canon law


Definition of canon law

: the usually codified law governing a church

Examples of canon law in a Sentence

a marriage valid under Catholic canon law
Recent Examples on the Web By the 13th century, the procedures of the court trial were defined and adopted, both in canon law – that is, the church law – and in secular law. Joanne M. Pierce, The Conversation, "The history of oath ceremonies and why they matter when taking office," 19 Oct. 2020 The case is emblematic of the inherent conflicts of interest in the canon law system and the church's refusal to require abuse be reported to impartial police. Nicole Winfield, Star Tribune, "Vatican putting 2 priests on trial accused of abuse, coverup," 12 Oct. 2020 This entire season is starting to feel like a typo in the tomes of SEC canon law. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Alabama survives Ole Miss but Georgia is the real test," 11 Oct. 2020 Remember the Sorbonne in the great days of the canon law. John Dos Passos, National Review, "Reminiscences of a Middle-Class Radical," 28 Sep. 2020 Francis last year updated the church’s in-house canon law to also punish bishops who cover up for abusers, after the Vatican for decades turned a blind eye to local church leaders who failed to protect their flocks from predators. Washington Post, "Polish group seeks pope’s action against sex abuse, cover-up," 29 June 2020 Raica has a doctorate in canon law from Gregorian University in Rome. al, "New Catholic bishop takes office," 23 June 2020 The case would then be referred to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for canon law processes to be undertaken. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judge dismisses the charge accusing a Pewaukee priest of sexually assaulting a teenager in a confessional," 10 June 2020 No seminarian studying canon law can cite case studies in preparing his thesis about how the Catholic Church has responded to the abuse scandal. Nicole Winfield, Anchorage Daily News, "Vatican office struggles to keep up with rise in clergy abuse cases," 21 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canon law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of canon law

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of canon law was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Canon law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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canon law


English Language Learners Definition of canon law

: the laws of a religion

canon law


Legal Definition of canon law

: a body of religious law governing the conduct of members of a particular faith especially : the codified church law of the Roman Catholic Church

Note: Common law has been influenced by canon law in the areas of marriage and inheritance. Roman Catholic canon law, like the civil law, has been modeled on ancient Roman law. The source for Roman Catholic canon law is the Code of Canon Law. The Rudder (Pedalion) is a source for Greek Orthodox canon law. Jewish canon law is contained in the Talmud.

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