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Canon Law


I. Definition and General Discussion.

II. Collections of Canons and Decretals.

1. Early History.

2. First Codification.

3. Earliest Western Collections.

The Quesnelliana (§ 1).

The Prisca (§ 2).

Collections of Dionysius (§ 3).

4. Next period, by Countries.

Africa (§ 1).

Spain (§ 2).

British Isles (§ 3).

Frankish Empire (§ 4).

5. Further Systematization.

Forerunners of Gratian (§ 1).

Gratian (§ 2).

6. Collections of Decretals.

Before Gregory IX. (§ 1)

Collection of Gregory (§ 2).

Supplements to It (§ 3).

7. Corpus Juris Canonici.

Canon law is the sum total of the legal enactments of the Church.

I. Definition and General Discussion.

In modern times the differences between various Christian Churches have brought about a variance of law, since it springs in the first instance from the development of the ecclesiastical consciousness; and it is thus possible to speak of Roman Catholic and Protestant canon law. While the expression is most commonly used in connection with the former, it is not quite coextensive or identical with the law of the Roman Catholic Church, but designates rather the content of the Corpus juris canonici (see below, II., 7), in contrast with the newer regulations based on the decisions of the Council of Trent, the concordats and bulls of circumscription of the nineteenth century, and the Vatican Council. These have in many particulars modified or superseded the older law, until a new codification of the whole mass of enactments has become necessary, and is now contemplated under the direction of Pope Pius X.

The canon law, in the sense thus assigned to the term, contains a large number of regulations pertaining to matters which, according to modern constitutions, have been withdrawn from ecclesiastical jurisdiction and placed under the ordinary secular tribunals. These provisions have thus ceased to be operative. They include the relations between Church and State, the legal status of heretics, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, etc. The Roman Catholic Church, it is true, still maintains in theory the permanent validity of these enactments, and claims the same preeminent power and independence of the State as it possessed in the Middle Ages. Since the Reformation and the upbuilding of modern nationalities, however, the principle of the unity of jurisdiction and the authority of the law has proved irreconcilable with these claims. The freedom and independence conceded to the Church in the ordering of its own internal affairs by no means involves the absolute supremacy and validity of the canon law when it comes into conflict with the civil law, or releases the ecclesiastical authorities from their responsibility and their obedience to the State; for the freedom of the Church, like all other freedom in the modern world, is a freedom within the bounds of the law. But while the Roman Catholic Church appeals to divine mission and inalienable rights in support of its protest against these limitations, and has occasionally provoked serious conflicts by insistence upon its position in this matter, Protestantism from the very start tools a much more restricted view of the extent of ecclesiastical operations and of the authority of its own law, sometimes, where it is established, working directly with the State, but always submitting without question to civil ordinances. The difference is seen again in the fact that while Roman Catholicism recognizes only one Church, and thus only one valid church law, Protestantism, though holding its own interpretation of the Christian faith for the true one, does not claim exclusive jurisdiction over all creatures, and concedes to the various bodies which it conceives as forming an invisible unity the right to their own independent action in matters of legislation.

Canon law, the outcome of the Church's development, rests upon positive enactment, and the attempt to construct a natural ecclesiastical law on rational principles must necessarily fail, setting as it does arbitrary and subjective views in place of the positive data of church history. A philosophical treatment of church law is, on the other hand, of great importance. It grasps in their entirety the fundamental principles on which as a basis the actual development has taken place, correlates them with the objective conceptions and principles of the Church itself, and in this way 382discovers not only the errors and deviations but the inevitable tendencies and direction of the development. In modern times, since the delimitation of the boundary between Church and State, doubt has been cast upon the independence of the church law, as if there could be no law without the action of the State, and what passed for law outside this action was only an ethical standard, not a juridical. The law of the State, however, in its essence, is a product not so much of the State as of the national consciousness of what is just, and really precedes rather than follows the operation of the State; its standards do not have to wait for sanction until the State declares its readiness to enforce them by pains and penalties. The Church as a distinct moral order is qualified to regulate and develop its own internal functions and institutions of its own motion. It is true that until recently Protestant churches have to a large extent been organized, especially in England and Germany, by secular legislation; but this state of things is really an anomalous one, not corresponding to the essential idea and meaning of the Church. The result of the modern settlement has been in most cases to leave the Church free to develop independently its own system, without the need of any special permission or privilege from the State in order to give such regulations the force of law within the Church. Its members realize that they are bound to the fulfilment of such ordinances because they have come into being in a regular and legal manner, and so long as they are not repealed in the same manner. This obligation is not a mere matter of conscience, but rests on a basis of positive law, because the standards of action imposed by it are the expression of the will of the Church in its corporate capacity. Nor does the Church lack means to enforce obedience by the withdrawal of blessings which it alone is empowered to impart and equally empowered to withhold. According to the Protestant conception, it is true the binding force of ecclesiastical regulations is to a great extent dependent upon the will of the individual to be and remain a member of the church fellowship.

