Omnium in Mentem English Translation
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Posted by: Katie Richards
The official English translation of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio" Omnium in Mentem is now available from the Vatican. Click here to visit the Vatican website, or view the translation below.
APOSTOLIC LETTER "MOTU PROPRIO"
OMNIUM IN MENTEM
SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI
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 of souls.
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
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
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"
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.
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.
1008 of the Code of Canon Law is modified so that hereafter it
"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 and
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 of 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.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
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