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TITLE 27 Penal Sanctions in the Church
Canon 1401 Since God employs every means to bring back the erring sheep, those
who have received from Him the power of loosing and binding, are to treat appropriately
the illness of those who have committed offenses, by correcting, reproving, appealing,
constantly teaching and never losing patience, and are even to impose penalties
in order to ensure that the wounds inflicted by the offense may receive a cure
and to preclude the offender from being given to dissoluteness of life and contempt
of the law.
Canon 1402 1. Every contrary custom being reprobated, a canonical penalty must
be imposed through a penal trial prescribed in cann. 1468-1482, without prejudice
to the coercive power of the judge in the instances mentioned expressly in the
law. 2. If, however, in the judgment of the authority spoken of in 3, there are
weighty reasons precluding a penal trial, and the proofs of the offense are certain,
the offense can be punished by an extra-judicial decree in accordance with cann.
1486 and 1487, as long as it is not a case of a deprivation of office, title,
insignia or a suspension for more than one year, demotion to a lower grade, deposition
or major excommunication. 3. Besides the Apostolic See, such a decree can be issued,
within the limits of their competence, by the patriarch, major archbishop, eparchial
bishop and the major superior of an institute of consecrated life who enjoys ordinary
governing power, all others being excluded.
Canon 1403 1. Even when it is a case of offenses which carry by law an obligatory
penalty, the hierarch can abstain from a penal process, and even abstain totally
from imposing penalties, after having heard the promoter of justice, as long as
in the judgment of the hierarch the following conditions simultaneously concur:
the offender, who has not yet been brought to trial, moved by sincere repentance,
has confessed his offense to the hierarch in the external forum, and adequate
provision has been made to repair the scandal and the harm. 2. However, the hierarch
cannot do this when it is an offense which carries a penalty whose remission is
reserved to a higher authority, until he has received permission from the same
Canon 1404 1. In the matter of penalties, the more benign interpretation is
to be followed. 2. It is not permitted to extend a penalty from one person to
another, or from one case to another, although the reasoning may be the same,
or even weightier.
Canon 1405 1. Whoever has legislative power can also issue penal laws insofar
as they are truly necessary to provide more aptly for ecclesiastical discipline;
he can also by his own laws strengthen with a suitable penalty divine law or ecclesiastical
law enacted by higher authority, observing the territorial and personal limitations
of his competence. 2. Particular law may add additional penalties to the penalties
established in common law for a certain offense, but this shall not be done except
for a very serious reason. If, however, common law has established an indeterminate
or facultative penalty, particular law can establish in its place a determinate
or obligatory penalty. 3. Patriarchs and eparchial bishops shall take care that
particular penal laws be uniform in the same territory, to the extent that this
Canon 1406 1. To the extent that someone can impose precepts, he can, after
mature reflection and with utmost moderation, threaten by precept determinate
penalties, with the exception of those enumerated in can. 1402, 2. The patriarch,
however, can threaten even these penalties by precept with the consent of the
permanent synod. 2. A warning containing the threat of penalties by which the
hierarch sanctions a non-penal law in individual cases, is equivalent to a penal
Canon 1407 1. If, in the judgment of the hierarch who can inflict a penalty, the
nature of the offense permits it, the penalty cannot be imposed unless the offender
has been warned at least once in advance to desist from the offense, with adequate
time given for reconsideration. 2. One is to be said to have desisted from the
offense who has sincerely repented the misdeed, and has in addition given adequate
reparation of the scandal and of the harm, or has at least seriously promised
to do it. 3. The penal warning mentioned in can. 1406, 2 suffices for the imposition
of the penalty.
Canon 1408 A penalty does not bind the guilty party before it has been imposed
by a sentence or decree, without prejudice to the right of the Roman Pontiff or
an Ecumenical Council to determine otherwise.
Canon 1409 1. In the application of penal law, even when the law is expressed
in preceptive terms, the judge, in accord with his own conscience and prudence,
can: (1) defer the imposition of the penalty to a more appropriate time, if it
is foreseen that greater harm will ensue from a hasty punishment of the guilty
party; (2) abstain from imposing a penalty or impose a lighter penalty if the
offender has reformed and reparation of the scandal and harm has been adequately
provided, or if the guilty party has been, or it is foreseen, will be sufficiently
punished by civil authority; (3) moderate the penalties within equitable limits
if the guilty party committed several offenses, and the cumulative burden of the
penalties appears excessive; (4) suspend the obligation of observing the penalty
in favor of him who has committed an offense for the first time, after having
been commended heretofore by an upright life, as long as the need to repair scandal
is not pressing. The suspended penalty is lifted entirely if the guilty party
has not repeated the offense within the time set by the judge; otherwise such
a one shall be more severely punished as the perpetrator of both offenses, unless
in the meantime time has run out for initiating a penal action for the prior offense.
