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TITLE 28 The Procedure for Imposing Penalties
Canon 1468 1. Whenever the hierarch receives information of an offense, which
at least seems to be true he shall cautiously inquire personally or through another
suitable person about the facts and circumstances unless this investigation appears
to be entirely superfluous. 2. Care must be taken lest anyone's good name be endangered
by this investigation. 3. The one who conducts the investigation has the same
powers and obligations as an auditor in the process; this person cannot act as
a judge in the matter, if a penal trial is set in motion later.
Canon 1469 1. With due regard for cann. 1403 and 1411, if the investigation seems
sufficiently instructed, the hierarch is to decide whether the process for imposing
a penalty is to be used and if he decides in the affirmative, whether the action
is to be taken through a penal trial or through an extra-judicial decree. 2. The
hierarch is to revoke or change his decision whenever it appears to him from new
facts and circumstances, that a different decision is called for. 3. Before he
decides anything in the matter, the hierarch is to hear the one accused of the
offense and the promoter of justice and also, if he deems it prudent, two judges
or others expert in the law. The hierarch is also to consider whether, in order
to avoid a pointless trial, it is expedi-about the question of damages with the
consent of the parties.
Canon 1470 The acts of the investigation, the decrees of the hierarch by which
the investigation is opened and closed, and all that precedes it are to be kept
in the secret archive of the curia if they are not necessary for the procedure
for imposing penalties.
Canon 1471 1. With due regard for the canons of this title, unless otherwise
indicated by the nature of the matter, the canons on trials in general and on
the ordinary contentious trial are to be applied to the penal trial as well as
the special norms on cases which involve the public good, not, however, the canons
on the summary contentious trial. 2. The accused is not bound to confess the offense
and cannot be asked to take an oath.
Canon 1472 1. If the hierarch has decreed that a penal trial is to be begun,
he is to hand over the acts of the investigation to the promoter of justice who
is to present a libellus of accusation to the judge according to the norms of
cann. 1185 and 1187. 2. The promoter of justice constituted as such by the higher
tribunal acts as the petitioner before that tribunal.
Canon 1473 To prevent scandal, to protect the freedom of witnesses and to safeguard
the course of justice, the hierarch can, at any stage and grade of the trial,
after hearing the promoter of justice and after citing the accused, prevent the
accused from the exercise of sacred orders, an office, ministry or another function,
can impose or prohibit residence in some place or territory, or can even prohibit
the public reception of the Divine Eucharist. When the reason for all these measures
ceases, they must be revoked and they also cease by the law itself when the penal
Canon 1474 The judge must invite the accused, when cited, to appoint an advocate
within a defined time period; if it elapses without result, the same judge is
to appoint ex officio for the accused, an advocate, who shall remain in office
until the accused has appointed an advocate.
Canon 1475 1. In any grade of the trial, renunciation of the instance can be
made by the promoter of justice either at the order of or with the consent of
the hierarch in light of whose deliberation the trial was set in motion. 2. For
validity, the renunciation must be accepted by the accused unless such a one is
declared to be absent from the trial.
Canon 1476 Besides arguments and observations given in writing, if there are
such, an oral discussion must be carried out.
Canon 1477 1. The promoter of justice, the accused and the advocate for the
accused, and the injured party mentioned in can. 1483, 1 and that person's advocate
take part in the discussion. 2. It is the right of the tribunal to call experts
who functioned during the case to the discussion so that they can explain their
Canon 1478 In the discussion of the case the accused or the advocate for the
accused always has the right to speak last.
Canon 1479 1. When the discussion has been completed, the tribunal is to render
a sentence. 2. If from the discussion there has arisen a need to collect new proofs,
the tribunal, delaying the decision of the case, is to gather the new proofs.
Canon 1480 The dispositive part of the sentence is to be published immediately
unless the tribunal for a serious cause decides that the decision is to be kept
secret until the formal publication of the sentence, which can never be deferred
beyond a month from the day when the penal case was decided.
Canon 1481 1. The offender can propose an appeal even if the judge dismisses
him as absolved, solely because the penalty was facultative or because the judge
used the power mentioned in cann. 1409, 1 and 1415. 2. The promoter of justice
can appeal whenever it appears that the reparation of scandal or the restitution
of justice has not been provided sufficiently.
