By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Canon Law: A Theologian's View

Cover of the 1917 Code of Canon Law
Cover of the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This page contains a link to blog discussions on canon law issues that arise from time to time (plus some resource links). Please note well that I am not a canon lawyer. But  I do have a law degree (J.D.) in secular civil law. Moreover,  my law school curriculum in Louisiana trained me in the Louisiana Civil Code, which, like canon law, has roots in Roman law, in unique contrast to American law degrees from all other states that train lawyers in Anglo-American common law. I also hold an M.A. in theology (biblical studies), training which is an indispensable aid in putting canon law discussions in the context of the purpose of canon law: to advance the work of salvation. It also helps that I am a graduate student in Latin and also teach Latin, since Latin is the original language of canon law. In addition, my fluency in Spanish helps me in communicating with canon law experts in the Spanish-speaking world (Spanish language resources play an important role in the study of canon law). Since canon law is the heritage of all Catholics and canonists encourage all Catholics to be familiar with canon law, it is certainly appropriate for me to study it and discuss it, as long as readers keep in mind the limits of my training. Yet, it has been my experience in other areas of study, that even specialists, with an open mind, can profit from the observations of interested parties outside of their specialty; the best specialists are always eager and humble enough to learn from outsiders because outsiders sometimes ask questions that specialists sometimes overlook. In addition, canonists themselves are wont to comment (understandably) on issues in matters of theology, ethics, pastoral discretion, and liturgy that are, strictly speaking, outside of their expertise or experience or responsibility. What is good for the goose is good for the gander, as long as we have full disclosure and genuine humility and mutual respect on all sides. The vast majority of my future discussions of canon law will probably be simply to relay what canonists are already saying. In rare situations, I may offer an alternative analysis if other views strike me as defective or myopic, as in the case of the foot-washing issue discussed in the links below. But canon law is not the focus of this blog at all--it is simply the case that canon law issues do arise from time to time, usually as part of a broader theological or liturgical issue and thus are unavoidable. The Canon Law Society of America (CLSA) has published a translation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law with a very helpful commentary by experts. In my experience, it is an essential resource in order to follow any discussion of canon law. (The first image above left is that of the 1917 predecessor to the 1983 Code. The Amazon link is to the CLSA edition of the more recent 1983 Code with expert commentary; this paperback edition was published in 2002.)

  Link to Canon Law Discussions:

  Links to Resources Used:

Spanish Language Canon Law Site

Canon Law Society of America

Canon Law Made Easy
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