person, or one which in a written document is acknowledged as catholic by the ecclesiastical authority.
  • 805 In his own diocese, the local Ordinary has the right to appoint or to approve teachers of religion and, if religious or moral considerations require it, the right to remove them or to demand that they be removed.


  • 808 Canonically can't be called catholic without church approval.
  • 809 Bishop's conference should try to have universities that can teach various disciplines with Catholic view.
  • 810 Bishops to ensure qualified teaching with integrity of doctrine and uprightness of life. Remove if lacking.
  • 811 Ensure there is theology faculty or at least chair. §2 Lectures should also all disciplines from a catholic perspectives.
  • 812 Theological professors to get mandatum.
  • 813 University parish and pastoral care for young people.
  • 815-7 Church can have ecclesiastical universities and faculties of sacred sciences. To train church functionaries. Many other documents on this matter. Can give canonical degrees: STL, JCL

Social Communication

  • Canon 822 Use by pastors and laity for evangelization is encouraged.
  • 823 Pastors to ensure no ill effect on the faith and morals of Christ's faithful
  • 824 Imprimatur of author's Ordinary. 825 Scripture translations require approval of Apostolic See or the Episcopal Conference. They must have notes. CDF approves scripture texts used in liturgy. 826 Liturgical books require special approval.
  • 827 Catechisms require the approval of the local Ordinary, §2 also religious textbooks for elementary, intermediate or higher schools to be approved. §4 Writings on religion or morals can't be distributed in churches unless approved.
  • 830 §1 Bishop appoint censors, Episcopal conferences can make a list of censors. If denied bishop to inform the author with reasons.
  • 831 §1 Laity not to write for hostile media without just cause, clerics and religious, not without permission. §2 Episcopal Conference to lay down norms for clerics and religious in the media on faith and morals.

Profession of Faith

Canon 833 The following are personally bound to make a profession of faith, according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See:

  • 1° all who take part in an Ecumenical Council, a particular council, the synod of Bishops, or a diocesan synod;
  • 2° those promoted to the dignity of Cardinal;
  • 3° all who are promoted to the episcopate, and all those who are equivalent to a diocesan Bishop;
  • 4° the diocesan Administrator;
  • 5° Vicars general, episcopal Vicars and judicial Vicars;
  • 6° parish priests; the rector, professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries, at the beginning of their term of office; and those who are to be promoted to the order of diaconate;
  • 7° the rector of an ecclesiastical or catholic university, those who in any universities teach subjects which deal with faith or morals;
  • 8° Superiors in religious institutes and clerical societies of apostolic life.

Book Four: Sanctifying Office

420 canons on the sanctifying function: Baptism 30, Confirmation 18, Eucharist 62, Penance 39, Anointing 10, Orders 47, Marriage 111

  • 834 Sanctifying function particularly through Liturgy
  • 835 General Roles: §1. The bishops are the high priests, dispensers, directors, promoters, and guardians of liturgy. §2. Presbyters also exercise this function. §3. Deacons have a part. §4. The other members of the Christian faithful also have their own part.
  • 836 Common Priesthood of the Christian faithful proceeds from faith, connected to the ministry of the word.
  • 837 §1. Liturgical actions are not private actions but celebrations of the Church. §2. Presence and active participation of the Christian faithful preferred.
  • 838 §1. Apostolic See claims sole authority for the control of the sacred liturgy. §2. including publishing liturgical books and reviewing translations and vigilance over liturgical regulations. §3. Conferences of bishops prepare and publish translated, adapted liturgical books. Recognitio is required. §4. Diocesan bishops gives norms.
  • 839 §1. Prayer, penance and charity greatly help.


  • 840 Theological Definition: actions of Christ and the Church, they are
  • signs and means which express and strengthen the faith, render worship to God, and effect the sanctification of humanity and thus contribute in the greatest way to establish, strengthen, and manifest ecclesiastical communion.
  • 841 It is only for the supreme authority of the Church to approve or define the requirements for their validity and liceity.
  • 842 Baptism precedes all other sacraments, the Eucharist and Confirmation
  • 843 Right to Sacraments not denied if sought at appropriate times, properly disposed, and not prohibited. 844 Catholic ministers give catholic sacraments to catholic faithful. Exceptional cases, esp. danger of death.
  • 845 §1. Since the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and orders imprint a character, they cannot be repeated. §2. In uncertainty, conditional conferral allowed.
  • 846 Use Liturgical Books.
  • 847 §1. Holy oils from olives, etc. consecrated recently by bishop.
  • 848 Fees established by competent authority.


