Penal Law in the Roman Catholic Church

Ecclesiastical Law Journal 20 (2018), Forthcoming

22 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018

See all articles by Rafael Domingo

Rafael Domingo

University of Navarra - School of Law

Date Written: February 7, 2018


This article surveys the general framework of the law of sanctions or penal law in the Roman Catholic Church, the largest Christian church. The recent and devastating crisis of clergy sexual abuses of minors has challenged the whole ecclesiastical penal system, which in our day is undergoing revision. The first part of the chapter makes some relevant terminological clarifications to facilitate proper understanding of the scope of penal canon law in the Catholic Church. The second part explains the most important features of the current universal penal canon law system in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church (1983) and in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (1990), as well as in subsequent legislation. The last part makes an evaluation of the system of penal law and offers some proposals for its improvement.

Keywords: sexual abuses, Roman Catholic Church, canon law, penal law, criminal law, 1983 Code of Canon Law, Eastern Code of Canon Law

Suggested Citation

Domingo Osle, Rafael, Penal Law in the Roman Catholic Church (February 7, 2018). Ecclesiastical Law Journal 20 (2018), Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

Rafael Domingo Osle (Contact Author)

University of Navarra - School of Law ( email )

Universidad de Navarra
Campus Universitario
Pamplona, Navarra 31009

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