1983 Canon Law not "under pain of mortal sin"


#1

I stumbled upon this:

"During the development process for the 1983 Code of Canon Law it was decided to remove expressions such as “under pain of mortal sin” with respect to the external prescriptions of Church law.

In part this was done to distinguish Church law and the moral law. Church law covers the external relationship of individuals in the Christian community. Since sin also involves internal factors, the law, in itself, does not bind under pain of sin."

“This technical distinction does not mean that no sin is committed by transgressing Church law. The fact that the code no longer binds attending Sunday Mass under pain of mortal sin does not change the fact that willful and inexcusable absence is mortally sinful.”

Source:

ZENIT International News Agency
Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95
00165 Rome, Italy
Courtesy of E.W.T.N.

Can someone explain how this change in Canon Law translates into merely a “technical distinction” and no change? So technically the canon binding one to attend Sunday Mass “does not bind under pain of sin” since it is Church law rather than moral law, yet it remains a mortal sin?

JMJ


#2

"This technical distinction does not mean that no sin is committed by transgressing Church law. The fact that the code no longer binds attending Sunday Mass under pain of mortal sin does not change the fact that willful and inexcusable absence is mortally sinful."

Pretty good. I used to work for the Federal bureaucracy, and I used to write stuff like that sometimes. That's why nobody likes to read regulations.

But is sure does lack a certain moral clarity, doesn't it?

No wonder people get confused.


#3

[quote="JimG, post:2, topic:326162"]
"This technical distinction does not mean that no sin is committed by transgressing Church law. The fact that the code no longer binds attending Sunday Mass under pain of mortal sin does not change the fact that willful and inexcusable absence is mortally sinful."

[/quote]

:banghead::confused:


#4

[quote="JMJCatholic, post:1, topic:326162"]
I stumbled upon this:

"During the development process for the 1983 Code of Canon Law it was decided to remove expressions such as "under pain of mortal sin" with respect to the external prescriptions of Church law.

In part this was done to distinguish Church law and the moral law. Church law covers the external relationship of individuals in the Christian community. Since sin also involves internal factors, the law, in itself, does not bind under pain of sin."

"This technical distinction does not mean that no sin is committed by transgressing Church law. The fact that the code no longer binds attending Sunday Mass under pain of mortal sin does not change the fact that willful and inexcusable absence is mortally sinful."

Source:

ZENIT International News Agency
Via della Stazione di Ottavia, 95
00165 Rome, Italy
Courtesy of E.W.T.N.

Can someone explain how this change in Canon Law translates into merely a "technical distinction" and no change? So technically the canon binding one to attend Sunday Mass "does not bind under pain of sin" since it is Church law rather than moral law, yet it remains a mortal sin?

JMJ

[/quote]

The technical distinction is between church and moral law. It was always the moral law that was binding under pain of sin. As always, it is morally a grave matter, and for a particular instance is may be mortal sin.


#5

I think it is important to make this distinction between moral law and ecclesiastical law when Church law is strictly disciplinary. The moral law would be to keep holy the Lord’s Day. The Church law or first precept is what is in question, and as I understand the change in the Canon law, making this distinction can be reasonably interpreted that it is not a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday if one obeys the moral law to keep the day holy.

JMJ


#6

You said it, Jim!


#7

It's perfectly clear to me. Then again, I'm a lawyer.

Seriously though, the Sunday obligation still binds under pain of mortal sin. Canon law simply stopped talking about mortal sin because it isn't relevant to canon law's purpose.


#8

If not in Canon law, where do we find the teaching of the Church that it is a mortal sin?

JMJ


#9

[quote="JMJCatholic, post:8, topic:326162"]
If not in Canon law, where do we find the teaching of the Church that it is a mortal sin?

JMJ

[/quote]

The Catechism.


#10

They gave that it was because of internal factors involved in sin.

There is also more on the topic in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82


#11

It doesn’t seem that confusing to me…Canon Law uses the word “bound”…and given that Mass and Holy Communion it the “source and summit of our Faith as Catholics…the one single event of the week where Christ himself is the actual High Priest and Sacrifice…we must be joined with him in his one sacrificial offering to the Father. Since we need a :grave cause” to not attend Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation…this indicates the serious and grave matter that we are dealing with…we clearly know…can’t help but know that we are in “mortal sin territory”…when it comes to Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation.

**EWTN Q&A
Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL
**
Sunday Mass and Holy Day Obligation

It is both a precept of the Church and Church law that Catholics must worship God on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation by participating in the Holy Mass. This follows from the fact that in the Mass it is Christ Himself who worships the Father, joining our worship to His. In no other way is it possible to adequately give thanks (eucharistia) to God for the blessings of creation, redemption and our sanctification than by uniting our offerings to that of Jesus Christ Himself. Following the example of the Old Covenant the Church does this weekly, on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Canon 1247
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body.