  • Canon 849 Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments and necessary for salvation by actual reception or at least by desire, is validly conferred only by a washing of true water with the proper form of words.
  • Celebration: 851-2 preparation, 854 by immersion or pouring, 855 name, 856-7 preference for Sunday, in Church.
  • Minister: Ordinarily cleric, extraordinary: anyone.
  • Recipient: Anyone, adults manifest intention. Adults prepared, with conf. & euch. Infants with parental consent, also foundlings and aborted fetuses.
  • Sponsor: at least one, if two, male and female. appointed by the candidate or parents or minister, suitable, at least 16, fully initiated Catholic, no canonical penalty, not father or mother of child. Baptized non-Catholic can witness.
  • Record: Witnessed and recorded in parish.


  • Canon 879 Confirmation 1) strengthens the baptized, 2) obliges them more firmly to be witnesses of Christ by word and deed and to spread and defend the faith, 3) imprints a character, 4) enriches by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and 5) binds them more perfectly to the Church.
  • Celebration: 880 §1. Conferred by the anointing of chrism on the forehead with imposition of hand. §2. Chrism consecrated by a bishop. 881 Preferably in Mass.
  • Minister: 882 The ordinary minister is a bishop; a presbyter can get the faculty.
  • Recipients: 889 §1. Baptized / unconfirmed are capable of receiving confirmation. §2. Recipient with the use of reason must be instructed, disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises. 891 Confirmation ordinarily at the age of discretion.
  • Sponsor: 892 Acts as a witness of Christ and fulfills the obligations of this sacrament. 893 Qualification like a baptismal sponsor. Same sponsor preferred.
  • Registration: 894 Witness as at baptism. 895 Record in place of conferral, with note to place of baptism.


  • Canon 897 Christ the Lord is contained, offered, and received and the Church continually lives and grows.
  • Celebration: The action of Christ and the Church. Christ's self-offering, substantially present under the species of bread and wine, spiritual nourishment, people gathered with bishop.
  • Minister: Validly ordained priest alone. 902 Priests can concelebrate the Eucharist. Don't celebrate alone in same church as concelebration. 903 Priest is known or has letter of introduction, issued at least within the year. Daily Mass encouraged, generally not more than once. 906 Participants generally required 907 Deacons and laity can't offer prayers at Mass. 908 Can't concelebrate with other Christians. 910 Communion Minister is ordinarily a cleric, extraordinarily lay person.
  • Eucharist
  • Participants: 912 Any Baptized 913 Children with knowledge and preparation. 915 Excommunicated or interdicted not admitted to communion. 916 One with grave sin not to celebrate without confession. 917 Communion generally once a day. 918 Communion encouraged in Mass. 919 One hour fast except elderly and infirm. 920 Easter communion. 921 Viaticum by any minister.
  • Ceremonies: 924 Recently made wheat bread and with wine from the fruit of the vine in which a little water must be mixed. 926 Latin Church: unleavened bread. 927 Consecration only in Mass. 928 in Latin or another approved text. 929 with vestments and rubrics. 930 Disabled priests.
  • Reservation: Must be reserved in churches, can be reserved in chapels, only one tabernacle, with lamp. 935 Not carried, unless to the sick. 937 Church should be open at least some hours every day. 941 No exposition during Mass.
  • Offering: 945 Permitted, 947 Appearance of trafficking avoided. 15 canons.


  • Canon 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a lawful minister, are sorry for those sins and have a purpose of amendment, receive from God, through the absolution given by that minister, forgiveness of sins they have committed after baptism, and at the same time they are reconciled with the Church, which by sinning they wounded.
  • Minister: 965 A priest alone is the minister of the sacrament of penance. … Faculty required, granted by bishop, in writing, 978, priest is physician and judge. 983, Sacramental seal is inviolable.
  • Recipient: 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God. 988 Obligation to confess mortal sins, recommended to confess venial sins. 989 At least once a year. 990 Through an interpreter.
  • Indulgences: 992 An indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven. 993 partial or plenary. 994 for self or others.


