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Code of Canon Law’s penal provisions to be revised

Catholic World News - December 02, 2010

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 Church’s system of penalties outlined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, according to Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the pontifical council’s secretary. Bishop Arrieta said a commission has worked on revisions for two years and that the proposed revisions will be sent to the pontifical council’s members in upcoming weeks.

Bishop Arrieta, a Spaniard and a priest of Opus Dei, said that the 1983 Code differs from the previous 1917 Code in promoting a greater subsidiarity within the Church’s disciplinary system and in affording greater rights to those accused of canonical crimes. “Subsequent experience has shown that some of the techniques used by Code to guarantee the rights were not essential and could have been replaced by other guarantees more consistent with the reality of the Church,” Bishop Arrieta wrote. “Indeed, these techniques are in many cases an objective obstacle, sometimes insurmountable because of the scarcity of resources, to the effective application of the penal system.”

A “widespread anti-juridicism,” he added, has led to difficulties in implementing the demands of “justice and good governance.”

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