When Canon Lawyers Disagree


I recently e-mailed two canon lawyers with a question about the sacrament of confession. Both lawyers have respectable blogs online and appear orthodox. But the answers I received back were very different! One said something akin to “What you asked about is perfectly acceptable. This is not controversial at all” and the other said something like “Easy question - what you described is absolutely forbidden.” Neither elaborated much beyond that.

So… who do you trust when there are conflicting sources online and the two experts you ask give two very different answers?


there is no way anyone here could answer the questions because none of us know what you asked them. Just because someone has a blog and claims to be a cannon lawyer doesn’t mean they are or really an expert. I would probably go to your diocese and ask for a real cannon lawyer, show him or her what you asked and the responses you got.


The general principle is that in case of doubt or conflict of interpretation, that which places the lesser burden is to be followed. If indeed you did your part and exercised due diligence, you can subscribe to the interpretation which is, quite frankly, the more convenient one.


I am guessing that you are asking about something not explicitly covered in Canon Law or Church teaching, so it is a matter of prudential judgment?


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