Canon Law

Broadly defined, canon law is all the laws, both divine and ecclesiastical, universal and particular, of the Roman Catholic Church. More narrowly, the laws that appear as canons in the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. An understanding of canon law is important for leaders of Catholic health care because Catholic health care is a ministry of the Catholic Church, continuing the ministry of Jesus. Canon law provides the values or norms from which health care organizations can effectively operate in mission.

Leaders of Catholic health care organizations differ from leaders of other-than-Catholic ones in that their work is bound by both civil law and the canon law of the Catholic Church. Because this is so, leaders of Catholic organizations should know something about canon law. Toward this end, Health Progress offered a series of columns on canon law. The column, which is the work of different writers, is under the general editorship of a well-known expert in the field, Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI, JCD, Ph.D., professor of canon law, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario.