Catholic Institute of West Africa

Canon Law

Canon Law






NB: All courses mounted are compulsory for Canon Law students.

CNL 5011       History and Sources of Canon Law

Reading and interpretation of Text of the Fathers especially as in Corpus Iuris Canonici regarding Origin, Definition and Division of Canon Law. In particular: Pseudo-Apostolic Writings; Antique Collections of Councils; Dionysian Collections, Spanish Collections; African Collections; Penitential Books; Pseudo Isidori Collections of Gregorian Reform; Collections of Tvo Charters and Corpus Iuris Canonici. Evolution of Canonical Science: Historical evolution of juridical thoughts: Various periods and influences. Compilation of canonical texts: From Apostolic times to XII Century; Compilation of Corpus Iuris Canonici. Codification of the 1917 Code and the recodification of Codex Iuris Canoonici of 1983. Introduction to the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches. Modern approaches to the study of Canon Law.

CNL 5021       Philosophy of Law

Necessity and Difficulty of Philosophy of Law. Philosophy of Law and Sociology of Law. General Theories of Law. The Human Person and Juridical Experience. Man as Person, Social beings, principle, subject and end of law. Principle of Subsidiarity. Common good. Law and Justice, Objective of Justice, Justice as foundation of Law. Natural Justice and Positive Law. Injustice, Natural Law and Positive Law. Juridical Systems. Juridical Norms. The Rule of Law.

CNL 5031       Theology of Law

Evolution of the Formation of the Canonical Science and related problems. Nature, purpose and objectives of Canon Law. Divisions in the Code. The Constitution: “Sacrae Disciplinae Leges.” Theology and Law. Theological disciplines and Canonical Science. Problems and prospects of Canon Law. Anti-juridical Trends. New Orientations Ecclesiastical Foundations of Canon law: Church as Sacrament, Church as Communion, Church as Institution, Charismatic Church and Institutional Church.

CNL 5051       Institutions of Roman Law

Fontes Essendi et Fontes Cognoscendi of Roman Law: Constitutive and Depository Sources; Principal parts of Roman Law; The Subject of Law and acquisition of rights. Object of Law: Notion and Division. Property and Hereditary Rights. Protection of Dominion. Obligations: Notion, Sources, Contracts, Non-Contractual Acts.

CNL 5061       Canonical Latin: (Part One)

Introduction: Necessity of Latin language in the study of Canon Law. In particular, its necessity as regards Science and Evolution of Canon Law. Theoretical part: Principal elements of Latin syntax. Vocabulary and expressions proper to Canon Law.

CNL 5071       Canonical Latin: (Part One)

Practical part: Initiation to the Translation from Latin vulgate of the Code of Canon Law.Translation from the Vilgate of more difficult texts of Antique Source and recent documents of Canon Law. Characteristic examples of various Institutions of Canon Law.


CNL 5081       Canonical Methodology

Orientation and Methods of Canon Law: Various Approaches to the study of Canon Law; Orientations of the 1917 and 1983 Code; Modern Theological Orientations of Canon Law. Knowledge and familiarity with “Tools of the Trade.” Books on Canonical Research, Fundamental notion of library science and Bibliography. Techniques in the writing of thesis in Canon Law: Collection of materials; organization and evaluation of juridical documentation. Elaboration of a theme in Canon Law. Presentation of the scheme of work of a possible theme for Tesina (small thesis).

CNL 5091       Introduction to Civil Law

Canonization of Civil Law According to Canon 22: Canonization. Objectives, Extent and Limits, Application in the Canons, Uses in practice.

CNL 5111       General Norms: (Part One)

Introduction to the Code of Canon Law. Description of the Code, nature, history, motivation, merits and defects, reforms. Preliminary Canons. Ecclesiastical Law. Customs. General Decrees and Instructions. Singular Administrative Acts. Statutes and Ordinances.

CNL 5121       General Norms: (Part Two)

Subjects of Canon Law: Physical and Juridical Persons. Juridical Acts. Power of Governance. Ecclesiastical Offices. Prescription. The Reckoning of time.

