Canon Law

Canon Law is the system of Rules and regulations that give good order and governance to the Church. Over the centuries it has changed in the way the law has been gathered and applied. At present the Canon Law is found in a number of volumes.

Universal Laws: are the Laws that Govern Catholics everywhere: They Are found in the:

  1. CODEX IURIS CANONICI 1983, the Code of Canon Law 1983 or CIC contains the Norms Effecting the whole Latin Church. It completely replaces the 1917 CIC
  2. CODEX CANONUM ECCLESIARUM ORIENTALIUM or CCEO is a new (1990) publication gathering together for the first time the universal norms effecting Eastern Rite Catholics.
  3. LITURGICAL LAWS: For the most part the rules that govern how, when and why, of the Liturgy and Ceremony are found in their Respective Books. (There are some big rules in the CIC/CCEO) The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (in Latin) contains the norms for the whole Western Church. An English Translation of the GIRM is approved for each Country, with some adaptations, so the universal Norms applied for New Zealand  will be found in the NZ Published Roman Missal (Advent 2011).

Particular Laws: These are Laws made by Bishops of the Diocese for those living in his diocese. The types of particular Law are:

  1. Norms of the NZ Bishop's Conference:
  2. Norms of the Bishops of the Province of Wellington, NZ:

A province is a collection of Diocese under an Arch Diocese. Normally many Provinces make up a (National) Bishop's Conference, but in NZ the Province and the NZCBC are the same. So in order to keep things simple these Rules 1 & 2 are all found in the “same place”.

NZCBC  issues Special Legislation. There is a new issue due out shortly. It also issues from time to time Policy Documents and Rules to be followed. These are Published Separately.

For Example “Made in God's Image” contains Norms to be followed in the Liturgy. "A Path to Healing - Te Houhanga Rongo” and the Preference Criteria are other examples.

  1. Norms of the Bishop of Hamilton: Rules laid down by the Bishop of Hamilton effect all those who live in the Diocese. More often than not these Rules are called Policies or Procedures of the Diocese. Recent Diocesan Law includes the Procedures to Appointment Proprietors Representatives for Boards of Trustees, and a policy on Posture during the Mass.

A good place to read more is  It contains links to the CIC and CCEO



The Tribunal of the Catholic Church maintains an office in all the Diocese of New Zealand. It has the ability to pass judgement on all canon law cases in New Zealand. The Moderator of the Tribunal is the Archbishop of Wellington, (Arch Bishop John Dew) The Judicial Vicar is Mons. David Price.

There are a number of Canon Lawyers and Court officials throughout the Country who all work for the Bishops Conference of NZ (NZCBC).


  1. Give canonical Advice to Clergy of the Diocese. In particular Bishop and Pastors.
  2. Adjudicate on disputes between Christians, i.e.

A.    Nullity of Marriage

B.    Ownership of Property (eg does the Parish or the Congregation own that convent?)

  1. Assist in the preparation of Dispensations.

A.    Dispensation from obligations arising from Ordination, or Religious Vows.

B.    Marriage Dispensations known as the Pauline and Petrine Privileges.


The Tribunal has an operating Budget of $500,000 /yr. The money comes from the Contribution made to the Diocese from the Second Collection on Sundays. Consequently the Bishops ask “those who can pay, to bear more of the real cost which is heavily subsidized by the Church.(Letter 13 June 2011).

As Such the NZCBC has decided on the following charges:

  • Full Nullity of Marriage:  $1950. (Real Cost $6000)
  • Dispensation from Religious Vows/Priesthood $3,000 (Real $6000 + Rome's Fee)
  • Canonical Advice (100/hr) (Real cost $200/Hr)
  • Special Cases – Disputes etc  (Costs where they Lie – as judged by the Tribunal)


Costs can be mitigated according to need and circumstances.

Contact Details:

Tribunal of the Catholic Church

Chanel Centre, 51 Grey St
P O Box 4353
Hamilton East 3247

Phone  +64-7-856 6989

Fax      +64-7-856 1215


Director: Fr Richard Laurenson JCL

Secretary: Mrs Shirley Page