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Vatican official: current Code of Canon Law drafted during ‘naïve’ time

Catholic World News - May 20, 2013

The Vatican official who is helping oversee the revision of the chapter of the Code of Canon Law that deals with canonical penalties said in an interview that the current code was drafted during “a period that was a bit naïve.”

The 1983 Code of Canon Law was drafted during the 1970s, a time when canonists believed “we are all good” and that “penalties should be applied rarely,” said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, a Spaniard and priest of Opus Dei who serves as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Because “penal law was not working” in addressing sexual abuse cases, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was obliged to act administratively, Bishop Arrieta added.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, out of concern for the “integrity and consistent application of discipline in the Church,” gave the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts the mandate to revise the chapter, Bishop Arrieta said in 2010. Episcopal conferences have reviewed a first draft of proposed changes.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 20, 2013 9:44 PM ET USA

    "The bishops failed, not the Code." Now how long must we wait until they realize that?

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - May. 20, 2013 6:07 PM ET USA

    Defender, canon 915 isn't in the penal section of the code. It's in Book IV, "The Sanctifying Office of the Church," not Book VI, "Sanctions in the Church." So Cardinal Wuerl doesn't need to listen to this.

  • Posted by: Savonarola - May. 20, 2013 11:57 AM ET USA

    A different view from a well-known American canonist, Father James Coriden,who wrote, with respect to the abuse-and-coverup scandal, "The context of the scandal has revealed inadequate applications of canon law. Serious canonical crimes were often treated as personnel problems, calling for repentance, therapy and reassignment, rather than the investigation and imposition of penalties which the canons prescribe." (Coriden,James, Introduction to Canon Law, p. ix) The bishops failed, not the Code.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - May. 20, 2013 11:13 AM ET USA

    Was the "period" naive, or the people doing the drafting?

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 20, 2013 9:16 AM ET USA

    Canon 915...I hope Cardinal Wuerl is listening.

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