CNL 5131       Teaching Office of the Church

Novelty of Book III. Title, Orientation, Structure and Content. The introductory Canons. Ministry of the Divine Word. Missionary Activity of the Church. Catholic Education. Means of Social Communication and Books in Particular. The Profession of Faith.

CNL 5141       Ecumenism and Ecumenical Trends

The foundational structure of Ecumenism considers the various documents of the Church on Ecumenism while introducing the students to the canonical orientation in Ecumenical trends zeroing the treat on the Ecumenical Movements in West African Sub-Region.

CNL 5211       Christ’s Faithful, Laity and Associations

Obligation and Rights of Christ’s faithful, in particular of the Law Members. Notion, Apostolate, Offices and Ministry of the Laity. Right of freedom of Association in the Church. Norms common to Associations. Public and Private Associations.

CNL 5221       Hierarchical Constitution of the Church: Supreme Authority in the

Church - (Part One)

The teaching of the Vatican Council II and the extant Code of Canon Law regarding the Hierarchy. Notion of the Universal Church: The Supreme Authority of the Church: The Roman Pontiff and his primatial prerogatives;  personal primacy of the supreme Pontiff and Universal jurisdiction of the College of Bishops. Organs of communion and participation of the Universal Church (Synod of Bishops, Cardinals, Roman Curia, and Papal Legates). The structure of the Roman Curia.

CNL 5231       Institutes of Consecrated Life

Norms common to all Institutes: Consecration through Evangelical Counsels; Constitution of Institutes and their Autonomy; Typology of Institutes. Religious Institutes: Houses; Government; Temporal Goods; Admission; Formation; Religious Profession; Obligations and Rights. Apostolate of Institutes; Separation from Institutes.

Secular Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life.


CNL 5241       Administrative Justice and Hierarchical Recourse (Seminar)

Administrative Justice: Removal and Transfer of Parish Priests. Administrative Recourse.

Equality of Sexes in the Church: The Principle. Canonical Provisions. Vatican II and Post conciliar teaching. Exclusion of Women from Orientation and other Ministries.

CNL 5311       Canonical Inculturation (Seminar)

The course attempts to collocate properly the gospel of inculturation in the Life and Practice of the Church, outline the contemporary trends while asserting the Church’s Official Position. Then, it considers the inculturational salient issues, like Sacraments, Customs, Particular Laws, etc.

CNL 5321       Sacraments of Christian Initiation

Introduction to Sacramental Law. This course considers selected important canonical topics of the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.

CNL 5331       Marriage: (Part One)

Description and analysis of the Institution of Marriage. Care of the Church on Marriage. Position  of Civil Society on Canonical Marriage, Personal and Interpersonal character of Conjugal Alliance. Marriage as a Covenant, as a Contract and as a Sacrament. Objective and Necessity of Consent. The law that regulates marriage between Catholics. Prerequisites for the Celebration of Marriage. Impediments, Matrimonial consent. The Form of Celebration of Marriage. Mixed marriages. Secret celebration of Marriage. The Effects of Marriage. Separation of spouses. Validation of Marriage.

CNL 5421       Processes: Trials in General

Biblical – Theological Foundation of Canonical Processes. Nature of Canonical Processes. History of Canonical Processes. Division and Typology: Judicial and administrative, written and oral, special and penal. Trials in General, Competent Forum. Kinds of Tribunals and their Discipline. Parties in a Case. Actions and Exceptions.

CNL 5441       Special Processes: (Part One)

Matrimonial Processes for Nullity of Marriage. Cases of Separation of Spouses, Dispensation from a Ratified and Non-consummated marriage. Presumed Death of a Spouse. Cases of Declaration of Nullity of Sacred Ordination. Ways of Avoiding Trials. The Penal Process.

NB: All courses mounted are compulsory for Canon Law students.

CNL 5042       Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches

Codification of the Code of Canon Law for Oriental Churches: Revision Criteria, Sources, Theological Principles, Structure of Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium (CCEO). Ecclesiological and canonical concept of Oriental Churches sui iuris: autonomy of the Churches and communion with Apostolic See. Juridical enrolment of the Church. Four Categories of Oriental Church sui iuris. Common Characteristics and Diversity. Eastern monastic and religious states. Sacraments in Oriental Churches. Marriage in the Oriental Code. Comparison with Latin normative.

