By +Oscar V. Cruz, JCD
THE Catholic Church is more than two thousand years old. She is a witness to human history especially so since the birth of Christ. Thus it is that She knows very long since that there are not only good and bad people in the world but also virtuous as well as scandalous members of the clergy in her own enfold. So is it that the Church has all the needed Congregations, Offices, and Tribunals not only to process and declare those deserving of being officially proclaimed Saints, but also to process and punish those guilty of grave misconduct or violation of any of Her Penal Laws – particularly on the part of Clerics, viz, Deacons, Priests, and Bishops.
Just for the record, the Church has her own universal legislations contained in the Code of Canon Law composed of 7 Books containing a total of 1752 legal provisions, most of which have multiple paragraphs and subordinate likewise multiple numbers. In other words, the said Code has all the needed and necessary, fundamental, and complementary norms – except in the matter of physical punishments or corporal penalties that are in domain of the justice system of every Country or State where the Church is.
Thus it is that the Code of Canon Law has definite and defined legislations as far as members of the Clergy are concerned – such as those expressly and officially written down, primarily on the following sections: One, Clerical Obligations as provided in Book II: “People of God”. Two, Penal Laws as enacted in Book VI: “Sanctions in the Church”. Three, administrative and judicial procedures as codified in Book VI “Processes”. In other words, it is a standing reality that the Church has the required laws, administrative measures, and judicial means to look after and impose clerical discipline – in the light of faith and reason, in the sphere of ethics and morals.
Thus it is that specifically as far as the Universal Church is concerned, the same Code of Canon Law carries concrete provisions for the application of her Penal Laws, the imposition of Penal Sanctions through the employ of the proper Procedures. All these are ready for observance through the ministry of Ecclesiastical Tribunals that are thus graded: One, the “Tribunal of First Instance” that are established in all standard ecclesiastical jurisdictions the world over. Two, the Tribunal of Appeals that are operative either in the Vatican or in a given Country like the Philippines that has the CBCP Appellate Tribunal. Three, the Supreme Tribunal that is exercising its exclusive competence from the Vatican.
Question: What is clerical discipline? Answer: That Clerics should be compliant with their obligations. Question: Why is clerical discipline necessary? Answer: So that propriety and justice would be observed among all the ranks of the Clergy. Question: How does the Church respond to clerical indiscipline? Answer: By the application of the canonical legislations as above indicate.