Canon Law (Church Law): January 2011 Archives

Much is made of canonization of Saint Mary MacKillop with her sordid past of being an ex-communicated Catholic.

Whether by ex-communicated we mean official ecclesiastical punishment or a punishment imposed by a religious superior. One's being cut off from the Christian community sacramentally is strikingly painful but sometimes a needed medicine for the cure of some spiritual sickness typically demonstrated in an act of disobedience to the Church's authority based on intellectual separation from some dogma or doctrine of the Church. You'll see this with matters pertaining to abortion and certain healthcare matters. One simple example is that the medicine of excommunication is automatically imposed by the act itself for threatening the life of the pope. For more information see Book VI of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, canons 1364-99 outline

Some good examples of saints who were once excommunicated and then restored to communication in the Church are:

Saint Cyprian
Saint Hippolytus of Rome
Saint Joan of Arc
Saint Gerard Majella - by St Alphonsus Liguori
Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop - by the bishop in Australia
Saint Theodore Guerin by her bishop

Pope Benedict XVI appointed  Attilio Cardinal Nicora, as president of the newly created Financial Information Authority (FIA). Until now, the cardinal has been the head of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See. Also appointed on Wednesday were the members of the executive council of the FIA: 

  • Claudio Bianchi, former professor of accounting at Rome's La Sapienza University; 
  • Marcello Condemi, associate professor of economic law at Rome's G. Marconi University;
  • Giuseppe Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, rector of Rome's LUMSA University;
  • Cesare Testa, former president of the Central Institute for the Sustenance of the Clergy.

Surprisingly, no North Americans were appointed.

The Financial Information Authority was formed on December 30 as an "autonomous and independent body with the specific task of preventing and countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism with respect to each subject, both legal and physical, entity and institution of whatever nature, of Vatican City State, of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of all the other institutions and entities dependent on the Holy See."

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Decree of erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. As such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the faithful.

With the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, promulgated on 4 November 2009, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, provided for the establishment of Personal ordinariates through which Anglican faithful may enter, even in a corporate manner, into full communion with the Catholic Church. On the same date, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published Complementary Norms relating to such Ordinariates.

The lay --and married-- canon lawyer Ed Peters wrote a piece indicating the permanent deacons are to be sexually abstinent (continent) permanently. This is the teaching and law of the Church. Men in studies seeking ordination to the Diaconate, that is, to be a permanent deacon, should have been taught this by the formators but lets concede the fact that those in charge of the diaconate program skipped or mis-represented the Church's teaching in this matter. It is widely seen, however, to an unenforceable church law. Ed Peters quotes the phrase, "perfect and perpetual" from Canon 277 ยง1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law to explain the behavior of the permanent deacon. The first premise is paragraph 1, even with the presence of a possible dispensation seen in paragraph 3. The expectation is that all clerics are sexually continent. Conclusion: all men called to holy orders are expected to refrain from sex! The Catholic Church doesn't have a double standard, one for priests and one for deacons. For the 15K deacons in the USA: amend your life.

The academic article in Studia Canonica of 2005, "Canonical Considerations of Diaconal Continence," in which Peters' argues that married permanent deacons are by Church law to refrain from sexual intercourse with their wife, that is, the deacon remains sexually continent. The article can be read at this link: Ed Peters Studia c. 277 Diaconal Sexual Continence.pdf

Thomas Peters, Ed Peters' son and blogger, posted this piece on his blog.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Canon Law (Church Law) category from January 2011.

Canon Law (Church Law): December 2010 is the previous archive.

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