Saint Paul University received the authority to confer ecclesiastical degrees in Leo XIII’s Apostolic Letter Cum Apostolica Sedes of February 5, 1889. In 1929, the Faculty of Canon Law was established as distinct from the Faculty of Theology, and after Pius XI’s Apostolic Constitution Deus scientiarum Dominus of May 24, 1931, the Faculty was reorganized. Following Vatican II, the program was updated to conform to the needs of today’s university teaching and the demands of modern pastoral activity.
Following the wishes of John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana of April 15, 1979, the Faculty of Canon Law cultivates and promotes the juridical disciplines in the light of the law of the Gospel and instructs its students in these, so as to form researchers, university and seminary teachers, and others who will be trained to hold special ecclesiastical offices, such as chancery and tribunal positions, and to serve as advisors to bishops and religious superiors.
In 2002, the Holy See promulgated new norms for the teaching of canon law. These required a complete revision and expansion of our programs, effective 2004–2005. The programs and description of courses that follow reflect the application of the new norms.
The ecclesiastical degrees are granted in virtue of the 1889 pontifical charter, and the civil degrees are granted jointly by the Senate of Saint Paul University, in virtue of its 1866 civil charter, and by the Senate of the University of Ottawa, which is federated with Saint Paul University.
The international teaching personnel is actively involved in serving the Church beyond the walls of the University by their publications and expert advice to the Holy See, to bishops and religious superiors, as well as to clergy and laity alike.
Twice a year, the Faculty publishes the journal Studia canonica. This publication is the only canon law journal in Canada and it enjoys a solid international reputation.
Although the majority of its students come from Canada and the United States, many other countries and continents are represented. The student body is composed of priests, deacons, religious – women and men – and many lay persons. Although several are studying canon law after years of service in various sectors of Church and society, there is an increasing number of young students who are interested in undertaking the ministry of canon law.