E. Sehling.

II. Collections of Canons and Decretals.

1. Early History.

In the first three centuries the term canon was applied to the standard of right living accepted in the Church, resting partly on written and partly on oral tradition. When the synods, especially the general ones, became the main agents in the development of church life, their decisions on points of practise were also known as canons—though this name was not usually applied to the decrees of local synods until the sixth century, after their inclusion in the great and widely circulated collections had given them a status and an authority in a measure analogous to those of the ecumenical councils. With the development of the primatial power of the pope, the name came at the beginning of the ninth century to be applied also to his decrees, and finally its use was extended in medieval terminology to any ecclesiastical enactment. The collections of canons were made up at first of the decrees of councils and of popes; later collections include, in addition to these, excerpts from the Fathers, from letters and regulations of bishops, from Scripture, and even from Roman law, Frankish capitularies, and ordinances of German emperors. The Council of Trent employed the word exclusively for dogmatic propositions couched in juridical form and followed by an anathema.

2. First Codification.

During the primitive age of the Church, when its constitution and discipline rested quite simply upon the precepts of Christ and the Apostles and the new problems which were later to make the Christian life more complicated had not yet come up, there was no need for a codification of the laws. It is hardly necessary to say that the so-called Apostolic Constitutions and Canons are the product of a later age. The systematic formulation of law began with the closer organization of the Church and the holding of synods. The earliest mention of a Codex cannonum is found in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon (451), at which certain canons were read to the assembly from a collection. These, though numbered consecutively in the collection, can be identified as the sixth of Nicæa (325) and the fourth, fifth, sixteenth, and seventeenth of Antioch (332). This collection, accordingly, seems to have contained the canons of several councils, beginning with the twenty of Nicæa and possibly closing with those of Antioch, including between these twenty-five of Ancyra (314), fourteen of Neocæsarea (314), and twenty of Gangra (c. 365). There were undoubtedly other collections known in this period; one, which is still recognizable in the oldest Western Latin version, which omitted the canons of Antioch; others which included those of Laodicea (between 347 and 381), Constantinople (381), and Chalcedon (451); and still others which had also those of Sardica (347) and Ephesus (431). There is, however, no basis for the supposition that either the collection read from at the Council at Chalcedon or any other of these collections had an official character.

3. Earliest Western Collections.

1. The Quesnelliana.

Of these Greek canons, only those of Nicæa were at first accepted in the West, and those of Sardica in the Latin original. As early as the fifth century, however, there were collections here also of Greek canons in a Latin version, through which the Eastern decrees gradually acquired authority. Of these three deserve special mention. (1) The Isidorian version, incorrectly so called because it is found in the great collection long ascribed to Isidore of Seville, is the oldest. It seems to have included originally only the canons comprised in the oldest Greek collection, to which those of Antioch, Laodicea, and Constantinople were added later. It was probably made in Italy; its date can not be determined, but its version of the Nicene canons was known in Gaul as early as 439. It was first published in 1675 by Paschasius Quesnell, from a manuscript at Oxford of a collection apparently made in Gaul at the end of the fifth century.

2. The Prisca

(2) The Versio prisca, made in Italy in the latter half of the fifth century, which contains the canons of Ancyra, Neocæsarea, Nicæa, Antioch, Gangra, Constantinople, and Chalcedon; frequent use was 383made of it for the completion of the Isidorian version and for other collections, especially Italian. It was first published by Justeau in the Bibliotheca juris canonici from an imperfect manuscript, then more fully and accurately by the Ballerini brothers.

3. Collections of Dionysius.

(3) That made by Dionysius Exiguus, probably in Rome at the end of the fifth century, and revised early in the sixth. It contains fifty "apostolic canons"; those of Nicæa, Ancrya, Neocæsarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, and Constantinople from a Greek collection; from another twenty-seven of Chalcedon in a new version; twenty-one of Sardica in the Latin original; and the acts of the Synod of Carthage (419). Somewhat later, probably under Pope Symmachus (498–514), Dionysius made another collection of all the decrees of popes known to him, including those of Siricius, Innocent I., Zosimus, Boniface I., Celestine I., Leo I., Gelasius I., and Anastasius II. Of a third collection made by order of Pope Hormisdas (514–523), and containing the originaltext of Greek canons with a Latin version, only the prologue is extant. The first two, however, combined into one, soon acquired preeminent consideration; Cassiodorus (d. 536) says that they were universally preferred in the Roman church of his time; they were used in Africa, the Frankish church, Spain, England, and Ireland. They were supplemented in course of time by the decretals of Hillary, Simplicius, Felix, Symmachus, Hormisdas, and Gregory II. A codex thus enlarged was presented by Adrian II. to Charlemagne in 744; this was taken, after the Capitulare ecclesiasticum of 789, as the basis of the Frankish capitularies, and probably sanctioned at the Synod of Aachen in 802 as the official code of the Frankish church.