  • Canon 998 The anointing of the sick, by which the Church commends the faithful who are dangerously ill to the suffering and glorified Lord in order that he relieve and save them, is conferred by anointing them with oil and pronouncing the words prescribed in the liturgical books.
  • Celebration: 999 Bishop to bless the oil, or priest during sacrament. 1000 §1. The anointings with the words, order, and manner prescribed in the liturgical books are to be performed carefully. 1002 The communal celebration according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop.
  • Minister: 1003 §1. Only a priest has right and duty.
  • Recipient: 1004 §1. One having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age. §2. Can be repeated. 1005 Administer in case of doubt: use of reason, illness, death.


  • Can. 1008 Sacred ministers through an indelible character which marks them. They are consecrated and designated. 1009 The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate, conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades.
  • Celebration: 1010 Celebrated within the solemnities of the Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation. 1011 §1. Generally is to be celebrated in the cathedral church, with §2. Clerics and other members of the Christian faithful present.
  • Minister: 1012 A consecrated bishop. 1013 Need pontifical mandate to consecrate a bishop. 1014 Generally three bishops consecrate a bishop. 1015 §1. Need dimissorial letters from bishop, or religious superior. 1016 Generally proper diocesan bishop for diocesan clergy.
  • Orders
  • Recipient: 1024 A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly. 1025 for liceity, preparation, necessary qualities and no impedimentm useful for the ministry of the Church. 1026 Freedom 1029 have integral faith, are moved by the right intention, have the requisite knowledge, possess a good reputation, and are endowed with integral morals and proven virtues and the other physical and psychic qualities in keeping with the order to be received. 1031 25 years old. Maried deacon 35 and consent of wife.
  • Prerequisites: Confirmation. Promise to devote perpetually to ecclesiastical ministry. Unmarried (except diaconate). 5 day retreat.
  • Irregularities: Amentia or psychic illness. Apostate, heretic or schismatic. Attempted marriage while impeded. Voluntary homicide or abortion, or accomplice. Mutilation or attempted suicide. Placed an act of higher order. Neophyte. 1043 Faithful are to reveal impediments. 1047 Dispensation reserved to the Apostolic See.
  • Investigation of suitability and requirements.
  • Notation: A record of ordination to be kept, notice is sent to place of baptism.


  • Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. §2. Valid marriage is a sacrament. 1056 Unity and indissolubility. 1057 Consent makes the marriage. 1059 If either is Catholic, canon law applies. 1060 Presumed valid. 1063ff Pastoral care to precede, freedom and impediments investigated.
  • Diriment Impediments – Man under 16, woman under 14. Impotence. Prior bond. With an unbaptized person. One in sacred orders. One with a public perpetual vow of chastity. Abducts to marry. Consanguinity.
  • Can. 1095 The following are incapable of contracting marriage:
    • 1º those who lack the sufficient use of reason;
    • 2º those who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted;
    • 3º those who are not able to assume the essential obligations of marriage for causes of a psychic nature.
  • Canon 1096 Know: life long partnership, parenthood, sexuality.
  • 1097 Error of person invalidates. Error of personality doesn't invalidate.
  • 1098 Deceit on important quality invalidates.
  • 1099 Error concerning unity or the indissolubility or the sacramental dignity of marriage does not vitiate matrimonial consent.
  • 1101 Simulation is exclusion of element of marriage: unity, indissolubility, children.
  • 1102 Conditional marriage; future - invalid, past or present requires bishop's consent.
  • 1103 Force and Fear invalidates.
  • 1104 Proxy permitted.
  • 1106 Interpreter permitted
  • 1107 Marriage is presumed valid.

Canonical Form

  • Catholics have to use the correct form or ask a dispensation from the bishop. If this is not done, the marriage is not recognized as valid - civil ceremony is invalid, same for protestant ceremony. Defectus formae procedure is also a possibility for annulment - all documentary procedure. Two elements for the form to be valid, it was fixed at Trent: 1) Two witnesses; 2) an official representative – Priest assists. (1108) required if either is catholic (1117)
  • Three grounds for nullity: 1) diriment impediment; 2) defect of consent; 3) lack or defect of canonical form.
  • Place: domicile of either one (1115)
  • 1121-2 Record in place of marriage and baptismal registers.