CNL 5052       Public Ecclesiastical Law: Church and State

Relation between Church and State in the Antique Age. Church and State in the Medieval Age. Church and Modern States. Church and State of Contemporary Age. Canonical Theory on the Relation of Church to the State. Concept of Secular State, Objectives of Conscience. The Secular State and protection of religious matters: Marriage. Civil Effects of Marriage, recognition of Sentence of nullity. sustenance of the Clergy. Education: possibility of establishment of Schools, Religious Instruction in Schools. Spiritual Assistance: Prisons, hospitals, army.

CNL 5062       Canonical Latin: (Part Two)

Introduction: Necessity of Latin language in the study of Canon Law. In particular, its necessity as regards Science and Evolution of Canon Law. Theoretical part: Principal elements of Latin syntax. Vocabulary and expressions proper to Canon Law.

CNL 5072       Canonical Latin: (Part Two)

Practical part: Initiation to the Translation from Latin vulgate of the Code of Canon Law. Translation from the Vilgate of more difficult texts of Antique Source and recent documents of Canon Law. Characteristic examples of various Institutions of Canon Law.

CNL 5142       Juridical Acts and Power of Governance (Seminar)

Selected themes in Book 1 on Juridical Acts. Power of governance: Nature and origin of Sacred power. Opinion of Canonists. State of the Question after the Code of Canon Law.

CNL 5262       Orders and Sacred Ministers

Common and Ministerial Priesthood. The Episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate. Celebration and Minister of Ordination. Reservation of Ordination to Men. Prerequisites for Ordination. Irregularities and other Impediments.

Formation of Clerics. Incardination of Clerics. Obligation and rights of clerics. Loss of the Clerical State. Personal prelatures.

CNL 5272       Hierarchical Constitution of the Church: Particular Churches –

Authority, Groupings and Organization - (Part Two)

Particular Churches and Authority constituted within them. Evolution in the understanding of particular Churches: Various groupings of the particular churches: Ecclesiastical Provinces and Regions. Episcopal Conferences. The competence of the Conferences of Bishops. The Diocesan Bishop and organs of organizational consultation and participation in the particular churches with emphasis on the New Collegial Institutes within them. Parishes and others: Parish priests. Assistant Parish priests: Organization of parish personnel and structures for effective pastoral work. Restructuring the ecclesial basic structure.

CNL 5282       Temporal Goods of the Church

Nature and Objective of Temporal Goods. Right of the Church to Temporal Goods. Independence from civil authority in matters of temporal goods. Relation between the Church and other juridical persons. Subject of Dominion. Authority of the Supreme Pontiff on temporal goods. Communion of goods in the Church. Acquisition of Goods. Administrations of Ecclesiastical goods. Contracts and especially Alienation. Pious Dispositions in general and Pious Foundations. Temporal Goods in Religious Institutes and their Administration.

CNL 5342       Marriage: (Part Two)

CNL 5352       Sanctifying Office and Sacramentals

Preliminary canons. Sacraments in General “Communicatio in Sacris” Celebration according to Liturgical Books. Gratuitous Nature of Sacraments. The Blessed Eucharist especially Reservation and Veneration. Offering made for Celebration of Mass. Other Acts of Divine worship. Sacramentals, Church Funerals, Cult of the Sins, Vows and Oaths, Sacred Places and Times.

CNL 5362       Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.

The sacrament of Penance. The Nature of the Power of Absolution of sins. The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. Indulgences. The Nature, Celebration and Ministers of the Sacrament of the Sick.

CNL 5372       Constitutive Psychological Factors in Marriage

Since the advent of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has acknowledged the importance of psychology in understanding human acts including juridical acts. This is especially reflected in Church marriages. These include the Constitutive Psychological Factors arising from psychological issues as developed over the years in Matrimonial Jurisprudence. Marriage Consent and the Psychological Schools of thought; Marriage Consent as Human Act; Personality Development and the Dynamics of Motivation for Marriage; Cognitive perspective in Marriage Consent; Volitional perspective in Marriage Consent; Maturity required for Marriage; Discretion of Judgment required for Valid Marriage Consent; Psychological Capacity to Assume the Essential Marital Obligations; Psychological Factors and the Pastoral Care of Marriage.