4. Next Period, by Countries.

1. Africa.

The canonical collections of the succeeding period may most conveniently be grouped under their respective countries. In Africa discipline rested primarily on the decrees of home councils, special weight being given to the Synod of Carthage in 419, with whose acts those of the synods held under Aurelius from 393 were incorporated. These are the canons included, though imperfectly, in the collection of Dionysius; they were later translated into Greek and received into Oriental collections. Of other African collections only two require special mention—that made before 546 by Fulgentius Ferrandus, a Carthaginian deacon, under the name of Breviatio canonum, containing some of the Greek canons in the Isidorian version and African canons down to 523, and the Concordia canonum, compiled c. 690 (?) by Cresconius, possibly a bishop.

2. Spain.

Spain had its collections of canons and decretals in the sixth century, as is shown by the acts of the Council of Braga in 563 and the Third of Toledo in 579. The enforcement of order and discipline required a completer codification, and a large collection seems to have been made at the Fourth Council of Toledo (633). By later additions it acquired the form in which it is now printed (Madrid, 1808). Its first or conciliar part contains the Greek canons found in the Isidorian version, those of Sardica, those of the Third Council of Constantinople (681), and two letters of Cyril under the name of the Council of Ephesus; nine African councils; sixteen Gallic councils, from 314 to 549; and thirty-six Spanish, from 305 (?) to 694. In this last division, to the canons of the Second Council of Braga is appended a collection made by Martin, archbishop of Braga, a native of Pannonia (d. about 580), by free translation and selection of Greek, African, Gallic, and Spanish canons. The second part contains decretals of the popes from Damasus to Gregory I., including all that Dionysius had placed in his. The compiler of this great collection, usually cited as Hispana, is unknown. There is no evidence to show that Isidore of Seville had any direct hand in it; his name was first connected with it by the compiler of the False Decretals, who incorporated the older and genuine collection with them.

3. British Isles.

In the British Isles the Celtic church developed a disciplinary system of its own in synods of whose proceedings scarcely anything has been preserved. For certain fifth- and sixth-century canons of a penitential nature, see Penitential Books. The Anglo-Saxon church in like manner relied for a long time on its own legislative resources, though the collection of Dionysius was known here in the seventh century. Except the penitential ordinances of Theodore, Bede, and Egbert, no Anglo-Saxon canons are extant. There is, however, an Irish collection of the seventh century or beginning of the eighth, compiled from Scripture, the Fathers, numerous Greek, African, Gallic, Spanish, and Irish synods, and papal decretals. The large number of Irish canons gives a specially interesting insight into the conditions of church life there.

4. Frankish Empire.

The Frankish empire, before the period mentioned above, possessed a number of collections of Greek, Gallic, and Spanish canons and papal decretals, which, however, need no detailed consideration. Besides the enlarged Dionysian collection, the Hispana was also known at the end of the eighth century, and was used to complete the Codex sent by Adrian. The large extent of this material and its lack of chronological arrangement soon brought about attempts at selection and systematic arrangement, which were frequent in the eighth and ninth centuries, and of which some deserve special mention. (1) A collection in 381 chapters, sometimes found independently, sometimes as a fourth book to the canonical work erroneously ascribed to Archbishop Egbert of York. It dates from the end of the eighth century, and is important because of the use made of it by Regino (see below, 5) and of the help which it gives toward explaining a number of erroneous titles which passed over into this and the Decreta of Burchard and Gratian. (2) The Collectio Acheriana, so called from its first publisher d’Achéry, extant in numerous manuscripts and belonging to the end of the eighth or beginning of the ninth century. Its canons, divided into three books, are taken without exception from Adrian's edition of Dionysius and from the 384Hispana. (3) The Penitential of Halitgar of Cambrai, compiled between 817 and 831 at the request of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims. Of its five books the first two are taken from the writings of Gregory I. and Prosper of Aquitaine, while the larger part of the last three, as well as the prologue, come from the two collections just named, especially the second. All three of these collections are constructed with special regard to the penitential system of the time; and the same is true of the collections made by Rabanus Maurus, particularly the Liber pœnitentium ad Otgarium of 841 and the Epistola ad Heribaldum of 853, the main purpose of which is to restore the ancient discipline by appeals to the writings of the Fathers and the old canons and decretals. A somewhat similar character is seen in the Capitula episcoporum, or small collections made by individual bishops, sometimes with the assent of diocesan synods, for the regulation of their own subjects, usually from larger works, but occasionally including their own edicts and the provisions of local law.

