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Scale of justice, canon law.svg
This article is part of the series:
Legislation and Legal System of the Catholic Church
Canon Law Task Force
For the Code of Canon Law currently in effect, see 1983 Code of Canon Law.
For the Code governing the Eastern Catholic Churches, see Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law, also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code,[1] was the first comprehensive codification of Latin canon law. It was promulgated on 27 May 1917 and took legal effect on 19 May 1918. It was in force until the 1983 Code of Canon Law took legal effect and abrogated it[1] on 27 November 1983.[2] It has been described as "the greatest revolution in canon law since the time of Gratian".[3]


Cover of the 1917 Code of Canon Law

By the 19th Century, this body of legislation included some 10,000 norms. Many these were difficult to reconcile with one another due to changes in circumstances and practice. This situation impelled Pope St. Pius X to order the creation of the first Code of Canon Law, a single volume of clearly stated laws. Under the aegis of the Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, the Commission for the Codification of Canon Law was completed under Benedict XV, who promulgated the Code, effective in 1918. The work having been begun by Pius X and promulgated by Benedict XV, it is sometimes called the "Pio-Benedictine Code"[1] but more often the 1917 Code. In its preparation centuries of material was examined, scrutinized for authenticity by leading experts, and harmonized as much as possible with opposing canons and even other codes, from the Codex of Justinian to the Napoleonic Code.

In response to the request of the bishops at the First Vatican Council,[4] on 14 May 1904, with the motu proprio "Arduum sane munus", Pope Pius X set up a commission to begin work on reducing these diverse documents into a single code,[5] presenting the normative portion in the form of systematic short canons shorn of the preliminary considerations[6] ("Whereas...") and omitting those parts that had been superseded by later developments.

The code was promulgated on 27 May 1917 as the Code of Canon Law (Latin: Codex Iuris Canonici) by his successor, Pope Benedict XV, who set 19 May 1918 as the date on which it came into force.[7] For the most part, it applied only to the Latin Church except when "it treats of things that, by their nature, apply to the Oriental",[8] such as the effects of baptism (canon 87). It contained 2,414 canons.[9]


During the 65 years of its enforcement, a complete translation of the 1917 Code from its original Latin was never published. Translations were forbidden, partly to ensure that interpretive disputes among scholars and canonists concerning such a new type of code would be resolved in Latin itself and not in one of the many languages used in scholarship.[10]

More English-language research material exists relating to the 1917 Code than in any other language except Latin.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Dr. Edward Peters, CanonLaw.info, accessed June-9-2013
  2. ^ NYTimes.com, "New Canon Law Code in Effect for Catholics", 27-Nov-1983, accessed June-25-2013
  3. ^ Edward N. Peters, 1917 Code, xxx
  4. ^ Pietro Cardinal Gasparri, preface to the CIC 1917
  5. ^ Manual of Canon Law, pg. 47
  6. ^ Manual of Canon Law, pg. 49
  7. ^ Ap Const. Providentissima Mater Ecclesia Benedict XV, 27 May 1917
  8. ^ canon 1, 1917 Code of Canon Law
  9. ^ Dr. Edward N. Peters, CanonLaw.info "A Simple Overview of Canon Law", accessed June-11-2013
  10. ^ Edward N. Peters, 1917 Code, xxiv.
  11. ^ Edward N. Peters, 1917 Code, xxxi

External links[edit]


Manual of Canon Law
Fernando della Rocca (translated by Rev. Anselm Thatcher, O.S.B.), "Manual of Canon Law" (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1959)

1917 (Pio-Benedictine) Code of Canon Law (CIC)
Translated by Edward Peters, "The 1917 or Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law: in English Translation with Extensive Scholarly Apparatus" (Ignatius Press, 2001)

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1917_Code_of_Canon_Law — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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... why is it not good enough for Roman Catholics? (For those who don't know the history, the papal monopoly on episcopal appointments is a wholly modern invention, placed into the 1917 code of canon law and having no theological warrant whatsoever.).

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