JCL Comprehensive Exam References
Canons to know

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The following are some of the most important canons of the code.  These canons are important because they contain some fundamental definitions, because they express important concepts, or are frequently referred to when studying other parts of the code.

There will certainly be debates about the canons that have been selected to be part of this list as well as canons that were not chosen for this list.  If you believe another canon should be considered, please e-mail me and make your case.  jgray@jgray.org

There are currently 38 canons in this list.

Can. 96 By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way.

Can. 114 §1. Juridic persons are constituted either by the prescript of law or by special grant of competent authority given through a decree. They are aggregates of persons (universitates personarum) or of things (universitates rerum) ordered for a purpose which is in keeping with the mission of the Church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals.
 §2. The purposes mentioned in §1 are understood as those which pertain to works of piety, of the apostolate, or of charity, whether spiritual or temporal.
 §3. The competent authority of the Church is not to confer juridic personality except on those aggregates of persons (universitates personarum) or things (universitates rerum) which pursue a truly useful purpose and, all things considered, possess the means which are foreseen to be sufficient to achieve their designated purpose.

Can. 124 §1. For the validity of a juridic act it is required that the act is placed by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act.
 §2. A juridic act placed correctly with respect to its external elements is presumed valid.

Can. 127 §1. When it is established by law that in order to place acts a superior needs the consent or counsel of some college or group of persons, the college or group must be convoked according to the norm of can. 166 unless, when it concerns seeking counsel only, particular or proper law provides otherwise. For such acts to be valid, however, it is required that the consent of an absolute majority of those present is obtained or that the counsel of all is sought.
 §2. When it is established by law that in order to place acts a superior needs the consent or counsel of certain persons as individuals:
 1º if consent is required, the act of a superior who does not seek the consent of those persons or who acts contrary to the opinion of all or any of them is invalid;
 2º if counsel is required, the act of a superior who does not hear those persons is invalid; although not obliged to accept their opinion even if unanimous, a superior is nonetheless not to act contrary to that opinion, especially if unanimous, without a reason which is overriding in the superior’s judgment.
 §3. All whose consent or counsel is required are obliged to offer their opinion sincerely and, if the gravity of the affair requires it, to observe secrecy diligently; moreover, the superior can insist upon this obligation.

Can. 129 §1. Those who have received sacred orders are qualified, according to the norm of the prescripts of the law, for the power of governance, which exists in the Church by divine institution and is also called the power of jurisdiction.
 §2. Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power according to the norm of law.

Can. 131 §1. The ordinary power of governance is that which is joined to a certain office by the law itself; delegated, that which is granted to a person but not by means of an office.
 §2. The ordinary power of governance can be either proper or vicarious.
 §3. The burden of proving delegation rests on the one who claims to have been delegated.

Can. 134 §1. In addition to the Roman Pontiff, by the title of ordinary are understood in the law diocesan bishops and others who, even if only temporarily, are placed over some particular church or a community equivalent to it according to the norm of can. 368 as well as those who possess general ordinary executive power in them, namely, vicars general and episcopal vicars; likewise, for their own members, major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and of clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right who at least possess ordinary executive power.
 §2. By the title of local ordinary are understood all those mentioned in §1 except the superiors of religious institutes and of societies of apostolic life.
 §3. Within the context of executive power, those things which in the canons are attributed by name to the diocesan bishop are understood to belong only to a diocesan bishop and to the others made equivalent to him in can. 381, §2, excluding the vicar general and episcopal vicar except by special mandate.

Can. 135 §1. The power of governance is distinguished as legislative, executive, and judicial.
 §2. Legislative power must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law; that which a legislator below the supreme authority possesses in the Church cannot be validly delegated unless the law explicitly provides otherwise. A lower legislator cannot validly issue a law contrary to higher law.
 §3. Judicial power, which judges or judicial colleges possess, must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law and cannot be delegated except to perform acts preparatory to some decree or sentence.
 §4. In what pertains to the exercise of executive power, the prescripts of the following canons are to be observed.

Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose.
 §2. The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time constituted and conferred.

Can. 184 §1. An ecclesiastical office is lost by the lapse of a predetermined time, by reaching the age determined by law, by resignation, by transfer, by removal, and by privation.
 §2. An ecclesiastical office is not lost by the expiration in any way of the authority of the one who conferred it unless the law provides otherwise.
 §3. Loss of an office which has taken effect is to be made known as soon as possible to all those who have some right over the provision of the office.

Can. 204 §1. The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through baptism, have been constituted as the people of God. For this reason, made sharers in their own way in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal function, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each.
 §2. This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him.

Can. 205 Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.

Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

Can. 336 The college of bishops, whose head is the Supreme Pontiff and whose members are bishops by virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college and in which the apostolic body continues, together with its head and never without this head, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church.

Can. 361 In this Code, the term Apostolic See or Holy See refers not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the Secretariat of State, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, and other institutes of the Roman Curia, unless it is otherwise apparent from the nature of the matter or the context of the words.

Can. 368 Particular churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists, are first of all dioceses, to which, unless it is otherwise evident, are likened a territorial prelature and territorial abbacy, an apostolic vicariate and an apostolic prefecture, and an apostolic administration erected in a stable manner.

Can. 369 A diocese is a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop for him to shepherd with the cooperation of the presbyterium, so that, adhering to its pastor and gathered by him in the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative.

