This article contains resources for reading Canon Law. One may wonder why Canon Law has a place on a website of this nature. For one, some have expressed interest. However, more importantly, reading and understanding Canon Law, particularly as it applies to the seven Sacraments, and especially as it applies to Marriage as a Sacrament, one can make immense gains in understanding the new life given by the Sacraments. The canons often include abbreviated statements of theology.
Canon Law is the fundamental body of legislation in the Catholic Church that provides for the legal guidance of charity in the Body of Christ. It deals with the basic rights and duties of the various members of the Church, always with the intention of building up the Body for the good of each and all members. Besides guiding the structure of charity in the church, it provides the basis for the discipline of those individuals who may transgress this charity. Canon Law can change. Its authority is limited by the theological teaching of the Church and the movement of the Holy Spirit as recognized and affirmed by the Magisterium. The first couple chapters of the canons themselves describe the purpose and limitations of Canon Law.
As with any body of legislation and the resulting jurisprudence, there is a vast amount of material relating to interpreting, commenting upon, and applying the canons. If one is really interested in acquiring an in-depth understanding, as would be necessary in order to “quote” Canon Law to someone for their correction, it is advisable to go to Sacred Heart Seminary and read this interpretive material. Further, Canon Law is only a body of centralized legislation. Each local diocese, with the permission of the Vatican, has further legislation of allowed practices that applies only to that diocese or to that regional conference of dioceses. It is generally not a good idea to state that these two conflict with one another without being very certain of the grounds for your own interpretations.
The Text of Canon Law
Marriage in the Present Code of Canon Law,
(Scroll to Book IV, Part I, Titles VII to X)
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