Is canon law intended for the laity?

We hear at CAF often quote Canon law when engaged in debates because when on the internet, it is easy to look up stuff. That is just the nature of the internet and CAF.

Of course in real life, no one goes about quoting canons. We are all trying to live lives that are pleasing to God in the best way we know how.

Brother, this goes back to my concern over the place of the CCC, and the UGCC catechism among the laity. They their respective places, for us. But the decisions made, are and should be made, at the executive level

As to the Eastern Code --which is concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches --yes they refer to grave sins (called either serious sins, mortal sins or grave sins in the Church documents)

The Catholic Church in her documents uses the terms serious sin- grave sin- and mortal sin as synonyms.

The canons for this particular canon are basically the same in both codes of Canon Law. They discuss the same reality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:

1457 … Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.57 … *

Footnote:57 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1647; 1661; CIC, can. 916; CCEO, can. 711.

(*readers can see the two codes for more details – if there is a serious/grave reason for an “exception” one is also make an act of perfect contrition and to intend to confess as soon as possible)

The Catechism References there the Eastern Code of Canon Law 711 which goes into that one is not to receive the Divine Eucharist if one is conscious of serious sin (mortal sin) . It also references the Council of Trent.

The question in praxis though --to be put to the person in question --is did they commit a mortal sin (grave sin-serious sin)? One is to examine ones conscience…and if need be one can consult ones confessor for assistance. The various (light or called venial) sins of course that we struggle with daily can as has been noted --be forgiven in many ways – including during the Liturgy and Holy Communion.

Definitely. And the funny thing is Roman Catholic laity think they can tell Eastern Catholics what they believe despite what the Roman Pope and the EC bishops have said. No amount of posting stuff will change that.

The Pope is talking to Catholics so poeple like Bookcat should listen. The Orthodox can object all they want but Catholics shouldn’t because it is the Pope saying that is what Catholics believe.

Oh…most certainly as to what the Popes say and intend.

But he is not espousing your opinions on the question of this thread.


What the Pope has indicated and the Eastern Codes and Eastern Catholic Clergy and an Eastern Catholic Bishop (Patriarch in fact!) have noted on this issue (the question of the the thread)…IS what has been posted.

Me either! Till he told me recently on another thread- or was it this one? Always assumed he was Latin, lol!

No, what has been posted on this thread are Roman Catholic beliefs and canons made by Roman clergy who know nothing about the authentic Eastern life. But thankfully the Popes themselves of late have spoken FOR the rediscovery and reclaim of Eastern Churches of their tradition. If you tell an Eastern Christian about “tradition”, that for us means EVERYTHING in our spirituality. It is not just about wearing the proper vestments or doing certain things, our spirituality is our way of life, therefore tradition in our language encompasses our entire faith.

If you don’t get that, it’s fine. You’re not EC, it is not your spirituality. But don’t tell us what our spirituality is.

I might post further this thread on the topic. But I have done enough round and round with you in this thread. So I will not respond here…

I do though wish you well and much grace

with a prayer to the *Great Mother of God *for you and yours

It goes back to question, what is the place of canon code among laity, east AND west? My Orthodox friend explained very briefly, and straight to the point: Canon law is for the ideal; it’s more for bishops, and clergy as a guidebook. Canon law describes the ascetic ideal. It’s not a rulebook by which the laity uses to live their spirituality.

I think this is the original contention Brother Constantine had with the repeated postings of canon law. My friend did say the catechism has its place among the laity, but not Canon Law.

Again, it goes back to the need of a spiritual father, or confessor to make the ultimate call if one is really receiving worthily, or not. We, as laity, have a responsibility to live our lives out as little Christs (Christian - Christianos); to be an example to others; build the mystical body of Christ; not be administrators or politicians pertaining to matters of canon law.

I think that’s a good way of putting it. It doesn’t mean that everyone who doesn’t meet the ideal is going to be excommunicated.

Relating this to the subject matter(s) of this particular forum, we have to deal with the situation that the Union of Brest dealt to us, not some ideal situation that we might wish to find ourselves in. (I’m one who believes that uniatism was an extremely bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that I want to pretend it didn’t happen.)

The question is here about the Eastern Catholic Churches so the various possible Eastern Orthodox approaches are not so much of issue here.

