(L. abrogatus , pp. of abrogare) to ask, propose a law—more at right. To abolish by an official, authoritative or formal action; or in other words, to annul, destroy, revoke or cancel a formal law by an act of the legislative power. A later law abrogates the earlier law, unless the law provides expressly, laws contrary to it or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law (CIC, c. 20). However, the divine or natural law cannot be abrogated since it has an eternal character to it.

An abrogation can be made expressly or implicitly. It is made expressly when a later law states that it is revoking an earlier law. Abrogation is implicit when a canon uses the expressions such as “notwithstanding anything to the contrary,” “anything presently in force contrary to this law is abrogated,” “derogating from other laws in force,” etc. In the implicit revocation, no mention is made about the fact that the previous law is revoked. Thus, in implicit abrogation the earlier law is contrary or contradictory to the later law or when the later law completely reorders the entire subject matter of the earlier law.

In doubt, the previous law is not presumed to be abrogated (CIC, c. 21). The CIC 1983 abrogated the 1917 code, laws contrary to it (unless expressly provided in respect of particular laws), all penal laws enacted by the Apostolic See pervious to the promulgation of it or any other universal disciplinary law, which are integrally reordered by it (CIC c.6 § 1).