super-briefly: history of canon law

Pre-1904: There was a fairly unorganized amalgam of some 10,000 norms.
Next, Pius X begins and Benedict XV completes the 1917 Code of Canon Law, also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code. It contained 2,414 canons.
Next, John XXIII begins and John Paul II completes the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is in effect today. It defines certain rights possessed by the laity, which are found in Book II, Part 1. It was intended to focus less on punishment and more on rehabilitation. It was deliberately intended to use simplified language. It contains 1752 canons.
  • An English translation of the 1983 Code is here.
  • Only the original Latin text has the force of law.
  • A pope can change anything in the code at will.
  • The pope is the final judge/arbiter in any case, if he so chooses.
  • There are separate Canon codes for the Eastern Churches.
Note: This article is certainly non-authoritative, certainly may contain errors (please post any corrections), is intended merely for getting the feet wet. Some additional info (mainly extracted/paraphrased from wikipedia) is available by hovering the mouse cursor over any dark blue text.
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