| Year 1994 Canonical Studies, PP. 16-21
LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION OF THE DIOCESAN BISHOP AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
(Karambai S. Sebastian )
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Introduction

Canonical legislation regulates the life and mission of the Church, the duties and rights of her members and all that is useful and necessary to her visible structure. As the Church is to be rooted in a “particular and indigenous” manner (AG, n.6), so also her laws would be able to touch the way people live and organize their lives, the very culture in which they express their values and beliefs.

Being fully aware of this need, the 1983 Code for the Latin Church and the 1990 Code for the Oriental Churches have, on several occasions, mandated local law-making taking into consideration particular conditions and circumstances. As a matter of fact, two of the ten guiding principles o he revision of the Latin Code emphasized the need for evolving particular laws. Principle n.4 affirms that the power of the diocesan bishop is to be placed in its proper light, reducing the number of issues reserved to universal authority and restoring the bishop as pastor serving a particular church with all the authority needed to do this. Related to this is the principle of subsidiarity (ple.n.5) which provided a further rationale for decentralizing the Church’s legal structure.1 After giving his approval t these guiding principles, Pope Paul VI stated: “We are very much ready to accede to the expressions of legitimate desires, that the local Churches may have power so that they are allowed to play a fuller role and that their own special traits, needs and demands are duly appreciated through the proper application of the so-called ‘principle of subsidiarity’. The principle surely needs to be both understood and explained in theory and fact”.2 The same principle of subidiarity has also exercised great influence in the revision of the Oriental Code of Canon Law. A part of the approved guiding principle reads as follows: “The new Code should limit itself to the codification of the discipline common to all the Oriental Churches, leaving to the competent authorities of these Churches the power to regulate by particular law all other matters not reserved to the Holy See”.3 Promulgating the same Code, Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Sacri Canones intends that “those who enjoy legislative power in each of the Churches sui iuris take counsel as quickly as possible by issuing particular norms, keeping in mind the traditions of their own life as well as the teachings of the Second Vatican Council”. The Supreme legislator has therefore specifically intended to provide ample scope for ius particulare. Particular laws enacted by a diocesan/eparchial

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1. Cf. Communicationes, 1 (1969) 81-83).

2. AAS, 61 (1969) 728.

3. Nuntia 30 (1990) 53-54.

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