Since the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church has been developing regulations that have had some influence on secular (non-church-related) legal procedures. These regulations are called canons and are codified in the Code of Canon Law (in Latin, Codex juris canonici).
Canon law has its origins in ancient church writings, decisions made by the general councils of local bishops, and rulings issued by the pope. An Italian law teacher, Gratian, organized these ideas in the mid-twelfth century. He sorted the collection into religious law, penal law, sacramental law, and other categories. Along with a set of decisions by the pope called Decretals of Gregory IX, Gratian's work formed the main body of canon law for nearly eight hundred years. In 1917, Pope Benedict XV recodified (revised) the canons. Pope John Paul II reissued the Code of Canon Law in 1983-authorizing increased participation of laity in the church, recognizing the needs of disabled people, and making other changes. A related text, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, was reissued by the Holy See (the seat of papal government) in 1990.
In the middle Ages, canon law was used in ecclesiastical (church) courts to decide many types of cases that in modern times are decided by civil courts, including criminal offenses. ...Show more