Paragraph 2217 of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"

Click here to read Paragraph 2217 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Is a thirtysomething still living with his or her parents usually considered “emancipated” in the eyes of the Catholic Church? Is there a piece of canon law that explains this? About one-third of Americans aged 18-34 live with their parents these days.

It is an ambiguous paragraph, maybe intentionally so.

Emancipation comes in different forms in different cultures. “Adulthood” has something to do with it, and sometimes “leaving the house” does too - but in some cultures it is assumed that the child stays at home for his whole life, unless there is some compelling reason to leave…

Then there is the in-between. Maybe if a person is semi-autonomous, he owes some partial obedience to parents, but not total obedience… if he lives with his parents but pays rent, for instance.

What if their children come to stay for a few weeks to see them? Are they “living” there?

It is not perfectly clear. There can’t be a general rule here - you must use practical wisdom to “feel it out.”

Why do you ask?

The age of majority under Canon Law is 18.

That said, you can be thirty, but for as long as you live under your parent’s roof, their house, their rules.

Can you provide a link, porthos11?

I believe you have confused the word child with that of son/daughter.
In this context a child is clearly a son/daughter under the age of 18.

I’m not porthos11 but I can provide the link:

Canon 97§1

“A person who has completed the eighteenth year of age, has attained majority; below this age, a person is a minor.”

Canon 98 also has comments that are relevant to this subject:

“A person who has attained majority has the full exercise of his or her rights. … In the exercise of rights a minor remains subject to parents or guardians, except for those matters in which by divine or by canon law minors are exempt from such authority.”

I would note that it doesn’t say Everyone remains subject to parents or guardians, it only says A Minor remains subject to parents or guardians. And a minor is defined as someone below the age of 18.

But I’m not an expert in canon law and I can easily foresee a canon lawyer telling me I’m wrong. This law says a minor is subject to his parents, but I don’t think that Automatically means people over 18 are Not subject. There could be special circumstances where they are. Perhaps living in their house is a special circumstance? Not knowing Canon Law, I can’t do much more than guess, but if I had to guess, I would guess that living in your parents’ house after 18 is a circumstance that makes you still subject to their authority. Because it’s their house, their rules.

If a thirty-something person wants auto my, leave the nest and run your own life. Why bring canon law into this??

Hence, post #3.

I imagine that is generally so. At that age, they are (generally) free of the restrictions applicable particularly to minors.

Within reason. Parents must respect the fact that their child is now an adult. If your 25 year old child is living at home, that doesn’t give you the right to, say, restrict who they may date or socialize with. It may give you the right to restrict who they bring home.

Sorry, Twf. This would be incorrect if an appeal is made to C/Law. (above) As long as an individual remains in the parents’ house, they remain in the ‘confines’ of the parent’s rules; similar to a Landlord / tenant arrangement, for want of a better analogy, and the Landlord sets the rules!

‘Child’ - also is specific to age of the offspring and may vary between civil and cannon Laws

‘Emancipation’ - is to be freed from bondage, in this case, the bonds of the parents’ social rules etc. But if you remain ‘under’ their caring sphere, then ‘emancipation’ has to be by arrangement or agreement or etc etc etc


If you are 30, living at home and don’t agree to take instruction from your parents as though you were a child, then either:

  • parents may throw you out, or
  • parents accept you are an adult with the freedoms and responsibilities that apply.

The rules that a landlord may properly set are restricted in scope. The same is true of parents. And the scope is reduced when the child grows in maturity to adulthood.

What’s your basis for this? Canon law sets the age of majority at 18- with full rights and responsibilities under the law. A landlord’s ability to restrict the freedom of his tenants is VERY limited. The law always Favors the rights of the tenant over the landlord (at least where I live). To use my ecample, it would be both inappropriate and illegal for a landlord to so much as comment on a tenant’s social life.

Where I live, the contract between tenant and landlord is voluntary, and my landlord has no obligation to renew it once it has expired. If he had any reason to decide he didn’t want me here anymore, he could simply not renew the contract. I suppose it is similar with the man and his parents. If they don’t approve of something he’s doing, whatever it is, they are probably perfectly within their legal rights to just tell him to leave. Therefore I suppose they can stipulate as much as they want about his social life or any other thing too, without breaking the law, and if he doesn’t like it he can leave. Does that make sense?

Such an “authority” for the parents does not imply any obligation on the adult child to obey their arbitrary instructions. It merely reflects the parents right to decide who lives in their house, a right not in question.

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