Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to work for the up-building of the Church herself. It is

to play an extraordinarily constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


1152 x 864


22 jun 2017

Master Page on the Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983


The Johanno-Pauline Code of 1983 is the primary legislative document of the Roman Catholic Church. Promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II on 25 January 1983 and taking force on the First Sunday of Advent that year (27 November), the 1983 Code replaces the Pio-Benedictine Code of 1917 and, alongside the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches of 1990, governs the faith life of over one billion Catholic Christians around the world.


Editio typica

(official text)




Codex Iuris Canonici auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatus, AAS 75/2 (1983) 1-320, as corrected and amended. Original version on-line here.


Only the Latin text of the Johanno-Pauline Code of Canon Law has force of law. Secretaria Status, Normae: De Latino textu Codicisi Iuris Canonici tuendo eodemque alias in linguas convertendo (28 ian 1983), Communicationes 15: 41, Eng. trans., CLD X: 5-6. Various printed versions of the 1983 Code exist, mostly as part of commentaries on canon law. But see Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Authentice Interpretando, Codex Iuris Canonici, Fontium Annotatione et Indice Analytico-Alphabetico Auctus, (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1989). Reviews: D. Le Tourneau in Studia Canonica 24 (1990) 251-252, and F. McManus in The Jurist 49 (1989) 303-307.


The formal presentation of the 1983 Code occurred on February 3, 1983, eight days after its promulgation. Abp. Castillo Lara, Cdl. Agostino Casaroli, and Pope John Paul II delivered addresses in Italian. See Communicationes 15 (1983) 27-35, 36-41, and 9-16 respectively, or Francesco d’Ostilio, La Storia del nuovo Codice di diritto canonico: Revisione, promulgazione, presentazione (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983) 79-103, wherein addresses are published in the order of their delivery, Eng. trans., in Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Recognoscendo, Promulgation and Official Presentation of the Code of Canon Law (Vatican Polyglott Press, no year given), as follows: Discourse of the Pro-President Archbishop Rosalio Castillo Lara, sdb, (pp. 13-23); Discourse of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State (pp. 24-29); and Discourse of His Holiness John Pau II (pp. 31-39).





Several translations of the 1983 Code have been authorized. The most common English translation of the 1983 Code is: Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Edition, New English Translation (Canon Law Society of America, 1999), on-line here. Order hardcopy here. The original English translation published by the CLSA in 1983 is now obsolete. Another authorized English translation is: Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, The Code of Canon Law in English Translation (Collins/Eerdmans, 1983) for which a separate index volume was made available.


Other authorized vernacular translations: Código de Derecho Canónico, Code de Droit Canonique, Codice di Diritto Canonico, Codex des Kanonischen Rechtes, Kodeks Prawa Kanonicznego, [hold for Portuguese], and [hold for Dutch]; Kódex kánonického práva, and [hold for Hungarian].


Russian: Sancti Thomae Institutum, Moscow, 2007, 620 pp.



 CLSA Translation (1999)

Indexes for

the 1983 Code

Xaverius Ochoa, Index verborum ac locutionum Codicis iuris canonici [1983], 2d ed., (Commentarium pro Religiosis, 1985) 592 pp.


Hartmut Zapp (German layman, 1938-), Codex iuris canonici: Lemmata, Stichwortverzeichnis (Rombach, 1986) 677 pp. Keyed to the Latin text, of course.




Most of the 1983 Code went though four published drafts over roughly a 10-year period. Awareness of these earlier versions of the Code is important for understanding and applying canon law today.


See Resources on the Legislative History of the 1983 Code, here.

Changes to the 1983 Code


Once codified law is promulgated it can be officially changed in five ways, namely, by: emendation; modification; (authentic) interpretation; instruction; and (authoritative) application. The 1983 Code has experienced all five of these kinds of official changes.



A distressing number of editing and printing errors embarrassed the original publication of the 1983 Code, both in the version promulgated in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis and in early monograph versions produced by Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis. Most of these errors were corrected in A. Casaroli, "Codex Iuris Canonici" (22 sep 1983), AAS 75/2 (1983) 321-324; others were corrected in A. Casaroli, "Codex Iuris Canonici", (21 nov 1988), AAS 80 (1988) 1819, also in Communicationes 21: 22. These corrections have long since been incorporated into the texts of the 1983 Code and are mentioned here only for historical purposes.



Modifications of the text of the Code can occur by means of apostolic constitutions, various documents issued motu proprio, and dicasterial documents approved 'forma specifica', with the main difference among these being in terms of scope, (apostolic constitutions usually addressing wider issues, documents issued motu prorio addressing narrower matters, and those approved 'forma specifica' being the most narrowly cast). Textual emendations of the 1983 Code have been issued, directly or indirectly, by all three popes who have reigned under it. See Codex Vivens Books I-VII, here.


(Authentic) Interpretation


Canon 16 outlines that canonical institution known as an "authentic interpretation". Authentic interpretations of the 1983 have been authorized by all three popes who have reigned under it. For more information on authentic interpretations of the 1983 Code, see Codex Vivens Books I-VII, here.




Canon 34 outlines that canonical institution known as an "instruction". Instructions regarding various provisions of the 1983 Code have occurred under all three popes who have reigned under it. For more information on instructions of the 1983 Code, see Codex Vivens Books I-VII, here.


(Authoritative) Application


"Authoritative application" is my term for an amendment to universal law that does not, strictly speaking, modify the text of the law, nor simply interpret it, nor offer an instruction as to how it should be read, but which nevertheless needs to be observed in the application of the law. See Codex Vivens Books I-VII, here.



on the Code

Codified law in general, and canon law in particular, make considerable use of private scholarly commentary in the elucidation and application of legal norms. The weight to be accorded a given opinion depends less on who authored the opinion and more on the care and completeness with which the views are expressed. As a general rule, however, and subject to several qualifications, opinions appearing in academic monographs are the most respected, followed by opinions appearing in scholarly articles, followed by those appearing elsewhere. Each of these categories admits of sub-categorization.


Commentary: Pan-textual and topical commentary, dissertations, opinions, reference works


For insight into the meaning of Johanno-Pauline canons, most canonists turn first to one or more pan-textual commentaries on the Code and then, for additional and/or deeper insight, to one or more topical commentaries on the matter. See Pan-textual Commentaries on the 1983 Code, here. For information on on topical commentaries, see Codex Vivens, here.


An important category of canonical commentary is the formal academic treatise, i.e., the doctoral dissertation and, to a lesser degree, the licentiate thesis. For a list of licentiate theses written at CUA from the mid-1940s to the present, go here. For a list of canonical doctoral dissertations published in North America (i.e., Catholic University of America in Washington, St. Paul's University in Ottawa, Université Laval, and Universidad Pontificia de México), go here.


A special category of canonical commentary is the advisory opinion or consultation. For information on Pio-Benedictine and Johanno-Pauline advisory opinions, go here.


A list of Dictionaries, Encyclopedia, and Reference Works on Canon Law is available here.


Commentary: peer-reviewed, other academic, and general audience articles


For further insight into the meaning of canons, to explore matters that cannot be treated adequately in the space allotted within general monographs, or to investigate related matters, canonists turn to articles in peer-reviewed journals, other academic venues, and publications geared to general but well-educated audiences.