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Online Learning

Course Number: STM701
Course Title: Canon Law I: Introduction to Canon Law
Term: FALL 2014


Right Reverend Archimandrite Glen J. Pothier, JCL, DTh

1.561.775.9535 (Tribunal)


The purpose of this class is to introduce students to ecclesiastical law through a systematic presentation and study of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, reflecting on the purpose, nature, content, history, background, and consequences of what ecclesiastical law achieves in the life of the Church.


Students should gain an overview of the discipline and framework of canon law while obtaining a familiarity with the sources and texts available. This should include being able to:

  • find the pertinent sections in the Code of Canon Law so as to evaluate various pastoral situations, both within their canonical and historical context;
  • describe the roles of the basic [canonical] divisions of the institutional Church, including, among others, the Apostolic See, diocese, clerics, laity, and tribunals, together with rights and obligations of clerics and laity;
  • make fruitful use of the basic research tools for analysis of canonical questions; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the theological foundations for, and context of, the canonical provisions pertaining especially to the Sacraments.

Upon completion of this course, students should have acquired a better understanding of the tenets of ecclesiastical law as presented in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and, having reflected on content of the Code and supplementary materials, have a solid foundation on which interweave the intricacies of systematic, moral, scriptural, and liturgical/spiritual theology into ecclesiastical law. There will be a minimal discussion of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (1991), particularly with respect to the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

NB: It is important to remember that this is a survey course. For in-depth study of the Code and its canons, each section of this course needs an individual course of its own.


Grading schedule is according to the Seminary handbook.

The semester will be divided into two halves. Each half will have an academic ‘challenge’ (test): one roughly halfway through the semester, and the other at the end semester. The first academic challenge will include sessions 1 – 7: history, general norms, hierarchy, and five of the seven sacraments (sacraments of initiation and sacraments of healing), and the second academic challenge will focus on sessions 8 – 15: sacraments of vocation (holy orders and marriage), teaching office, sanctions, rights of clerics and laity, religious life, particular church, and temporal goods.

Two case studies are required. One will deal with topic covered in the first half of the semester, and the other with topics covered in the second half of the semester. Both case studies should be no longer than (five) double-spaced typed pages and are due by the end of each half of the semester (as noted in the weekly outline below).

Case analyses will include such features as:

  • a summary of the key facts of the case
  • an outline of the pastoral issues involved
  • a list of the canons you see as pertinent to the case
  • a discussion of your assumptions regarding the literary, rhetorical and historical aspects of these canons
  • a statement of how you would resolve the case, including the grounds for your decision
  • a brief analysis of the ethical, pastoral, and theological implications of your decision

Although you should read ALL the required readings, pick TWO articles and provide a summary reflection on each. Both summary reflections should be no longer than 3 double-spaced typed pages and are due by the end of the semester.

Integral to acquiring skills related to the study of canon law is the opportunity for dialogue and discussion.  In Populi, there is an integrated discussion board.  Each week, discussion topic(s) will be posted reflecting the material being presented during that week, together with associated readings (if applicable), and themes related to the course as a whole.  Participation is essential: for each discussion topic, you are responsible for at least one original contribution and two replies to the responses of other students.  The ensuing dialogue will provide the opportunity for clarification, deeper understanding, and applicability of the canonical concepts as the course progresses.

Grading schema:

  • Two (2) case analyses: 10% each (total 20%)
  • Two (2) summary reflections: 10% each (total 20%)
  • Two (2) ‘challenges’: 20% each (total 40%)
  • Participation/dialogues: 20%

TOTAL: 100%


  • Coriden, James A. An Introduction to Canon Law. Revised Edition. New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004. [There is a Kindle version available.]
  • Code of Canon Law Latin-English Edition: New English Translation. Washington, DC: The Canon Law Society of America, 1999. [Note: You do NOT need to purchase this volume. The entire text of the 1983 Code of Canon Law is available online at the Vatican’s website ( in the ‘Resource Library’ section. A link is provided in Populi College Management Software for this purpose. Nevertheless, the Code is a useful reference tool within your personal physical library.]

There are eight (8) articles that are provided in PDF format in Populi. Each is available under the ‘Lessons’ tab, which lists each week’s coursework individually. The articles are as follows:

  • Boyle, John P. “Church Teaching Authority in the 1983 Code.” The Jurist 45 (1985) 136-170.
  • Cunningham, Richard. “Back to the Future.” CLSA Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Convention, CLSA, 1991.
  • Green, T. “The Church’s Sanctifying Office: Reflections on Selected Canons in the Revised Code.” The Jurist 44 (1984) 357-411.
  • Green, T. “Persons and Structures in the Church: Reflections on Selected Issues in Book II.” The Jurist 45 (1985) 24-94.
  • Kuttner, Stephan. “The Code of Canon Law in Historical Perspective.” The Jurist 28 (1968) 129-148.
  • McDermott, Rose, SSJ. “Consecrated Life and the Novus Habitus Mentis.” The Jurist 56 (1996) 267-287.
  • Morrissey, Francis, OMI. “Acquiring Temporal Goods for the Church’s Mission.” The Jurist 56 (1996) 586-603
  • Morrissey, Francis, OMI. “Denial of Access to the Sacraments.” CLSA Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Convention, CLSA, 1991.

