Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Explanatory Note Regarding CCEO Canon 1, 8 December 2011.

For some years, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, with the help of a broad group of Consultors, has steadily conducted work to harmonize the normative provisions of the CIC and the CCEO that more immediately affect ordinary pastoral activity, in keeping with what has emerged from the experience of these years.

One of the arguments examined has regarded CCEO c. 1 and, concretely, the meaning that, in the above-mentioned canon and in the entire discipline of the Eastern Code, the term expresse has, a question that in a recurring way affects numerous situations of pastoral importance considered by CCEO. The working Commission of the Pontifical Council has begun an in-depth study of the theme in question, checking the contexts in which the canons of CCEO use the term expresse with regard to relations among the various Churches sui iuris and looking to verify if the Legislator intended in those situations to include also the Latin Church.

Although, for other matters currently being studied, this Pontifical Council intends to present some legislative changes to the Legislator regarding the significance of the term expresse in CCEO c. 1 following the proposals of the working Commission, we have considered it sufficient to compose an Explanatory Note, which gives an official explanation of it without, on the other hand, having to make recourse to an authentic Interpretation.

Regarding the theme in question, there has not been complete unanimity among scholars. As is known, in the proceedings of the Eastern codification, it was decided that the cases in which the Latin Church remains bound by the norms of CCEO are to be absolutely peremptory (Nuntia 22, p. 22; cfr. also ibid., p. 13). This imposes a strict criterion in considering if an Eastern norm expressly includes the Latin Church. In this sense, some authors have affirmed that the Latin Church is included only when it is “explicitly” named by the norms of CCEO. However, the majority of authors believe that the express mention of the Latin Church in the canons can occur both in an Aexplicit@ and an Aimplicit@ way, when that follows reasonably from the context in which the norm is placed. Indeed, the term expresse would only be opposed to tacite, while an express mention could be made both in an explicit and an implicit way.

According to this distinction, which appears reasonably confirmed by the normative provisions of CCEO, besides the canons in which the Latin Church is “explicitly” named, there are also other canons of the same Code in which it is included “implicitly,” if one takes into account the text and context of the norm, as CCEO c. 1499 requires. It is therefore necessary to begin with the expressions contained in the norm to be interpreted and with the context in which it is found to determine if the Latin Church is implicitly included in it or not. This is the case, for example, of the CCEO norms that concern juridical relations with the various Churches of the one Catholic Church.

Consequently, one must hold that the Latin Church is implicitly included by analogy each time that CCEO explicitly uses the term “Church sui iuris” in the context of interecclesial relations. We say “by analogy” keeping in mind that the characteristics of the Latin Church, though not coinciding completely with those of the Church sui iuris described in canons 27 and 28, §1 of CCEO, in this regard are, nevertheless, substantially similar.

Vatican City, 8 December 2011.

+Francesco Coccopalmerio


+Juan Ignacio Arrieta


PCLT, Explanatory Note Regarding CCEO Canon 1, 8 December 2011, Communicationes 43 (2011) 315-316. English by: Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv.