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The Civil Code and the Canon Law

The Civil Code and the Canon Law represent two different legal
rationalities that have questioned each other. The Code Napoleon, less
revolutionary than the civil measures passed in 1791-1792, did not hesitate
to borrow from the old French law which had in turn been influenced
by Roman and Canon law. But the modernity of the Code led it,
according to what Voltaire had required, to take marital law away
from ecclesiastical control. On the other hand, the Church canon law
had tried, long before 1789 – in fact as early as 1563 – to guarantee the
freedom of the future spouses, and in particular of women, to agree to
their union. However it was the codification genius of Napoleon that
led to a codification of canon law in the twentieth century, thereby
influencing the entire Christendom. The old French law had gotten
hold of divine law to establish its authority. The divine right of the
King, displaced by the nation and reason after 1789, was not reintroduced
in the French constitutional state by the Code Napoleon while
it has remained in the Roman Catholic Church Canon, at the apex of a
complex hierarchy of religious norms. Given the increasing pluralism
of values, in France as well as in other Westernized regions of the contemporary
world, the civil work of codification can be pursued in dialogue
with values such as those expressed in the Catholic canon law,
since the latter no longer embody the project of an alternative society
to the constitutional state.


Référence électonique : Jean-Paul DURAND, "The Civil Code and the Canon Law", Pouvoirs, revue française d’études constitutionnelles et politiques, n°107, 107 - Le Code civil, p.59-79 . Consulté le 2021-11-29 21:18:18 . URL : https://www.revue-pouvoirs.fr/The-Civil-Code-and-the-Canon-Law.html