The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEC; Latin: Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium,[1] abbreviated CCEO) is the title of the 1990 work which is a codification of the common portions of the canon law for the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is divided into 30 titles and has a total of 1546 canons.[2] The code entered into force in 1991.

The western Latin Church is governed by its own particular code, the 1983 Code of Canon Law.


The 23 sui iuris Churches which collectively make up the Eastern Catholic Churches had been invited by the Holy See to codify their own particular laws and submit them to the pope so that there may be a full, complete code of all religious law within Eastern Catholicism. Pope John Paul II promulgated the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches on 18 October 1990, by the document Sacri Canones.[3] The code came into force on 1 October 1991.[4]


See also: Ecclesiastical Latin

The official language of the canon law common to all the Eastern Catholic Churches (called "common law"[a]) is Latin. Although Latin is the language of the Latin Church and not of the Eastern Churches, Latin was chosen as the language of the common law because there is no common language in use among all the Eastern Catholic Churches. The members of these churches use a diversity of languages, including Greek, Arabic, Romanian, Malayalam, English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, but no single one of these languages could be used as the language of the common law. Latin was chosen because it has a long history of legal and juridical tradition and was suitable for serving as the common text from which translations could be made.[5]


Ad Tuendam Fidem

In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, which amended two canons (750 and 1371) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and two canons (598 and 1436) of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, so as to add "new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions".[6]

Mitis et Misericors Iesus

Main article: Matrimonial nullity trial reforms of Pope Francis

On 15 August 2015, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio Mitis et Misericors Iesus which amended canons 1357 to 1377 of the CCEO.[7] It reformed the procedures for matrimonial nullity trials and instituted a briefer process.[8]

Competentias quasdam decernere

The motu proprio Competentias quasdam decernere issued 15 February 2022 changed canons 489, 496, 499, 501, 552. 546, 1052, and 1054.[9][10]

Vocare peccatores

On 5 April 2023, Pope Francis released the apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, Vocare peccatores. It was signed 20 March 2023, and came into force on 29 June 2023.[11][12]

It changes 23 canons: canons 1402, 1406, 1407, 1409, 1410, 1414, 1416, 1424, 1429, 1430, 1436, 1442, 1443, 1446, 1449, 1453, 1456, 1459, 1463, 1464, 1466, 1467, and 1152.[12]

Iam pridem

On 17 April 2023, Pope Francis released the apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, Iam pridem. It had been signed on 16 April 2023. The new legislation made it so that Eastern Catholics who are at the age of 80 or more cannot take part in votings of their Synods. Iam pridem states the new legislation does not concern "Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, Eparchial Bishops and Exarchs" who are currently in office "despite them having reached the age of eighty". The new legislation is to enter into force one month after it is published.[13][14]

It changes canons 66 § 1, as well as canons 102, 149 and 183.[13]


The text of the CCEO is divided into 31 sections, 30 titles and a section of preliminary canons.

Preliminary canons

The six preliminary canons deal with scope and continuity, what is affected by the CCEO and how prior legislation and customs shall be handled.

Can. 1 The CCEO regards solely the Eastern Catholic Churches unless otherwise mentioned.

Can. 2 The CCEO is to be assessed according to the Ancient Laws of the Eastern Churches.

Can. 3 The CCEO does not "for the most part legislate on liturgical matters"[15] and therefore the liturgical books are to be observed unless contrary to the canons of the CCEO.

Can. 4. The CCEO neither degrades or abrogates treaties/pacts entered into by the Holy See with nations and political societies. Therefore, they still have their force, notwithstanding any prescriptions of the CCEO to the contrary.

Churches sui iuris and rites

A church sui iuris is "a community of the Christian faithful, which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as sui iuris by the supreme authority of the Church" (CCEO, can. 27). The term sui iuris is an innovation of the CCEO, and denotes the relative autonomy of the Eastern Catholic Churches. This canonical term, pregnant with many juridical nuances, indicates the God-given mission of the Eastern Catholic Churches to preserve their patrimonial autonomous nature. The autonomy of these churches is relative in the sense that they are under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.[b][16]

See also


  1. ^ This usage should not be confused with the common law civil legal system or with the jus commune.
  2. ^ For a better understanding of the concept of church sui iuris see, Žužek, Understanding The Eastern Code, pp. 94–109.


  1. ^ "CCEO - Table of Contents - IntraText CT". Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  2. ^ Pete Vere & Michael Trueman, Surprised by Canon Law, vol. 2. Cincinnati, Ohio: Servant Books, 2007, p. 123
  3. ^ AAS, 82 (1990), pp. 1033-1063
  4. ^ Thomas Kuzhinapurath, Salvific Law: Salvific Character of CCEO, An Historical Overview, Malankara Seminary Publications, Trivandrum, 2008, p.79
  5. ^ John D. Faris, "Codifications of Eastern Canon Law", in A Practical Commentary to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, ed. John D. Faris & Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv., cxxvi.
  6. ^ "Ad Tuendam Fidem (18 May 1998) - John Paul II". Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Mitis et misericors Iesus by which the canons of the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches pertaining to cases rearding the nullity of marriage are reformed (15 August 2015) | Francis". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  8. ^ "Pope Francis reforms Church law in marital nullity trials". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  9. ^ CNA. "Pope Francis changes 10 articles of the Code of Canon Law, which rules the Church". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Apostolic Letter issued "Motu proprio" Competentias quasdam decernere introducing changes to some norms of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (11 February 2022) | Francis". Retrieved 24 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Pope revises penal law of the Eastern Churches". Vatican News. 5 April 2023. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  12. ^ a b Brockhaus, Hannah (5 April 2023). "Pope Francis revises the penal law of the Eastern Catholic Churches". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  13. ^ a b "Pope sets Eastern Churches Bishops' age limit for voting at Synods". Vatican News. 17 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  14. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (17 April 2023). "Pope Francis introduces voting age limit for bishops of Eastern Catholic Churches". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  15. ^ Code of Canons of Oriental Churchs (I IntraText Edition CT ed.). Èulogos SpA. 1990. Can. 3.
  16. ^ "Österreichisches Archiv für Kirchenrecht". Herder. 8 July 1994. Retrieved 8 July 2018 – via Google Books. Una Chiesa Orientale cattolica è una parte della Chiesa Universale che vive la fede in modo corrispondente ad una delle cinque grandi tradizioni orientali - Alessandrina, Antiochena, Costantinopolitina, Caldea, Armena- e che contiene o è almeno capace di contenere, come sue componenti minori, più comunità diocesane gerarchicamente riunite sotto la guida di un capo comune legittimamente eletto e in comunione con Roma, il quale con il proprio Sinodo costituisce la superiore istanza per tutti gli affari di carattere amministrativo, legislativo e giudiziario delle stesse Communità, nell'ambito del diritto comune a tutte le Chiese, determinato nei Canoni sanciti dai Concili Ecumenici o del Romano Pontefice, sempre preservando il diritto di quest'ultimo di intervenire nei singoli casi