76 Jurist 85 (2016)
Independent General Administrative Norms in Documents of the Roman Curia

handle is hein.journals/juristcu76 and id is 91 raw text is: 

THE  JURIST   76(2016)  85-113


                                      JOHN M. HUELS*



Independent General

Administrative Norms in

Documents of the Roman Curia



There are three categories of binding norms in canon law that have a gen-
eral application (as opposed to singular administrative acts that are bind-
ing on individual subjects of the law). These categories are (i) laws (leges)
enacted by  ecclesiastical legislators, (2) general administrative norms
issued by executive authorities such as the dicasteries of the Roman Curia,
and (3) customs that have the force of law. Our interest here is with the
first two categories of norms, the written norms published in juridical
documents  of the Apostolic See that go by various names. These two cat-
egories of norms are not equal. Laws are higher in juridical value than
general administrative norms. Concretely, this means that, if a norm in a
document  of executive power is contrary to the law, it is null in keeping
with the principle of legality in canon law.' All of this is well known to
canonists. What is complicated and confusing, even at times to scholars
of the law, is distinguishing in some instances which norms are legislative
and which are administrative. In some measure, this confusion is due to
the fact that the document forms used by the Apostolic See often are not
reliable means of identifying the juridical value of the norms that they
contain. Another problem is that the two categories of general executory
decrees and instructions, as defined respectively in canons 31 §i and 34 §i,
do not account for all the norms in documents of the Roman Curia, and
this lacuna leads some canonists to misidentify these other administrative

   * Professor, Faculty of Canon Law, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.
   i. William L. Daniel, The Principle of Legality in Canon Law, TheJurist 70 (2010) 29-85-

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