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Pope Francis: Motu Proprio to harmonise Latin and Eastern Canon Law Codes

“The movement of people has led to the presence of increasing numbers of Eastern Christians in Latin territories” and this “new situation raises a number of pastoral and legal issues that call for the introduction of adequate rules”. Pope Francis wrote this in his Apostolic Letter “De concordia inter Codices” in the form of a Motu Proprio which introduces changes to the Code of Canon Law: “I have noticed that some points in the Code of Canon Law were not perfectly in line with those in the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches”. The document, dated 31 May 2016, was published today. “On the one hand, the two Codes have common rules, while on the other, they have their own peculiarities which make them self-standing. It is, therefore, necessary that there should be sufficient harmony even with regard to the peculiar rules. Indeed – the Pontiff observed -, discrepancies will negatively impact the pastoral activity, particularly those cases in which relations between the members of the Latin Church and those of the Eastern Church are to be regulated”. Nevertheless, Pope Francis said, we should “not fail to acknowledge the rules that are peculiar to the local context in which such inter-Church relations occur”. “The goal of the rules introduced by this Motu Proprio is to achieve a harmonious discipline which can provide certainty in the pastoral action applied to concrete cases”.

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