On November 12, 1939 in Washington, DC, a group of canonists established the Canon Law Society of America as a professional association dedicated to the promotion of both the study and application of canon law in the Catholic Church. In February of 1981, the Society incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the District of Columbia.
Today, the Society’s membership includes over twelve hundred (1,200) men and women from thirty-five (35)countries. The Society remains active in the study and promotion of canonical and pastoral approaches to significant issues within the Latin and the Eastern Catholic Churches.
Although the central office of the Canon Law Society has had many homes in the long history of the CLSA, the Office of the Executive Coordinator has been located at the Hecker Center at St. Paul's in DC since 2007.
Hecker Center, Washington, D.C.
The Canon Law Society of America organizes an annual convention at which time it elects a Board of Governors to oversee the operations of the Society, and determines resolutions for future study and activity of the Society. The Board is composed of elected officers: President, Vice-President/President-elect, an immediate Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, and six Consultors. Please click here to see our current Board of Governors.
An Executive Coordinator, appointed from the active membership of the Society by the Board of Governors, serves the membership under the direction of the President and Board. The Executive Coordinator's task is the general implementation of the Board's policies and decisions, as well as the supervision of the main administrative office in Washington, DC.
The Society organizes its study, research, and development into two divisions: Constitutional committees, first created by the CLSA Constitution, and ongoing committees, which perform tasks deemed essential to the ongoing life of the Society. See our Committees page for more detailed information about our committees and their valuable work.
Canon Law Society of America has developed CLSA Publications as a means to promote greater understanding and application of canon law. At the 1981 convention at Chicago, Illinois, the members unanimously adopted the following resolution: "The Canon Law Society of America assigns the highest priority to the canonical education of its membership and the people of God, especially those who serve in positions of leadership. Thus the Society commits itself to assess and evaluate all its projects and activities in the light of this priority, although not necessarily to the neglect of other important tasks, and directs its committees and officers to focus their work or the Society with this priority in view.”
For over thirty years, the members of the CLSA engaged in the study and publication of materials of canonical education. Two English translations of the Code of Canon Law were produced in 1983 and 1999 along with two translations of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in 1990 and 2001. The Society created, incollaboration with Paulist Press, The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary in 1985 and the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law in 2000.
In addition to CLSA Proceedings which contains the major addresses and seminars from its annual convention, the Society publishes other series of canonical resources. In 1987, the Society took over the invaluable reference work, Canon Law Digest, created and maintained by the Reverends T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J. and James I. O'Connor, S.J. The Society, faithful to its 1981 education mandate, also publishes Roman Replies and CLSA Advisory Opinions annually. Since 1984, the editors request members of the Society to submit recent replies from the various Roman discasteries of the Holy See which might be of interest to the Society's members, canonists and the wider church. Each volume also contains canonical opinions formulated in response to inquires received by members of the Society. These are in no way intended as authentic interpretations of the law; rather they reflect the scholarly and practical insight of the contributors.
Monographs or specialized studies on marriage, tribunal ministry as well as other canonical areas regarding laity, clergy issues, church finances, members of institutes of consecrated life, and the administration of the sacraments are also available in the Society's catalog. Please click here to be directed to our online bookstore.