5. Further Systematization.

The great influence of the secular power on ecclesiastical action is the Carolingian period tended to add to the earlier church law a large amount of material, frequently covering matters of church discipline, is the capitularies of the Frankish kings. Efforts at systematization were soon called forth in this field also by practical needs. The first was that of Abbot Ansegis, which, however, as it contains nothing but capitularies, does not need further consideration here. It is different from the work which Benedict Levita of Mainz compiled in three books. Its purpose, according to him, was the completion of the work of Ansegis, but the imperial laws form only a small part of its contents, which are far more largely taken from the Bible, the Fathers, the ancient canons, with Roman statute and German common law. The special interest of this collection is the relation in which it stands, or has been thought to stand, to the PseudoIsidorian Decretals.

1. Forerunners of Gratian.

Between the ninth and twelfth centuries a large number of compilations came into being, with the purpose of bringing the wealth of material scattered throughout the older works into practical relation with the more modern ecclesiastical principles. Unlike the smaller collections described above, which usually served rather local interests, these are as a rule of considerable size and sufficiently general to be used outside the limits of the diocese in which they originate. Some of them attained a wide currency and no little practical importance; but only a few of them need be mentioned for the purpose of this article. (1) The as yet unpublished Collectio Anselmo dedicata, taking its name from an Archbishop Anselm, probably Anselm II. of Milan (883–897). It is certainly Italian in origin; its material is taken partly from Adrian's edition of Dionysius enlarged by the addition of Carthaginian, Gallic, and Spanish councils from the Hispana, and partly from the False Decretals, the Registrum of Gregory I., two Roman synods under Zacharias (743) and Eugenius II. (826), the laws of Justinian, and the Novellæ of Julian—though probably this last part was interpolated afterward. It is important not only as being the first to make a thorough use of the code of Justinian, but as being the source of a large part of the Decretum of Burchard and through it of that of Gratian. (2) The Libri duo de causis synodalibus et disciplinis ecclesiasticis compiled by Regino, abbot of Prüm about 906, at the request of Rathbod, archbishop of Treves, to be by him and his representatives in the administration of the diocese. This work interesting as another source of Burchard's as well as for its immediate relation to the synodal courts and the practise of its time, was later enlarged, revised, and borrowed from in a whole series of similar collections. (3) The Decretum (Liber decretorum, Collectarium) of Bishop Burchard of Worms, compiled between 1012 and 1023. The important material contained in its twenty books embraces the whole range of church discipline and order. A peculiarity of Burchard is that he frequently ascribes canons of councils and excerpts from Roman law, the capitularies, or penitential ordinances to one of the older popes or councils, evidently with the view of assuring their reception as authoritative—thus misleading later compilers, especially Gratian. (4) The Collectio duodecim partium, still unprinted; apparently made by a German very soon after the completion of Burchard's. Theiner, who was the first to call attention (in his Disquisitiones criticæ, Rome, 1836) to the importance of this collection, was under the erroneous impression that it was a source of Burchard's; but the relation is exactly the reverse. It contains, however, a number of interesting Frankish and German canons, some of them probably copied directly from the original documents. (5) The collection of Bishop Anselm of Lucca (d. 1086), which was incorporated almost bodily in the Decretutm Gratiani, and which contains a number of papal decretals not previously known, and probably taken from the Roman archives. (6) The collection of Cardinal Deusdedit, dedicated to Pope Victor III. (1086–87), in four books, of which the last deals with the freedom of the Church from secular interference, and thus introduces an element new to these collections. The ample use made of the Lateran archives gives a special interest to his collection, much of which is also in Gratian. (7) and (8) are two collections attributed to Bishop Ivo of Chartres (d. 1117)—the Decretum in seventeen books and the Pannormia in eight. The relation of these two works has been the subject of much controversy; and if Ivo's authorship of the Pannormia, at one time often denied, is now considered certain, the Decretum, on the other hand, has been recently thought not to be his. Both, however, were abundantly drawn upon by Gratian, as was also, though not to the same extent, another unpublished collection (9), known under the name of Collectio trium partium. Its first part contains papal decretals down to Urban II. (d. 1099) in chronological order, though not complete; the second, canons of councils, similarly arranged; the third, a separate collection of canons taken from the Decretum of Ivo. (10) A work 385frequently used by the Correctores Romani (see below, 7) is that compiled by a certain Cardinal Gregory in 1144, principally from the two collections Anselmi and Anselmo dedicata. It is usually cited as Polycarpus, from the designation given to it by the compiler himself in his preface, addressed to Bishop Didacus of Compostella.