2. If the penalty is indeterminate and the law does not provide otherwise, the
judge cannot impose the penalties mentioned in can. 1402, 2.
Canon 1410 The imposition of penalties on a cleric must preserve for him what
is necessary for his decent support, unless it is a case of deposition, in which
event the hierarch is to see to it that the deposed who is truly in need because
of the punishment is provided for in the best way possible, taking into account
always his vested right to insurance and social security as well as health insurance
for him and for his family, if he is married.
Canon 1411 No penalty can be imposed after the time for a penal action has
Canon 1412 1. One who is bound by the law or a precept is also subject to the
penalty attached to it. 2. If the law is changed after the offense was committed,
the law more favorable to the accused is to be applied. 3. If the subsequent law
abolishes the law or at least the penalty, it ceases at once irrespective of the
manner in which it had been imposed. 4. The penalty binds the guilty party everywhere
even after the authority of the one who has imposed the penalty has lapsed, unless
it is expressly provided otherwise in common law.
Canon 1413 1. One who has not completed the fourteenth year of age is not subject
to any penalty. 2. Those, however, who have committed an offense between their
fourteenth and eighteenth year of age can be punished only with penalties which
do not include the loss of some good, unless the eparchial bishop or the judge
decides in special cases that their reformation can be better provided for otherwise.
Canon 1414 1. Only those are subject to penalties who have violated a penal
law or a penal precept, either by deliberate action or by seriously culpable omission
of due diligence, or by seriously culpable ignorance of the law or precept. 2.
Once the external violation of a penal law or penal precept has occurred, it is
presumed that it was a deliberate act, until the contrary is proven. In respect
to other laws or precepts this is presumed only if the law or precept is violated
again after a penal warning.
Canon 1415 If in accordance with common practice and canonical doctrine there
is present an extenuating circumstance, the judge must mitigate the penalty established
in law or precept, as long as there is still an offense. Guided by his prudence,
he can also abstain from imposing a penalty if he judges that one can better achieve
by other means the reformation of the offender and the reparation of the harm
Canon 1416 When an offense was committed by a recidivist, or if according to
common practice and canonical doctrine there is another aggravating circumstance,
the judge can punish the offender more severely than foreseen in the law or precept,
not excluding the penalties mentioned in can. 1402, 2.
Canon 1417 When persons conspire together to commit an offense, and accomplices
are not expressly mentioned in the law or precept, they can be punished with the
same penalties as the principal offender, or, according to the prudence of the
judge, by other penalties of the same or lesser gravity.
Canon 1418 1. One who in order to commit an offense did something, or failed
to do something, but then nevertheless, despite his intention, did not complete
the offense, is not held by the penalty established for the consummated offense,
unless the law or the precept provides otherwise. 2. If, however, the actions
or omissions by their nature lead to the execution of the offense, the perpetrator
is to be punished by an appropriate penalty, especially if it resulted in scandal
or other serious harm. Nevertheless, the penalty is to be more lenient than the
one prescribed for a completed offense. 3. One who spontaneously has desisted
from the execution of an initiated offense is free of any penalty if no harm or
scandal ensued from the attempt.
Canon 1419 1. One who can dispense from a penal law or can exempt someone from
a penal precept, can also remit the penalty imposed in virtue of the same law
or precept. 2. In addition, the power of remitting penalties can also be granted
to others by the law or penal precept.
Canon 1420 1. A penalty imposed in virtue of common law can be remitted by:
(1) the hierarch who has initiated the penal trial or has imposed the penalty
by decree; (2) the hierarch of the place where the guilty party lives, but after
consultation with the hierarch mentioned in n. 1. 2. These norms apply also in
respect to penalties imposed in virtue of particular law or a penal precept, unless
the particular law of a Church sui iuris provides otherwise. 3. A penalty, however,
imposed by the Apostolic See can be remitted only by the Apostolic See, unless
the remitting of the penalty is delegated to the patriarch or to others.
