In the debate–mostly friendly nowadays, thankfully–between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the importance of canon law has a major place. For the Orthodox, the idea of canon “law” is suspect, since it suggests legalism and an unfortunate focus on abstractions at the expense of economia and the life of the church. That’s why one typically refers to Orthodox “canons” as opposed to “canon law.” For Catholics, the failure to systematize things reflects an unfortunate lack of clarity and logic–and, therefore, a misunderstanding of the proper role of law in promoting justice in the church and in the state as well.
A new book out last month from one of the great figures of Orthodox scholarship, Lewis Patsavos (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology), Introduction to Orthodox Canon Law, does use the phrase “canon law” to describe the East’s approach. I’m curious why. But I’m sure the book is worthwhile for anyone seeking to understand more of the Orthodox understanding of these matters. The publisher is Holy Cross Orthodox Press. Here’s its description of the book:
Based on course notes of forty years of teaching, this Introduction to Orthodox Canon Law is a foundational text for students. Chapters cover basic issues for anyone interested in canon law: its sources; the organization, structure, and governance of the Church; the qualifications for ordination, as well as its impediments; and issues of church membership, including reception of non-Orthodox and marriage. Throughout the Introduction, the canonical tradition is presented and thoroughly explained.
We’re a little late getting to this, but we close out the week with a collection of essays that appeared last fall, honoring Catholic University of America historian Kenneth Pennington, Medieval Church Law and the Origins of the Western Legal Tradition. The collection addresses the contributions medieval canon law has made to the greater legal tradition in the West–a subject we have discussed extensively in our comparative law class this semester, kids. The publisher is the Catholic University in America Press and the editors are Wolfgang Muller (Fordham) and Mary Sommer (Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law-Munich). Here is the publisher’s description:
In this volume dedicated to medieval canon law expert Kenneth Pennington, leading scholars from around the world discuss the contribution of medieval church law to the origins of the western legal tradition. The stellar cast assembled by editors Wolfgang P. Müller and Mary E. Sommar includes younger scholars as well as long-established specialists in the field. Müller’s introduction provides the first comprehensive survey of investigative trends in the field in more than twenty years.
Subdivided into four topical categories, the essays cover the entire range of the history of medieval canon law from the sixth to the sixteenth century. The first section concentrates on the canonical tradition before the advent of academic legal studies in the twelfth century. The second addresses the formation of canonistic theory. The third and fourth sections consider the intellectual exchanges between canon law and other fields of study, as well as the practical application of canons in day-to-day court proceedings.
Though the twenty-seven essays included in this volume are quite diverse, taken together they provide an outstanding overview of the latest research and cutting-edge scholarship on the topic.
Our sister institution, Università LUMSA in Rome, has announced that it will host a summer school in Vatican Law for two weeks this coming July. The program is open to students of international law, EU Law, canon law and law and religion, and will also appeal to those who work in institutions that have relationships with the Holy See. Topics will include: historical introduction of the Vatican City State; introduction to canon law; the relationship between Vatican Law and canon law; the Holy See and the Roman Curia; guarantees of freedom of the Holy See; relationship between the Holy See and the Vatican City State; constitutive and constitutional principles; proﬁles of international law; sources of Vatican Law; the judicial system; Vatican substantive and procedural civil law; Vatican substantive and procedural criminal law; labor law; administrative law; extraterritoriality; financial and monetary system; and money laundering legislation.
For further details, please check the link above.
In January, the Catholic University of America Press released “Justice and Mercy Have Met: Pope Francis and the Reform of the Marriage Nullity Process,” edited by Kurt Martens (The Catholic University of America). The publisher’s description follows:
With the promulgation of the motu proprio Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus for the Latin Church and the motu proprio Mitis et misericors Iesus for the Eastern Catholic Churches, both dated August 15, 2015, Pope Francis addressed the calls during the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 5-9, 2014) for a simplified procedure for the declaration of the nullity of marriages. Pope Francis introduced a briefer process to be conducted by the diocesan bishop and he simplified the current ordinary nullity process. The new procedural norms went into effect on December 8, 2015.
New legislation always challenges first and foremost the practitioner: how is the new legislation to be understood and applied? Immediately after the new law was made public, a number of articles on this new legislation were published in The Jurist. The School of Canon Law of The Catholic University of America organized a March 2016 Workshop on the very topic of this important procedural reform.
These articles are now brought together in one volume to assist those who work with these norms in the various tribunals dealing with marriage cases. It is hoped that this volume will be of great service to all those who serve the people of God in the ministry of justice, and that these contributions will truly be a help in understanding and applying the new norms.
In October, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press released a two-volume set, Primacy in the Church: The Office of Primate and the Authority of Councils, edited by John Chryssavgis (Ecumenical Patriarchate). The publisher’s description follows:
PRIMACY IN THE CHURCH is a careful and critical selection of historical and theological essays, canonical and liturgical articles, as well as contemporary and contextual reflections on what is arguably the most significant and sensitive issue in both inter-Orthodox debate and inter-Christian dialogue—namely, the authority of the primate and the role of councils in the thought and tradition of the Church.
Volume One examines the development and application of a theology of primacy and synodality through the centuries. Volume Two explores how such a theology can inform contemporary ecclesiology and reconcile current practices. Chryssavgis draws together original contributions from prominent scholars today, complemented by formative selections from theologians in the recent past, as well as relevant ecumenical documents.
