canon law

Poverty Is Not What You Think It Is

Poverty fell off a cliff after the Second World War. It fell like a stone, including for American blacks. The economy was booming and everyone benefited. The poverty rate dropped from 35 percent in 1950 to less than 20 percent when President Lyndon Johnson, nonetheless, announced his War on Poverty. By the time the War [...]

What Makes a Marriage Valid?

Marriage is a sacrament that is regulated by Church law, mainly in the Code of Canon Law of 1983. It is different from the rest of the sacraments, because what makes it valid is mainly marriage consent. A person must want to get married to his spouse, and manifest this will verbally to the priest [...]

How to Fix the “Annulment Mentality”

Just remember—Pope St. John Paul II said it first. On January 28, 2002. After saying “One cannot give in to the divorce mentality,” our Holy Father tells us this: When one considers the role of law in marital crises, all too often one thinks almost exclusively of processes that ratify the annulment of marriage or [...]

What the Anointing of the Sick Is and Isn’t

In his article in Crisis, “The Anointing of the Healthy?,” Kevin T. DiCamillo contrasted a pre-Vatican II understanding of the sacrament of Extreme Unction with the rite now known as the Anointing of the Sick, stating that “of the seven sacraments of the Church perhaps none underwent more transformation.” Indeed, he claimed, “Extreme Unction became [...]

The Worthy Reception of the Eucharist Neglected at the Synod

The 2015 October Synod on the Family has ended.   So, what came out of it? A final document was handed to Pope Francis that was a fine academic treatise on the family. But media reports say that Cardinals, archbishops and theologians are still wrestling over whether the Synod opened a way for "some" divorced and [...]

Pope Francis on Reconciliation for Abortion

Abortion has long sat in the middle of a three-street ecclesial intersection, namely, those of Sin, Crime, and Sanction. The meeting of any two of these factors would make for a perilous perch but the confluence of all three is fraught with opportunities for confusion. At the risk of serious over-simplification, let me sketch the [...]

Conjugal Rights and Gay “Marriage”: A Response to Objections

In a prior essay in Crisis I offered an explanation concerning how the exchange of conjugal rights, understood in natural, canon, and civil law traditions as mutual moral rights for actions naturally ordered to the procreation of children, can be recognized as a necessary condition for a valid marriage. Hence, if a person is certainly [...]

Why Same-Sex Couples Possess No Conjugal Rights

Often in discussions on whether the term “marriage” should be reserved for relationships between persons of opposite sex, advocates for same-sex "marriage" claim that there is no distinguishing characteristic in male/female commitments that would make only those commitments truly marital. The obvious response that children come only from opposite sex relationships is quickly dismissed since [...]

Changing Discipline Changes Doctrine, Again

In a recent piece on the Synod, I argued  that sometimes a change of Church discipline cannot not happen without a change in Church doctrine, and that since Church doctrine about Communion for Catholics who have obtained a civil divorce and remarriage does not change, Catholics should not expect Church discipline to change either. Today I [...]

Why St. Thomas Becket was Martyred

Many people who venerate the name of Thomas Becket (and/or love the movie with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole that carries his name) likely do not understand the cause for which he was martyred, and if they did learn it, would likely be scandalized given our current presuppositions concerning the prerogatives of the omnipotent State [...]

Why We Need More Canon Lawyers

We’ve all known administrators who were hired to do a certain job, but when they found they couldn’t do that job, they either tried to do everyone else’s job or else tried to change the job into something else completely.  This problem is not uncommon, for example, among functionaries who do fund-raising for colleges.  They [...]

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