Principles of canon penal law: the crime
The presupposition for a penal process to begin is that, following possible investigations, sufficient proof is collected to consider that a criminal act has been committed: therefore the crime is a “human factor” (active or passive that a given event is connected with), regardless of the characteristics of a psychological nature (guilt or fraud).
Furthermore, in order for this “human factor” to be important on a penal level, it should be “typical”, therefore it should be classified as the Legislator as such and therefore be punishable.
However not every “typical human factor” is in contrast with canon norms. For this reason the typical human factor should also be “illegal”, therefore contra ius: against canon regulations.
It is the canon 1321 of the CJC that outlines that a crime is an external violation and therefore “seriously attributable” to guilt or fraud of law or of the precept. Therefore it also points out that the cause for connection is also psychic between the illegal event and its author. This “physic” connection may undertake the shape of guilt or fraud.
In church regulations it is important not to forget that the creation of a penal procedure always represents extrema ratio, first of all with the possibility of appealing to pastoral expedients to arise. As stated by the doctrine in a community such as the Church, the process is not the ideal situation for conflicts; from a church point of view, the process is a bad thing, a pathological situation that damages communion.
We can remember the words of Pope Paul VI in an Address to the Rota Romana: «The pastoral style, the afflatus of charity, the spirit of understand aim specifically at this. Not law for law, therefore, not judgment for judgment but law and judgment serving the truth of justice, patience and charity» (Paolo VI in an address to the Rota Romana (29.01.1971), in AAS 63 (1971), p. 140).
Therefore the canon penal process, as recognised by canon law, imposes that the truth of facts, as established by the judge, coincides with the objective reality of the facts themselves, with full consonance between them according to the execution of justice that is truly worthy of this name: in other words, the attempt is to avoid that truth and real justice are sacrificed to protect the rigour of shapes. This therefore excludes the imposition of formal truth that only satisfies the ordo exterior (an objective that is necessary and sufficient for state regulations) but requires the substantial truth, an expression ofordo interior, that adapts knowledge with exterior action.
Canon 1321 CJC
§ 1. No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence.
§ 2. A penalty established by a law or precept binds the person who has deliberately violated the law or precept; however, a person who violated a law or precept by omitting necessary diligence is not punished unless the law or precept provides otherwise.
§ 3. When an external violation has occurred, imputability is presumed unless it is otherwise apparent.