Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


15 September 2017

Master Page on Eastern Canon Law (1990)




The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the first integrated code of canon law for the Eastern Catholic Churches. Promulgated by St. Pope John Paul II on 18 October 1990 and taking force on 1 October 1991, the Eastern Code replaced the four motu proprios that had, in part, governed the Eastern Catholic Church during the second half of the twentieth century (see below). The Eastern Code stands alongside the Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983 as the primary governing documents of the Catholic Church today.


Editio typica

(official text)

Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatus, AAS 82 (1990) 1033-1363, as amended. Original version is on-line here, and here.


Various printed versions of the Eastern Code exist, mostly as part of commentaries on canon law. But see Pontificium Consilium de Legum Textibus Interpretandis, Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatus, Fontium Annotatione Auctus (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995) 617 pp. Review: F. McManus, The Jurist 56 (1996) 926-930.




Rev. Rhode links to other vernacular translations of the Eastern Code, here.

Several translations of the Eastern Code have been authorized but the most common authorized English translation is: Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Latin-English Edition (Canon Law Society of America, 1992), 785 pp., on-line here. Order hardcopy here. Reviews: D. Motiu in Studia Canonica 35 (2001) 537-539. But see George Nednungatt, "The Eastern Code in English Translation: Errata Corrige", The Jurist 51 (1991) 460-501.


Indexes for the Eastern Code: Ivan Žužek (Slovenian Jesuit, 1924-2004), Index Analyticus Codicis Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium (Pontificium Institutum Orientalium, 1992) 375 pp. Reviews: V. Pospishil, The Jurist 54 (1994) 755-756, and D. Le Tourneau, Studia Canonica 28 (1994) 273-274. See also Ivan Žužek, "Updated edition of the Index Analyticus Codicis Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium", The Jurist 65 (2005) 205-214.



Eastern Code (CLSA)


History of the Eastern Code

aa.vv., "Observations on the 1986 Schema Codicis Iuris Canonici Orientalis", Canon Law Society of America Proceedings 49 (1987) 336-359.



of the Law



Once Eastern codified law is promulgated it can be officially impacted in four ways, namely, by:

  • textual correction;

  • emendation;

  • authentic interpretation; and,

  • authoritative application.

The Eastern Code has experienced all four of these sorts of modifications.




A moderate number of editing and printing errors embarrassed the original publication of the Eastern Code. Information on textual corrections needed for the Eastern Code is now available at Codex Vivens - Eastern Code.






Modifications of the text of the Code can occur by means of apostolic constitutions, various documents issued 'motu proprio', and dicasterial documents approved 'forma specifica', with the main difference among these being in terms of scope (apostolic constitutions usually addressing wider issues, documents issued 'motu prorio' addressing narrower matters, and those approved 'forma specifica' being the most narrowly cast). Textual emendations of the Code have been issued, directly or indirectly, by all three popes who have reigned under it. but not all apostolic constitutions, documents issued 'motu proprio', or approved 'forma specifica' impact the text of the law. The content of each document must be examined to determine whether it impacts canon law. Information on emendations to the Eastern Code is now available at Codex Vivens - Eastern Code.


Authentic Interpretation

Canon 1498 outlines that canonical institution known as an "authentic interpretation". Authentic interpretations of the Eastern Code have been authorized by all three popes who have reigned under it. Information on authentic interpretations of the Eastern Code is now available at Codex Vivens - Eastern Code.





"Authoritative application" is my term for an amendment to universal law that does not, strictly speaking, modify the text of the law, nor simply interpret it, nor offer an instruction as to how it should be read, but which nevertheless needs to be observed in the application of the law. Information on official applications of the Eastern Code is now available at Codex Vivens - Eastern Code.


Twentieth-century motu proprios on Eastern canon law, proto-codification project
















Iuris Canonici Orientalis



I - IV



The four pre-Conciliar installments of Eastern Canon Law mentioned above were sometimes grouped together and published privately under title Codificatio Iuris Canonici Orientalis I-IV. These volumes have no intrinsic authority and are purely exercises in convenience.

  • Pius XII, m.p. Crebrae allatae [on marriage law] (22 feb 1949), AAS 41 (1949) 89-119.

  • Pius XII, m.p. Sollicitudinem Nostram [on procedural law] (6 ian 1950), AAS 42 (1950) 5-120.

  • Pius XII, m.p. Postquam Apostolicis Litteris [religious, temporal goods, terms] (9 feb 1952), AAS 44 (1952) 65-152.