Canon 1482 In any stage and grade of the penal trial, if it becomes clearly proven
that the offense was not perpetrated by the accused, the judge must declare this
in a sentence and absolve the accused, even if it is also proven that the criminal
action is terminated.
Canon 1483 1. In accordance with the norm of can. 1276, an injured party can exercise
in the penal trial itself a contentious action for the repairing of damages sustained
due to the offense. 2. The intervention of an injured party is not admitted afterwards
if it was not made in the first grade of the penal trial. 3. The appeal in a case
for damages is made in accordance with cann. 1309-1321 even if an appeal in the
penal trial cannot be made; but if both appeals are proposed, though by different
parties, there is to be a single appellate trial with due regard for can. 1484.
Canon 1484 1. To avoid excessive delays in a penal trial, the judge can postpone
a trial for damages until he has rendered a definitive sentence in the penal trial.
2. The judge who does this must take cognizance of damages after rendering the
sentence in a penal trial even if the penal trial is still pending due to a proposed
challenge or if the accused has been acquitted for a reason which does not take
away the obligation of repairing the damages.
Canon 1485 Even if the sentence rendered in the penal trial has become a res
iudicata, in no way does it establish the right of the injured party unless this
party has intervened in accordance with can. 1483.
Canon 1486 1. For the validity of the decree by which a penalty is imposed,
it is required that: (1) the accused be informed of the accusation and the proofs
and be given the opportunity of fully exercising the right of self-defense, unless
having been cited according to the norm of law, the person has neglected to appear.
(2) an oral discussion be held before the hierarch or his delegate and the accused
with the promoter of justice and a notary present; (3) there be set forth in the
decree itself the reasons in fact and in law on which the penalty is based. 2.
However the penalties mentioned in can. 1426, 1 can be imposed without this procedure
so long as they have been accepted in writing by the guilty party.
Canon 1487 1. Recourse against the decree by which a penalty is imposed can
be made to the competent higher authority within ten available days (tempus utile)
after it has been communicated. 2. This recourse suspends the force of the decree.
3. There is no further recourse against the decision of the higher authority.
TITLE 29 Law, Custom, and Administrative Acts
Canon 1488 Laws come into existence by promulgation.
Canon 1489 1. Laws of the Apostolic See are promulgated by being published
in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis, unless another form of promulgation
is prescribed for special cases. They begin to oblige after three months have
elapsed from the date of that issue of the Acta, unless because of the nature
of the matter they bind immediately or unless a shorter or a longer interval has
been expressly prescribed in the law itself. 2. Laws given by other legislators
are promulgated in the manner determined by these legislators and begin to oblige
from the date prescribed by them.
Canon 1490 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those baptized in the Catholic Church
or received into it, who have sufficient use of reason and, unless the law itself
expressly provides otherwise, who have completed their seventh year of age.
Canon 1491 1. Laws passed by the supreme authority of the Church are binding
everywhere on all those for whom they were enacted, unless they were for a particular
territory; other laws have force only in the territory where the authority that
promulgated them exercises power of governance, unless otherwise provided by law
or is clear from the nature of the matter. 2. Without prejudice to the provisions
of 3, n. 1, laws passed for a particular territory bind those for whom they were
enacted and who have a domicile or quasi-domicile in that territory and are actually
residing in it. 3. Travelers: (1) are not bound by the particular laws of their
own territory as long as they are absent from it, unless their violation would
cause harm in their own territory or unless the laws are personal ones; (2) are
not bound by the particular laws of the territory in which they are present with
the exception of those laws which provide for public order, which determine the
formalities of legal actions, or which deal with immovable goods situated in that
territory; (3) are bound, however, by the common law and the particular law of
their own Church sui iuris, even if the latter is not in force in their own territory;
but they are not bound by the same laws if these do not bind in the place where
they are present. 4. Transients are bound by all the laws which are in force in
the place where they are present.
Canon 1492 Laws enacted by the supreme authority of the Church, in which the
passive subject is not expressly indicated, affect only the Christian faithful
of the Eastern Churches insofar as they treat matters of faith or morals or declarations
of divine law or these Christian faithful are explicitly included in these laws
or they grant a favor which contains nothing contrary to the Eastern rites.
