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see canon lawcanon law,
in the Roman Catholic Church, the body of law based on the legislation of the councils (both ecumenical and local) and the popes, as well as the bishops (for diocesan matters).
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decrees of the Roman pope, drawn up in the form of messages. The first decretals date from the late fourth century. In the middle of the 12th century the decretals were systematized and collected in the Decretum Gratiani, which was the foundation for the 16th-century code of canon law, Corpus Iuris Canonici. Collections of the subsequent decretals were published in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Roman popes sought, with the aid of the decretals in particular, to legally substantiate their claims for supremacy in the church and in society. In the fifth century, false decretals began to appear. These were also used by the papacy to consolidate power for the struggle with secular states (for example, the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals).

References in periodicals archive ?
Kofman cannily develops the theme of Narcissus and Echo: The film literally enacts the structure of Narcissus/Derrida as filmed, seen, Echoed, by the "other," the filmmaker who in turn repeats the words of the other on the voice-over: the Holy Decretals.
The unusually haughty ring so typical of John's collected decretals is amply recognizable in the following pertinent excerpt:
The History of Medieval Canon Law in the Classical Period, 1140-1234: From Gratian to the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX.
We can see from his citations of standard sources in the history of exegesis and Gratian's Decretals, for instance, that Musculus' argument was formed in dialogue with a host of medieval antecedents.
Famed for the encyclopedic Etymologies, he developed a collection of canons and decretals known as the Collectio hispana, to which he added a manual of doctrine and practice, drawing freely on Western predecessors like Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.
He characteristically complains that "Yf the byshop of Romes lawes, decrees decretals, extravagantes, clementines and other suche dregges of the devyll, yea yf Heytesburyes sophismes, Porphyryes universals, Aristotles olde logyckes and Dunses dyvynyte, wyth such other lowly legerdemaynes, and frutes of the bottomlesse pytte, had leaped out of our libraries, and so becomen coverynges for bokes comminge from the foren nacyons, we might wele have ben therwith contented.
The Donation was introduced into the Western canons, initially appearing in the Pseudo-Isidoran Decretals about 850 C.
prohibitions against "monstrous masks" in the Decretals of Gregory IX in 1234) but also of the immense importance of this aspect of costuming in the history of the early British theater.
His collection of Decretals became the basic textbook for generations of medieval canon lawyers, who attempted to strike a balance between papal power and the "divine rights" of the Catholic community at large.
The Roman popes after they have strengthened the covenants of kings and princes by taking an oath when it seems advantageous to themselves, so many times they rend them as often as they wished and released subordinates from an oath of fidelity by their own decrees (see Gratian's Decretals, Case 15, question 6).
1148-1241) receiving, in 1234, the Decretals of Raymond da Penaforte (ca.
4) as saying that Gratian, in his Decretals, quotes Augustine when speaking of the ecclescastical customs.