Mixed Marriages

  • Canon 1124 Inter-Ecclesial marriage requires permission.
  • 1125 Catholic partner declares intent to remain Catholic and promises to try to raise kids Catholic.
  • 1127 Special issues of inter-ritual. Latin Catholic with Orthodox.
  • Effects and Indissolubility
  • 1135 Spouses equal right and duty
  • 1136 Care of Children is grave duty and primary right
  • 1137 Children are legitimate, even if marriage is later annulled.


  • Canon 1141 Indissoluble
  • 1142 Ratum sed non consumatum – unconsummated marriage dissoluble.
  • 1143 Privilegium Paulinum – bond of unbaptized if one becomes baptized.
  • 1148 §1 Baptized polygamist can retain a spouse (need not be the first) §3 Adequate provision to be made made for the needs of dismissed spouses.
  • Separation with the Bond Remaining.
  • 1151 Spouses have right and duty to common conjugal life.
  • 1152 Separation with bond remaining, with Bishop's permission.
  • 1154 Child Support must be provided.

Convalidation / Sanation

  • 1156 To convalidate a marriage invalid by diriment impediment, the impediment must cease or be dispensed and at least the conscious party conscious renews consent.
  • 1161 §1. The radical sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal of consent


  • Canon 1166 Sacramentals are sacred signs like sacraments. Book of blessings.
  • 1167 Holy See establishes and interprets
  • 1168 Minister: cleric or lay person. 1169 Some reserved to clerics / Bp / Pope.
  • 1170 Recipients: baptized catholics, catechumens, maybe unbaptized.
  • 1171 Sacred objects dedicated to divine worship.
  • Liturgy of the hours 1174 Clerics obliged, laity encouraged. Gen Instr on the Liturgy of the Hours Lauds


  • 1176 Catholics must be given ecclesiastical funerals. Reception, Liturgy, Burial.
  • 1177 Generally in parish church, else place of death.
  • 1183 Includes catecumens, may include unbaptized children, non-Catholic baptized.
  • 1184 Excludes notorious apostates, heretics, schismatics, manifest grave sinners. Cremation formerly not allowed, now okay - reverent treatment of remains.


Vows and Oaths

  • 1191 Vow is a deliberate free promise to God concerning something good and possible - virtue of religion requires its fulfillment.
  • 1192 Public vow is accepted by lawful Superior in the name of the Church - otherwise it is private.
  • 1196 Dispensation by Pope, bishop, religious superior and those whom they delegate.
  • 1199 An oath is an invocation of God to witness to the truth of the matter.
  • 1200 Promissory Oath is an oath to do something.

Sacred Places


  • Canon 1205 Sacred places are those for divine worship or burial by a dedication or blessing.
  • 1206 Diocesan bishop or equivalent can dedicate. 1208 Recorded in church and diocese. 1210 No profane acts in sacred places. 1212 Loose dedication through destruction or decree.

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  • 1214 Church is a sacred building with a fixed altar to which the faithful have access for public worship. Must have a fixed altar dedicated at the same time. Basilica (privilegium real) special designation by Rome having holy door, and papal throne and papal altar.
  • 1215 Building Churches requires bishop's permission. 1218 Church should have a title and it can't be changed.
  • 1220 Maintain, clean, discordant elements excluded, secure. 1221 Free of Charge.
  • 1222 Unused Church can be used for some secular but not unbecoming purpose, requires canonical process, except in case of emergency.

Other Sacred Places

  • 1223 Oratory is a sacred place for a community, with Ordinary's permission. Permission also needed to convert to secular usage.
  • 1226 Private Chapel is set aside for divine worship, for the convenience of one or more individuals.
  • 1230 Shrine is a church or sacred place which, with the approval of the local Ordinary, is frequented by the faithful as pilgrims. 1231 Nat'l, Int'l 1232 Statutes approved 1233 Privileges may be granted.
  • 1235 Altar for Mass is fixed or moveable. 1236 §1 A fixed altar is to be of a single stone or some other worthy and solid material may be used. The support or the base can be made from any material. §2 A movable altar can be made of any solid material which is suitable for liturgical use.
  • 1237 Fixed altars are dedicated. 1239 Only for divine worship.
  • 1240 Catholic cemeteries encouraged. 1242 No burial in churches, except Pope or bishop.

