The traditional Catholic doctrine, which considers the Church as a reality at the same time invisible and visible, spiritual and social, charismatic and institutional, sacramental and juridical, has been recently confirmed again by the ecclesiastical Magisterium. An indissoluble link between the social-visible dimension of the Church and the existence of juridical dimension is affirmed in the Conciliar documents (Lumen Gentium n. 8 and Optatam Totius n. 16) and the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte n. 45 of His Holiness John Paul II.
Canon law is absolutely necessary for the Church. Since the Church is established in the form of a social and visible unit, it needs rules, so that its hierarchical and organic structure may be visible; that its exercise of the functions divinely entrusted to it, particularly of sacred power and of the administration of the sacraments, is properly ordered; that the mutual relationships of Christ’s faithful are reconciled in justice based on charity, with the rights of each safeguarded and defined; and lastly, that the common initiatives which are undertaken so that Christian life may be ever more perfectly carried out, are supported, strengthened and promoted by canonical laws’ (John Paul II, Ap. Cost. Sacrae disciplinae leges, in AAS 75 (1983-II), pp. 12-13).