Canon Law vs. Catechism


#1

Is it a fair statement to say that the Catholic Catechism is an explanation of the Church’s teachings on faith and morals (unchangable truth) and that Canon Law is an explanation of the Church’s teachings regarding discipline (could be changed at some point)?

Follow up questions:

Who has the authority to change canon law (if it can be changed)?

When was the last time canon law was changed (if applicable)?

How does canon law differ in its application compared to the catechism? i.e. How stringent are they in application compared to each other?

Thanks! :slight_smile:


#2

The CCC contains a summary of all the Church teachings, both doctrines and disciplines. Doctrines do not change, but the disciplines can.
Canon law is the law of the Church. The code of canon law now in place is from 1983 compared to the previous 1917.

Catholics must accept and obey both the Church teachings (doctrines and disciplines) in the CCC and Canon Law.


#3

No, because they both contain a mixture of both doctrine and discipline.

Follow up questions:

Who has the authority to change canon law (if it can be changed)?

The Magisterium.

{snip}

How does canon law differ in its application compared to the catechism? i.e.

As a potentially lame example I’d liken them to comparing the US Constitution to the US penal code.

How stringent are they in application compared to each other?

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Who are “they” in this question?


#4

[quote="thistle]The code of canon law now in place is from 1983 compared to the previous 1917.
[/quote]

Would you happen to know what changes were made between the old and the new? Was it a complete revamping, or was it merely tweaked?

US Constitution compares to the Catechism?
US Penal Code compares to Canon Law?

Where the Catechism is the guide itself and the Canon Law is the how to apply the guide?

[quote=davidv]Who are “they” in this question?
[/quote]

“They” is referred to the Catechism and Canon Law.


#5

No, I don’t know specifics. In general, the Church does not make changes hastily, so my educated guess is that only minor changes were made.

US Constitution compares to the Catechism?
US Penal Code compares to Canon Law?

Where the Catechism is the guide itself and the Canon Law is the how to apply the guide?

The Church defines the CCC as the “sure norm” of Catholic teaching. The Code is just that, the legal rules related to specific things related to the practice of the faith.

“They” is referred to the Catechism and Canon Law.

Then my answer to your original question

How stringent are they in application compared to each other?

is that they are equally stringent and any actions taken are dependent on whether dogma or discpline are involve and on the nature and scope of any offense against them.


#6

Okay, let’s drill down a bit further then. Let’s take a topic that’s been in debate in my household lately: Marriage.

The Catechism says that marriage is a sacrament: There’s no debate here - this is a matter of faith and it will not change until the end of time when Jesus comes back.

If there is an area of the Catholic faith that has many legal technicalities associated with it, it is marriage. This is where Canon Law comes in. What I’m not clear on is whether the legalities on how the church views marriage is a matter of faith or discipline.

For example, the Catholic Church says that marriages outside of the Catholic church are presumed valid unless proven otherwise provided the spouses are non-Catholic. But in the case of Catholics who leave the faith, those marriages are presumed invalid until blessed in the Catholic Church (at least this is my understanding).

I understand that this is Church teaching and that is the way it is, but is that aspect a changable disciplinary situation, or is that also unchangable?

What I don’t know is whether the process has changed at all or if it could change if the Magisterium saw a need for it. Another example is if there is such a shortfall of priests, concievably the requirement for weekly mass attendence could be revised to fit this changing circumstance. Thoughts?


#7

For the pupose of living the faith it does not matter whether it is dogma (faith) or discipline, obedience is required. Disobedience of the Church is disbedience of Christ. See Lk 10:16

“He who** hears** you** hears** me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

I understand that this is Church teaching and that is the way it is, but is that aspect a changable disciplinary situation, or is that also unchangable?
What I don’t know is whether the process has changed at all or if it could change if the Magisterium saw a need for it. Another example is if there is such a shortfall of priests, concievably the requirement for weekly mass attendence could be revised to fit this changing circumstance. Thoughts?

I do not know “the process” is that you are refering to.

Whether changeable or not, the “law” is the law. And obedience is expected.


#8

No Canon Law is not Church teachings. Canon Law will of course reflect Church Teaching. IT would be a very poor idea to call Canon Law in my opinion Church Teaching.

The Pope has the authority to change Canon Law.

The last major overhaul was in 1983, however smaller changes have and can take place from time to time.

The Catechism contains what we as Catholics are required to believe, period end of discussion!

Canon Law is the discipline or how we do things.
I may not disagree with an item in the Catechism. I may disagree with an item in Canon Law, however I am still required to obey it, but I can disagree with it.


#9

I beg to differ that it doesn’t matter. I am looking to deepen my faith and not be ignorant of it. For example, I would think it may be good to know that a woman can not be a priest and that it is a matter of faith that we accept it. I also think it would be good to know that a man can not be married to be a priest and also know that is a matter of discipline. Each needs to be followed as a matter of being obediant, but to live my faith more effectively, I want to understand the difference as to why one is a matter of unchangable faith and the other is a matter of discipline that could change (although it might not necessarily change regardless).

[quote=davidv]I do not know “the process” is that you are refering to.
[/quote]

I’ll use the married priest example again. There may have been a process used to decide to change the priesthood from a married one to one of celebacy. Perhaps it was a papal proclamation (I don’t really know) or maybe another method. My question is: What is the process for changing matters of discipline in the Church?

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]I may not disagree with an item in the Catechism. I may disagree with an item in Canon Law, however I am still required to obey it, but I can disagree with it.
[/quote]

Your thoughts seem in line with what I was thinking. Do you know of any external links that could confirm this understanding?


#10

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.