Sacred Times

  • 1244 Established by Pope, dispensed by priest.
  • 1246 Feast Days: Sunday, Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi, Mary the Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, St Joseph, SS Peter and Paul, and All Saints. Episcopal Conference may suppress or transfer.
  • 1247 Sunday mass obligation, refrain from work. 1248 Vigil mass
  • 1249 Days of Penance because all Christians are obliged to penance. 1250 Fridays and all of Lent are days of penance. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food, on Fridays unless a solemnity, also Ash Wednesday. 1252 Fast 18-60, Abstinence: 15-60. 1253 Substitution permitted by Episcopal Conference.

Book Five: Temporal Goods

  • Canon 1254 To pursue its proper purposes, the Catholic Church by innate right is able to acquire, retain, administer, and alienate temporal goods independently from civil power. §2. Purposes: divine worship, care for clergy & ministers, apostolate and charity.
  • 1255-6 Universal and local churches and juridic persons have their own goods, 1257 ecclesiastical goods, governed by book 5. Private juridic persons not governed by book 5.
  • 1261 §1. The Christian faithful are free to give
  • temporal goods for the benefit of the Church.
  • §2. Bishop to admonish obligation of support.
  • 1263 Bishop can tax juridic persons. 1264 Taxes for executive acts. 1265 Other than mendicants, no begging without bishop's permission. 1266 Special collections.
  • 1267 Donation to superiors or administrators, presumed for juridic person. Donor intention to be honored.
  • 1271 Bishops to assist universal Church.


  • 1273 Pope is supreme steward.
  • 1274 Funds for support of priests, lay ministers, obligations, sharing with poorer dioceses.
  • 1276 Bishop has vigilance over subject juridic persons. 1277 Diocesan bishop must hear the finance council and college of consultors to place more important acts of administration.
  • 1280 Each juridic person is to have its own finance council or at least two counselors.
  • 1281 §1. Acts exceeding limits are invalid, and §3. juridic person not liable.
  • 1283 Before administrators begin their function: Oath, Inventory.
  • 1284 Responsibilities of administrators detailed.
  • 1286 Observe civil law in labor and social policy and pay a just wage for worker and family.
  • 1287 Annual report to ordinary for examination by diocesan finance council.
  • 1288 No ligation without permission of ordinary.

Contracts and Alienation

  • 1290 Civil law of contract.
  • 1291 Permission for alienation of stable patrimony; 1295 or worsten patrimonial condition
  • 1292 Permission of the Holy See is required for valid alienation exceeding the maximum amount, goods given to the Church by vow, or goods precious for artistic or historical reasons. 1293 Requires: a just cause, written appraisal. 1294 Ordinarily not below value. Money for good of Church. 1297 Conference of bishops establishes norms for the leasing of Church goods. $5.7M, < 500,000 < $11.4M

Pious Wills in General and Pious Foundations

  • 1299 Goods can be bequeathed “for pious causes.”
  • 1301 The ordinary is the executor of all pious wills….
  • 1302 Recipient must inform the ordinary….
  • 1303-7 Good stewardship.
  • 1308-10 Alteration of pious wills is rare, e.g. reduction of Masses, change of donor intent.

Book Six: Sanctions in the Church

Delicts (wrongful conduct)

