Canon Law Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Canon Law, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Canon Law?

(n) the term ‘Canon law’ is used to represent the maintenance of law and order by the religious authorities based on their religious faith and the rulings of the religious heads, ordinance and decrees of the religious councils etc.

History and Meaning of Canon Law

Canon law refers to the law and order maintained by religious authorities within their religious communities. It is based on religious faith and the rulings of the religious heads, as well as ordinances and decrees of the religious councils. Canon law originated in the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and it has since been adopted by other Christian denominations.

The term "canon" refers to the laws and regulations created by church councils, while "law" refers to the system of rules that govern the religious community. Canon law covers a wide range of areas, including religious practices, marriage, baptism, and other sacraments. It also outlines the responsibilities and obligations of religious officials and laypeople within the community.

Examples of Canon Law

  1. The Catholic Church's Canon Law dictates that priests must adhere to celibacy and that only men can be ordained as priests.
  2. Canon Law mandates that Catholics must attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
  3. Canon Law establishes the procedure for annulment of a marriage in the Catholic Church.
  4. In Anglican Canon Law, clergy are forbidden from engaging in certain types of business, such as gambling and selling alcohol.
  5. The Eastern Orthodox Church's Canon Law outlines the rules and procedures for the ordination of priests and bishops.

Legal Terms Similar to Canon Law

  1. Sharia Law - the religious law of Islam.
  2. Halakha - the Jewish religious law.
  3. Ecclesiastical Law - the body of law governing the affairs of a Christian denomination.
  4. Talmudic Law - the Jewish religious law consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara.
  5. Hellenic Law - the laws and legal systems of ancient Greece.