Sanctions in the Church: A Discourse on the Revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law

  • Charles N. Ozioko, ISch
Keywords: Book VI of the Code, Sanctions, Pastoral approach, Justice, Mercy


With the apostolic constitution, Pascite Gregem Dei, Pope Francis promulgated the revised text of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law. This new revised version abrogated what until now in the 1983 Code of Canon Law was known as Book VI on Sanctions in the Church. The promulgation brought to light again some of the questions many have asked. Do we really need Sanctions in the Church? What is their relevance? Has penal law ever made anyone better? Is it not better just to forgive everyone who has committed a crime in the Church, in other words show mercy and life will be normal? The other side of the coin remains, however, how to reconcile the demands of justice and good governance with mercy. The difficulty of combining the demands of charity with those required by justice has remained a concrete one in the Church. This article reviews the new Book VI of the 1983 Code of Canon Law using the pastoral nature of the penal law as the context.