2. Gratian.

These collections, from such diverse counties and periods, had many defects when it came to a question of practical use. There was no sort of general arrangement, but ecclesiastical and secular, universal and local law were inextricably mixed up; discrepancies and contradictions were numerous; many regulations had become obsolete, and been replaced in actual practise by others. There was great need for the compilation of a new work which should give a comprehensive survey of the law that was in force. This was undertaken by Gratian, a brother of the Camaldolite monastery of St. Felix at Bologna. Between 1139 and 1142 he compiled a work entitled Concordantia discordantium canonum, though since the end of the twelfth century it has usually been known simply as the Decretum Gratiani. It is composed principally of the material found in (3) and (5) to (10) of the works named in the last section, and is divided into three parts. The first twenty "distinctions" in the first part contain propositions as to the sources of law, which Gratian designates as a treatise on decretals, followed by other treatises on qualifications for ordination, on ordination, and on ecclesiastical promotion. The second part, though other subjects occasionally come in, is mainly devoted to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, offenses, and legal proceedings, dealing in the last nine causæ with the law of matrimony, with a separate treatise on penance put into the thirty-third. The last part, entitled "Of consecration," deals with religious functions, and especially the sacraments, in five distinctions. The feature most characteristic of the work as a whole is that Gratian did not content himself with collecting canons to illustrate and enforce the principles to which they related and arranging them after a certain rather unsatisfactory system, but in the first two parts himself elucidated these principles in (generally short) explanations to which he appended the canons as pièces justificatives. In these dicta of his the attempt is frequently visible to reconcile or eliminate the discrepancies appearing in the canons as they stand.

The extent to which the Decretum, in spite of all its defects, met a practical want of its day is seen by the approval and currency which it attained. The older collections were superseded by it; the work which Cardinal Laborans put together in 1182, containing much the same material with a really better arrangement, failed to attract attention. The wide popularity of Gratian's work is to be explained partly by the fact that it appeared at a time when Bologna was the headquarters for the study of law. The laborious activity of the glossators of the Roman law afforded a model for the application of the same learned method to Gratian's material. He himself lectured upon it, and thus became the founder of a new school of canonists who, in addition to their lectures, like the civil jurists, expounded separate passages of the Decretum by glosses or commentaries (see Glosses and Glossators or Canon Law). In this way it became known far and wide; and its authority was further strengthened by the fact that the popes made use of it and cited it. It was never, indeed, expressly confirmed by any pope, or received in the Church as an official codex; but the influence of the university insured its respectful acceptance and its application in practise. It was not long before others, particularly a pupil of Gratian's named Paucapaleo, added canons here and there to make it more complete—at first in the form of marginal glosses, but later as a part of the text, with the designation Palea, which must have referred originally to the above-named scholar (though other interpretations have been attempted) and then have been adopted as a specific term for these additions. That they must early have crept into the text is shown by the fact that the majority of them are accepted in the work of Cardinal Laborans, a few years later.

6. Collections of Decretals.

Great as was the popularity and the practical importance which the Decretum acquired at the outset, it appeared, none the less, in a period characterized by great legislative activity on the part of the popes, who were now approaching the height of their power. The decretals issued from the twelfth century on contained an extraordinary wealth of new material for ecclesiastical law, which in many particulars altered and further developed the previous discipline of the Church; and thus it was not long before the work of Gratian, which, when it was compiled, represented practically the whole extant canon law, came inevitably to be regarded as antiquated or incomplete, and the need of new collections was felt. These, because they were composed almost wholly of papal decrees and the canons of councils held under the pope's eye, were usually known as collectiones decretalium.

