Pope Francis: Adapt Canon Law to Fit Ecclesiology

As domradio.de reports, Pope Francis has stated that canon law must be adapted to fit the image of the church that has developed through the Second Vatican. The occasion was a message to a conference on the hundredth anniversary of church’s first universal code of canon law which appeared in 1917.

Pope Francis states that canon law can be a “preferred means” for promoting the teaching of the Second Vatican Council – for example, in the realms of ecumenism, mercy and charity, religious freedom, synodality, “open and positive” treatment of laity, and a “healthy collaboration between the church community and civil society.”

Canon law can serve an educational function and help Christians find their way to a culture “that corresponds to the teachings of the Council,” he wrote.

Quoting his predecessor Benedict XVI, Francis wrote that there has been a transition since Vatican II from an ecclesiology formed by church law to church law adapted to ecclesiology. It is “necessary that canon law always corresponds to the conciliar ecclesiology.”

Francis said that canon law ideally is “an effective means for implementation of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in the daily life of the People of God.” This means that changes can come about with the passage of time.

The pope’s letter was addressed to the participants in an international conference on the topic of canon law and legal culture. The four-day event at the Lateran University ended today.

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6 comments

    1. I couldn’t find it either – I searched everywhere. I only found on the web reports in German and in Italian on the letter.
      awr

  1. @Editor Quoting his predecessor Benedict XVI, Francis wrote that there has been a transition since Vatican II from an ecclesiology formed by church law to church law adapted to ecclesiology. It is “necessary that canon law always corresponds to the conciliar ecclesiology.”

    Actually, the predecessor Pope Francis refers to is Pope John Paul II, who in his Constitution “Sacrae Disciplinae Legis” promulgating the 1983 Code of Canon Law wrote:

    “The instrument, which the Code is, fully corresponds to the nature of the Church, especially as it is proposed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in general, and in a particular way by its ecclesiological teaching. Indeed, in a certain sense, this new Code could be understood as a great effort to translate this same doctrine, that is, the conciliar ecclesiology, into canonical language.

    “Hence it follows that what constitutes the substantial “novelty” of the Second Vatican Council, in line with the legislative tradition of the Church, especially in regard to ecclesiology, constitutes likewise the “novelty” of the new Code.”

    1. Thank you for the link.
      I my history book “England in the Late Middle Ages” by R Myers (1952) we are told that “One of the greatest needs which the common law failed to meet was the protection of trusts. …. The common law gave no remedy to the person for whose benefit the land was conveyed if the trustee abused this trust. The only resource was to appeal for equitable remedy to the king and his Council. But such cases were often too subtle, too involved, too time-consuming for the Council to deal with and they were referred to the chancellor. … his control of skilled clerical assistance … facilitated inquiry and action by him. Moreover, as a great ecclesiastic he had some acquaintance with the principles of canon and civil law, and could therefore bring to the solution of new problems a broader and deeper outlook than that of lay common law judges.”
      There may be more to Canon law than just the code. I suspect that codifying Canon law may have confined it.

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