In January, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Marriage, the Church, and its Judges in Renaissance Venice, 1420-1545,” by Cecilia Cristellon (Konstanz University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book investigates the actions of marriage tribunals by analyzing the richest source of marriage suits extant in Italy, those of the Venetian ecclesiastical tribunal, between 1420 and the opening of the Council of Trent. It offers a strongly representative overview of the changes the Council introduced to centuries-old marriage practices, relegating it to the realm of marginality and deviance and nearly erasing the memory of it altogether. From the eleventh century onward, the Church assured itself of a jurisdictional monopoly over the matter of marriage, operating both in concert and in conflict with secular authorities by virtue of marriage’s civil consequences, the first of which regarded the legitimacy of children. Secular tribunals were responsible for patrimonial matters between spouses, though the Church at times inserted itself into these matters either directly, by substituting itself for the secular authority, or indirectly, by influencing Rulings through their own sentences. Lay magistratures, for their part, somewhat eroded the authority of ecclesiastical tribunals by continuing to exercise autonomous jurisdiction over marriage, especially regarding separation and crimes strictly connected to the nuptial bond and its definition, including adultery, bigamy, and rape.
In September, the Catholic University of America Press released “The History of Courts and Procedure in Medieval Canon Law,” edited by Wilfried Hartmann (University of Tübingen) and Kenneth Pennington (Catholic University of America). The publisher’s description follows:
Understanding the rules of procedure and the practices of medieval and early modern courts is of great importance for historians of every stripe. The authors and editors of this volume present readers with a description of court procedure, the sources for investigating the work of the courts, the jurisprudence and the norms that regulated the courts, as well as a survey of the variety of courts that populated the European landscape. Not least, the authors wish to show the relationship between the jurisprudence that governed judicial procedure and what happened in the court room.
By the end of the thirteenth century, court procedure in continental Europe in secular and ecclesiastical courts shared many characteristics. As the academic jurists of the Ius commune began to excavate the norms of procedure from Justinian’s great codification of law and then to expound them in the classroom and in their writings, they shaped the structure of ecclesiastical courts and secular courts as well. These essays also illuminate striking differences in the sources that we find in different parts of Europe. In northern Europe the archives are rich but do not always provide the details we need to understand a particular case. In Italy and Southern France the documentation is more detailed than in other parts of Europe but here too the historical records do not answer every question we might pose to them. In Spain, detailed documentation is strangely lacking, if not altogether absent. Iberian conciliar canons and tracts on procedure tell us much about practice in Spanish courts. As these essays demonstrate, scholars who want to peer into the medieval courtroom, must also read letters, papal decretals, chronicles, conciliar canons, and consilia to provide a nuanced and complete picture of what happened in medieval trials. This volume will give sophisticated guidance to all readers with an interest in European law and courts.
In April, Routledge released “Papal Justice in the Late Middle Ages: The Sacra Romana Rota,” by Kirsi Salonen (University of Turku). The publisher’s description follows:
This is a study of the history and function of the highest ecclesiastical tribunal, the Sacra Romana Rota, from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Despite its importance for Christendom and in contrast with other important papal offices, the activity of the Rota has never been thoroughly investigated on the basis of archival sources, in large part due to the vast source material and the perceived “difficulty” of the subject. This book fills this significant gap by explaining how the Rota functioned-its organization, the phases of a Rota process, everyday practices at the tribunal-and the kinds of issues it handled, where the processes originated from and how long they lasted. The study demonstrates that the Rota dealt with a range of cases much broader than has previously been acknowledged, whilst also confirming that the tribunal mainly oversaw litigation over benefices. The results of this research reveal the true role of the Rota and its significance for Christians from the middle ages to the dawn of the Reformation.
In June, Brepols Publishers will release “
Muslim law developed a clear legal cadre for dhimmīs, inferior but protected non-Muslim communities (in particular Jews and Christians) and Roman Canon law
decreed a similar status for Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe. Yet the theoretical hierarchies between faithful and infidel were constantly brought into question in the daily interactions between men and women of different faiths in streets, markets, bath-houses, law courts, etc. The twelve essays in this volume explore these tensions and attempts to resolve them. These contributions show law was used to attempt to erect boundaries between communities in order to regulate or restrict interaction between faithful and non-faithful—at at the same time how these boundaries were repeatedly transgressed and negotiated. These essays explore the possibilities and the limits of the use of legal sources for the social historian.
This month, Brill will release “Order in the Court: Medieval Procedural Treatises in Translation,” by Bruce C. Brasington (West Texas A&M University). The publisher’s description follows:
In Order in the Court, Brasington translates and comments upon the earliest medieval treatises on ecclesiastical legal procedure. Beginning with the eleventh-century
“Marturi Case,” the first citation of the Digest in court since late antiquity and the jurist Bulgarus’ letter to Haimeric, the papal chancellor, we witness the evolution of Roman-law procedure in Italy. The study then focusses on Anglo-Norman works, all from the second half of the twelfth century. The De edendo, the Practica legum of Bishop William of Longchamp, and the Ordo Bambergensis blend Roman and canon law to guide the judge, advocate, and litigant in court. These reveal the study and practice of the learned law during the turbulent “Age of Becket” and its aftermath.