Apostolic See of St. John  

Servant of Christ Jesus of the Catholic Faith

             His Eminence Archbishop-Primate +John Paul Hozvicka SCJ, D.D.

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Canon Laws


     Canon laws are man-made laws set up as guidelines on how to govern the action and operation of the Church, the priesthood and membership in the Church. The early Church Fathers established the canon laws of the first seven ecumenical councils to refute the heresy that was being taught as doctrine outside of the Orthodox faith; resulting in the creation of the Nicene Creed as the true Church statement of faith.


The canons of the Church are distinguished first between those of a dogmatic or doctrinal nature and those of a practical, ethical, or structural nature. They are then further distinguished between those which may be changed and altered to up date to meet the times and those which are unchangeable and may not be altered under any conditions.


Unchanging Canons

The dogmatic canons are those that the early Church council defines as being an article of the Christian faith:

Example: the two natures of Christ (divine and human).

As the Church grows over the centuries such canons may develop new and different words as the old language changes to the modern, today, language, particularly as the Church Tradition grows and moves through time, their essential meaning remains eternal and unchanging.

Those canons of a moral value and ethical nature also belong to those which cannot be changed. These are the moral teachings of the Church and these canons whose meaning is absolute and eternal and whose violation can in no way be justified, cannot be changed.

Example: The canons which forbid the sale of Church sacraments are of this kind.

Changing or updating Canons

     The problem we run into with canon laws is that after a century or two the need for them may have changed and they may need to be removed. They may need to be updated to reflect the changes in the Church in our society and in our way of thinking and understanding (mentality). The laws of God can never be changed but manmade canon laws that are written to govern the operation of the Church, its clergy as a discipline can and should always be updated to reflect the signs of the times.


Example #1: the law that talks about the certain age of a person that is required for ordination as deacon, priest and becoming a bishop.


Example #2: The canon which requires that the bishops of the Church be unmarried is of the latter or modern type. Yet the Holy Scriptures teach that bishops and priest should be married to one wife (I Timothy 3:2) and canon law number five of the Orthodox rudder says a bishop should not put away his wife for the sake of him becoming more righteous. However, all of the Orthodox today practice forced celibacy for its bishops, only single priest can become bishops, and married priest are excluded; in my opinion this is a very bad mistake in this change because the divine words of the Holy Scriptures supersedes that of canon law when they are in conflict.


Canons are inspired


    All Moral and Dogmatic Church Doctrine written into Canon laws from the result of a council of bishops are divinely inspirited by the Holy Spirit. Those laws that are changeable laws and not divinely inspired but serve as a rule or guideline in governing the Church, disciplines for the clergy and church members and thereby its authority as canon laws falls under that of the authority of the Holy Scriptures. If there is a conflict between the Holy Scriptures and that of the Church canon laws then the Holy Scripture authority supersedes over canon law; in other words the Holy Scriptures has authority over canon laws.


     Since the time of Moses man has learned the value of having laws since man nature is influenced and easily corrupted by sin, the law bring to us equality and equal Justices.  Good laws help govern our lives and keep us from acting incorrectly, unfairly, and caution us from doing evil to others.


     In the Church, canon laws are very important and highly respected and carefully obeyed. They insure us from wrong doings within the Church and priesthood. Upon ordination everyone takes an Oath of obedience to the teachings of the Church and to the canon laws of the Church.


     However, the Church canon laws should never enslave the members of the Church, and should never impose upon its members any hardships, or benefit any individual person own ambition; but should always be written for the benefit and interest of God Church and nothing else. Canon laws should never be written in a way that will limit the spread of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit. 




The Servants of Christ Jesus of the Catholic Faith Hold to and follow the 81 canon laws of the ancient Church of the First Seven Ecumenical Councils.