The Motu Proprio "Omnium in Mentem" of Benedict XVI contains several
amendments to the Code of Canon Law regarding the ministerial function
of deacons and the Sacrament of Marriage. The following is a translation
of the text, which was published in Latin and dated 26 October 2009.
issued Motu Proprio
on several amendments to the
Code of Canon Law
The Apostolic Constitution Sacrae
Disciplinae Leges, promulgated on 25 January 1983, reminded
everyone that the Church, as a community which is at once spiritual and
visible, and also hierarchically structured, requires juridical norms,
"so that the exercise of the tasks divinely entrusted to her, especially
the exercise of sacred power and of the administration of the
sacraments, may be properly organized". The norms ought to reflect, on
the one hand, the unity between theological doctrine and canonical
legislation, and, on the other, the pastoral usefulness of the
prescriptions whereby ecclesiastical ordinances are directed to the good
The more effectively to safeguard this
necessary doctrinal unity and pastoral purpose, the Church's supreme
authority, after careful deliberation, decides, from time to time, to
make suitable changes or to introduce additions to the canonical norms.
This is the reason that has led me to promulgate the present Letter,
which concerns two issues.
First, in can. 1008 and can. 1009 of the
Code of Canon Law, on the sacrament of Holy Orders, the essential
distinction between the common priesthood of the faithful and the
ministerial priesthood is reaffirmed, while the difference between the
episcopate, the presbyterate and the diaconate is made clear. Inasmuch
as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, after consulting the Fathers
of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ordered that the text
of n. 1581 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church be modified in
order better to convey the teaching on deacons found in the Dogmatic
Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council (n. 29),
I have determined that the canonical norm concerning this subject should
likewise be adjusted.
Consequently, after hearing the view of
the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, I decree that the words of
the aforementioned canons are to be modified as set forth below.
Since the sacraments are the same for
the entire Church, the supreme authority of the Church alone is
competent to approve or define what is required for their validity and
to determine the rites to be observed in their celebration (cf. can.
841). All this is equally applicable to the form to be observed in the
celebration of marriage, if at least one of the parties has been
baptized in the Catholic Church (cf. cann. 11 and 1108).
The Code of Canon Law nonetheless
prescribes that the faithful who have left the Church "by a formal act"
are not bound by the ecclesiastical laws regarding the canonical form of
marriage (cf. can. 1117), dispensation from the impediment of disparity
of cult (cf. can. 1086) and the need for permission in the case of mixed
marriages (cf. can. 1124). The underlying aim of this exception from the
general norm of can. 11
was to ensure that marriages
contracted by those members of the faithful would not be invalid due to
defect of form or the impediment of disparity of cult.
Experience, however, has shown that this
new law gave rise to numerous pastoral problems. First, in individual
cases the definition and practical configuration of such a formal act
of separation from the Church has proved difficult to establish,
from both a theological and a canonical standpoint.
In addition, many difficulties have
surfaced both in pastoral activity and the practice of tribunals.
Indeed, the new law appeared, at least indirectly, to facilitate and
even in some way to encourage apostasy in places where the Catholic
faithful are not numerous or where unjust marriage laws discriminate
between citizens on the basis of religion. The new law also made
difficult the return of baptized persons who greatly desired to contract
a new canonical marriage following the failure of a preceding marriage.
Finally, among other things, many of these marriages in effect became,
as far as the Church is concerned, "clandestine" marriages.
In light of the above, and after
carefully considering the views of the Fathers of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative
Texts, as well as those of the Bishops' Conferences consulted with
regard to the pastoral advantage of retaining or abrogating this
exception from the general norm of can. 11, it appeared necessary to
eliminate this norm which had been introduced into the corpus of canon
law now in force.
Therefore I decree that in the same
Code the following words are to be eliminated: "and has not left it
by a formal act" (can. 1117); "and has not left it by means of a formal
act" (can. 1086 § 1); "and has not left it by a formal act" (can. 1124).
Likewise, having heard the views of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and after
inquiry among my venerable brethren, the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church
in charge of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, I decree the following:
Art. 1. The text of can. 1 oo8 of the Code of Canon Law is
modified so that hereafter it will read:
"By divine institution, some of the
Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and
constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They
are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own
grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title";
Art 2. Henceforth can. 1009
of the Code of Canon Law will have three paragraphs. In the first
and the second of these, the text of the canon presently in force are to
be retained, whereas the new text of the third paragraph is to be worded
so that can. 1009 § 3 will read:
"Those who are constituted in the order
of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity
to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered
to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word
Art. 3. The text of can. 1086 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law
is modified as follows:
"A marriage between two persons, one of
whom was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, and the
other of whom is not baptized, is invalid".
Art. 4. The text of can. 1117 of the Code of Canon Law is
modified as follows:
"The form prescribed above must be
observed if at least one or the parties contracting the marriage was
baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, without prejudice
to the provisions of can. 1127 § 2".
Art. 5. The text of can. 1124 of the Code of Canon Law is
modified as follows:
"Marriage between two baptized persons,
one of whom was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it
after baptism, and the other a member of a Church or ecclesial community
not in full communion with the Catholic Church, cannot be celebrated
without the express permission of the competent authority".
All that I have laid down in this
Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, I now order to have
the force of law, anything whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding,
even if worthy of particular mention, and I direct that it be published
in the official gazette Acta
Given in Rome, at St Peter's, on 26 October in the year 2009, the
fifth of my Pontificate.