Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by judges to mark the start of the judiciary year of the Roman Rota at the Vatican January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

From the Holy Father’s annual address to the Roman Rota (my emphases):

“It follows that interpretation of canon law must occur in the Church. It is not a question of a mere external, environmental circumstance: it is a return to the very “humus” of canon law and the realities it regulates. The dictum “sentire cum Ecclesiae” (thinking or feeling with the Church) is also relevant to disciplinary matters by reason of the doctrinal foundations that are always present and at work in the Church’s legal norms. In this way, there must also be applied to canon law that hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, of which I spoke in reference to Vatican II,[5] which is so closely connected to current canonical legislation. Christian maturity leads one to an ever greater love of the law and a desire that it be faithfully applied.

“These basic attitudes apply to all categories of interpretation: from scientific research on canon law, to the work of legal workers in judicial or administrative matters, to the daily pursuit of just solutions in the life of the faithful and of communities. We must have a spirit of docility to accept the laws, seeking to study the Church’s legal tradition with honesty and dedication so as to be able to identify with it and with the juridical regulations coming from bishops (pastori), especially the pontifical laws and magisterium on canonical questions, which is binding of itself in what it teaches about law.[6] Only in this way can the cases be discerned in which the concrete circumstances demand an equitable solution to achieve the justice that the general human norm was unable to foresee; and only in this way too can we be capable of manifesting in a spirit of communion what can serve to improve the legislative asset.”

Source: ZENIT: Papal Address to Roman Rota

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