Pope Francis, apostolic letter motu proprio by which some canons of the Code of Canon Law are modified De Concordia inter codices, 31 May 2016.
APOSTOLIC LETTER MOTU PROPRIO
by which some norms of the Code of Canon Law are modified.Concerned about the harmony between the Codes, we have observed some discrepancies between the norms found in the Code of Canon Law and those in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
For the two Codes contain common norms in part, but in part also have special and proper norms, which render both Codes autonomous. It is nevertheless fitting that these special norms fit together with each other appropriately. For discrepancies, if and to the extent that they exist, produce difficulties in pastoral practice, particularly when they govern relations between members belonging to the Latin Church and an Eastern Church.
This has happened particularly in our time, when, certainly because of the migration of peoples, it follows that many Eastern Christian faithful live in Latin regions. Not a few pastoral and juridical questions thus arise, which require adapted norms for their resolution. It must be remembered in a special way that the Eastern Christian faithful are bound to preserve their own rite wherever they are found (cf. CCEO can. 40 §3; Vatican II, decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 6), and accordingly it belongs most of all to the competent ecclesiastical authority to take care that appropriate means are available for them to be able to fulfil this obligation themselves (cf. CCEO can. 193 §1; CIC can. 383 §§1-2; post-synodal ap. exhortation Pastores gregis, 72). A harmony of norms is doubtless a means which strongly assists in the growth of the venerable Eastern rites (cf. CCEO can. 39), so that Churches sui iuris may be able to exercise pastoral care more effectively.
We must nevertheless pay attention to the need of recognising the particular disciplinary marks of that region in which interecclesial relations take place. For in the West, which is Latin for the most part, it is fitting to preserve a proper balance between the preservation of the proper law of the Eastern minority and the respect to be displayed toward the historical canonical tradition of the Latin majority, so that unwarranted collisions and conflicts may be avoided, and the fruitful cooperation of all the Catholic communities living in that region may be encouraged.
There is another reason why the norms of the Code of Canon Law should be filled out with some explicit provisions similar to those contained in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, namely, so that relations with Eastern non-Catholic Christians, whose number has increased at present in Latin territories, may be determined more carefully.
We must also consider that commentaries of canonists have observed that certain discrepancies are found between both Codes and they have almost unanimously shown what the principal questions are, and how these can be brought into harmony.
Thus the purpose of the norms which are introduced in this apostolic letter motu proprio is to reach a disciplinary harmony, which may indicate a sure road to be followed in the exercise of pastoral care in individual cases.
The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, through a commission of experts in Eastern and Latin canon law, examined those questions which seemed to require a more suitable legislative revision than others, and thus drafted a text which was sent to about thirty consultors throughout the world, to canonical experts, and to authorities in Latin ordinariates for Eastern Catholics. After receiving the resulting observations, a new text was approved by the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
Having considered all of these matters, we determine the following:
Art. 1. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 111 of the Code of Canon Law, in which a new paragraph is added and some expressions are changed:
§1. Through the reception of baptism, the child of parents who belong to the Latin Church is enrolled in it, or, if one or the other does not belong to it, both parents have by mutual agreement chosen to have their offspring baptized in the Latin Church. If there is no mutual agreement, the child is enrolled in the Church sui iuris to which the father belongs.
§2. But if only one of the parents is Catholic, the child is enrolled in the Church to which the Catholic parent belongs.
§3. Anyone to be baptized who has completed the fourteenth year of age can freely choose to be baptised in the Latin Church or in another Church sui iuris; in that case, the person belongs to the Church which he or she has chosen.
Art. 2. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 112, in which a new paragraph is added and some expressions are changed:
§1. After the reception of baptism, the following are enrolled in another Church sui iuris:
1° a person who has obtained permission from the Apostolic See;
2° a spouse who, at the time of or during marriage, has declared that he or she is transferring to the Church sui iuris of the other spouse; when the marriage has ended, however, the person can freely return to the Latin Church;
3° before the completion of the fourteenth year of age, the children of those mentioned in nn. 1 and 2 as well as, in a mixed marriage, the children of the Catholic party who has legitimately transferred to another Church sui iuris; on completion of their fourteenth year, however, they can return to the Latin Church.
§2. The practice, however prolonged, of receiving the sacraments according to the rite of another Church sui iuris does not entail enrolment in that Church.
§3. Every transfer to another Church sui iuris takes effect at the moment a declaration is made before a local ordinary of the same Church or the proper pastor or a priest delegated by either of them and two witnesses, unless the rescript of the Apostolic See provides otherwise; this is to be noted in the baptismal register.
Art. 3. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 535 §2 of the Code of Canon Law:
§2. In the baptismal register are also to be noted enrollment in a Church sui iuris or transfer to another Church, confirmation, and those things which pertain to the canonical status of the Christian faithful by reason of marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of canon 1133, of adoption, of reception of sacred orders, and of perpetual profession made in a religious institute. These notations are always to be noted on a baptismal certificate.
Art. 4. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 868 §1. 2° of the Code of Canon Law:
§1. 2° there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion, without prejudice to §3; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
Art. 5. Can. 868 of the Code of Canon Law will have a third paragraph as follows:
§3. Infants of non-Catholic Christians are licitly baptised if their parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place request it and if it is physically or morally impossible for them to approach their own minister.
Art. 6. Can. 1108 of the Code of Canon Law will have a third paragraph as follows:
§3. Only a priest validly assists at a marriage between Eastern parties, or between a Latin party and an Eastern party, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.
Art. 7. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 1109 of the Code of Canon Law:
Unless the local ordinary and pastor have been excommunicated, interdicted, or suspended from office or declared such through a sentence or decree, by virtue of their office and within the confines of their territory they assist validly at the marriages not only of their subjects but also, provided that at least one of them is enrolled in the Latin Church, of those who are not their subjects.
Art. 8. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 1111 §1 of the Code of Canon Law:
§1. As long as they hold office validly, the local ordinary and the pastor can delegate to priests and deacons the faculty, even a general one, of assisting at marriages within the limits of their territory, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1108 §3.
Art. 9. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 1112 §1 of the Code of Canon Law:
§1. Where there is a lack of priests and deacons, the diocesan bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages, with the previous favourable vote of the conference of bishops and after he has obtained the permission of the Holy See, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1108 §3.
Art. 10. Can. 1116 of the Code of Canon Law will have a third paragraph as follows:
§3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, nn. 1 and 2, the local ordinary can confer on any Catholic priest the faculty of blessing the marriage of the Christian faithful of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they spontaneously seek it, and provided that nothing prevents the valid and licit celebration of the marriage. The priest himself, if it can be done prudently, is to inform the competent authority of the non-Catholic Church concerned.
Art. 11. The following text entirely takes the place of can. 1127 §1 of the Code of Canon Law:
§1. The prescripts of can. 1108 are to be observed for the form to be used in a mixed marriage. Nevertheless, if a Catholic party contracts marriage with a non-Catholic party of an Eastern rite, the canonical form of the celebration must be observed for liceity only; for validity, however, the assistance of a priest is required and the other requirements of the law are to be observed.
We order that whatsoever has been decreed by this our apostolic letter motu proprio be firm and established, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even worthy of special mention, and we decree that this be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano and thereafter printed in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 31 May 2016, in the fourth year of our pontificate.
Pope Francis, apostolic letter motu proprio by which some canons of the Code of Canon Law are modified De Concordia inter codices, 31 May 2016, AAS, 108 (2016), 602-606; English translation by W. Becket Soule, 25 July 2017, with revisions by John A. Renken, 27 September 2016.