Pope vs Church law


#1

The Pope cannot break Church law because it does not apply to him. Is he the ONLY person in the Church that this applies?


#2

I may be wrong, but I don't think we can technically say the Church law doesn't apply to him. He has to follow the laws that are valid and binding on the members of the Church as he is a member, but as legislator, he can change the laws or grant dispensations, even to himself (of course, he is bound by divine law when making such changes). There's also no one to judge him as he is the supreme judge.

From a practical standpoint this does make it seem like the law does not apply to him, but it's a subtle but important difference.

This situation does apply only to the Pope as far as the universal Church is concered. However, a bishop's relationship to his own laws in his diocese is the same as the Pope's relationship to laws for the whole Church--the bishop can change diocesan law and grant dispensations even to himself, as long as he stays within divine law and higher ecclesiastical laws.


#3

[quote="Genesis315, post:2, topic:323471"]
I may be wrong, but I don't think we can technically say the Church law doesn't apply to him. He has to follow the laws that are valid and binding on the members of the Church as he is a member, but as legislator, he can change the laws or grant dispensations, even to himself (of course, he is bound by divine law when making such changes). There's also no one to judge him as he is the supreme judge.

From a practical standpoint this does make it seem like the law does not apply to him, but it's a subtle but important difference.

This situation does apply only to the Pope as far as the universal Church is concered. However, a bishop's relationship to his own laws in his diocese is the same as the Pope's relationship to laws for the whole Church--the bishop can change diocesan law and grant dispensations even to himself, as long as he stays within divine law and higher ecclesiastical laws.

[/quote]

Actually we can say that the Pope is not bound by church law. The Pope is bound only by natural law and divine law.

Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely

See also: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=777125


#4

[quote="SMOM, post:3, topic:323471"]
Actually we can say that the Pope is not bound by church law. The Pope is bound only by natural law and divine law.

[/quote]

This is my understanding as well. It is the Pope who determines what the church law is, so to say he is bound by it is like saying that God is bound by divine law which is also not true.


#5

Here's something I've been wondering: of course the Pope can always dispense himself from any church law, but the way things are set up today does he have to draw up a formal document to do this?


#6

[quote="fabio_rocha, post:1, topic:323471"]
Is he the ONLY person in the Church that this applies?

[/quote]

"By virtue of his office," it is only the Pope who "possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church." --Code of Canon Law, Can. 331.


#7

In reply to thread topic: Pope wins.

And no, there is no one else so far as I am aware. The reason why the Pope wins is because cannon law exists at his pleasure (even if wise Popes don't treat it that way, a Pope could change cannon law as he sees fit, within the natural and divine law). No other person has this relationship with Church law.


#8

[quote="Aelred_Minor, post:5, topic:323471"]
Here's something I've been wondering: of course the Pope can always dispense himself from any church law, but the way things are set up today does he have to draw up a formal document to do this?

[/quote]

He doesn't have to dispense himself from a law that doesn't apply to him, and no canon laws do.


#9

[quote="Genesis315, post:2, topic:323471"]
I may be wrong, but ...

[/quote]

I think you're right. I don't know how there could be peace (i.e., the tranquility of order) or justice if the law of the Church did not apply to everyone in the Church. Your comparison to a bishop and his own laws is apt. I also recall the words of pope John Paul II: "the canonical laws by their very nature must be observed." vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_25011983_sacrae-disciplinae-leges_en.html

It would also seem that the Servant of the Servants of God would be at least morally obligated to observe the laws which he imposes on those he serves. And, it leads to the conclusion that even the supreme lawgiver is reasonably expected to change law in accordance with accepted practice.

How about some examples of purely ecclesiastical law. I don't think anyone would be comfortable saying "Oh, the Pope, he doesn't have to participate in Mass on Sundays." "The Pope can just consecrate the bread and wine whenever he wants, whether inside or outside of Mass." "The Pope can treat any Eastern Church like a Latin personal prelature." "Canon law doesn't apply to the Pope. He can make all religious observe the Rule of St. Dominic." "Sure, the Pope can say that the monastery janitor determines who is admitted to the novitiate." "The Pope can get married tomorrow, no questions asked."

It's way too simplistic to say "Church law does not apply to the Pope." Much of that law, while not part of the divine/natural law, is bound up with divine/natural law or is so wedded to the Tradition of the Church that it is not as disposable as, e.g., only having 120 cardinal-electors.

This is a topic that cannot be adequately addressed in this forum. But, these are some initial thoughts of mine.

Dan


#10

Sorry, but I consider the title of this thread to be more than a bit ridiculous.


#11

[quote="Chatter163, post:10, topic:323471"]
Sorry, but I consider the title of this thread to be more than a bit ridiculous.

[/quote]

Me too, it makes me want to bet $5 on the Pope by 3 points.


#12

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