  • Canon 1311 The Church has the innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful with penal sanctions. 1312 Penalties may be medicinal (excommunication, interdict, suspension) or expiatory (residence or office).
  • 1313 §1. If a law is changed after a delict 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 ceases.
  • 1314 Ferendae sententiae binds when penalty is imposed. Latae sententiae is incurred ipso facto when the delict is committed. (1318 for malicious delicts)
  • 1315 Delicts established by legislative power, punishment by law or judge. 1317 Penalties only if truly necessary for ecclesiastical discipline; 1319 can be imposed by precept.
  • 1321 §1. No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence…. imputability is presumed unless it is otherwise apparent.
    • Negated by: 1322 habitual lack of the use of reason; 1323 <16, ignorance, force or fear, self-defense;
    • Mitigated by: 1324 imperfect use of reason, drunkenness, heat of passion, 16-18, force or fear, inculpable ignorance. Not for willful ignorance or drunkenness.
    • Greater imputability for continued offense, abuse of power, avoided necessary precaution.
  • 1329 Co-conspirator and accomplices have lesser penalty.
  • 1331 §1. An excommunicated person is forbidden: 1. ministerial role in worship, 2. celebration or reception of sacraments, ecclesiastical office or governance. 1332 Interdict is 1 & 2 above.
  • 1333 Suspension, which can affect only clerics, prohibits some or all acts of orders, governance, offices; 1335 except in danger of death.
  • 1336 Prohibition or order regarding residence, privation of office, governance, power, up to dismissal from clerical state. 1337 regarding residence can reach to religious. 1338 Person with power to grant, has power to deprive.

Chapter III. Penal Remedies and Penances

  • 1339 Ordinary can warn or rebuke regarding delicts.
  • 1340 A penance is the performance of some work of religion, piety, or charity. No public penance for private offense.
  • 1341 By canonical process only after pastoral means. 1342 Penances don't require process. 1343 Penalties can be mitigated. 1344 deferred, abstained or suspended. 1345 Especially if extenuating circumstances or hope of reform. 1346 Or multiple penalties appear excessive.
  • 1348 If canonical process doesn't provide a penalty, pastoral remedies can be used.
  • 1350 Penalized clerics need decent support.
  • 1351 Penalty applies everywhere, even if authority lapses.
  • 1353 An appeal or recourse has a suspensive effect.
  • 1354 One who can dispense, can remit. Reservation to Rome must be interpreted strictly. 1355 Ordinary of place of trial or place of offender can remit. 1357 Sometimes a confessor can remit.
  • 1362 §1. Prescription extinguishes a criminal action after three years unless. CDF. Cleric attempting marriage or conbinage, murder, abortion is 5 yrs.

Individual delicts

Against Religion and the Unity of the Church

  • 1364 Heretic, apostate, schismatic, LSE
  • 1366 Parents handing over children for non-catholic baptism or religious ed.
  • 1367 Sacrilege of Eucharist LSE
  • 1368 Perjury to ecclesiastical authority.
  • 1369 Public blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, exciting hatred or contempt against religion or the Church.

Against Authorities and Freedom of the Church

  • 1370 Force against pope, bishop, LSE cleric or religious.
  • 1371 Teaching condemned doctrine, disobey legitimate precept after warning.
  • 1372 Taking recourse against the pope.
  • 1373 Incite animosity or hatred against pope or bishop, or provoke disobedience.
  • 1374 Plot against the church.
  • 1375 Impede freedom of ministry or Church.
  • 1376 Profane sacred object.
  • 1377 Alienates ecclesiastical goods without permission.
  • Usurpation of Ecclesiastical Functions and Delicts in Exercise
  • 1378 Performing role of the ordained without ordination LSE.
  • 1379 Simulate sacraments.
  • 1380 Simony.
  • 1381 Usurp ecclesiastical office.
  • 1382 Consecrate bishop without pontifical mandate, 1383 priest without dimissorial letters. LSE
  • 1386 Bribery.
  • 1387 Solicitation in confession.
  • 1388 Violation of sacramental seal. LSE
  • 1389 Abuse of ecclesiastical power.

Falsehood, Obligations and Human Rts

  • 1390 Falsely accuse of solicitation, injure good name. Can require reparation. LSE
  • 1391 Falsifying ecclesiastical documents.
  • 1392 Clerics or religious who exercise a trade or business.
  • 1393 Violation of a penalty.
  • 1394 Cleric or religious attempting marriage. LSE
  • 1395 Clerical concubinage or sexual abuse of a minor.
  • 1396 Priest or bishop living out of territory.
  • 1397 Homicide, kidnapping, mutilation, assault. 1398 Abortion. LSE
  • 1399 Also any external violation of a divine or canonical law.