CNL 5412       Sanctions In the Church

Coercive Power in the Church. Church and the fact of Sin. Biblical Foundation of coercive power. Coercive power I the Code. Notion of Crime and Punishment. Authority with coercive power in the Church. Subjects liable to Penal Sanctions. Penalties and other Punishments: Medical Penalty of Censures. Expiatory Penalties. Penal Remedies and Penances. Application of Penalties. Cessation of Penalties. Penalties for particular offences.

CNL 5432       Processes: Contentious Trials

This course consists of the following topics: The introductory petition of the suit; the citation and notification of judicial acts; the joinder of issues (contestatio litis) and the prosecution of the suit. The others include: the advancement of proofs (the declaration of the parties, documentary proofs, witnesses and testimonies); the services of experts (de peritis); access and judicial recognizance and presumptions); the incidental cases (parties who do not appear in court, and the intervention of third party in a case); the publication of the Acts, the conclusion of the case and discussion of the case; the pronouncements of the judge; Challenge of the Sentence (complaint of nullity against the sentence, the appeal); Res Judicata and Restituto in integrum; Court costs and gratuitous legal assistance and finally the execution of the sentence.

CNL 6452       Special Processes: (Part Two)

Processes for declaration of nullity of marriage. Dissolution of marriage in various cases.

Process over nullity of sacred ordination. Dispensation from clerical celibacy. The cause of canonization.

CNL 5462       Causes of Beatification and Canonization (Seminar)

Universal Vocation to Holiness and Sanctity in General. Historical notes of the origin of Cult of Martyrs and Confessors. Historical and juridical evolution of the Process of Beatification and Canonization. Innovations introduced after the Code. General Norms. Roman Pontiff and Bishops associated with the acts introducing the process. Cognition Process. Persons that participate in the process. The Competent Forum: Diocesan and Regional Tribunal. Determination before Congregation. Proofs. Beatification. Introduction of the Cause. Acts of Diocesan Curia and Congregation. Determination over martyrdom, virtue, miracles and Canonization.



CNL 6111       Contemporary Issues in Canon Law (Sem.)

Discussion of topical issues in Canon Law. Canon Law and the African     perspectives. African contribution to Canonical patrimony. Other issues that are disputed and are of current interests and relevance.

CNL 6121       Philosophical Trends in Canon Law

Greek contribution to legal science. The influence of Roman Law. Major  philosophical theories of Law. Philosophical basis of Canon Law.

CNL 6211       Ecclesiastical Rights and Conditions of Lay Persons in the Church

Evolution of human rights, thought and practice in the Civil society. Ecclesial rights: issues, scope, protection and vindication. Jurisprudence on Ecclesial rights. Evolution of the notion of the laity: historical development in the canonical condition of the laity; obligations and rights of the law members of Christ’s faithful. Associations of the law members of Christ’s faithful. Integration of their modus operandi with the African modes of association.

CNL 6221       Structure of the Universal Church

Notion of the Universal Church: The Roman Pontiff and his primatial prerogatives; personal primacy of the supreme Pontiff and Universal jurisdiction of the College of Bishops. Organs of communion and participation of the Universal Church. The structure of the Roman Curia.

CNL 6231       Structure of the Particular Churches

Evolution in the understanding of the particular Churches: Various groupings of the particular churches; the competence of the conferences of Bishops. The Diocesan Bishop and organs of participation and consultation in the particular churches. Organization of parish personnel and structures for effective pastoral work. Restructuring the ecclesial basic structure.

CNL 6241       Clerics and Politics (Seminar)

Participation of a cleric in politics. The obligation to abstain from partisan politics and the rationale for the prohibition. The influence of local conditions on the observance of this rule.

CNL 6251       Ecclesial Basic Communities in the Structure of the Church (Seminar)

The place of ecclesial basic communities in the structure of the particular church: their role in liturgical worship; administration and evangelization.

