'Motu Proprio' on variations to certain norms of the Codes of Canons of the Latin and of the Eastern Churches
To harmonize the Codes
Prompted by the wish to harmonize the Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches — in particular with regard to the administration of Baptism and the celebration of Marriage — the Pope issued the Motu Proprio De Concordia inter Codices with the aim to achieve a consonance that offers certainty in the performance of pastoral ministry in actual cases norms. The following is a translation of the Letter, originally written in Latin, published on 15 September .
Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio
by the Supreme Pontiff Francis
modifying certain norms of the
Code of Canon Law
Due to the constant concern for correlation between the Codes, I have become aware of certain points that are not in perfect harmony between the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and those of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
The two Codes possess, on the one hand, common norms, and on the other, their own special features, that render them mutually autonomous. It is however necessary that even in the particular norms there be sufficient concordance. Indeed, discrepancies would have a negative impact on pastoral praxis, especially in cases in which it is necessary to regulate relations between subjects that belong respectively to the Latin Church and an Eastern Church.
This is particularly evident in our times, in which the mobility of the population has resulted in the presence of a significant number of Eastern faithful in Latin territories. This new situation generates numerous pastoral and juridical questions, which demand to be resolved by means of appropriate norms. It should be recalled that Eastern faithful are obliged to observe their own rite wherever they may be (cf. CCEO can. 40 § 3; Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 6) and, as a consequence, the competent ecclesiastical authority has the grave responsibility of offering them adequate means to comply with such an obligation (cf. CCEO can. 193 § 1; CIC can. 383 §§ 1-2; Post-Synodal Apostolic Exortation Pastores Gregis, 72). Legislative harmonisation is certainly one of the means capable of promoting the development of the venerable Eastern Rites (cf. CCEO can. 39), permitting the sui iuris Churches to take the most effective pastoral action.
However, it is neccssary to keep in mind the need to recognise the disciplinary particularities of the territorial context in which the interecclesial relations occur. In the West, prevalently Latin, the correct balance must be found between the protection of the rights of the Eastern minority and respect for the historical canonical tradition of the Latin majority, so as to avoid undue interference and conflict and to promote fruitful collaboration between all the Catholic communities present in a given territory.
A further reason for integrating the legislation of the CIC with explicit provisions parallel to those existing in the CCEO is the need to clarify relations with the faithful belonging to the non-Catholic Eastern Churches, now present in a more significant number in the Latin territories.
Furthermore, it should be noted that also canonical doctrine has noticed some discrepancies between the two Codes, indicating, with substantial convergence, the problematic points and how to make them concordant.
The aim of the provisions introduced by the present Motu Proprio is to arrive at a harmonious discipline that offers certainty on what pastoral action to apply in concrete cases.
The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, by means of a Commission of experts in Eastern and Latin Canon Law, has identified the issues most in need of normative alignment, and has drawn up a text sent to around 30 Consultors and experts throughout the world, as well as to the Authorities of the Latin Ordinariates for Eastern faithful. Following an appraisal of the observations thus gathered, the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has approved a new text.
All things considered, I therefore decree as follows:
Art. 1. Can. III CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text, which includes one new paragraph and modifies several expressions:
§1. Through the reception of baptism a child is ascribed to the Latin Church if the parents belong to that Church or, should one of them not belong to it, if both parents agree in choosing that the child be baptised in the Latin Church; but, if the agreement is lacking, the child is ascribed to the Church sui iuris, to which the father belongs.
§2. However, if only one parent is Catholic, the child is ascribed to the Church to which the Catholic parent belongs.
§3. Any candidate for baptism who has completed the fourteenth year of age may freely choose to be baptised either in the Latin Church or in another Church sui iuris; in which case the person is ascribed to the Church which he or she has chosen.
Art. 2. Can. 112 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text, which includes one new paragraph and modifies several expressions:
§1. After the reception of baptism, the following are enrolled in another Church sui iuris:
1° one who has obtained permission from the Apostolic See;
2° a spouse who, on entering marriage or during its course, has declared that he or she is transferring to the Church sui iuris of the other spouse; on the dissolution of the marriage, however, that person may freely return to the Latin Church;
3° the children of those mentioned in nn. 1 and 2 who have not completed their fourteenth year, and likewise in a mixed marriage the children of a Catholic party who has lawfully transferred to another Church sui iuris; on completion of their fourteenth year, however, they may return to the Latin Church.
§2. The practice, however long standing, of receiving the sacraments according to the rite of another Church sui iuris, does not bring with it membership of that Church.
§3. Each transfer to another Church 'sui iuris’ is valid from the moment of the declaration made in the presence of the local ordinary of the said Church or of its pastor or of the priest delegated by one of them and of two witnesses, unless a rescript of the Apostolic See disposes otherwise; and is noted in the baptismal register.
Art. 3. The paragraph pursuant to can. 535 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text:
§2. In the baptismal register, a note is also to be made of ascription to a Church 'sui iuris’ or the transfer to another Church, as well as of confirmation and of all matters pertaining to the canonical status of the faithful by reason of marriage, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1133, adoption, the reception of sacred orders, the making of perpetual profession in a religious institute. These annotations are always to be stated on a Certificate of Baptism.
Art. 4. The second clause of the first paragraph of can. 868 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text:
§1. 2° there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion subject to § 3; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been informed of the reason.
Art. 5. Can. 868 CIC shall henceforth include a third paragraph containing the following text:
§3. An infant of non-Catholic Christian parents is baptized licitly if the parents, or at least one of them or the person who lawfully takes their place requests it and if it is physically or morally impossible for than to obtain access to the actual ministry.
Art. 6. Can. 1108 CIC shall henccforth include a third paragraph containing the following text:
§3. Only a priest validly assists at the marriage between two Eastern parties or between one Latin party and one Eastern Catholic or non-Catholic party.
Art. 7. Can. 1109 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text:
Unless the local ordinary and pastor have been excommunicated, interdicted, or suspended from office or declared such through a sentence or decree, by virtue of their office and within the confines of their territory they assist validly at the marriages not only of their subjects but also of those who are not their subjects, provided that at least one of the two parties is ascribed to the Latin Church.
Art. 8. The first paragraph of can. 1111 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text:
§1. As long as they hold office validly, the local ordinary and the pastor can delegate to priests and deacons the faculty, even a general one, of assisting at marriages within the limits of their territory, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1108 § 3.
Art. 9. The first paragraph of can. 1112 CIC is replaced in its entirety by the following text:
§1. With the prior favorable opinion of the conference of bishops and after the permission of the Holy See has been obtained, the diocesan bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages where priests or deacons are lacking, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1108 § 3.
Art. 10. Can. 1116 CIC shall henceforth include a third paragraph containing the following text:
§3. In addition to the provisions established in §1, nn. 1 and 2, the local ordinary can confer to any Catholic priest the faculty to bless the marriage of faithful Christians of the Eastern Churches who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church if they request it spontaneously, and provided there is nothing to preclude the valid and licit celebration of the marriage. The same priest, however, with the necessary prudence, shall inform the competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church of the case.
Art. 11. The first paragraph of can. 1127 CIC is replaced in its entirely by the following text:
§1. The prescripts of can. 1108 are to be observed for the form to be employed in a mixed marriage; if however a Catholic party contracts marriage with a non-Catholic party of an Eastern Rite, the canonical form of the celebration must be observed for liceity only; for validity, however, the presence of a priest is required notwithstanding whatever else is to be observed in accordance with the law.
I decree that what has been set out in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be binding and enter into force, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano and thereafter published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 31 May 2016, the Fourth Year of my Pontificate.