[INDENT]Since a “grave cause” is needed to excuse one from this obligation it would be a serious or mortal sin to willfully skip Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, as the Church has always taught. Reasons such as the necessity to work to support one’s family, child care, personal sickness or the care of the sick, necessary travel etc. would excuse a person on a particular occasions. Those who have continuing reason to be excused should consult their pastor.

ewtn.com/expert/answers/sunday_mass.htm

[/INDENT]

To me…all that the 1983 Canon Law change did is “take the bicycle training wheels off” of us as Catholics…another positive Vatican II type action…meaning the Holy Spirit through the Church (Pope and Bishops and The Counsel)…is saying…"so, you call yourself Catholic…a disciple of Christ… OK…show me!?..and boy did we show Him!

Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University–FAS 2012

http://cara.georgetown.edu/CARAServices/FRStats/mattend.jpg

cara.georgetown.edu/CARAServices/FRStats/mattend.jpg


#12

Thanks, everyone, but I have to admit it is still unclear to me that “the code no longer binds attending Sunday Mass under pain of mortal sin” yet the CCC contradicts this.


#13

Canon Law is a summary of ecclesial teachings. Its listing is an outline that denotes these, but merely breaking one of the canons itself is not the sin. The sin is in the conscience which takes on many nuances that makes a person culpable, rather than just the commission of the act.

For instance, the law says we may not run through a red light. If someone is rushing an injured person to the hospital, he would not be internally held responsible for cautiously running the light, since he had a valid reason to break the external law - the saving of a life, which holds a higher precedence than breaking a law.


#14

Sirach, I find no contradiction in what you say, and I know the Church always confirmed this thinking. What is unclear to me: How can Canon law be quoted to confirm Church teaching, when the CCC is not consistent with it?


#15

JMJ, I read the actual statement by the priest on Zenit’s website, and you are correctly reporting what he said. However, much as I respect and admire Fr. McNamara, I wonder if he was misinforming his audience, unintentionally. If you read the actual introduction in the Code by Pope John Paul II, we find:

Finally, by their very nature canonical laws are to be observed. The greatest care has therefore been taken to ensure that in the lengthy preparation of the Code the wording of the norms should be accurate, and that they should be based on a solid juridical, canonical and theological foundation.

I command that for the future it is to have the force of law for the whole Latin Church, and I entrust it to the watchful care of all those concerned in order that it may be observed. So that all may more easily be informed and have a thorough knowledge of these norms before they have juridical binding force, I declare and order that they will have the force of law beginning from the first day of Advent of this year 1983, and this notwithstanding any contrary ordinances, constitutions, privileges (even worthy of special or individual mention), or customs.

There is absolutely no mention anywhere that the Code does not bind under mortal sin, and that to miss mass on Sunday is not a mortal sin, with respect to the Code. I checked the USCCB website as well, and again - no mention of this whatsoever. I think you would be wise to dismiss it, since this priest is not a Bishop entrusted with the grave duty of instructing the flock in his care. Pope John Paul was very explicit in the introduction, and I would place far more credence in this important section of the Code than an isolated statement by a writer for Zenit.

Maybe you could contact a Canon Lawyer to better understand this strange article.


#16

Thank you, Sirach. I found this reference:

waterloocatholics.org/adultfaith/rightsandduties.htm

Despite its spiritual nature, the Church on earth is composed of imperfect human beings. Thus laws are needed, just as in civil society, to protect the rights of the People of God, and also to prescribe their responsibilities as members of the Christian community.

It is important at the outset not to confuse Church law and moral law… Church law governs the external relationships of individuals in the Christian community. ** In itself it does not bind under pain of sin, although sin may well be involved when Church law is transgressed…**

The direct relationship of the individual to God is governed by a higher law, which includes the moral norms… Transgression of moral law involves sin.

Canon law requires that its laws must indeed be obeyed, but with the following understanding: When the spiritual needs of the individual or group are such that strict adherence to the law would prove counter-productive, or when there is doubt about how to apply the law to a particular situation, the obligations of the law may be removed by one having the authority [to remove them]…

The Church is a multifaceted society – all of its various aspects,…even its laws, are ordered to a supernatural end… By keeping this in mind, we can see the canons not as a collection of restricting rules, but as a guide to living the Christian life within a specific community, the Catholic Church.

– Thomas P. Doyle OP. Rights and Responsibilities – A Catholic’s Guide to the New Code of Canon Law (Pueblo, 1983).


#17

You did your homework, JMJ…Amen! Good job! I’m glad for your sake that you found the explanation. Pleasant dreams tonight! :stuck_out_tongue:


#18

[quote="Sirach2, post:17, topic:326162"]
You did your homework, JMJ...Amen! Good job! I'm glad for your sake that you found the explanation. Pleasant dreams tonight! :p

[/quote]

Thank you, Sirach :). God bless you, and pleasant dreams to you, too!

JMJ


#19

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.