Canon 1493 1. Beyond the laws and legitimate customs of the universal law,
this Code also includes by the designation "common law" the laws and
legitimate customs common to all Eastern Churches. 2. Included in the designation
"particular law" are all the laws, legitimate customs, statutes and
other norms of law which are not common to the universal Church nor to all the
Canon 1494 Laws deal with the future and not the past, unless specific provision
be made in the laws concerning the past.
Canon 1495 Only those laws which expressly state that an act is null or that a
person is disqualified from acting are to be considered to be invalidating or
Canon 1496 When there is a doubt of law, laws do not bind even if they be nullifying
and disqualifying ones. When there is a doubt of fact, however, hierarchs can
dispense from them. In the latter case, if it is a question of a reserved dispensation,
the hierarch can dispense so long as the dispensation is usually granted by the
authority to whom it is reserved.
Canon 1497 1. Ignorance or error concerning invalidating or disqualifying laws
does not hinder their effectiveness unless it is expressly determined otherwise.
2. Ignorance or error about a law, a penalty, a fact concerning oneself, or a
notorious fact concerning another is not presumed; it is presumed about a fact
concerning another which is not notorious until the contrary is proven.
Canon 1498 1. Laws are authentically interpreted by the legislator and by the
one to whom the legislator had granted the power to interpret them authentically.
2. An authentic interpretation communicated in the form of a law has the same
force as the law itself and must be promulgated. Furthermore, if such an interpretation
merely declares what was certain in the words of the law in themselves, it has
retroactive force; if it restricts or extends the law or if it explains a doubtful
law, it is not retroactive. 3. However, an interpretation contained in a judicial
sentence or an administrative act in a particular matter does not have the force
of law and binds only the persons and affects only those matters for which it
Canon 1499 Laws are to be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the
words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and
obscure, recourse is to be taken to parallel passages, if such exist, to the purpose
and the circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.
Canon 1500 Laws which establish a penalty or restrict the free exercise of
rights or which contain an exception to the law are subject to a strict interpretation.
Canon 1501 Unless it is penal matter, if an express prescription of universal
or particular law or a custom is lacking in some particular matter, the case is
to be decided in light of the canons of the synods and the holy fathers, legitimate
custom, the general principles of canon law observed with canonical equity, ecclesiastical
jurisprudence, and the common and constant canonical doctrine.
Canon 1502 1. A later law abrogates a former law or derogates from it if it expressly
states so, if it is directly contrary to it, or if it entirely re-orders the subject
matter of the former law. 2. A prescription of the common law, unless the law
expressly provides otherwise, does not derogate from a particular law nor does
a norm of particular law enacted for a Church sui iuris derogate from a more particular
norm in force in that same Church
Canon 1503 In a case of doubt the revocation of a pre-existent law is not presumed,
but later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, insofar as it is possible,
harmonized with them.
Canon 1504 Civil laws to which the law of the Church defers should be observed
in canon law with the same effects, insofar as they are not contrary to divine
law and unless it is provided otherwise in
Canon 1505 The use of the masculine gender affects also the feminine unless
the law provides otherwise or it is clear from the nature of the matter.
Canon 1506 1. The custom of the Christian community, insofar as it responds
to the action of the Holy Spirit in the ecclesial body, can have the force of
law. 2. No custom can in any way derogate divine law.
Canon 1507 1. Only that custom can have the force of law which is reasonable
and introduced by a community capable at least of receiving law, and has been
the continuous and uncontested practice for the prescribed time determined by
law. 2. A custom which is expressly reprobated in law is not a reasonable one.
3. A custom contrary to the current canon law or one which is apart (praeter legem)
from canon law, obtains the force of law only when it has been legitimately observed
for thirty continuous and complete years; only a centenary or immemorial custom
can prevail over a canon which contains a clause forbidding future customs. 4.
Even before that time, a competent legislator can approve a custom as legitimate
by his consent, even tacitly.
Canon 1508 Custom is the best interpreter of law.
