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Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as promised by the DivineFounder (Jn 14: 16 & 26), the Church has always been at work for the eternal salvation of men.  Empowered by God "to bind and to loose" (Mt.16:19), she has been guiding the faithful not only with her teachings but also with her wise laws. 

To give a rightful place to the laws of the Church in its task of taking care of the Lord's flock in the Philippines, The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines organized a Commission on Canon Law.

This started as a simple committee on Canon law. It was established in 1958, when the Decrees of the First Plenary Council of the Philippines were approved by the Sacred Consistorial Congregation in Rome (now the Sacred Congregation of Bishops), and then promulgated by the CBCP. The committee on Canon Law was tasked to give an authentic interpretation of these decrees.

After the Vatican II, when His Holiness, Pope Paul VI established a Pontifical Commission to revise the 1917 Code of Canon Law, our Committee on Canon Law was raised to the rank of a commission, with Archbishop Mabutas as Chairman. He relinquished this position when he was elected President of CBCP, and was succeeded by Archbishop Mauel Salvador who was Chairman from 1978 to 1993, when he requested the bishops not to re-elect him anymore.  Archbishop Alberto Piamonte was then elected Chairman of the Commission.

According to CBCP Constitution and By-laws this commission istasked to do studies and make recommendations to the CBCP topromote and organize updating seminars on Canon Law for bishops, priests, religious and laity; to assist dioceses in preparing  personnel for the chancery, for the matrimonial tribunal, and in general to look after canonical matters. Since the beginning the Commission has been faithfully complying with tasks entrusted to it.

When the Code of Canon Law was being revised in Rome and the Episcopal Conferences of the world were to collaborate, the members of the CBCP Commission on Canon Law, together with the expert canonists of the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical University of Santo Thomas in Manila, carefully studied the questionaires from Rome and made recommendations to the CBCP.  These were approved in plenary session and sent to Rome.

When Rome promulgated the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, the CBCP Commission on Canon Law was tasked with formulating the complementary norms for the Philippines, in order to inculturate the universal laws of the Church to the particular circumstances of the country. The Commission's proposals were again approved by the CBCP, and later confirmed by the Holy See with some revisions.

After the revision of the Code of Canon Law, the CBCP Constitution and By-laws also needed revision. The Commision made several drafts, then sent a final draft to the CBCP Plenary Assembly which approved it. The Holy See also confirmed it with some modifications.

Among the Commissions' other canonical tasks are the approval of national shrines, renewal of faculties from the Holy See, and the withdrawal of faculties of priests who do not accept the New Order of the Mass.

With the recent organization of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines, a speakers' bureau was formed upon the request of the current chairman, to continue Canon law seminars in dioceses which opt to have them.

Canon Law Society of the Philippines

Five Years of CLSP:  A Brief History
Rev. Fr. Rafael Gaudioso A. Sustento

"Canon Law does not deal only with orders from above but mostly with problems from below that can be helped by those with the power to do so."

              Abp. ALBERTO J. PIAMONTE, DD, Chair, Episcopal Commission on Canon Law and Archbishop of Jaro

I would like to encourage the clergy of the Philippine Church to join CLSP particularly those whose competence can contribute much to the well being of the local churches."

              Bp. SOFIO G. BALCE. DD, of Cabanatuan


The Canon Law Society of the Philippines will be five years old this 1998. Five years ago, on April 13-15, 1993 forty three canon lawyers all over the country met in Antipolo, Rizal to organize themselves into what is now known as the CLSP.

CLSP is an association of Canon lawyers, mostly priests but not exclusively. The mandate of its constitution came from, the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (Minutes, 66th CBCP Plenary Assembly, January 23-25, 1993). The same conference of bishops approved its statutes on July11. 1993 during its Plenary Assembly.  Its membership admits those who have knowledge, practice and interest in canon law and may EQ classified as principal, associate or honorary members.

The CLSP is a non-stock and non-profit national public juridical person established with the approval of the CBCP Its aim is to render pastoral service to the Church through the apostolate of Canon law. In the concrete the CLSP renders this service by:

    (1) promoting the on-going study of and research in canonical science and allied sciences;

    (2) fostering the knowledge and practice of Canon law; and,

    (3) facilitating the interchange of canonical findings and opinions, observances and proposals among members and with other canon law societies.

Five years have elapsed since its Foundation. Has the CLSP been able to achieve its aims? To what extent has it rendered pastoral service to the Church through the apostolate of canon law? It is time to look back, to re-visit the past.

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