Not Catholic, but a couple of terms I don't understand

I’ve been listening to EWTN radio quite a bit and I’m trying to figure out the meaning of a couple of terms that keep coming up: canon law and natural law.

What are Catholics referring to when you mention these, and where do I find out more about them? Also are these in addition to, or contained within, or wholly apart from Scripture?

Can you tell I’m a confused searcher? Also, if this is in the wrong forum, please feel free to move it to some place more appropriate. Thanks.

Canon law is the body of rules set by Church authority for the governing of the Catholic community.

Natural law: simply, the laws of nature. St. Paul refers to it in Romans 2:14.
A better definition, parsed out here:

Hope this helps.


I’ve come across the newadvent site before. Who is that run by? Is it an official church site or just run by an individual or organization? Thanks, btw!

New Advent is a great resource website run by a Catholic Layman, Kevin Knight.

I find loads of information in the Catholic Encyclopedia part of the website.

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 will help to give an understanding of the need for Church (canon) law.

The Old Catholic Encyclopedia is out of copyright due to its age, therefore it is now in public domain and Kevin Knight has put it online for everyone’s use. He also has other public domain items such as writings of early Church fathers (not sure whose editing and translating were used on these) and other church documents.

Here is a link to the section in the Catechism that speaks of the natural law - #1954-1960 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good.

The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

[INDENT]The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted

The actual expression “natural law” is not in Scripture, but it is what St. Paul is referring to in his letter to the Romans: Romans 2:14-15 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them

The Code of Canon Law is available online:

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