A dispensation, that is, the relaxation of a merely ecclesiastical law in a particular case, can be granted, within the limits of their competence, by those who have executive power, and by those who either explicitly or implicitly have the power of dispensing, whether by virtue of the law itself or by lawful delegation.
In so far as laws define those elements which are essentially constitutive of institutes or of juridical acts, they are not subject to dispensation.
§1 Whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual welfare, the diocesan Bishop can dispense the faithful from disciplinary laws, both universal laws and those particular laws made by the supreme ecclesiastical authority for his territory or his subjects. He cannot dispense from procedural laws or from penal laws, nor from those whose dispensation is specially reserved to the Apostolic See or to some other authority.
[NB see Authentic Interpretation of canon 87 §1, 5.VII.1985]
§2 If recourse to the Holy See is difficult, and at the same time there is danger of grave harm in delay, any Ordinary can dispense from these laws, even if the dispensation is reserved to the Holy See, provided the dispensation is one which the
Holy See customarily grants in the same circumstances, and without prejudice to can.
The local Ordinary can dispense from diocesan laws and, whenever he judges that it contributes to the spiritual welfare of the faithful, from laws made by a plenary or a provincial Council or by the Episcopal Conference.
Parish priests and other priests or deacons cannot dispense from universal or particular law unless this power is expressly granted to them.
§1 A dispensation from an ecclesiastical law is not to be given without a just and reasonable cause, taking into account the circumstances of the case and the importance of the law from which the dispensation is given; otherwise the dispensation is unlawful and, unless given by the legislator or his superior, it is also invalid.
§2 A dispensation given in doubt about the sufficiency of its reason is valid and lawful.
In respect of their subjects, even if these are outside the territory, those who have the power of dispensing can exercise it even if they themselves are outside their territory; unless the contrary is expressly provided, they can exercise it also in respect of peregrini actually present in the territory; they can exercise it too in respect of themselves.
A strict interpretation is to be given not only to a dispensation in accordance with can. 36
§1, but also to the very power of dispensing granted for a specific case.
A dispensation capable of successive applications ceases in the same way as a privilege. It also ceases by the certain and complete cessation of the motivating reason.
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