Canon 1509 A custom, whether it is contrary to or apart (praeter legem) from
the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law; however, unless it makes express
mention of centenary or immemorial customs, a law does not revoke them; as for
the other customs, can. 1502, 2 is applicable.
Canon 1510 1. Administrative acts can be issued by those who enjoy executive
power, within the limits of their competence, as well as by those who have received
such a power explicitly or implicitly either by the law itself or by legitimate
delegation. 2. Administrative acts are above all: (1) decrees by which for a special
case a decision is given or a canonical provision is made; (2) individual precepts
by which a person or determined persons are requested directly and legitimately
to do or to omit something, especially pertaining to urging the observance of
a law; (3) rescripts by which a privilege, a dispensation, a permission or another
favor is granted.
Canon 1511 An administrative act has effect from the moment when it is communicated
or in rescripts from the time when the letter is issued; however, if the application
of the administrative act is entrusted to an executor, the effect takes place
at the time of its execution.
Canon 1512 1. An administrative act is to be understood in accord with the
proper meaning of the words and the common usage of speech, and must not be extended
to cases other than those actually expressed in it. 2. In doubt, a strict interpretation
is to be given to those administrative acts which concern litigation or threaten
or inflict penalties, or restrict the rights of persons, or harm the acquired
rights of others, or run counter to a law in favor of private persons; all other
administrative acts are to be widely interpreted. 3. Privileges always are to
be interpreted so that their beneficiaries actually receive some favor. 4. Not
only a dispensation, but also the very power of dispensing for a particular case
are to interpreted strictly.
Canon 1513 1. No administrative act is revoked by a contrary law, unless it
is provided otherwise in the law itself or the law is enacted by the authority
superior to the one who issued the administrative act. 2. Unless it is expressly
provided otherwise in the law, an administrative act does not cease with the termination
of the authority of the one who issued it. 3. The revocation of an administrative
act by means of another administrative act of competent authority takes effect
only from the moment at which the latter act has been made known to the person
for whom it has been given. 4. A dispensation which has successive applications
ceases also by the certain and complete cessation of the motivating cause. 5.
An individual decree or precept ceases to have force also through the cessation
of the law for whose execution it has been issued; a singular precept ceases on
the termination of the authority of the one who issued it, unless it has been
imposed through a legitimate document.
Canon 1514 An administrative act which deals with the external forum, with due
regard for cann. 1520, 2 and 1527, is to be set forth in writing; likewise, if
the administrative act is issued in commissorial form, its act of execution is
to be in writing.
Canon 1515 An administrative act, even in the case of a rescript issued motu
proprio, has no effect insofar as it harms the acquired right of another, or is
contrary to a law or an approved custom, unless the competent authority has expressly
added a derogatory clause.
Canon 1516 Conditions attached to administrative acts are considered to affect
its validity only when they are expressed by the particles si, nisi, dummodo,
or by similar words in the vernacular (e.g., if, unless, provided that).
Canon 1517 1. Before issuing an extra-judicial decree the authority is to seek
out the necessary information and proofs; hear or consult those who should, by
law, be heard or consulted; and also hear directly whom the decree touches and
especially those whose rights can be injured. 2. The authority is to disclose
to the petitioner and also to the one who legitimately contradicts it the information
and proofs which can be known without danger of public or private injury, and
present the arguments from both sides of the question, giving the possibility
to respond to them even by means of an advocate, within the period of time established
by the authority itself.
Canon 1518 The authority should issue a decree within sixty days from the receipt
of the request for it, unless another time period is prescribed by a particular
law of his own Church sui iuris; if this is not done and the petitioner asks again
in writing for the decree, the time period is thirty days; if even then nothing
happens, the request is presumed to be negative as if the rejection happened that
same thirtieth day by a decree, so that a recourse against it can be placed.
Canon 1519 1. The person who issues a decree should keep in mind and aim at
what is the best way to lead to the salvation of souls and the public welfare,
observing exactly the laws and legitimate customs, justice and equity. 2. The
decree should contain the reasons, at least in summary form; if there is danger
of public or private harm, so that the reasons should not appear in it, they are
to be contained in a secret book and revealed, if asked for, to the one who is
studying the possibility of interposing a recourse against the decree.