Book Seven: Processes

Part I. Trials in General

  • 1400 The object of a trial is: vindication of rights, declaration of facts, imposition of penalties.
  • 1401 Church adjudicates spiritual matters, ecclesiastical law and penalties.

Title I. The Competent Forum

  • 1404 The First See is judged by no one. 1405 Pope judges heads of state, cardinals, papal legates, bishops. Rota judges bishops, abbots, supreme moderators, dioceses.
  • 1406 The petitioner follows the forum of the respondent.
  • 1408 Anyone can be brought to trial before the tribunal of domicile or quasi-domicile. 1409 Transient in actual residence. 1410 Object in actual location. 1411 Contract, place of contract. 1412 Crimes, where committed.
  • 1414 Related cases adjudicated together. 1415 First tribunal approached, if many competent. 1416 The appellate tribunal resolves conflicts.


  • 1417 Anyone can appeal to Pope, but doesn't suspend adjudication.
  • First Instance (trial court)
  • 1419 Diocesan bishop is first judge. Appellate tribunal for bishop.
  • 1420 Bishop appoints JV, 1422 for definite time; 1421 Clerical and lay judges with JCD, JCL.
  • 1423 multi-diocesan tribunal.
  • 1424 Single judge with assessors, (clerics or upright laity).
  • 1425 3 Judge tribunals for: contentious cases, penal cases, more important cases. Can't substitute judges unless most grave reason. 1426 Majority vote. 1427 Religious judge internal matters.

Other Tribunal Personnel

  • 1428 Auditors to instruct the case. (collect proofs)
  • 1429 Relator reports the case to collegiate judges.
  • 1430 A promoter of justice provides for the public good. JCL
  • 1432 A defender of the bond for marriage nullity cases. JCL
  • 1437 A notary is to take part in any process.

Appeals The Tribunals of the Apostolic See

  • 1442 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge.
  • 1443 The Roman Rota is the Pope's ordinary tribunal. 1444 Judges appeals and cases mentioned above.
  • 1445 §1. The supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura adjudicates Rotal appeals, conflicts in Roman Curia.

Duties of Personnel

  • 1446 Avoid litigation, encourage mediation.
  • 1447 No dual roles.
  • 1448 No conflicts of interest.
  • 1453 Justice delayed is justice denied: 1yr for 1st instance, 6mos for second instance.
  • 1454 Tribunal personal to give an oath to faithfully carry out duties;
  • 1455 Bound by secrecy (disadvantage to parties, discussion of judges).
  • 1456 Gifts prohibited.

The Trial

  • 1458 FIFO and more urgent.
  • 1463 Counterclaims within 30 days of joinder.
  • 1465 Fatalia legis never arise, but can be extended before they arise.
  • 1466 No time limit on procedure.
  • 1470 Only required persons present. Judges can suspend advocates and procurators.
  • 1471 Sworn translators allowed.
  • 1472 Judicial acts to be in writing, pages numbered and authenticated.
  • 1473 If parties refuse to sign, note of refusal is kept in lieu of signature.

The Parties in a Case

  • 1476 Anyone, whether baptized or not, can bring action in a trial; a party legitimately summoned must respond. 1480 §1. Juridic persons stand trial through their legitimate representatives.

Procurators and Advocates

  • 1481 §1. A party can freely appoint an advocate and procurator, penal trial and contentious trials with minors must have an advocate.
  • 1483 Requirements: age of majority, good reputation, Catholic, JCD and approved by bishop.
  • 1487 Can be removed for a grave cause.
  • 1488 No bribes, forum shopping.

