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Vatican toughens standards for canon lawyers

A new decree issued by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education extends by a year the course of study required for a licentiate in Canon Law.

Beginning in the academic year 2003-2004, the licentiate curriculum will be extended "to three years or six semesters in the second of the three cycles," according to the decree published by the Vatican Press Office.

The previous two-year (four-semester) curriculum was established by the 1979 apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, promulgated by John Paul II.

This decree, signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, prefect and secretary of the dicastery, respectively, and ratified and confirmed by the Pope, also establishes that "the first cycle should be absolutely obligatory and better structured".

Specifically, "all students who wish to obtain an academic degree in canon law must know Latin," the language in which the code is written, Archbishop Pittau explained on Vatican Radio.

The decree explains that the curriculum promulgated in 1979 "is no longer valid for the study and understanding of the disciplines." The present Code of Canon Law was published in 1983, and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches was published in 1990.

The decree also states that, while "the theological and pastoral disciplines in theological faculties has been improved, less time and attention was paid to canon law and the Latin language in the larger seminaries."


Congregation for Catholic Education
Sapientia Christiana
Code of Canon Law (Intratext)
Canon Law Society of America

20 Nov 2002