Sanctions in the Church
» Offenses and Penalties in General
» The Remission of Penalties and the Prescription of Actions
Canons 1311-1399 as reflected here took effect on December 8, 2021. The abrogated canons may be found by selecting "Original 1983 Code" in the dropdown menu.
§1. Besides those who are enumerated in can. 1355-1356,
all who can dispense from a law which is supported by a penalty, or excuse from a precept which threatens a penalty, can also remit the penalty itself.
§2. Moreover, a law or precept which establishes a penalty can also grant to others the power of remitting the penalty.
§3. If the Apostolic See has reserved the remission of a penalty to itself or to others, the reservation is to be strictly interpreted.
§1. Provided it is not reserved to the Apostolic See, a penalty established by law which is ferendae sententiaeand has been imposed, or which is latae sententiae and has been declared, can be remitted by the following:
1° the Ordinary who initiated the judicial proceedings to impose or declare the penalty, or who by a decree, either personally or through another, imposed or declared it;
2° the Ordinary of the place where the offender actually is, after consulting the Ordinary mentioned in n. 1, unless because of extraordinary circumstances this is impossible.
§2. Provided it is not reserved to the Apostolic See, a penalty established by law which is latae sententiae and has not yet been declared can be remitted by the following:
1° the Ordinary in respect of his subjects;
2° the Ordinary of the place also in respect of those actually in his territory or of those who committed the offence in his territory;
3° any Bishop, but only in the course of sacramental confession.
§1. A ferendae or a latae sententiae penalty established in a precept not issued by the Apostolic See, can be remitted by the following:
1° the author of the precept;
2° the Ordinary who initiated the judicial proceedings to impose or declare the penalty, or who by a decree, either personally or through another, imposed or declared it;
3° the Ordinary of the place where the offender actually is.
§2. Before the remission is granted, the author of the precept, or the one who imposed or declared the penalty, is to be consulted, unless because of extraordinary circumstances this is impossible.
§1. Without prejudice to the provisions of cann. 508 and 976
, a confessor can in the internal sacramental forum remit a latae sententiae censure of excommunication or interdict which has not been declared, if it is difficult for the penitent to remain in a state of grave sin for the time necessary for the competent Superior to provide.
§2. In granting the remission, the confessor is to impose upon the penitent, under pain of again incurring the censure, the obligation to have recourse within one month to the competent Superior or to a priest having the requisite faculty, and to abide by his instructions. In the meantime, the confessor is to impose an appropriate penance and, to the extent demanded, to require reparation of scandal and harm. The recourse, however, may be made even through the confessor, without mention of a name.
§3. The same duty of recourse, when the danger has ceased, binds those who in accordance with can. 976
have had remitted an imposed or declared censure or one reserved to the Holy See.
§1. The remission of a censure cannot be granted except to an offender whose contempt has been purged in accordance with can. 1347
§2. However, once the contempt has been purged, the remission cannot be refused, without prejudice to the provision of can. 1361
§2 The one who remits a censure can make provision in accordance with can. 1348,
and can also impose a penance.
If one is bound by a number of penalties, a remission is valid only for those penalties expressed in it. A general remission, however, removes all penalties, except those which in the petition the offender concealed in bad faith.
The remission of a penalty extorted by force or grave fear or deceit is invalid by virtue of the law itself.
§1. A remission can be granted even to a person who is not present, or conditionally.
§2. A remission in the external forum is to be granted in writing, unless a grave reason suggests otherwise.
§3. The petition for remission or the remission itself is not to be made public, except in so far as this would either be useful for the protection of the good name of the offender, or be necessary to repair scandal.
§4. Remission must not be granted until, in the prudent judgement of the Ordinary, the offender has repaired any harm caused. The offender may be urged to make such reparation or restitution by one of the penalties mentioned in can. 1336
§§2-4; the same applies also when the offender is granted remission of a censure under can. 1358
§1. A criminal action is extinguished by prescription after three years, except for:
1° offences reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which are subject to special norms;
2° without prejudice to n. 1, an action arising from any of the offences mentioned in can. 1376,
1377, 1378, 1393§1, 1394, 1395, 1397, or 1398§2, which is extinguished after seven years, or one arising from the offences mentioned in can. 1398
§1, which is extinguished after twenty years;
3° offences not punished by the universal law, where a particular law has prescribed a different period of prescription.
§2. Prescription, unless provided otherwise in a law, runs from the day the offence was committed or, if the offence was enduring or habitual, from the day it ceased.
§3. When the offender has been summoned in accordance with can. 1723,
or informed in the manner provided in can. 1507
§3 of the presentation of the petition of accusation according to can. 1721
§1, prescription of the criminal action is suspended for three years; once this period has expired or the suspension has been interrupted through the cessation of the penal process, time runs once again and is added to the period of prescription which has already elapsed. The same suspension equally applies if, observing can. 1720
n. 1, the procedure is followed for imposing or declaring a penalty by way of an extra-judicial decree.
§1. An action to execute a penalty is extinguished by prescription if the judge’s decree of execution mentioned in can. 1651
was not notified to the offender within the periods mentioned in can. 1362
; these periods are to be reckoned from the day the condemnatory judgement became an adjudged matter.
§2. The same applies, with the necessary adjustments, if the penalty was imposed by an extra-judicial decree.
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