Can. 375 §1. Bishops, who by divine institution succeed to the place of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, are constituted pastors in the Church, so that they are teachers of doctrine, priests of sacred worship, and ministers of governance.
 §2. Through episcopal consecration itself, bishops receive with the function of sanctifying also the functions of teaching and governing; by their nature, however, these can only be exercised in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.

Can. 381 §1. A diocesan bishop in the diocese entrusted to him has all ordinary, proper, and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral function except for cases which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme authority or to another ecclesiastical authority.
 §2. Those who preside over the other communities of the faithful mentioned in can. 368 are equivalent in law to a diocesan bishop unless it is otherwise apparent from the nature of the matter or from a prescript of law.

Can. 391 §1. It is for the diocesan bishop to govern the particular church entrusted to him with legislative, executive, and judicial power according to the norm of law.
 §2. The bishop exercises legislative power himself. He exercises executive power either personally or through vicars general or episcopal vicars according to the norm of law. He exercises judicial power either personally or through the judicial vicar and judges according to the norm of law.

Can. 515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop.
 §2. It is only for the diocesan bishop to erect, suppress, or alter parishes. He is neither to erect, suppress, nor alter notably parishes, unless he has heard the presbyteral council.
 §3. A legitimately erected parish possesses juridic personality by the law itself.

Can. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law.

Can. 532 In all juridic affairs the pastor represents the parish according to the norm of law. He is to take care that the goods of the parish are administered according to the norm of cann. 1281–1288.

Can. 573 §1. The life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honor, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory.
 §2. The Christian faithful freely assume this form of living in institutes of consecrated life canonically erected by competent authority of the Church. Through vows or other sacred bonds according to the proper laws of the institutes, they profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience and, through the charity to which the counsels lead, are joined in a special way to the Church and its mystery.

Can. 834 §1. The Church fulfills its sanctifying function in a particular way through the sacred liturgy, which is an exercise of the priestly function of Jesus Christ. In the sacred liturgy the sanctification of humanity is signified through sensible signs and effected in a manner proper to each sign. In the sacred liturgy, the whole public worship of God is carried out by the Head and members of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
 §2. Such worship takes place when it is carried out in the name of the Church by persons legitimately designated and through acts approved by the authority of the Church.

Can. 835 §1. The bishops in the first place exercise the sanctifying function; they are the high priests, the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God, and the directors, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church entrusted to them.
 §2. Presbyters also exercise this function; sharing in the priesthood of Christ and as his ministers under the authority of the bishop, they are consecrated to celebrate divine worship and to sanctify the people.
 §3. Deacons have a part in the celebration of divine worship according to the norm of the prescripts of the law.
 §4. The other members of the Christian faithful also have their own part in the function of sanctifying by participating actively in their own way in liturgical celebrations, especially the Eucharist. Parents share in a particular way in this function by leading a conjugal life in a Christian spirit and by seeing to the Christian education of their children.

Can. 840 The sacraments of the New Testament were instituted by Christ the Lord and entrusted to the Church. As actions of Christ and the Church, they are signs and means which express and strengthen the faith, render worship to God, and effect the sanctification of humanity and thus contribute in the greatest way to establish, strengthen, and manifest ecclesiastical communion. Accordingly, in the celebration of the sacraments the sacred ministers and the other members of the Christian faithful must use the greatest veneration and necessary diligence.

Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.
 §2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.

Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Can. 1057 §1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent.
 §2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.

Can. 1254 §1. To pursue its proper purposes, the Catholic Church by innate right is able to acquire, retain, administer, and alienate temporal goods independently from civil power.
 §2. The proper purposes are principally: to order divine worship, to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers, and to exercise works of the sacred apostolate and of charity, especially toward the needy.

Can. 1257 §1. All temporal goods which belong to the universal Church, the Apostolic See, or other public juridic persons in the Church are ecclesiastical goods and are governed by the following canons and their own statutes.
 §2. The temporal goods of a private juridic person are governed by its own statutes but not by these canons unless other provision is expressly made.

Can. 1311 The Church has the innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful with penal sanctions.

Can. 1312 §1. The following are penal sanctions in the Church:
 1º medicinal penalties, or censures, which are listed in cann. 1331–1333;
 2º expiatory penalties mentioned in can. 1336.
 §2. The law can establish other expiatory penalties which deprive a member of the Christian faithful of some spiritual or temporal good and which are consistent with the supernatural purpose of the Church.
 §3. Penal remedies and penances are also used; the former especially to prevent delicts, the latter to substitute for or to increase a penalty.

Can. 1321 §1. No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.
 §2. A penalty established by a law or precept binds the person who has deliberately violated the law or precept; however, a person who violated a law or precept by omitting necessary diligence is not punished unless the law or precept provides otherwise.
 §3. When an external violation has occurred, imputability is presumed unless it is otherwise apparent.

Can. 1341 An ordinary is to take care to initiate a judicial or administrative process to impose or declare penalties only after he has ascertained that fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.

Can. 1400 §1. The object of a trial is:
 1º the pursuit or vindication of the rights of physical or juridic persons, or the declaration of juridic facts;
 2º the imposition or declaration of a penalty for delicts.
 §2. Nevertheless, controversies arising from an act of administrative power can be brought only before the superior or an administrative tribunal.

Can. 1401 By proper and exclusive right the Church adjudicates:
 1º cases which regard spiritual matters or those connected to spiritual matters;
 2º the violation of ecclesiastical laws and all those matters in which there is a question of sin, in what pertains to the determination of culpability and the imposition of ecclesiastical penalties.