CNL 6311       Administrative Law, Justice and Recourse in the Church (Sem.)

The power of governance: Ecclesiastical offices. Administrative decrees, Rescripts, privileges and dispensations. Transfer and removal of parish priests. Administrative recourse. Ombudsman in the Church. Avenues open for members of Christ’s faithful to obtain justice in administrative matters. Arbitration and mediation. Administrative tribunals. Hierarchical recourse.

CNL 6321       Maintenance of the Clergy and other Church Personnel (Seminar)

Right to adequate maintenance for the clergy and other church workers. Issues of social justice: local arrangements and diocesan policies.

CNL 6411       Selected Questions on Tribunal and Processes

Apostolic tribunals. Diocesan and regional tribunals. Various grades of tribunals. The administration and discipline of the tribunals.

CNL 6421       Customary Marriage in the Light of Canonical Jurisprudence (Seminar)

African notion of marriage: its essential elements and properties; the place of consent, impediments and how these can be received into canonical matrimonial jurisprudence.




CNL 6262       Canonical Status of Sacred Ministers

Requirements for entry into the clerical state. Incardination and Excardination. Obligations and rights of clerics. Impact of cultures on the clerical state. Leaving the clerical state: voluntarily; dismissal from the clerical state.

CNL 6272       Issues on Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (S)

Evolution of various forms of consecrated life: common norms; religious life and institutes of religious life. Secular institutes. Societies of Apostolic life. Their role in the Church and in the world. Inculturation of religious life in Africa.

CNL 6282       Canonical Status of Women in the Church (Seminar)

The position of Women as women in the Church: their canonical abilities and disabilities as women, both lay and religious. Prospects and problems of equality of sexes in the Church.

CNL 6332       The Teaching Office of the Church

The universal mandate of Church. The Magisterium: the participation of lay members of Christ’s faithful in the teaching office. The ministry of the word with special reference to evangelization in the world of today. Issues in Catholic Education. The use of means of social communication.

CNL 6342       Liturgical and Sacramental Ministry

Canonical discipline on the Liturgy: the sacraments in general. Key issues in individual sacraments. Sacraments, sacred times and places. African perspective in canonical discipline on acts of divine cult and inculturation of liturgical rites and texts.

CNL 6352       Current Questions in Matrimonial Laws

Marriage covenant/contract. Sacramentality of marriage. Monogamy-polygamy reconsidered. Status of customary marriage. Pastoral preparation for marriage. Matrimonial impediments. Consent and defects of consent from African perspective. Healing of marriage.

CNL 6362       Temporary Goods of the Church

Objectives of temporal goods in the Church. Acquisition and administration of ecclesiastical goods. The rich-clergy/church image. The universal destination of goods of the Church and the obligation to foster social justice in the administration of the temporal goods of the Church. Contracts. Pious foundations and wills.

CNL 6432       Traditional Dispensation of Justice (Seminar)

Means of resolving conflicts of settling disputes in the traditional society. Various bodies or agencies involved in the settlement of disputes. Possible contribution to the dispensation of justice in the Church in Africa.

CNL 6442       Matrimonial Jurisprudence in General

Concept, role and scope of Canonical Jurisprudence. Nullity arising from impediments with special reference to sexual impotence. Nullity arising from defect of canonical form such as invalid convalidation. Nullity arising from defect of matrimonial consent.

CNL 6452       Psychological Factors in Matrimonial Jurisprudence

An in-depth study of aspects of Matrimonial Jurisprudence of Psychological factors affecting the validity of marriage. Comparison of Rotal and other particular Church’s jurisprudence. African jurisprudence.This includes issues such as: Ignorance in marriage; error in marriage, effect of Fraud in Marriage Consent, Simulation, Conditional Consent, Force and Fear; Lack of sufficient Use of Reason, Lack of Due Discretion of Judgment, Psychological Inability to Assume the Essential Obligations of Marriage, Psycho-sexual deviations and the Inability for the formation of stable and peaceful Community of Life and Conjugal Love and lastly the Juridical test in the application of Psychological principles for cases of Psychological Incapacity.

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