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Canon Law

(794 words)

Author(s): Heinemann, Heribert
1. The term “canon law” refers to the study of church law (“canon” is a ruling by the church). It is a theological discipline using the methods of jurisprudence to ensure the orderly life of the church as an institution based on the will of Jesus Christ. It has the task of inquiring critically into prevailing church law (Codex Iuris Canonici [CIC]), analyzing and presenting the meaning and purpose of the statutes, warning against potentially harmful directions, and promoting legal development (Law). It has a dogmatic branch (the exposition of existing la…


(2,381 words)

Author(s): Heinemann, Heribert
According to canon law, the term “curia” refers to the administrative and judicial institutions in the Roman Catholic Church that discharge the functions of the papacy (Pope, Papacy) for the whole church and of the bishop for the diocese. 1. Papal Curia In the name and on the authority of the pope, the papal curia does its work for the benefit and in the service of the individual churches of the universal church. It is made up of a variety of departments, each with specific tasks and powers (1983 CIC 360; Codex Iuris Canonici). 1.1. History It was probably in 1089 that the term Curia Roma…


(1,835 words)

Author(s): Heinemann, Heribert | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Church Law 1.1. Hierarchy derives from Gk. hiera archē, denoting holy origin or rule. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite seems to have been the first to use the term in theology to expound and rank the ministry. His works The Celestial Hierarchy and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy at the end of the fifth century give clear evidence of a Neoplatonic origin, which he tries to fuse with Christian doctrine. For him the ecclesiastical hierarchy is a reflection of the celestial hierarchy. As the latter comprises three “triads” with three “choirs”…

Codex Iuris Canonici

(2,525 words)

Author(s): Heinemann, Heribert | Nørgaard-Højen, Peder
The Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC, Code of canon law) was first published on May 27, 1917, and went in effect the following year, on May 19, 1918. Following Vatican I, it codified previous church law for the first time and, in principle, claimed validity for all baptized Christians (see 3). In 1983 it was replaced by a new book of Roman Catholic law that is also called CIC and is meant for the Latin church, that is, the Western church as distinct from the Eastern. Law for the Eastern churches in communion with Rome is contained in a special code meant for them, c…

Pope, Papacy

(8,276 words)

Author(s): Schilling, Johannes | Kirchner, Hubert | Heinemann, Heribert | Leuze, Reinhard
1. Historical Aspects 1.1. General 1.1.1. To present a history of the popes, church historians must pay particular attention to the distinction between specific historical situations and a presumed logical development (Philosophy of History). Are we to understand the papacy as a divine institution and its history as the entelechy of this nature? Or are we to deal with it as a historical phenomenon with a place in history that we cannot differentiate in principle from that of any other? Even if we ado…