Canon Law (Church Law): December 2010 Archives

Pope Benedict XVI issued sweeping financial reforms for the Vatican City State and the Holy See in the aftermath of great confusion over perceived financial irregularities between the Italian State and the Institute of Religious Works (IOR). For the last six months the Pope has been dogged by accusations of another Vatican coverup of bad money deals causing unnecessary distractions. Recent mega-problems with financial and real estate matters at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, especially under the leadership of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, now the cardinal-archbishop of Naples, heightened papal awareness.

Clearly and consistently Benedict is interested in reform and renewal of the Church in all sectors and he sees this restructuring as part of the change needed. The Pope is cleaning a very dusty house. The new Laws conform to the Laws and principles in force in the European Union. A monetary agreement between the European Union and Vatican City State was signed on December 17, 2009. What's at issue are the questions on how the various Vatican agencies use money. Particularly, "self-money-laundering, the controls on cash entering or leaving Vatican City State, the obligations regarding the transfer of funds, and the heavy administrative sanctions that are applicable not only to legal persons and entities but also to the physical persons who act on their behalf, by means of the binding recourse action." Several other issues at hand are dealt with here: fraud and counterfeiting, protection of copyrights of money and circulation. None of the offices of the Vatican or the Holy See are going to exempt from financial oversight. Civil penalties will be imposed for violators. The Pope's new laws take effect April 1, 2011.

Benedict created a new governing agency for money matters: the Financial Information Authority (FIA) --which will look to prevent and combat money laundering. Essentially, the Authority is a Vatican watch dog for money and other tangible assets.

The mindset of the Pope and his assistants is: "The Holy See welcomes this new commitment and will make these material resources that are necessary to the mission and duties of Vatican City State." This is a moral and pastoral overhaul for the whole Vatican system.

For His Holiness, as the Communiqué says, "These new Laws are part of the Apostolic See's efforts to build a just and honest social order. At no time may the great principles of social ethics like transparency, honesty and responsibility be neglected or weakened (cf. Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 36)

The Apostolic Letter in the Form of a Motu Proprio for the Prevention and Countering of Illegal Activities in the Financial and Monetary Sectors

You can read the Communiqué of the Secretariat of State regarding the new legislation for the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors

The Director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Lombardi comments

A video clip from Rome Reports on the revision of the laws.
Much discussion has surfaced about the excommunicated nun, Sr. Margaret McBride, for assisting in the 2009 abortion at St Joseph's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ.

Canonist Edward N. Peter's wrote a piece on his blog, In the Light of the Law, "Toward clarifying the canonical status of Sr. Margaret McBride."

I think Dr. Peter's is clear. Don't you?

La Civiltà Cattolica, the academic periodical edited by the Society of Jesus but vetted by the Secretary of State of His Holiness, will publish Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta's essay, "The Influence of Cardinal Ratzinger in the Revision of the Canonical Criminal Justice System."

Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru .jpg

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, 59, is Spanish, ordained for the Prelature of the Holy Cross. Arrieta earned a doctorate in civil and canon law and served as Dead of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. (Rome) Moreover, he was Dean of the Institute of Canon Law of Saint Pius X (Venice). At the service of the Church, Arrieta was a canon prelate of the Apostolic Penitentiary and legal secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Since 2007, he's been the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and ordained bishop in 2008.

In the coming weeks, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts will distribute to its Members and Consultors the draft of a document containing suggestions for the revision of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, the basis of the Church's penal law system. For almost two years a commission of experts in penal law has been re-examining the text promulgated in 1983, taking into account the needs that have emerged in subsequent years. The aim is to maintain the general plan and the existing numbering of the canons, while revising some of the decisions taken at the time, which with hindsight can be seen to be insufficient.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Canon Law (Church Law) category from December 2010.

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