One additional reading is the Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges that promulgated the 1983 Code of Canon Law into law. It is found at the Vatican’s website and a link will also be provided under the ‘Lessons’ tab.


Some classes have a video presentation (a link will be provided through Populi). Some classes have PowerPoint presentations, journal articles (in PDF form), and readings from the required course textbook. Most have readings from the Code of Canon Law. Apart from the textbook, everything is (should be) downloadable.


Week 1: August 25, 2014


  • Introduction / History of Canon Law
  • Sources of Law


  • Sacrae Disciplinae Leges – Pope John Paul II
  • The Code of Canon Law in Historical Perspective – S. Kuttner
  • Back to the Future – R. Cunningham
  • Read Coriden pp. 3-44


  • Handouts (PDF files)


  • Apart from Populi discussion board: none – this is a week of acclimation.

Week 2: September 1, 2014


  • Fundamental Laws and General Norms


  • Read Coriden pp. 157-171; 201-205
  • Read canons 1-84; 94-95; 124-128; 145-203; 1752


  • Populi discussion board

Week 3: September 8, 2014


  • The Power of Governance / Dispensations / Permissions
  • The Faithful
  • Physical and Juridic persons


  • Read Coriden pp. 157-171 (review last week’s readings)
  • Read canons 85-93; 96-123; 129-144


  • Populi discussion board

Week 4: September 15, 2014


  • The Church
  • Hierarchy/Parishes
  • Particular Church


  • Read Coriden pp. 45-55; 71-98
  • Persons and Structures in the Church: Reflections on
  • Selected Issues in Book II – Green
  • Read canons 204-223; 294-297; 330-572 passim


  • Populi discussion board

Week 5: September 22, 2014


  • Baptism/Confirmation


  • Read Coriden pp. 121-127
  • Denial of Access to Sacraments - Morrissey
  • Read canons 834-896


  • Populi discussion board

Week 6: September 29, 2014


  • Eucharist


  • Read Coriden pp. 127-131
  • Read canons 897-958


  • Populi discussion board

Week 7: October 6, 2014


  • Penance/Anointing


  • Read Coriden pp. 131-135
  • The Church's Sanctifying Office - Reflections on
  • Selected Canons in the Revised Code - Green
  • Read canons 959-1007


  • Populi discussion board

Week 8: October 13, 2014


  • Holy Orders
  • Rights/ Duties of Clerics


  • Read Coriden pp. 136-139
  • Read canons 1008-1054; 232-293


  • Populi discussion board; First Case Study due

Week 9: October 20, 2014


  • Marriage in General


  • Read Coriden pp. 139-148
  • Read canons 1055-1165 passim


  • Populi discussion board; Challenge One (Mid-term)

Week 10: October 27, 2014


  • Teaching Office


  • Read Coriden pp. 109-118
  • Church Teaching Authority in the 1983 Code - Boyle
  • Read canons 747-833


  • Populi discussion board

Week 11: November 3, 2014


  • Other acts of divine worship/Sacred times/Places


  • Read Coriden pp. 148-153
  • Read canons 1166-1253


  • Populi discussion board

Week 12: November 10, 2014


  • Sanctions/Processes


  • Read Coriden pp. 183-198
  • Read canons 1311-1752 passim


  • Populi discussion board

Week 13: November 17, 2014


  • Rights of Laity


  • Read Coriden pp. 59-70
  • Read canons 224-231


  • Populi discussion board

Week 14: November 24, 2014


  • Religious Life


  • Read Coriden pp. 68-69; 99-106;
  • Consecrated Life and the Novus Habitus Mentis - McDermott
  • Read canons 298-329; 573-746


  • Populi discussion board

Week 15: December 1, 2014


  • Temporal Goods


  • Read Coriden pp. 175-179;
  • Acquiring Temporal Goods for the Church's Mission - Morrissey
  • Read canons 1254-1310 passim


  • Populi discussion board; Second Case Study due
  • Final Exam due by December 8, 2014

Grades due in Academic Dean’s Office on December 14, 2014.


(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 D 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

0 pts. – Paper
0 pts. – DB Posting;

3 pts. – Paper
2 pts. – DB Posting;

6 pts. – Paper
4 pts. – DB Posting;

9 pts. – Paper
6 pts. – DB Posting;

12 pts. – Paper
8 pts. – DB Posting;

15 pts. – Paper
10 pts. – DB Posting;



Absence of Understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic.

Lack of Understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.



Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors.

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format.




Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic.

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors.

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reason and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error.

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage.


COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting.

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.



Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


Right Reverend Archimandrite Glen J. Pothier, JCL, DTh, is the Adjutant Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Palm Beach in Florida, and is engaged in full-time ministry in the Tribunal and Office of Canonical Services. He holds a doctorate in theology (UNISA) and a license in canon law (CUA). He is currently pursuing post-doctoral studies (Maryvale/Liverpool Hope).

Although not in parochial ministry, Father Pothier has bi-ritual faculties and celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the Ruthenian and Greek Melkite-rites of the Byzantine Catholic Church as well as in the Roman-ritual of the Latin-rite.

 \Users\Glen Pothier\Dropbox\Photos\GlenChristmasSaintEdwardPalmBeachSmall.jpg

This syllabus is subject to change over time at the discretion of the course professor.

(860) 632-3010