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Acta Apostolicae Sedis


The official journal of the Holy See, established in accord with the constitution Promulgandi of St. Pius X, Sept. 29, 1908. Its first issue appeared Jan. 1, 1909, replacing the Acta sanctae sedis which since 1865 had been presenting, on an unofficial basis (until 1904 when it became "official"), the various documents of the Holy See; subsequent issues have generally been issued monthly. The Acta is the exclusive and prescribed means for promulgating the laws of the Holy See, unless otherwise provided. Prior to its establishment in 1908, promulgation was often effected by posting documents at the entrance of the papal residence. According to canon 8, §1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, laws come into force only on the expiry of three months from the date appearing on the particular issue of the Acta, unless because of the nature of the case they bind at once (for instance, if the law involves a substantial matter of faith or declares the divine law), or if a shorter or a longer interval has been specifically and expressly prescribed in the law itself (as was the case with the Code of Canon Law, which went into effect on Nov. 27, 1983, some ten months after promulgation). Not all laws of the Church are published in the Acta (for instance, many liturgical documents are issued elsewhere), nor is every published document a law requiring promulgation (for instance, various allocutions of the pope). Although the official language is Latin, more and more of the documents are published in the language in which they were first given. In general, its contents consist of documents and addresses of the Holy Father; decrees and decisions of the various departments of the Roman Curia, a diary of the Curia, a list of officials appointed or honored by the Holy See, and a necrology of bishops.

Bibliography: r. p. mcbrien, ed., Encyclopedia of Catholicism (San Francisco 1995). e. magnin, "Acta Sanctae Sedis, Acta Apostolicae Sedis," r. naz, ed., Dictionnaire de Droit canonique (Paris 1935), I, col. 158. Annuario Pontificio 2000 (Città del Vaticano 2000) 193435.

[f. g. morrisey]

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