Defamation Laws In Vatican City

Under the Code of Canon Law, defamation constitutes a Crime of Falsehood (Cann. 1390).  Accordingly, a person who falsely denounces before an ecclesiastical superior a confessor for the delict to solicit a penitent to sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue shall incur a penalty of latae sententiae interdict and suspension, in case such person is a cleric.  In addition, a person who offers an ecclesiastical superior any other calumnious denunciation of a delict or who injures the good reputation of another can be punished with a just penalty, not excluding a censure.

According to Cannon 220, “No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.”

Cannon 1369, on the other hand, punishes religious blasphemy as follows:

“Can. 1369 A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty.”

Under Cannon 1349, “If a penalty is indeterminate and the law does not provide otherwise, the judge is not to impose graver penalties, especially censures, unless the seriousness of the case clearly demands it; he cannot, however, impose perpetual penalties.”

In today’s world, canon law governs the organization of the church itself.  Canon law sets forth the manner in which members of the church are to conduct themselves not only in their relationship and interaction with the church but in their personal and civic lives as well.