VII. A Penal Decree and/or Restrictive Precepts
VII. A Penal Decree and/or Restrictive Precepts Have Just Been Imposed
on You. How Do You Check for Validity?
Msgr. Charles L. Scicluna, Promotor of Justice, Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, The General Structure of
Administrative Justice in the Church, in Proceedings of the Canon Law Society of India, 2004
The Difference between a Decree and a Precept:
Canon 48, Decretum singulare: "A singular decree is an administrative act issued by a
competent executive authority, whereby in accordance with the norms of law a decision is
given or a provision made for a particular case; of its nature this decision or provision does not
presuppose that a petition has been made by anyone."
Canon 49 Praeceptum singulare: "A singular precept is a decree by which an obligation is
directly and lawfully imposed on a specific person or persons to do or omit something,
especially in order to urge the observance of a law."
A checklist for appraising validity of a particular administrative act:
a. Did the author of the act enjoy canonical jurisdiction and executive power?
b. Is the act valid according to the general norms applicable to particular administrative acts
c. Is the act valid according to the rules applicable for the specific subject matter; have the
requirements of ad validitatem been respected?
d. Is the act lawful or licit according to the general and specific norms applicable to it; has
the law been followed as to the merit of the decision (in decernendo); has the law been
followed as to the procedure applicable to the case (in procedendo)?
e. Is the act prudent and expedient; does it promote the common good and respect the
principles of natural justice and Church doctrine concerning liturgy, dogmatic and moral
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