Since the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church has been developing regulations that have had some influence on secular non-church-related legal procedures. These regulations are called canons and are codified in the Code of Canon Law in Latin, Codex juris canonici. Canon law and English common law borrowed heavily from each other throughout medieval times and together formed the basis for many of the legal procedures used in the United States.
For example, canon law's influence is still visible in the concepts of the GRAND JURY , presentment a description of a criminal offense that is based on the jury's own knowledge , and some characteristics of U. Canon law has its origins in ancient church writings, decisions made by the general councils of local bishops, and rulings issued by the pope.
These ideas were organized in the mid—twelfth century by an Italian law teacher, Gratian. He sorted the collection into religious law, penal law, sacramental law, and other categories. Along with a set of decisions by the pope called Decretals of Gregory IX, Gratian's work formed the main body of canon law for nearly eight hundred years. In , Pope Benedict XV recodified revised the canons. Pope John Paul II reissued the Code of Canon Law in —authorizing increased participation of laity in the church, recognizing the needs of disabled people, and making other changes.
A related text, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, was reissued by the Holy See the seat of papal government in In the Middle Ages, canon law was used in ecclesiastical courts church to decide many types of cases that in modern times are decided by civil courts, including criminal offenses. Canon 4 preserves acquired rights and privileges not expressly revoked by the Code. By implication these privileges are not codified. Canon 5 reminds us that custom apart from the law praeter legem retains its force and by implication is not to be found in the Code.
Moreover, there are large bodies of special laws, e. Furthermore, particular law governing a region or a diocese will not be codified nor will proper law governing a religious or secular institute of consecrated life. Once one has found a legal text in whatever source there may be need to interpret it. There are various types of canonical interpretation.
Interpretation may be authoritative, doctrinal or customary. Canon law follows the maxim, ubi legislatio, ibi interpretatio and interpretation is authoritative and binding in itself if given by the legislator, by his successor, or by someone to whom the legislator has committed the task of interpretation. This commission may give binding interpretations of the Code and of other ecclesiastical laws much as the courts in the United States give binding interpretation of statutes. Other types of interpretation are not binding. Interpretation is called doctrinal or private if given by those skilled in canon law.
In civil or Roman law countries one distinguishes "la doctrine," the opinion of jurists or law professors, from "la jurisprudence," judicial opinions or case law. Doctrinal interpretation derives its authority from the cogency of its legal reasoning and the clarity of its exposition. Having discussed the source of interpretation, one may now discuss the manner of it.
The rules of interpretation of law are, for the most part, set forth in canon 17 of the Code. This same canon also establishes a hierarchy for the application of these rules. The first rule is to consider the text itself, since people, even legislators, are presumed to say what they mean and since the drafters of laws usually do their work carefully and accurately.
This consideration is particularly applicable to the Code, which was twenty-four years in the making. The final product was preceded by three drafts, each of which was copiously commented upon by cardinals, commissions and canonists around the world.
United States Federal Law - Free Websites: Canons of Statutory Construction
The explication of the text must also consider the textual context. This is particularly true of a code where canons are deliberately placed within a certain structure or framework which itself may help explicate the mind of the legislator. Please enter the email address and password used at registration. Email Address This email address is not registered. Password Please enter a Password Your password must be at least 6 characters long No validation was done for leading or trailing spaces in password.
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