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In the
canon law of the Catholic Church The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin for "canon law": ''ius canonicum'') is the system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of ...
, a person is a subject of certain legal rights and obligations. Persons may be distinguished between physical and juridic persons. Juridic persons may be distinguished as collegial or non-collegial, and public or private juridic persons. The Holy See and the Catholic Church as such are not juridic persons, since juridic persons are created by ecclesiastical law. Rather, they are moral persons by divine law.


Physical persons

By baptism a natural person is incorporated into the church and is constituted a person in the same. All the validly baptized, called ''Christifideles'', have the status of physical persons under Catholic canon law.


Age of reason

The age of
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
is the age at which
children Biologically, a child (plural children) is a being between the stages of and , or between the of and puberty. The legal definition of ''child'' generally refers to a , otherwise known as a person younger than the . Children generally have ...

children
attain the use of reason and begin to have
moral responsibility In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, lan ...
. On completion of the seventh year a
minor Minor may refer to: * Minor (law), a person under the age of certain legal activities. ** A person who has not reached the age of majority * Academic minor, a secondary field of study in undergraduate education Music theory *Minor chord ** Barbe ...
is presumed to have the use of reason, but
intellectual disability Intellectual disability (ID), also known as general learning disability and formerly mental retardation (MR),Rosa's Law, Pub. L. 111-256124 Stat. 2643(2010). is a generalized neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significantly impaired in ...
can prevent some individuals from ever attaining the use of reason. The term "use of reason" appears in the
1983 Code of Canon Law The 1983 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1983 CIC from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehens ...
17 times, but "age of reason" does not appear. However, the term "age of reason" is used in canon law commentaries such as the ''New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law'' published by Paulist Press in 2002. Children who do not have the use of reason and the mentally disabled are sometimes called "
innocents
innocents
" because of their inability to commit
sin In a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ...

sin
s: even if their actions are objectively sinful, they sometimes lack capacity for subjective
guilt Guilt may refer to: *Guilt (emotion), an emotion that occurs when a person feels that they have violated a moral standard *Culpability, a legal term *Guilt (law), a legal term *GUILT, or Gangliated Utrophin Immuno Latency Toxin, antagonistic parasi ...
. In the
Eastern Catholic Churches The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christi ...
, the
Eucharist The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a that is considered a in most churches, and as an in others. According to the , the r ...

Eucharist
and
Confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and wi ...
are given immediately after baptism, even to infants who do not yet have the use of reason. In
Latin Rite Latin liturgical rites, or Western liturgical rites, are Catholic rites of public worship employed by the Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , ...
Catholicism, Confirmation is conferred, except in danger of death, only on persons who have the use of reason; and
Holy Communion The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monothe ...

Holy Communion
may be administered to children only if "they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the
Body of Christ Body may refer to: In science * Physical body In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection of matter within a defined contiguous boundary in three-dimensional spac ...
with
faith Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...

faith
and devotion." In danger of death, the Eucharist may be administered also to children who lack the use of reason, if the child can distinguish the sacrament from ordinary food and receive it reverently.Code of Canon Law, canon 913
/ref> This is likewise true for those who have severe intellectual disabilities such that they are not assumed ever to gain the use of reason.


Age of majority

The age of majority in the Catholic Church is 18 following the consensus of
Civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, though, until Advent 1983, the Age of Majority was 21 in the
Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
, based on the age of majority according to
Roman Law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
.


Juridic persons

In simple terms, a juridic person is an artificial construct under canon law that allows a group of persons or things to function and be treated under canon law as a single unit. The
1917 Code of Canon Law The 1917 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1917 CIC, from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code,Dr. Edward Peters accessed June-9-2013 was the first official comprehensive codification Codification m ...
referred to all juridic persons as "moral persons", while the
1983 Code of Canon Law The 1983 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1983 CIC from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehens ...
uses the term "moral person" solely to designate the Apostolic See and the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
itself. A more thorough definition is given by Kennedy: "A juridic person... is an artificial person, distinct from all natural persons or material goods, constituted by competent ecclesiastical authority for an apostolic purpose, with a capacity for continuous existence and with canonical rights and duties like those of a natural person... conferred upon it by law or by the authority which constitutes it and to which it is also accountable under canon law." The doctrine of juridic personality is thought to have its origins in
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
. It has been attributed to
Pope Innocent IV Pope Innocent IV ( la, Innocentius IV; – 7 December 1254), born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25 June 1243 to his death in 1254. Fieschi was born in Genoa and studied at the universities ...

Pope Innocent IV
, who seems at least to have helped spread the idea of ''persona ficta'' as it is called in Latin. In the early church, the doctrine of ''persona ficta'' allowed
monasteries A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical langua ...
to have a legal existence that was apart from the monks, simplifying the difficulty in balancing the need for such groups to have infrastructure though the monks took vows of personal poverty. Another effect of this was that as a fictional person, a monastery could not be held guilty of
delict Delict (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Rep ...
due to not having a soul, helping to protect the organization from non-contractual obligations to surrounding communities. This effectively moved such liability to individuals acting within the organization while protecting the structure itself, since individuals were considered to have a soul and therefore capable of being guilty of negligence and excommunicated.


