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Penal Law in Action

This book on penal law explains the main topics of penal law, with cases and examples of its implementation, using the changed text of Book 6 of the Code of Canon Law that will come into effect on December 8, 2021.

Pope Francis has revised Book 6 of the Code of Canon Law, "Penal Sanctions in the Church," canons 1311-1399. Of these 89 canons, 63 have been changed and others have been renumbered.

Changes include a new canon 1376 concerning the crimes of stealing and misappropriation of church property; canon 1398 §2 making the sexual abuse of minors by religious brothers and sisters a crime; c. 1398 §1 no. 2 making grooming a crime. Other changes in canon law since 1983 have been incorporated into the new book 6. These include raising the age for sexual abuse from under age 14 to under age 18; a 1988 law imposing penalties for recording confessions; penalties for the attempted ordination of a woman; penalties for bishops failing to report or take sufficient measures against perpetrators of sexual abuse; and for clerics using pornography of those under age 18.


"Brendan Daly has spent decades studying the Church's penal law and striving to apply it faithfully and fairly to messy cases, especially those involving claims of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In Penal Law in Action, he has distilled his knowledge and experience that make ecclesiastical penal law thoroughly accessible to nonspecialists."
—Rev. John P. Beal, JCD, The Catholic University of America, School of Canon Law

"Penal Law in Action is a clear, comprehensive, and highly practical map to help students and practitioners of canon law to navigate through the complexities of penal law. No doubt, it will be a welcome addition in many jurisdictions worldwide."
—Elizabeth Ong, judge tribunal of the Catholic Church for New Zealand

"Penal Law in Action provides an indispensable and practical resource for understanding and applying the recent changes to the Church's penal law."
—Chad Glendinning, JCD, PhD, Saint Paul University, Canada

"Canon lawyers, canon law students, and all who are interested in the law of the Church will want this volume on penal law. Not only will they find explanations of the main topics of this law, but they will also discover the history of each topic along with cases and examples of its implementation."
—Rev. Dr. Paul Golden, CM

"Penal Law in Action details the theological underpinnings, historical development, and practical analysis of chapters and individual canons. I commend the book to practitioners, persons dealing with cases involving penal law, or simply those with an interest in the subject."
—The Hon. Neville Owen, Western Australia, Pontifical Commission for Minors

Msgr. Brendan Daly is judicial vicar of the Tribunal of the Catholic Church for New Zealand and lecturer in canon law at Te Kupenga Catholic Theological College. He was the rector of Holy Cross Seminary from 1995 to 2000, before he became a principal at the seminary theologate for New Zealand (2002–16). He is a priest of the diocese of Christchurch and holds a doctorate in canon law from St. Paul University and a PhD from Ottawa University. He has been a judge on the Appeal Tribunal for Australia and New Zealand and has written numerous articles. He has run more than fifty marathons, including the Boston, New York, and London marathons.

ISBN: 978-08091-8806-2

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