Church and Law 2 (15) 2013, 2: 133-163

Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and Authentic Interpretations


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Adam Kaczor


Department of Theology and General Norms of the Canon Law, Institute of Canon Law, Faculty of Law, Canon Law and Administration, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland



The Author analyses the competences of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, especially the most important one – the authentic interpretation.

At the beginning the Author shows the historical background for the Council. The interpretation of canon law was not included in the legal system until the XX century. Pope Benedict XVI with motu proprio Cum iuris canonici, dated 15 September 1917, established the Pontifical Commission of Cardinals for Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law. Then, Pope John Paul II, with motu proprio Recognito Iuris Canonici, dated 2 January 1984, established the Pontifical Commission for Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law. Under the Apostolic constitution Pastor bonus (28 June 1988), John Paul II changed its name to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of the Legislative Texts.

The functions of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts are presented in the article. Its main competence is the interpretation of the laws of the Church (art. 154-155 Pastor bonus). Moreover, the Council is competent to grant the general decrees of the conferences of bishops the recognitio (art. 157 Pastor bonus) and is at the service of the other Roman dicasteries (art. 156 Pastor bonus).

The Author shows the methods of work of the Pontifical Council and cites examples of the authentic interpretations of the Council (Commission). At the end of the article it is concluded that the interpretation's maxim of the canonical legal system is the “Spirit of the Vaticanum II”.

Słowa kluczowe: Kuria Rzymska, kompetencje, legislacja, wykładnia prawa, recognitio

Key words: Roman Curia, competences, legislation, interpretations of the law, recognitio