Doctrine of Reception

The Canonical Doctrine of Reception


Doctrina de la Recepcion

Prepared for the Association for the Rights of Catholics  in the Church (ARCC)

“. . . For a law or rule to be an effective guide for the believing community, 

it must be accepted by the community.”

The canonical doctrine of reception, broadly stated, asserts that for a law or rule to be an effective guide for the believing community it must be accepted by that community.

This doctrine is very ancient. It began with John Gratian in the twelfth century. Gratian based his version of the teaching on the writings of Isidore of Seville (seventh century) and Augustine of Hippo (fifth century). The development, varieties and vicissitudes of reception have been explored in recent years in a series of important studies by Luigi DeLuca, Yves Congar, Hubert Müller, Brian Tierney, Geoffrey King, Richard Potz, Peter Leisching, and Werner Krämer. This present work draws upon those historical studies and attempts to formulate the doctrine itself. This is an effort to articulate the theory of canonical reception.

This is an excerpt of an article from the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC).  Click here to read the entire article.  The article is © 2011 ARCC.

James A. Coriden is the Academic Dean Emeritus at Washington Theological Union, where he also teaches canon law. Ordained in 1957, he holds degrees in theology, canon law, and civil law. He has written most often on matters of church discipline and ministry, and has served as co-editor of the Canon Law Society of America’s commentary on the Revised Code of Canon Law. He has published books on an Introduction to Canon Law and on The Parish in Catholic Tradition. Currently, he is engaged as co-editor of a new CLSA commentary on the Code of Canon Law.