Reference Charts in Canon Law
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Two Branches of Codified Law in the Catholic Church
Codes of Canon Law emanate from the Supreme Pontiff, Pope John Paul II,
as canonists frequently refer to him, the Legislator.
Code of Canon Law
Code of Canons of
the Eastern Churches
Great Eastern Patriarchates
2003 Catholic Almanac
Following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965),
considerable effort was directed toward the possibility of
devising a “Fundamental Law of the Church” to be
applicable throughout the Catholic world. Multiple drafts of
the “Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis” were developed from
1969 to 1980. Only late in the post-conciliar process of
reforming canon law was it decided not to proceed with
specific promulgation of the LEF at that time. Instead, some
of its provisions were incorporated into the 1983 and 1990
Ecclesiae Fundamentalis (Peeters: 2001)
Ecclesiastical Law in the Western or Roman Catholic
All General Matters
those treated entirely, primarily, or substantially outside
the 1983 Code, though these should not be confused with
extra-codical decrees, instructions, or other legislation
designed primarily to support provisions contained in the
Code (admittedly a distinction not always easy to make).
of Canon Law
in 1983, it generally controls all ecclesiastical issues not
covered under a specialized set of norms. Currently consists
of 1,752 numbered “canons”, comprising thousands of
The 1983 Code replaces the 1917
Code of Canon Law. Note that it was not until early in the
twentieth century that the Catholic Church
(specifically, the Roman or Western Catholic Church) had a
single general code.
The Eastern Catholic Churches did
not receive a single general code until 1990. It is still in
Law (1983 CIC 2)
the relatively few places that it treats of liturgical law
does the 1983 Code control such issues. Although not yet
codified, much (but emphatically, not nearly
(including sacramental, per CCC 1113) law can be found in
the following universal materials:
• Roman Missal, its General Instruction, and
• Roman Ritual;
Roman Pontifical and Ceremonial for Bishops;
• Liturgy of the Hours;
• Book of Blessings; and
The Roman Calendar.
Scholarly resources on liturgy and liturgical law differ
enormously in scope and quality. Consult approved authors.
Law (1983 CIC 3)
called “Public Ecclesiastical Law”, this controls (or
perhaps better, is controlled by) various diplomatic
activities that the Holy See conducts throughout the world.
This is the stuff of international law, Church-State
concordats and treaties, and so on. A somewhat dated but
highly regarded study in this field is A. Ottaviani, Compendium/Institutiones
iuris publici ecclesiastici (Typis polyglottis Vaticanis,
1936, et seq.).
Rights, Privileges, and Customs
(1983 CIC 4-5, 23-28)
complex field in which no single, integrated scholarly
treatment stands out. Consult approved authors.
Papal Elections (1983 CIC 332, 349)
The most recent norms are contained in John Paul II, ap.
con. "Universi Dominic gregis" (22 February 1996).
Click here for Dr.
Peters' overview of Universi. Click
here for a list current
eligible papal electors.
Administration of the
(1983 CIC 360-361)
most recent norms are in
John Paul II, ap. con.
“Pastor Bonus” (28 June 1988).
most recent norms are in John Paul II, ap. con.
“Spirituali militum curae” (21 Apr 1986) and special
norms in force in various countries.
Law (1983 CIC 8
et multa cetera)
broad field encompassing, among other things:
• Particular Councils (cc. 439-446);
• Episcopal Conferences (cc. 447-459);
• Arch/diocesan Regulations (including synods, cc.
single, integrated scholarly treatment stands out. Consult
Life (1983 CIC
extensive canonical treatment, much (maybe most) regulation
of institutes of consecrated life (popularly called
“religious life”) is contained in the legislation of
each institute. No single, integrated scholarly treatment
stands out. Consult approved authors.
(1983 CIC 992-997)
The most recent norms are in Paul VI, ap. con. “Indulgentiarum
doctrina” (1 Jan 1967) and Sacred Penitentiary, “Enchiridion
of Indulgences” (18 May 1986). A somewhat dated but highly
regarded study of this field is S. de Angelis, De
Indulgentiis, (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1947 et
and Canonization (1983
The most recent norms are in John Paul II, ap. con. “Divinus
perfectionis Magister” (25 Jan 1983) and Cong. for Causes
of Saints, “Norms to be observed by bishops” (7 Feb
Quick Table of Comparative
| -, Supreme
||Roman Rota (Judicial) or
||Apostolic Signatura (Admin.)
| -, Trial
| -, Appellate
||Promoter of Justice
||Trial or Process
Law || Liturgy
& Sacraments || Catholic