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Emmanuel Farai wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can you unpack the following canon from the Code of Canon Law, Canon 1214.


  { Can you unpack and explain what Canon 1214 means in the Code of Canon Law? }

Mike replied:

Dear Emmanuel,

I'm a little confused.

  • Can you tell me what you don't understand about this canon?

Chapter I.


Canon 1214 By the term church is understood a sacred building designated for divine worship to which the faithful have the right of entry for the exercise, especially the public exercise, of divine worship.


Emmanuel replied:


I need a critical analysis of Canon 1214.

  • The difference(s) between:
    • Church with a capital letter C and
    • a church with the small letter, c.
  • What are sacred buildings?
  • What do we mean when we say, (intended|designated) for divine worship and the right of the faithful to access, especially for public exercise?


Mike replied:


Most of the time when the faithful use the word Church, capitalized, they are referring to the Catholic Church Jesus founded on St. Peter in 33 A.D.

When they refer to the lowercase word church or churches, with a small c, they are usually referring to one or more local Catholic parishes that are under the jurisdiction of a local bishop. Each particular bishop has a specific geographical area that he is pastorally responsible for called a diocese.

Sacred buildings are buildings consecrated for worship (or exercise of the faith) by the faithful.
They are usually consecrated by a bishop, pastor, priest, or deacon.

Divine worship is the worship we give to God alone on a regular basis for the blessings we have received. The Church teaches that the faithful have the right to have local Catholic parishes so they can keep the Third Commandment and give due worship to God.

As a final note: My colleagues probably didn't answer this question because it sounds like it is from a homework assignment. If it is, you are obligated to write on the homework the source of your answers:


Eric replied:


Generally I am reluctant to answer questions about the interpretation of canon law because we are not canonists. That's like offering legal or medical advice. Also I'm unsure how to break the question down into simpler language. But I'll try.

A sacred building is a building set apart for God. In everyday life we have certain things that are set apart to do certain things or for certain purposes and no other. China, for example, might be set apart for entertaining guests. Certain furniture might be set apart for a similar reason. Thus a sacred build is set apart for God, in particular divine worship.

  • What is divine worship?

Chiefly what we call the liturgy, the rituals we perform on a daily basis for all believers. Foremost here is the Mass or Divine Liturgy, or the Eucharistic celebration (chiefly celebrated on Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day of the week when Jesus, our Lord rose from the dead). In the Eucharistic celebration, we make present the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in the form of Holy Communion, which we believe to be bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ in sacramental form. We also celebrate Baptisms (an initiation rite into Christianity performed by immersing the person into water or pouring water over the head), funerals, Marriages, and other rites. These rites are all ultimately oriented toward God, the Blessed Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

  • What do we mean when we say, (intended|designated) for divine worship and the right of the faithful to access, especially for public exercise?

Unlike other sacred buildings (e.g. monasteries), churches are intended to be public, for all the Christian faithful to access. The faithful (Catholic believers), have by this canon, a right to access the church, i.e., to use it.

  • Does this make sense or answer your question?


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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