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Code of Canon Law

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        • TITLE II: PENAL LAW AND PENAL PRECEPT (Cann. 1313 - 1320)
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Can. 1313 §1 If a law is changed after an offence has been committed, the law more favourable to the offender is to be applied.

§2 If a later law removes a law, or at least a penalty, the penalty immediately lapses.

Can. 1314 A penalty is for the most part ferendae sententiae, that is, not binding upon the offender until it has been imposed. It is, however, latae sententiae, so that it is incurred automatically upon the commission of an offence, if a law or precept expressly lays this down.

Can. 1315 §1 Whoever has legislative power can also make penal laws. A legislator can, however, by laws of his own, reinforce with a fitting penalty a divine law or an ecclesiastical law of a higher authority, observing the limits of his competence in respect of territory or persons.

§2 A law can either itself determine the penalty or leave its determination to the prudent decision of a judge.

§3 A particular law can also add other penalties to those laid down for a certain offence in a universal law; this is not to be done, however, except for the gravest necessity. If a universal law threatens an undetermined penalty or a discretionary penalty, a particular law can establish in its place a determined or an obligatory penalty.

Can. 1316 Diocesan Bishops are to take care that as far as possible any penalties which are to be imposed by law are uniform within the same city or region.

Can. 1317 Penalties are to be established only in so far as they are really necessary for the better maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline. Dismissal from the clerical state, however, cannot be laid down by particular law.

Can. 1318 A legislator is not to threaten latae sententiae penalties, except perhaps for some outstanding and malicious offences which may be either more grave by reason of scandal or such that they cannot be effectively punished by ferendae sententiae penalties. He is not, however, to constitute censures, especially excommunication, except with the greatest moderation, and only for the more grave offences.

Can. 1319 §1 To the extent to which a legislator can impose precepts by virtue of the power of governance in the external forum, to that extent can he also by precept threaten a determined penalty, other than a perpetual expiatory penalty.

§2 A precept to which a penalty is attached is not to be issued unless the matter has been very carefully considered, and unless the provisions of Can. 1317 and 1318 concerning particular laws have been observed.

Can. 1320 In all matters in which they come under the authority of the local Ordinary, religious can be constrained by him with penalties.

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