Jesus the Samaritan and Procedural Canons

«Nonne bene dicimus nos quia Samaritanus es tu, et daemonium habes? Respondit Iesus: Ego daemonium non habeo.»

Innocent_III_bas-relief_in_the_U.S._House_of_Representatives_chamberThe more one digs into canon law, past the codified laws of 1917 and 1983, one finds the Scriptural and Patristic roots which were gathered in the Middle Ages and became the basis for juridical action within the Church. Saint John Paul II, the Legislator who promulgated the 1983 Code of Canon Law, was particularly astute and in his addresses on canonical matters delivered to the Roman Rota (the highest appellate court in the Church). Reading his 1980 address, I saw him quote decretals from Pope Alexander II (d. 1073) and Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), and went searching after the original. This brought me to the Liber Extra  of Pope Gregory IX, the first authoritative collection of papal decrees, which remained in effect from 1234 until 1917. Continue reading

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Readings in Church History (Part 1)

Benoit_XIV

Benedict XIV

Someone asked me the other day for recommendations for reading in Church history. Where to start! I became interested in the history of the Church about 12 years ago, and I continue find out there’s far more out there than I ever expected. As a student in canon law, I have lately been researching the origin and development of the legal tradition of the Church, obtaining my own copies of the Decretum of Gratian (~1150) and the Corpus Iuris Canonici (1234-1500), and I am also reading a biography of Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758), who is considered one of the greatest canonists of all time. This biography is itself one volume of the 40 volume History of the Popes by Ludwig Pastor—which is just to say, there is a lot of history out there. Continue reading