Canon 1421 The remitting of a penalty extorted by force, grave fear or fraud
is null by the law itself.
Canon 1422 1. A penalty can be remitted even if the matter is unknown, or even
under a condition. 2. The remission must be given in writing unless a serious
reason suggests otherwise. 3. Care shall be taken that the petition for remission
of the penalty or the remission itself not be made public, unless this is either
useful for protecting the good name of the offender or necessary for repairing
Canon 1423 1. Without prejudice to the right of the Roman Pontiff to reserve
to himself or others the remitting of any penalty, the synod of bishops of the
patriarchal Church or major archiepiscopal Churches can for serious reasons by
the enactment of a law reserve the remitting of penalties to the patriarch or
major archbishop, in respect of their subjects who have a domicile or quasi-domicile
within the territorial boundaries of the Church over which they preside. Nobody
else can validly reserve to himself or to others the penalties established in
common law except with the consent of the Apostolic See. 2. Every reservation
is to be interpreted strictly.
Canon 1424 1. The remission of a penalty cannot be granted unless the guilty
party has sincerely repented, and, moreover, suitable provisions have been made
to repair the scandal and harm. 2. If, however, in the judgment of him who is
competent to remit the penalty, these conditions have been fulfilled the remission
is not to be denied, insofar as this is possible considering the nature of the
Canon 1425 If someone is bound by several penalties, the remission is valid
only in respect to penalties expressly mentioned in it; but a general remission
removes all penalties except those which the guilty party in bad faith has concealed
in the petition.
Canon 1426 1. Unless another penalty is provided in the law, according to the
ancient traditions of the Eastern Churches, penalties can be imposed which require
some serious work of religion or piety or charity, such as certain prayers, a
pious pilgrimage, a special fast, alms, spiritual retreats. 2. Other penalties
are to be imposed on one who is not disposed to accept these penalties.
Canon 1427 1. Without prejudice to particular law, a public reprimand is to be
administered either before a notary or two witnesses or by letter, but in such
a way that the reception and the contents of the letter are provable through some
document. 2. Care shall be taken that the public reprimand does not result in
a greater than appropriate disgrace of the guilty party.
Canon 1428 If the seriousness of the case demands it and especially if it concerns
recidivists, the hierarch can, in addition to the penalties imposed by a sentence
according to the law, submit the offender to vigilance in the manner determined
by an administrative decree.
Canon 1429 1. The prohibition against living in a certain place or territory can
affect only clerics and religious or members of a society of common life in the
manner of religious, an injunction to live in a certain place or territory affects
only clerics enrolled in an eparchy, without prejudice to institutes of consecrated
life. 2. For the imposition of the injunction to live in a certain place or territory,
the consent of the hierarch of that place is required, unless it is a case either
of a house of an institute of consecrated life of papal or patriarchal right,
in which case the consent of the competent superior is required, or of a house
designated for the correction and reformation of clerics of several eparchies.
Canon 1430 1. Penal deprivations can affect only those powers, offices, ministries,
functions, rights, privileges, faculties, benefits, titles, insignia, which are
subject to the power of the authority that establishes the penalty, or of the
hierarch who initiated the penal trial or imposed it by decree; the same applies
to penal transfer to another office. 2. Deprivation of the power of sacred orders
is not possible, but only a prohibition against exercising all or some acts of
orders, in accordance with common law; nor is deprivation of academic degrees
Canon 1431 1. Those punished with a minor excommunication are deprived of the
reception of the Divine Eucharist. In addition they can be excluded from participation
in the Divine Liturgy, and even from entering the church while divine worship
is publicly celebrated there. 2. The sentence or the decree by which this penalty
is imposed must determine its extent and, as the case may be, its duration.
Canon 1432 1. A suspension can refer to all or some acts of the power of orders
or of governance, to all or some acts or rights connected with an office, ministry
or function; the extension of the suspension is to be defined in the sentence
or decree itself, unless it is already determined in the law. 2. Nobody can be
suspended except from acts which are subject to the power of the authority that
imposes the penalty or of the hierarch who initiated the penal process or inflicts
the suspension by a decree. 3. A suspension never affects the validity of acts
nor the right to a dwelling place which the offender may have by reason of an
office, ministry or function. A suspension forbidding, however, the reception
of revenues, remuneration, pensions, or anything else, carries with it the obligation
of restoring whatever was illegitimately received even in good faith.
