canon law

canon law


: the laws of a religion

Full Definition of CANON LAW

:  the usually codified law governing a church

Examples of CANON LAW

  1. a marriage valid under Catholic canon law

First Known Use of CANON LAW

15th century

canon law

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Body of laws established within Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, independent churches of Eastern Christianity, and the Anglican Communion for church governance. Canon law concerns the constitution of the church, relations between it and other bodies, and matters of internal discipline. The monk Gratian, an ecclesiastical lawyer and teacher, published the first definitive collection of Roman Catholic canon law c. 1140; the Decretum Gratiani drew on older local collections, councils, Roman law, and the Church Fathers. The enlarged Corpus juris canonici (“Body of Canon Law”) was published in 1500. A commission of cardinals issued the new Codex juris canonici (“Code of Canon Law”) in 1917, and a revised version was commissioned after the Second Vatican Council and published in 1983. Following the Schism of 1054, the Eastern Orthodox church developed its own canon law under the patriarch of Constantinople. The Anglican, Coptic, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches also formulated their own collections.


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