There where repeated postings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Encyclicals of the Pope, as well as things from Eastern Catholic sources too --in addition to the Eastern Code of Canons. (these sources were brought in to give more weight to the fact that one is to go to confession first if one has committed a mortal sin – when the contrary was more than once suggested)

Bl. Pope John Paul said while promulgating the Eastern Code in 1990 —

“With great hope I trust that this Code will “happily be put into the action of daily life and that it offer a genuine testimony of reverence and love for ecclesiastical law” as was the hope of Paul VI of blessed memory…”

But do the laity need to read or study Canon Law? No. Such can be good --but yes such is not per se necessary.

Hence they have their Pastors etc simply explaining --such as in the Bulletin or as they learn the Faith --that if one has committed a mortal sin --one does not receive Holy Communion but first one goes and confesses it and is restored to true life in in and by Jesus Christ the Lord and then one receives him in Holy Communion.

What is necessary is as you mentioned -is to live as Christians.


Yes let us live the Faith! And especially in the upcoming Year of Faith let us seek to more and more! --I can not wait! I look forward to the rich teachings of Pope Benedict XVI

As the early Christian Martyrs would say before their judges: I am a Christian!

Canon Law is meant for the clergy. It was never meant to be the guiding force for the laity. The faith was never meant to turn us into lawyers. Canons are issued at councils by bishops for bishops. Then it is up to bishops to apply the law in their own Churches. Usually it is very straight forward to apply the law, but then sometimes after a great amount of time passed by, following the law to the letter has no longer any meaning. So it is up to the bishop to interpret the spirit of the law and apply that accordingly to the faithful in his Church. It isn’t mean to be a resource for the laity to post on online forums to win debates.

While I’m not going to defend how canon law is often used in online discussions, such as this one, I don’t think it can be said that canons are only for bishops. That’s like saying that civil law is only for judges and police officers. Obviously that’s not the case; the law is for everyone. Judges and police officers have their own roles to play with regard to the law, but so do citizens. In the same way, bishops might have a relationship to canon law that’s different than that of the laity, but the law is there for everyone.

I think problems come in when people confuse the law for the faith, or when people completely separate the law from the faith.

Then it still comes down to: what place does canon law have among laity? With your mention in place, where do you think the laity can use canon law? I can see, personally, how it’ll guide someone to remain a member of a particular church. It won’t necessarily be their spiritual puppet master. I think the rudder idea regarding canon law is on point.

I don’t want to try to speak on Constantine’s behalf, but I think the sentence after might be of helping in understanding that one:

                 Originally Posted by **ConstantineTG**                     []("")                 
             Canon Law is meant for the clergy.   It was never meant to be the guiding force for the laity.  The faith was  never meant to turn us into lawyers.  **Canons are issued at councils by  bishops for bishops.  Then it is up to bishops to apply the law in their  own Churches.** 

Not quite true. I’ve been known to quote the canons in support of various discussions outside of internet debates. Several other members at my home parish likewise. Then again, for years, we had a canon lawyer as pastor. Some of his best homilies compared the canons of the CCEO, the Early Church Fathers, and the Ruthenian Particular Law to the Gospel message, showing us WHY we have the rules we do.

That’s an interesting testimonial. Perhaps because of the training of your pastor, this became a subject of frequent homiletic, but as a cradle who has been a parishioner in the Passaic and Parma Eparchies, I have rarely heard reference to canon law in sermons or discussions among faithful, except as an occasional subject of adult catechesis.

I would be interested in your former pastor’s views on the norms of Particular Law for the Ruthenian Church, as it is still rumored that they were not fully approved as +Metropolitan Judson and his council submitted and desired.

I think part of the issue, at least as it pertains to Orthodoxy’s potential reunion with Rome (from my limited understanding) is the idea of doctrinal development. There’s a plus, and minus to this mentality. But, there were points in time, taking the filioque as an example, where predecessors have downright claimed it as heresy, having no place in the creed. However, over time it was slowly codified into the creed. Then successive popes, particularly when it came to papal supremacy/infallibility, a statement was made about arguing against decrees by the Roman pontiff, as points of excommunication. The tone has cooled down, particularly with the most recent popes (JPII, and Benedict XVI).

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