Monday, February 25, 2013

1983 Code of Canon Law

The Catholic Church is to this date, more than two thousand years old – and counting. It is the one and only Church that has membership from people of different races and colors from all parts of the globe. It is the one and only Church that is universal in scope as it is an Institution found in all the continents of the world. It is the one and only Church that is represented by a Head of State in the person of the Pope. It is the one and only Church that has official diplomatic relations with different countries by virtue of a Geneva Convention. It is the one and only Church that has Ambassadors called “Apostolic Nuncios.” It is the one and only Church whose Vatican citizens carry a pursuant Vatican Diplomatic Passport. It is the one and only Church that has its own stamps and coinage.

No wonder then that the Catholic Church also has her own set or body of laws that are well thought of, carefully written down, attentively interpreted and applied. These legislation with universal relevance and observance are found officially complied in the 1983 Code of Canon Law – which superseded the previous 1917 Code of Canon Law – in response to the signs of the times, the concerns and needs of the Catholics all over the world. It is both a cause of delight and pride that the now binding 1983 Code of Canon Law was formally promulgated by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

It is interesting to note that the 1983 Code of Canon Law that now rules the Universal Church – from the child to be baptized to the Pope to be elected – contains Seven (complex and compound) Sections:

Section I: General Norms
Section II: The People of God
Section III: The Teaching Office of the Church
Section IV: The Sanctifying Office of the Church
Section V: The Temporal Goods of the Church
Section VI: Sanctions of the Church
Section VII: Processes.


The Code carries 1782 separate legislation, each of which is usually enunciated through several paragraphs, each of which in turn is composed of several numbers. It is precisely on account of its significance and importance that there are Catholic Universities especially in Europe that offer Canon Law studies, and confers the Degrees of Bachelor, Licentiate (Master) and Doctorate in Canon Law.

It is worth nothing that the official Code of Canon Law is entirely written in Latin which is also the official language of the Church. Canon Law as such is anchored on Roman Law expressed in Latin – in words and spirit. That is why it is understandable that Church Law is intimately identified with the Latin language which in turn finds some usage in Civil – such as: “Argumentum ad absurdum.” “Omnis praesumptio falsa.” “Qui nimis probat, nil probat.” Etc. Etc.