Canon 1433 1. A cleric demoted to a lower grade is forbidden to exercise those
acts of the power of order or governance which are not in accord with this grade.
2. A cleric deposed from the clerical state is deprived of all offices, ministries
or other functions, ecclesiastical pensions and any delegated power; he becomes
disqualified for them; he is forbidden to exercise the power of orders; he cannot
be promoted to higher holy orders, and is equivalent to lay persons in respect
to canonical effects, without prejudice to cann. 396 and 725.
Canon 1434 1. In addition to all things mentioned in can. 1431, 1, a major
excommunication forbids one to receive other sacraments, to administer sacraments
and sacramentals, to exercise any offices, ministries and functions, to place
acts of governance, which, if they are nonetheless placed, are null by law itself.
2. One punished with a major excommunication is to be turned away from participating
in the Divine Liturgy and in other public celebrations of divine worship. 3. One
punished with a major excommunication is forbidden to make use of privileges previously
granted. He cannot validly obtain dignities, offices, ministries, or any other
function in the Church or a pension, and he cannot acquire the revenues attached
to them. Moreover, he is deprived of active and passive voice.
Canon 1435 1. If the penalty forbids the reception of sacraments or sacramentals,
the prohibition is suspended while the guilty party is in danger of death. 2.
If the penalty forbids the administration of sacraments or sacramentals or the
placing of an act or governance, the prohibition is suspended whenever this is
necessary to provide for the needs of the Christian faithful who are in danger
Canon 1436 1. One who denies a truth which must be believed with divine and
catholic faith, or who calls it into doubt, or who totally repudiates the Christian
faith, and does not retract it after having been legitimately warned, is to be
punished as a heretic or an apostate with a major excommunication; a cleric moreover
can be punished with other penalties, not excluding deposition. 2. In addition
to these cases, whoever professes a doctrine that has been condemned as erroneous
by the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops exercising the authentic magisterium,
and does not retract it after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished
with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1437 One who refuses subjection to the supreme authority of the Church,
or who subject to it refuses communion with the Christian faithful, though legitimately
admonished does not obey, is to be punished as a schismatic with a major excommunication.
Canon 1438 One who intentionally omits the legally prescribed commemoration
of the hierarch in the Divine Liturgy and in divine praises, and does not reconsider
though legitimately warned, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not
excluding a major excommunication.
Canon 1439 Parents and those who take the place of parents, who present children
to be baptized or raised in a non-Catholic religion, are to be punished with an
Canon 1440 One who violates the norms of law concerning communicatio in sacris
can be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1441 Whoever employs sacred objects for profane use or for an evil purpose,
is to be suspended or forbidden to receive the Divine Eucharist.
Canon 1442 Whoever has thrown away the Divine Eucharist or taken or retained
it for a sacrilegious purpose, is to be punished with a major ex-communication
and, if he is a cleric, also with other penalties, not excluding deposition.
Canon 1443 who has simulated the celebration of the Divine Liturgy or other
sacraments, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding a major
Canon 1444 One who has committed perjury before an ecclesiastical authority,
or who without being under oath lied knowingly to a judge who lawfully questioned
him, or has concealed the truth, or one who has induced others to commit these
offenses, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1445 1. One who has used bodily force against a bishop or has caused
him some other grave injury, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not
excluding deposition, if he is a cleric. If,however, the same offense was committed
against a metropolitan, patriarch, or even the Roman Pontiff, the guilty party
is to be punished with a major excommunication, which in the last instance is
reserved to the Roman Pontiff himself. 2. One who did the same to another cleric,
religious, member of a society of common life in the manner of religious or to
a lay person who is actually exercising an ecclesiastical function, is to be punished
with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1446 One who disobeys his own hierarch when the latter legitimately issues
orders or prohibitions, and who after a warning persists in such disobedience,
is to be punished as delinquent with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1447 1. One who incites sedition and hatred toward any hierarch whatsoever
or provokes his subjects to disobedience, is to be punished with an appropriate
penalty, not excluding a major excommunication, especially if the offense was
committed against a patriarch or indeed against the Roman Pontiff. 2. One who
has obstructed the freedom of ministry or election or ecclesiastical authority
or the legitimate use of the temporal goods of the Church, or intimidates an elector
or one who exercises authority or ministry, is to be punished with an appropriate
Canon 1448 1. One who uses a public performance or talk or publicly disseminated
writing, or other media of communication, to blaspheme, seriously harm good morals,
injure religion or the Church, or incite hatred or contempt for religion or the
Church, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty. 2. One who joins an organization
which plots against the Church, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1449 One who has alienated ecclesiastical property without the prescribed
consent or permission, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1450 1. One who has committed murder is to be punished with a major excommunication;
a cleric is to be punished in addition with other penalties, not excluding deposition.