Canonical age

Canonical age in Roman Catholic canon law is an age one must reach, counting from birth, when one becomes capable of incurring certain obligations, enjoying special privileges, embracing special states of life, holding office or dignity, or receiving the sacraments. Each of these human acts requires a development of mind, body, or spirit appropriate to its free and voluntary acceptance and an adequate knowledge of, and capacity for, the duties and obligations attached. The ages prescribed by canon law differ, as do the privileges, offices, and dignities to which they apply.


Sacraments

#
Baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

Baptism
: the sacrament can be validly administered regardless of age. #
Confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and wi ...

Confirmation
: the canonical age is seven, the age of reason. #
Holy Communion The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monothe ...

Holy Communion
: the canonical age is seven , the age of reason. Children in danger of death, capable of committing and confessing to mortal sin, and of distinguishing heavenly from ordinary food, when desirous of receiving Holy Communion, must not be denied it, although they may not have achieved the minimum age prescribed. #
Confession A confession is a statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information th ...
: the canonical age is seven, the age of reason. From this age, Catholics are bound by the law of annual confession. #
Anointing of the Sick Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body. By extension, the term is also applied to related acts of sprinkling, d ...
: the sacrament is to be administered to a Catholic of seven years or older. #
Holy Orders In certain Christian churches Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church ...
: the sacrament can be received at the earliest at 23 years (deacons), 25 years (priest) or 35 years (bishop), according to canon 1031 CIC. Dispensations can be granted by the Apostolic See. #
Marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...

Marriage
: the
marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...

marriage
able age is 16 years for males and 14 years for females. The same minimum age is required for a non-sacramental marriage (e.g. marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian). Dispensations (by the Apostolic See) are theoretically possible, yet even theoretically only if the children in question have reached sexual maturity). From the age of seven years, all Catholics are bound to hear Holy Mass on every Sunday and every holy day of obligation. To be a sponsor in the conferring of baptism and confirmation, they have to be confirmed and normally be 16 years old (canon 874 CIC). The days of abstinence are to be respected by Catholics of at least 14 years old; the law of fasting (i.e. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) from 18 till 59 years (canon 1252 CIC).


Priesthood, orders, and clerical office

The ancient discipline was neither universal nor fixed, but varied with circumstances of time and locality. The requisite age, according to Gratian, for tonsure and the first three minor orders, those of doorkeeper, reader, and exorcist, was seven, and for acolyte, twelve years. The Council of Trent fixed the ages of 21 years and 1 day for
subdeacon Subdeacon (or sub-deacon) is a minor order or ministry for men in various branches of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teac ...

subdeacon
ship, 22 years and 1 day for
deacon A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the C ...

deacon
ship, and 24 years and 1 day for
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
hood. At present, the canon 1031 CIC fixed the ages of 23 for
deacon A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the C ...

deacon
ship and 25 for
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
hood. The first day of the year in which the canonical age is to be reached is sufficiently timely for the reception of the order. Trent confirmed the Lateran age of thirty years for the
episcopate A bishop is an ordained Ordination is the process by which individuals are Consecration, consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorization, authorized (usually by the religious denom ...
. The age for
cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
s (including cardinal-deacons) was fixed by the Council at thirty years of age. Presently, the general age for a permanent deacon is thirty-five years of age.Code of Canon Law 1031§3 No age is fixed by law for election to the
papacy The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...
. Generals, provincials,
abbot Abbot (from Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long ...

abbot
s, and other regular
prelate A prelate () is a high-ranking member of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their r ...
s having quasi-episcopal jurisdiction must, according to many, have completed their thirtieth year before election; according to others, their 25th year. Various orders and congregations, however, have their own rules for the requisite ages for inferior offices and dignities. The
Council of Trent The Council of Trent ( la, Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in (or Trento, in northern ), was the 19th of the . Prompted by the , it has been described as the embodiment of the ."Trent, Council of" in Cross, F. L. (ed.) ''Th ...

Council of Trent
(Sess. xxv, cap. 7, de regular. et monial.) fixed forty years, and eight years after her profession, for an
abbess In Catholicism, an abbess ( ''abbatissa'', of ''abbas,'' ) is the female of a community of s, which is often an . Description In the (both the and ), , and abbeys, the mode of election, position, rights, and authority of an abbess corr ...
, mother general, or prioress of a religious order of nuns. If a convent (monastery) had no
nun A nun is a woman who vows to dedicate her life to religious service, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic rel ...

nun
that met those requirements, then one over thirty years old and more than five years professed can be elected. An election contrary to these rules is invalid. For clothing with the religious habit or entrance into the novitiate, no age is fixed by decretal law. For religious profession, the Council of Trent prescribes sixteen years of age, with one year of novitiate. The latest enactment, prescribing
simple vow In Catholic Church, Catholic Canon law of the Catholic Church, canon law, a solemn vow is a vow ("a deliberate and free promise made to God about a possible and better good") that the Church has recognized as such. Any other vow, public or priva ...
s for three continuous years after the novitiate before solemn profession, fixes the age for solemn profession at nineteen years for both men and women.


References


Bibliography

# "The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary"—Edited by James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Donald E. Heintschel (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1985). {{Catholic, title=Canonical Age


External links


Catholic Encyclopedia: Canonical Age
(of historical value only) Catholic canon law of persons