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Homepage and Resource Center of

Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.


Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit

Referendary, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Rome


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

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


 Edward Peters' CV


 St. Raymond Peñafort


Invenerunt illum in templo sedentem in médio doctorum, audientem illos et interrogantem eos; stupebant autem omnes, qui eum audiebant, super prudéntia et

responsis eius.


 Luc. II: 46-47.

Canon Law, the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the Western world, is the internal legal system of the Catholic Church:


 • Internal: canon law lies wholly within the Church's authority to compose and administer, this, in contrast to the wide variety of external (usually civil) laws to which the Church generally defers in the pursuit of her divine mission;


 • Legal: canon law operates according to the principles of law chiefly as set out in Aristotelian-Thomistic legal philosophy, this, in contrast to suggestions that canon law is simply applied theology, morals, or the rules of religious cult;


 • System: canon law must be read as a whole for proper understanding and use, this, in contrast to suggestions that canon law is a collection of principles or aphorisms that are capable of being rightly appreciated in isolation from each other.


Canon law affects virtually every aspect of the faith life of over one billion Catholic Christians around the world. But, as Pope St. John Paul II explained when he promulgated the Code in 1983, canon law "is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to love, grace, and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it." John Paul II, ap. con. Sacrae disciplinae leges (1983) 16. May the materials on this site further those goals!


Is this man a saint? ►

Codex Vivens


 Western Code


 Eastern Code


International Directory

Academic Works

on Canon Law


Master Pages 


1983 Code


1917 Code


Eastern Code



Canon Law

Modern Catholic canon law is "codified", that is, it is contained within (presently) two "codes", one for the Roman Church (1983) and one for all the Eastern Churches (1990). The codification of canon law (as opposed to the use of canon law itself) is a recent development in Church law.

1983 Code

Master Page on the Johanno-Pauline Code, in force in the Roman Catholic Church since November 26, 1983.


The Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983 is the primary legislative document of the Roman Catholic Church. Promulgated by John Paul II on 25 January 1983 and taking force on the First Sunday of Advent that year (26 November), the 1983 Code replaces the Pio-Benedictine Code of 1917 and, alongside the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches of 1990, governs the faith life of over one billion Catholic Christians around the world.


Quick Links: 1983 Code (Latin) 1983 Code (English).


 Legislative History

of the 1983 Code


1917 Code

Master Page on the Pio-Benedictine Code, in force in the Roman Catholic Church from May 19, 1918, through November 25, 1983.


The Pio-Benedictine Code of 1917, the first integrated code of canon law in the Catholic Church, was promulgated by Pope Benedict XV on 27 May 1917 and took full force on Pentecost 1918 (19 May). It replaced the Quinque Libri Decretalium (1234) of Pope Gregory IX that had governed the Roman Church for several centuries. The 1917 Code was abrogated by the Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983.


Quick Links: 1917 Code (digitized).



Pietro Cdl.Gasparri



Eastern Code

Master Page on Eastern Catholic Canon Law, in force in all Eastern Catholic Churches since October 1, 1991.


The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the first integrated code of canon law for the Eastern Catholic Churches. Promulgated by 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. The Eastern Code stands alongside the Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983 as a primary legislative document of the Catholic Church today.


Quick Links: Eastern Code (Latin) Eastern Code (English)




Iuris Canonici Orientalis



I - IV



Canon Law

For many centuries before it was codified Catholic canon law was "collected", that is, it was found within collections of official documents, some of which collections were themselves official, while others were merely private.

St. Raymond working on the Ius Decretalium

 • Ius Decretalium, or Quinque Libri Decretalium, or Decretals of Gregory IX (an official collection of canon law, in force from 1234 to 1918) Master Page


 • Gratian's Concordantia (an unofficial collection of canon law complied about 1140) Master Page


 • Ius Antiquum (scattered unofficial collections prior to Gratian's Concordantia) Master Page


Most of the above, and some later materials, were organized into the Corpus Iuris Canonici (a partly official, partly unofficial collection) Master Page


The Corpus Iuris Canonici (Yale University)


Where can

I find

information on?

 • Overviews and Textbooks on Canon Law, here.

 • Canonical Information, Advice, or Advocacy, here.

 • Major Commentaries on the 1983 Code, here.

 • Standard Commentaries on the 1917 Code, here.


 Gratianus Iuris

Canonici Pater


Selected Issues in Canon Law


Canon law, like the Church it serves, undergoes continual renewal and reform. I keep track of, and try to contribute to, several such topics, including the following:


 • Canon 0277, obligatory clerical continence, here.

 • Canon 0915, withholding holy Communion, here.

 • Canon 0919, extending the Communion fast, here.

 • Canon 1083, raising the age for licit marriage, here.

 • Canon 1108, abolishing canonical form, 16 jan 2014.

 • Canon 1184, enforcing ecclesiastical funeral law, here.

 • Canon 1314, abolishing automatic penalties, 26 sep 2015.


Language Work


Fr. MD/ASL Kitchen Table

Amateur Linguist


Ecclesiastical Latin


Living Latin


Koine Greek



French, Italian,

German, Spanish





Notice: Materials on this site represent the opinions of Dr. Peters and are offered in accord with Canon 212 § 3. Dr. Peters' views are not necessarily shared by others with whom he might be associated and they are not intended as civil or canonical advice. Original Materials © Edward N. Peters, November 2017.

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