Yee-haw!!! Another round in the annual Lent Fight!
In this corner, the Masked Reader writes:
On your blog you stated that the laws of abstinence regarding soups et cetera changed when Paenitemini was promulgated in 1966. I think I have to take issue with your interpretation. It doesn’t seem that Paenitemini changes the laws then in force; all it says on the subject of abstinence is that "[t]he law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat." Is it not customary to interpret the law in accordance with earlier laws on the same subject? There is certainly no explicit permission in Paenitemini to partake of soups (and gravies and whatnot) made of meat on days of abstinence. Is there an authentic interpretation of Paenitemini or the 1983 Code that permits such?
You are correct that laws are generally to be interpreted in accord with earlier laws on the same subject. But this does not mean reading into the new law whatever the provisions of the old law were. In fact, it can involve the opposite: Looking at the new law to see what parts of the old law have been dropped.
Canon 20 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides that:
A later law abrogates, or derogates from, an earlier law if it states so expressly, is directly contrary to it, or completely reorders the entire matter of the earlier law [SOURCE].
Paenitemini expressly derogates from prior law when it says:
The prescriptions of ecclesiastical law regarding penitence are totally reorganized [i.e., completely reordered; this is a translation difference but it’s the same phrase] according to the following norms [Norm I:2].
The norm on abstinence says:
The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat [Norm III:1].
This is very similar to but nevertheless different from Canon 1250 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law which said:
The law of abstinence prohibits meat and soups made from meat but not of eggs, milks, and also whatever condiments are derived from animal fat [CIC(1917) 1250].
The "and soups made from meat" phrase is missing and thus Norm III:1 of Paenitemini derogates from Canon 1250 of the 1917 Code. As the Green CLSA commentary notes on canon 20 of the 1983 Code:
Divine laws do not change, but ecclesiastical laws, being of human origin, can be revoked partially (derogation) or entirely (abrogation) [p. 80].
[If a] new law changes part of an old law or norm but leaves the rest intact: this is a derogation, not abrogation [p. 82].
Since Paenitemini drops part of what the 1917 Code said about the law of abstinence but leaves the rest intact, it derogates from (partially revokes) what the 1917 Code said on that point.
Thus "soups made from meat" are now kosher on days of abstinence.
If anyone is of a mind to be cantankerous about this point, I would then note that the above line of reasoning at least creates a doubt as to the legal status of soups made from meat (in fact, it seems to do much more than create a doubt, but let’s suppose that’s all it does), in which case we have a doubt of law situation.
As Canon 14 of the 1983 Code provides:
Laws, even invalidating and disqualifying ones, do not oblige when there is a doubt about the law.
So one can still eat chicken noodle soup until Rome says otherwise.
I don’t favor that myself, but my job here is to explain what the law says, not what I’d prefer it to say.