  • Pius XII, m.p. Cleri sanctitati [law of persons] (2 iun 1957) AAS 49 (1957) 433-603.


Proto-codifications of Eastern canon law.


 • Pius XII (reg. 1939-1958), m.p. Crebrae allatae [marriage law] (22 feb 1949), AAS 41 (1949) 89-119.

 • Pius XII (reg. 1939-1958), m.p. Sollicitudinem Nostram [procedural law] (6 ian 1950), AAS 42 (1950) 5-120.

 • Pius XII (reg. 1939-1958), m.p. Postquam Apostolicis [religious, property, terms] (9 feb 1952), AAS 44 (1952) 65-152.

 • Pius XII (reg. 1939-1958), m.p. Cleri sanctitati [law of persons] (2 iun 1957)AAS 49 (1957) 433-603.


Some commentary on these motu proprio was produced, including:

  • F. Galtier (French Jesuit, 1893-1962), Le Mariage: Discipline Orientale et Discipline Occidentale [et] La Réforme du 2 Mai 1949, (Université St Joseph de Beyrouth, 1950) 456 pp. Review: P. Fedele, Ephemerides Iuris Canonici 7 (1951) 93.

  • Victor Pospishil (Austrian/American priest, 1915-2006), The Law on Persons, English Translation and Differential Commentary (St. Mary’s Ukraine Catholic Church, 1964) 242 pp.

  • Victor Pospishil (Austrian/American priest, 1915-2006), Interritual Canon Law Problems in the United States and Canada (St. Basil's, 1955) 248 pp.


Codified law in general, and canon law in particular, make considerable use of private scholarly commentary in the elucidation and application of legal norms. The weight to be accorded a given opinion depends less on who authored the opinion and more on the care and completeness with which the views are expressed. As a general rule, however, and subject to several qualifications, opinions appearing in academic monographs are the most respected, followed by opinions appearing in scholarly articles, followed by those appearing elsewhere. Each of these categories admits of sub-categorization.


• Monographs on Eastern Canon Law


One pan-textual, multi-author commentary on Eastern Canon Law is available so far, namely: P. Pinto, ed., Commento al Codice dei Canoni delle Chiese Orientali (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001) 1408 pp. ▪ Reviews: J. Faris in Studia Canonica 36 (2002) 259-260; D. Motiuk in The Jurist 63 (2003) 198-199.


Among other important commentaries on modern Eastern Canon Law are:


 • Jobe Abbass (Australian Conventual of Maronite extraction, b. 1952), Two Codes in Comparison (Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1997) 303 pp. ▪ Review: D. Motiuk, Studia Canonica 32 (1998) 270-272.


 • George Nednungatt (Indian Jesuit, b. 1932), The Spirit of the Eastern Code (Dharmaram, 1993) 261 pp. ▪ Review: D. Motiuk, Studia Canonica 29 (1995) 555-556. / Biograph.


 • George Nednungatt (Indian Jesuit, 1932-), A Guide to the Eastern Code: a Commentary on the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (Pontificio Istituo Orientale, 2002) 976 pp. ▪Order here. / Reviews: G. Gallaro, The Jurist 63 (2003) 433-435; D. Motiuk, Studia Canonica 37 (2003) 242-244. / Biograph.


 • Victor Pospishil (Austrian/American priest, 1915-2006), Eastern Catholic Church Law (St. Maron, 1993) 699 pp. ▪ Reviews: D. Motiuk, Studia Canonica 32 (1998) 268-269 and J. Renken, The Jurist 51 (1991) 253-255 (of the first edition); G. Gallaro, The Jurist 58 (1998) 259-261 (of the second edition). / Biograph.


 • Victor Pospishil (Austrian/American priest, 1915-2006), Eastern Catholic Marriage Law (Saint Maron Publications, 1991) 532 pp. Biograph.


 • Ivan Žužek (Slovenian Jesuit, 1924-2004), Understanding the Eastern Code (Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1997) 479 pp. ▪ Review: D. Motiuk, Studia Canonica 33 (1999) 245-248. / Biograph.



Most pontifical faculties of canon law offer only a basic survey course in Eastern canon law. But, the Faculty of Oriental Canon Law, Piazza S. Maria Maggiore 7, 00185 Rome, ITALY, offers course work leading to a doctorate in Eastern canon law, the J.C.O.D. In addition, the Faculty of Oriental Law, Dharmabam Vidya Kshetvam, offers a "diploma" in Eastern canon law.