Canon lawCanon law is the law of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches. A canon is a rule adopted by a council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law. (From Greek kanon, for rule or measure). In the Anglican church, the official Church of England, the Ecclesiastical Courts that formerly decided many matters such as disputes relating to marriage still have jurisdiction of certain church related matters; their jurisdiction dates back to the middle ages. In contrast to the other courts of England the law used in ecclesiastical matters is a civil law system, not common law.
In the Roman Catholic church, the canons of the councils were supplemented with decrees of the Popes, which were gathered together into collections called decretals.
The Eastern church is generally much less legalistic, and treats many of the canons more as guidelines than as absolute laws, adjusting them to cultural and other local circumstances.
In the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Church began attempting to codify canon law, which two millennia of development had become a complex and difficult system of interpretation and cross referencing. The first code of canon law was published in 1917. A revised code was published in 1983.
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