2. One who has procured a completed abortion is to be punished in the same manner,
with due regard for can. 728, 2.
Canon 1451 One who has seized, unjustly detained, seriously wounded or mutilated,
or inflicted bodily or mental torture on a person, is to be punished with an appropriate
penalty, not excluding a major excommunication.
Canon 1452 Whoever has caused serious injury to another or seriously harmed
another's good name with a calumny, is to be compelled to give appropriate satisfaction;
but if such a person refuses, that person is to be punished with minor excommunication
Canon 1453 1. A cleric who lives in concubinage or gives permanent scandal by
publicly sinning against chastity is to be punished with a suspension, to which,
other penalties can be gradually added up to deposition, if he persists in the
offense. 2. A cleric who attempts a forbidden marriage is to be deposed. 3. A
religious who has taken a public and perpetual vow of chastity and is not in holy
orders, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty if he or she committed these
Canon 1454 One who has falsely accused someone of an offense, is to be punished
with an appropriate penalty, not excluding a major excommunication, especially
if the accused is a confessor, hierarch, cleric, religious, member of a society
of common life in the manner of religious, or a lay person appointed to an ecclesiastical
function (munus), with due regard for can. 731.
Canon 1455 One who falsified an ecclesiastical document or asserted a falsehood
in it or who knowingly made use of a false or falsified document in an ecclesiastical
matter, or who changed, destroyed or concealed a true document, shall be punished
with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1456 1. A confessor who has directly violated the seal of confession,
is to be punished with a major excommunication, with due regard for can. 728,
1, n. 1; but if he broke the seal in another manner, he is to be punished with
an appropriate penalty. 2. One who has attempted in any way to gain information
from confession, or who has given such information to others, shall be punished
with a minor excommunication or suspension.
Canon 1457 A priest who has absolved an accomplice in a sin against chastity
shall be punished with a major excommunication, with due regard for can. 728,
1, n. 2.
Canon 1458 A priest who in the act or on the occasion or under the pretext
of confession has solicited a penitent to a sin against chastity, is to be punished
with appropriate penalties, not excluding deposition.
Canon 1459 1. Bishops who have conferred episcopal ordination upon someone
without a mandate of competent authority, and the one who accepted ordination
from them in this manner, are to be punished with a major excommunication. 2.
A bishop who has conferred diaconal or presbyteral ordination upon someone against
the prescriptions of the canons, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1460 One who turns directly or indirectly to civil authority in order
to obtain with their intervention holy orders, an office, a ministry or another
function in the Church, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding
a major excommunication, and in case of a cleric, even deposition.
Canon 1461 One who has conferred or accepted holy orders through simony, shall
be deposed; but the one who has administered or received other sacraments through
simony shall be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding a major excommunication.
Canon 1462 One who has obtained, conferred or usurped in any manner whatsoever,
illegitimately retains, or has transmitted to others or carried out an office,
a ministry or another function in the Church through simony, is to be punished
with an appropriate penalty, not excluding a major excommunication.
Canon 1463 One who has given or promised something in order that someone who
exercises an office, a ministry or other function in the Church would unlawfully
do or omit something is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, likewise the
person who accepts such gifts or promises.
Canon 1464 1. One who, in addition to the cases already foreseen in law, has
misused power, an office, a ministry or another function in the Church by action
or omission, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding their
deprivation, unless another penalty has been established in law or precept for
such an abuse. 2. One, who out of culpable negligence, has unlawfully placed or
omitted an act of ecclesiastical authority, office, ministry or other function
in the Church, causing harm to another, is to be punished with an appropriate
Canon 1465 One who, belonging to any Church sui iuris, including the Latin
Church, and exercising an office, a ministry or another function in the Church,
has presumed to induce any member of the Christian faithful whatever to transfer
to another Church sui iuris, contrary to can. 31 is to be punished with an appropriate
Canon 1466 A cleric, religious or member of a society of common life in the
manner of religious who conducts business or trade against the prescriptions of
the canons is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Canon 1467 One who violates the obligations imposed by an penalty can be punished
with a heavier penalty.