Canon 1520 1. A decree has legal force when it is communicated to the one to
whom it is destined, according to the laws and the most secure ways of the place.
2. If there is danger of a public or private harm so that the text of the decree
cannot be given in writing, the ecclesiastical authority can issue it by reading
it before an ecclesiastical notary or two witnesses to the person for whom it
is destined and by having all present sign an instrument stating that this was
done; the decree is then considered to have been communicated. 3. If a person
for whom a decree is destined refuses to accept the communication or, summoned
according to the law to a meeting in order to receive or hear the decree, refuses,
without a just cause to be evaluated by the author of the decree, to come to the
meeting or to sign the instrument mentioned in 2, the decree is considered to
have been communicated.
Canon 1521 The executor of an administrative act cannot validly carry out this
function before receiving a written mandate and establishing its authenticity
and integrity, unless prior notice of this mandate has been conveyed to the executor
by the authority who issued the administrative act.
Canon 1522 1. The executor of an administrative act to whom only the task of
execution is entrusted, cannot refuse to execute it unless it is quite clear that
the act itself is null, or that it cannot for some other grave reason be sustained,
or that the conditions attached to the administrative act itself have not been
fulfilled. If however, the execution of the administrative act would appear to
be inopportune, due to the circumstances of person or place, the executor is to
delay its execution and immediately inform the authority who issued the act. 2.
If, in a rescript, the granting of a favor is entrusted to an executor, it can
by granted or denied in accord with the executor's prudent judgment and conscience.
Canon 1523 The executor of an administrative act must proceed in accordance
with the norm of the mandate; if conditions for the validity of the act attached
to the mandate have not been fulfilled or the executor has not substantially observed
the procedural formalities, the execution is invalid.
Canon 1524 The executor of an administrative act can, with prudent judgment,
substitute another as executor unless such substitution has been forbidden or
the executor has been chosen for personal qualifications, or the person of the
substitute has been predetermined; in these cases, however, the executor may entrust
preparatory acts to another.
Canon 1525 An administrative act can also be executed by the executor's successor
in office, unless the first had been chosen for personal qualifications.
Canon 1526 If there has been any error in the execution of an administrative
act, the executor may execute it again.
Canon 1527 1. The norms for rescripts established in the canons also apply
to the verbal granting of a favor, unless it is otherwise evident. 2. A favor
granted only orally to a person has to be proved whenever this is legitimately
Canon 1528 A rescript can be requested for another person, even without that
person's consent, and it goes into effect before the person's acceptance, unless
it is otherwise evident from clauses in the rescript.
Canon 1529 1. The concealment of the truth in the request does not invalidate
a rescript provided that those things were expressed which must be expressed for
validity according to the style of the curia of the hierarch who grants the rescript.
2. The statement of falsehood, likewise, does not invalidate a rescript provided
that at least one of the motivating reasons submitted is true.
Canon 1530 1. A favor which has been denied by a superior authority cannot
be validly granted by a inferior authority, unless the superior authority explicitly
consents. 2. A favor denied by an authority cannot be validly granted by another
of equal competence or superior if no mention of the denial is made in the petition.
Canon 1531 1. A privilege, that is a favor granted to certain persons, whether
physical or juridic, by means of a special act, can be granted by the legislator
or by the one to whom the legislator has granted this power. 2. Centenary or immemorial
possession induces a presumption that a privilege has been granted.
Canon 1532 1. A privilege is presumed to be perpetual. 2. A privilege ceases:
(1) if it is personal, when the person to whom it has been granted dies; (2) if
it is real or local, with the complete destruction of the thing or place; (3)
when the time has elapsed, or after the completion of the number of cases for
which it was granted; (4) if through the passage of time the circumstances, in
the judgment of the competent authority, change to such a degree that the privilege
becomes harmful or its use illicit. 3. A local privilege revives if the place
is restored within fifty years.
Canon 1533 1. No privilege ceases through renunciation, unless the renunciation
is accepted by the competent authority. 2. Any physical person can renounce a
privilege granted on behalf of that person alone. 3. Physical persons cannot validly
renounce a privilege which has been granted to some juridic person or has been
granted by reason of the dignity of a place or thing; nor is a juridic person
competent to renounce a privilege granted to it if the renunciation prejudices
the Church or others.