The Contentious Trial

  • Introduction 1501 Starts with petition (libellus) 1502 from petitioner; 1504 containing: judge, goal, legal basis, general facts and proofs, signature, date address, domicile of respondent. 1506 Judge accepts/rejects within a month, if not, request, if no response, libellus is considered accepted. 1507 Judge's decree cites other parties.
  • Joinder 1513 Judge defines terms of controversy by decree.
  • Trial 1517 Begins with the citation, ends with sentence. 1523 Each litigant bears their expenses. 1526 The burden of proof rests upon the person who makes the allegation. 1530 The judge can always question the parties; 1531 who must tell the truth. 1533 The parties, the promoter of justice, and the defender of the bond can present questions to the judge. 1539 Proof by means of both public and private documents is allowed. 1547 Proof by means of witnesses is allowed under the direction of the judge in cases of any kind. 1553 It is for the judge to curb an excessive number of witnesses. 1559 The parties not present at the examination of the witnesses unless the judge has decided to admit them. 1567 Transcript, 1569 corrected by witness. 1574 The assistance of experts must be used when required to determine truth. 1584 A presumption is a probable conjecture about an uncertain matter; a presumption of law is one which the law itself establishes; a human presumption is one which a judge formulates.
  • Publication 1598 Acts to be published (presented to parties). 1601-3 Advocates, defenders present arguments. 1604-6 Judges discuss
  • Pronouncement 1608 Sentence requires moral certitude from the acts and the proofs. 1611 The sentence must decide the controversy, determine obligations, state reasons, determine expenses. 1614 To be published. 1628 Aggrieved party can appeal; 1629 Unless from pope, signatura, null sentence, res iudicata, non-definitive sentence. 1630 Introduced to judge who rendered sentence; 1633 Within a month. 1638 An appeal suspends the execution of the sentence and the sentence rendered.
  • Execution 1651 Executory decree of the judge declares that the sentence must be executed. This decree is to be included in the text of the sentence or issued separately according to the particular nature of the cases.

Annulment Process

  • Petition 1501-1506. Petition by Catholic or one wanting to marry a Catholic can start the procedure. By letter, email or phone. Form to be completed, returned and entered on the docket with case number. Case name is petitioner (at birth) then respondent (at birth): e.g. Smith-Brown. There should be a statement and names of witnesses.
  • Jurisdiction: Canon 1673: 1. the tribunal of the place in which the marriage was celebrated, or 1. where respondent is living. 3. where petitioner lives if respondent is also there (bishop's conference), with permission of respondent. 4. Tribunal where proofs exist with consent of JV who asks respondent.
  • Court, 3 judges, defender and notary - the presiding judge has all the investigation and meets parties, generally it is the lay judge.
  • Acceptance of the case by the presiding judge by decree, saying a possibility exists. (Canon 1507). There are processes for rejected cases.
  • Citation of Respondent. They don't have to participate, but they can, they must be cited. Their rights are explained, invitation to make a statement. Respondent can enter any time till the conclusion of the case.

Formal Annulment Process

  • Joinder of Issues - Judge reviews and fixes ground of annulment, parties are informed and given a chance to respond.
  • Instruction of the case - testimony of parties and witnesses.
  • Documents.
  • Experts.
  • Publication of the acts - parties have the right to read everything and reply.
  • Conclusion:
    • Pleadings of advocate and defender.
    • Judgment - president convenes judges and there must be moral certitude to go for annulment. They then discuss. Majority is needed to invalidate.
    • Publication of sentence.
    • All cases must be reviewed by second instance tribunal - you need to yes's to remarry. Usually it is affirmed in 8-10 weeks.
    • Notification of second instance.
    • Notification of Parish by 1st instance tribunal.

Documentary Process

  • Lack of form
  • Ligamen – prior marriage bond remains
  • Documents:
    • Baptismal certificates for both, if applicable
    • For Catholic parties, we will need a new Baptismal Certificate issued within the last 6 months from the Parish of Baptism.
    • A certified copy of the Marriage License
    • A certified copy of the Divorce Decree


Among the major changes are:

  • Only a single judgment of nullity is required.
  • The bishop himself is a judge.
  • A new, briefer process involving the bishop has been created. In addition to Formal and Documentary processes, there is a New process in the middle. If the evidence is clear, the bishop can give the decree.
  • Appeals can be made against the judgment of the bishop to the metropolitan.

Cases calling for shorter process:

  • lack of faith resulting in the simulation or error
  • the brevity of married life
  • procured abortion
  • the stubborn persistence in a extramarital affair
  • the malicious concealment of infertility, a serious contagious disease, children born from a previous relationship, an incarceration
  • improper reason for getting married
  • force
  • medically proven incompetence

Other Processes

  • Penal Process - full “criminal” trial
  • Administrative Recourse
  • Removal and Transfer of Pastors
  • …1752 In cases of transfer the prescripts of can. 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.
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