1. Before Gregory IX.

Of such collections made before Gregory IX., five deserve special mention. (1) The Breviarium extravagantium, completed about 1191 by Bernard, dean of Pavia. The title comes from the fact that the laws included in it, principally new ones, were such as were not found in the Decretum, but, so to speak, wandered about homeless (extra Decretum vagantes). Bernard took his material partly from some older collections, of which he names explicitly the Corpus canonum (probably the Collectio Anselmo dedicata) and Burchard, and partly, especially for the newer decretals, from collections made after Gratian, In the division and arrangement of his work, he evidently took the code of Justinian for a model. The first book deals with ecclesiastical offices and prerequisites for judgment; the second, with judicial tribunals and their procedure; the third, with the clergy and religious orders; the fourth, with marriage, and the fifth with crime and its punishment. The work was accepted by the Bolognese teachers, and, as the first of its kind, became known as Compilatio prima. (2) By order of Innocent III. the papal notary Petrus Collivacinus 386of Benevento made a collection of the decretals of that pope, issued in the first eleven years of his pontificate, to 1210, based upon two earlier ones which had not been received at Bologna because they contained unauthentic documents. Innocent, sending the new work to the universities, guaranteed its fidelity to the Regesta, thus making it the first codification of canon law expressly authorized by any pope. This Compilatio tertia, as it is called, marks a turning-point in the history of canon law. The action of Honorius III., and still more of Gregory IX., shows how the development of ecclesiastical law had by their time become an exclusive privilege of the pope. (3) Though written after the last-named, that which contains the decretals of the popes from Alexander III, to Innocent III. is known as Compilatio secunda from its place in the chronological order. These particular decretals had already been compiled by two Englishmen at Bologna, Gilbert and Alan, but the university had not approved their work, and it was now done over by Johannes Galensis (John the Welshman), his collection being accepted. (4) The Lateran Council of 1215 gave occasion for another compilation, known as Quarta, which included the decrees of the council and the papal pronouncements of the years following 1210. Its compiler is unknown. (5) In 1226 Honorius III. sent to Bologna a collection of his own decretals and the constitutions of Frederick II. It was accepted as Compilatio quinta, but was soon superseded, with the other four, by the official collection of Gregory IX.

2. Collection of Gregory.

In 1230 Gregory entrusted his chaplain Raymond of Peñaforte with the preparation of a new collection which should reduce all that had gone before to a consistent and intelligible whole. Raymond omitted a number of sections from the older compilations in order to avoid repetitions or discrepancies, revised some older decretals to bring them into harmony with the most recent legislation, condensed some long documents, and divided others into parts which could be classified by their subjects. This compilation was sent to Bologna by the pope in 1234 as the only authorized collection.

The legislative activity of the succeeding popes soon made supplements necessary, which were sent by them to the universities as separate compilations, but were intended to be added to the Gregorian collection. Thus Innocent IV. in 1245 sent to Bologna and Paris a list of the initial words of his bulls, desiring that they, as well as the decrees of the Council of Lyons, should be inserted in their proper places in the decretals of Gregory IX.; thus too the decretals of Alexander IV., Urban IV., and Clement IV. were put together in special collections. Gregory X. communicated to the universities the acts of the Second Council of Lyons (1274), and the same was done with a collection of five decretals of Nicholas III.

3. Supplements to It.

The same reasons which had influenced Gregory IX. induced Boniface VIII. to combine all the post-Gregorian decretals with his own numerous bulls into a single whole. In his bull of publication addressed to the universities of Bologna and Paris, he emphasized the uncertainty which had prevailed in regard to the authenticity of some decretals, to eliminate which he had had a thorough revision and verification made. He promulgated the new compilation in 1298 under the name of Liber sextus, as being a completion of the five books of the Gregorian collection. The decretals subsequently issued by Boniface himself (including the famous bull Unam sanctam) and by his successor, Benedict XI., sixteen in number, were frequently appended to the Liber sextus, though without official authority. Clement V. had the decisions of the Council of Vienne (1311) and his own decretals collected (according to the traditional system) into five books, which he promulgated in 1313, apparently under the title of Liber septimus, and sent to the University of Orléans. Then, however, he stopped its further circulation and had it revised, so that it was sent to Paris and Bologna only by his successor John XXII. in 1317. This collection ultimately became known as the Clementine Constitutions. The difference between it and the other post-Gregorian compilations was that while they had borne to a certain extent the character of exclusive codes, it did not exclude the other Extravagantes which had appeared since the Liber sextus, and that it contained, besides the canons of Vienne, nothing but Clement's own decretals.

