In the Roman Catholic Church, an apostolic constitution ( Latin Constitutio apostolica ) is a decree of a council , the Pope or a head of authority at the Holy See , in which a certain issue of canon law is regulated. Apostolic here means "papal" and constitution in this usage denotes a decree. The provisions of a constitution are ecclesiastical laws (like the motu proprio ) and are therefore binding and oblige to obedience to the faith insofar as an object of faith is taught. They often affect a specific region or group of people. In the current legislative practice of the Holy See, laws, legal decrees and administrative acts of the Pope and the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia are called Constitutio Apostolica .
In an apostolic constitution, the legislature also asserts the claim to infallibility in certain cases if a dogma is expressly defined by an ecumenical council together with the Pope or by the Pope alone ex cathedra , with reference to the authority and the will to apply it. So was z. B. The assumption of Mary into heaven by Pius XII. defined as dogma by the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus . An example of a council definition by an apostolic constitution is the teaching that the episcopate represents the fullness of the sacrament of ordination and is exercised collegially together with and under the Pope. In all cases the apostolic constitutions according to can. 7 ff. CIC always force of law.
In addition to several decrees and declarations, the Second Vatican Council passed four constitutions which have the highest priority among the council decisions: the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium , the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium , the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei verbum and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes .
More recently, the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis on the election of the Pope , the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde ecclesiae on Catholic universities, and the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum on the Catechism , all of which were written by Pope John Paul II, are significant .
- Lothar Guardian : Constitution. II. Canon law . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 6 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1997, Sp. 322 f .
- Lothar Guardian : Constitution . In: Stephan Haering , Heribert Schmitz (Ed.): Lexicon of Church Law . Herder , Freiburg im Breisgau 2004, ISBN 3-451-28522-3 , Sp. 604.