Canon 1534 A privilege which is not a burden on others does not cease through
non-usage or through contrary usage; if, however, the privilege is to the disadvantage
of others, it is lost if there is a legitimate prescription or tacit renunciation.
Canon 1535 Whoever abuses the power given by privilege is to be warned by the
hierarch; therefore if the warning proves to be in vain, the hierarch may deprive
one who seriously abuses a privilege which he himself had granted; if the privilege
has been granted by an authority superior to the hierarch, the hierarch is obliged
to notify that authority.
Canon 1536 1. A dispensation, that is, the relaxation of a merely ecclesiastical
law in a particular case, can be granted only for a just and reasonable cause,
taking into consideration the circumstances of the case and the gravity of the
law from which the dispensation is to be given; otherwise, the dispensation is
illicit and, unless it is given by the legislator himself or by an authority superior
to him, it is also invalid. 2. The spiritual good of the Christian faithful is
a just and reasonable cause. 3. When there is a doubt about the sufficiency of
the cause, the dispensation is granted licitly and validly.
Canon 1537 Laws, insofar as they define that which essentially constitutes
juridical institutes or acts, or are laws pertaining to processes or penalties,
are not subject to dispensation.
Canon 1538 1. As often as he judges that a dispensation will contribute to the
spiritual good of the Christian faithful who are subject to him according to the
norm of the law, the eparchial bishop can dispense from both the common law and
the particular laws of his own Church sui iuris in a special case, unless a reservation
has been made by the authority which made the laws. 2. If recourse to the authority
which has reserved to itself a dispensation is difficult, and at the same time
there is a danger of grave harm in delay, any hierarch in a particular case can
dispense the Christian faithful who are subject to him according to the norm of
the law, provided that is concerns a dispensation which the same authority is
used to grant under the same circumstances, with due regard for can. 396.
Canon 1539 He who possesses the power of dispensing can exercise it, even though
he is outside his own territory, for his subjects, though they are absent from
his territory, and also, unless the contrary is expressly stated, for travelers
actually present in his territory. TITLE 30 Prescription and the Computation of
Time 1540 The Church accepts prescription as it exists in the civil legislation
as a means of acquiring or losing a subjective right and of freeing oneself from
obligations, unless otherwise established by common law.
Canon 1541 No prescription has any effect which is not grounded in good faith,
not only at the beginning but through the entire course of the time required for
prescription with due regard for the prescription of can. 1152.
Canon 1542 Not subject to prescription are: (1) rights and obligations which
are of the divine law; (2) rights which can be acquired only from an apostolic
privilege; (3) rights and obligations which directly affect the spiritual life
of the Christian faithful; (4) the certain and unchallenged boundaries of ecclesiastical
territories; (5) obligations and commitments concerning the celebration of the
Divine Liturgy; (6) the provision of an ecclesiastical office which requires the
exercise of a sacred order, according to the norm of law; (7) the right of visitation
and the obligation of obedience if it should result that the Christian faithful
can be visited by no ecclesiastical authority and are no longer subject to any
Canon 1543 Time is computed according to the norms of the following canons unless
otherwise expressly provided by law.
Canon 1544 1. Continuous time is understood as that which is subject to no
interruption. 2. Available time (tempus utile) is understood as that which a person
has to exercise or pursue a right but which does not run if the person is unaware
or unable to act.
Canon 1545 1. In the law, a day is understood as a period of time consisting
of 24 continuous hours, and it begins at midnight; a week is a period of seven
days, a month is a period of 30 days and a year a period of 365 days, unless the
month and the year are said to be taken as they appear in the calendar. 2. If
the time is continuous, a month and a year are always to be taken as they appear
in the calendar.
Canon 1546 1. The day from which the computation is to be made is not counted
in the total, unless the beginning of the reckoning coincides with the beginning
of the day or unless the law expressly provides otherwise. 2. The day to which
the calculation is directed, is counted in the total, in such a way that, if the
total consists of one or more months or years, or of one or more weeks, the terminus
is reached at the end of the last day of the same number or, if the month lacks
a day of the same number, at the end of the last day of the month.