The reason for this abandonment by Clement V. and John XXII. of the system of their predecessors was the difficult situation in France, and the desire to avoid provoking a rejection of their compilation by including in it matter which was certain to excite violent opposition there. This accounts for the fact that no further official collections of decretals were published. The increasing difficulties of the papacy with the secular power and with national churches made the reception of such things problematical, at the same time that it claimed the best energies of the popes for other matters. Of collections subsequently published, though no longer by the popes themselves, with the title of Extravagantes, two have retained some importance to the present day, because of their inclusion in the Corpus juris canonici. When at the end of the fifteenth century the booksellers Gering and Remboldt in Paris undertook an edition of all the parts of the Corpus, they entrusted the editing of the Decretum, the Liber sextus, the Clementina, and the Extravagantes to Jean Chappuis, who made a new arrangement of the last-named, preserved in all subsequent editions. He divided them into two collections; the first, Extravagantes Johannis Papæ XXII., contained twenty decretals of that pope, put together by himself in a chronologically consistent whole and glossed by Zenzelinus de Cassianis in 1325; the second, seventy-four (originally seventy) decretals of popes from Urban IV. (1261–64) to Sixtus IV. (1471–84), known as Extravagantes communes, not because they belong to a number of popes, but because they are the commonly cited ones—though no single previous edition had contained more than thirty-three of these. In 1590 Petrua Matthæus published at Lyons a Liber septimus containing decretals from Sixtus IV. to Sixtus V. (1585–90); but this, though printed as an appendix 387to many old editions of the Corpus juris canonici, never met with much recognition or use. Gregory XIII. appointed a commission to prepare an official Liber septimus, but the work, which finally included the dogmatic decrees of Florence and Trent, was not completely printed until 1598, in the pontificate of Clement VIII., under whose name it appeared; and then Clement, for some reason now unknown, refused to approve it. No further systematic collection of later decretals has been undertaken, though frequent chronological arrangements of them have been published under the title of Bullaria (see Briefs, bulls, and Bullaria).

7. Corpus Juris Canonici:

It remains to give an account of the Corpus juris canonici, by which name it has been customary since the sixteenth century to designate the collection formed by combining the Decretum Gratiani, the decretals of Gregory IX., the Liber sextus, the Clementina, and the two collections of Extravagantes made by Chappuis. The name was applied to Gratian's work in the twelfth century, and by Innocent IV. to the Gregorian collection; Pierre d’Ailly, in his treatise De necessitate reformationis, written at the opening of the Council of Constance, speaks of the reservations prescribed "in corpore juris canonici," where there is no doubt that he means the sum of the collections named above, with the exception of the as yet non-existent Extravagantes. During the council the term Corpus juris or jus scriptum was constantly employed in contradistinction to the post-Clementine Extravagantes, and similarly at the Council of Basel. The legal authority of the Extravagantes was, in fact, frequently contested, and the thesis of the independent validity of every papal pronouncement, which had had practical effect since Innocent III., no longer recognized. So far, then, this distinction was justified, and while no new accepted collection was added to the Clementina the previously accepted Corpus might be considered as closed. The name does not occur in the oldest printed editions, which is to be explained by the fact that the component parts were usually printed separately. In the sixteenth century it became usual for these parts, together with Chappuis's two collections of Extravagantes, to be published by the same house in three volumes, the first containing Gratian's work, the second the decretals of Gregory IX., and the third the remainder with the glosses. In the latter half of this century, however, it was more common to omit the glosses and bind the whole in one volume, so that the inclusive title now becomes usual. The edition of Demochares (Paris, 1550, 1561) showed a certain amount of critical spirit, but with little result. During the sessions of the Council of Trent the need of revision was clearly apparent, and Pius IV. in 1563 established a commission of cardinals and other scholars for this purpose. Under his successors, Pius V. and Gregory XIII., it was confirmed and enlarged to thirty-five members. The work of these Correctores Romani, as they are called, was completed in 1580, and the resulting revised edition published at Rome in 1582. Though they had rendered valuable service, much remained to be done, as was made evident by the editions of Antonius Augustinus and Berardus—to say nothing of the modern ones. The earlier editions usually contained a number of appendices, including the Institutiones juris canonici of Paul Lancelot, professor at Perugia under Paul IV. (1555–59), the Liber septimus of Petrus Matthæus, etc.

For the internal relations of the Roman Catholic Church the Corpus juris canonici is still the authority in common law, though with some limitations. The appendices are not considered authoritative, especially those just named, unless the single decretals contained in the last of them have been universally received; and the same principle applies to the Extravagantes. The position taken at the councils of Constance and Basel was not affected by the edition of Gregory XIII., whose purpose was not to give them an official character by including them, but merely to establish a correct and authentic text of the documents which had previously been included in widely circulated collections. Acting on the same principle in regard to this edition of Gregory XIII., most modern canonists deny the positive authority of the Decretum Gratiani as such, since it was a mere private collection, never officially authorized by the Church or the pope, and regard it only as a valuable collection of documents for the history of canon law. This view was even expressed in a decision of the Rota Romana, too long to quote here, and more than once by Benedict XIV. But though this may be theoretically the case, yet in practise the Decretum has retained a large measure of authority: and Gregory XIII. himself would scarcely have displayed so much zeal in having it edited and completed if he had regarded it as no more than a private compilation, without legal authority. Its contents, however, have in the lapse of time been to a great extent modified or rendered obsolete by later decretals, so that its practical importance is small.

Besides the general principle that a new law supersedes an older one, which has destroyed the validity of so much that is in the Corpus juris (not merely in Gratian's part of it), the course of secular legislation since the fourteenth century has, had a marked influence in the same direction. The canon law covers not merely the doctrine, worship, sacraments, and discipline of the Church, but a vast mass of other things in which ecclesiastical interests were supposed to be concerned, such as vows, oaths, betrothals, wills, funerals, benefices, church property, tithes, and the like. The reaction against the all-embracing claims of the Church has taken many of these things out of the hands of the ecclesiastical tribunals (see Jurisdiction, Ecclesiastical), while by its proclamation of the principle of the unity of national law and government it has reduced the Church to the position of any other corporation within the limits of the State; and thus a large number of canonical provisions, such as those covering the procedure against heretics, which conflict with the civil constitution, have necessarily become ineffective. In France, Belgium, and Italy it is still regarded as a part of the general body of law. In the German 388Empire, after gradual restrictions in many of the component states, it ceased on Jan. 1, 1900, to have any legal validity outside of the internal discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.

(J. F. von Schulte.)

Bibliography: On the conception and apologetics of church law consult: W. T. Krug, Das Kirchenrecht nach Grundsätzen der Vernunft und im Lichte des Christentums, Leipsic, 1826, cf. F. Schirmer, Kirchengeschichtliche Untersuchungen. Berlin, 1829; C. Gross Zur Begriffsbestimmung und Würdigung des Kirchenrechts, Graz, 1872.

Collections or digests supplementing those mentioned in the text are: Z. B. van Espen, Jus ecclesiasticum universale, 2 vols., Louvain, 1700; A. Reiffenstül, Jus canonicum universum, 3 vols., Venice, 1704; J. H. Böhmer, Jus ecclesiasticum Protestantium, 5 vols., Halle, 1714; F. Schmalzgrüber, Jus ecclesiasticum universum, 5 vols., Ingolstadt, 1726. Other discussions are: J. F. Schulte, Das katholische Kirchenrecht, 2 vols., Giessen, 1856–60; D. Craisson, Manuale totius juris canonici 4 vols., Paris, 1863; F. Walter, Lehrbuch des Kirchenrechts aller christlichen Konfessionen, 14th ed., Bonn, 1871; F. Thudichum, Kirchenrecht, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1877–78; A. L. Richter, Lehrbuch des katholischen und evangelischen Kirchenrechts, 8th ed. by W. Kahl, Leipsic, 1877–86; W. Kahl, Kirchenrecht und Kirchenpolitik Freiburg, 1894; E. Geigel, Reichs- und reichsländisches Kirchen- und Stiftungsrecht, Strasburg, 1900; E. Friedberg, Lehrbuch des katholischen und evangelischen Kirchenrechts, Leipsic, 1903.

Works in Eng. on the general question are: J. Fulton, Index Canonum, Gk. Text with Translation and Complete Digest of Canon Law of the Universal Church, New York, 1892; S. B. Smith, Elements of Ecclesiastical Law, with Reference to the Syllabus, Constitutiones apostolicæ sedis of Pope Pius IX., the Council of the Vatican . . . , 3 vols., ib. 1893–94. For English church law consult: E. Gibson, Codex juris ecclesiastici Anglicani: or, the Statutes, Constitutions, Canons, Rubrics, and Articles . . . Methodically Digested . . . , with a Commentary, London, 1713, cf. [M. Foster], An Examination of the Scheme of Church-Power Laid Down in the Codex juris eccl. Anglicani, ib. 1735; C. H. Davis, English Church Canons of 1604; with historical Introduction and Notes, ib. 1869; M. E. C. Walcott, Constitutions and Canons Eclesiastical of the Church of England Referred to Their Original Sources . . . , ib. 1874; Sir. W. Phillimore, Law of the Church of England, 2 vols., ib. 1895; F. W. Maitland, Canon Law in England, ib. 1898; A. T. Wirgman, Constitutional Authority of the Bishops in the Catholic Church Illustrated by History and Canon Law, ib. 1899. Consult also E. Taunton, The Law of the Church. A Cyclopædia of Canon Law for English-speaking Countries, London, 1906.

For American church law consult: F. Vinton, Manual Commentary on !he General Canon Law of the Protestant Episcopal Church, New York, 1870; M. Hoffmann, Ecclesiastical Law in the State of New York, ib. 1868; idem Ritual Law of the Church, ib. 1872; W. S. Perry, The General Ecclesiastical Constitution of the American Church, ib. 1891; Revised Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church ib. 1895; H. J. Desmond, The Church and the Law, with Special Reference to Ecclesiastical Law in the United States, Chicago, 1898.

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