That Which Is Just in the Church

978-1-58731-894-8; 978-1-58731-895-5
Forthcoming Books
Hardback $32, E-book $20
Translated by Michael Joseph Mazza, 6" x 9", 185

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That Which Is Just in the Church

An Introduction to Canon Law: Volume 1

Errázuriz, Carlos José

Consonant with its commitment to publish important works in the theological sub-field of canon law, St. Augustine’s Press is pleased to make available the first volume in a series that will undoubtedly endure as a masterpiece of scholarship. carlos José errázuriz has provided a comprehensive and insightful treatment of ecclesiastical law, beginning Consonant with its commitment to publish important works in the theological sub-field of canon law, St. Augustine’s Press is pleased to make available the first volume in a series that will undoubtedly endure as a masterpiece of scholarship. Carlos José Errázuriz has provided a comprehensive and insightful treatment of ecclesiastical law, beginning with its foundation––namely, the object of justice. In a time when many doubt such a reality in the Church, Errázuriz reacquaints the believer with the charismatic and ecclesiological origin of canon law and introduces the scientist to its unique structure and mechanisms.

This is not a handbook. Errázuriz presents more than the current Code of Canon Law. His intention is instead to instill a realistic perspective of ecclesial right and law, and in doing so he fills a massive exegetical gap in English scholarship. This book currently stands alone in its class and dramatically broadens the contemporary approach to ecclesiastical law. In addition to offering a restored and richer ecclesiological orientation toward law, Errázuriz examines the thought of the most influential scholars of law and theology to date, among them Martin Luther, Rudolf Sohm, Klaus Mörsdorf, Eugenio Corecco and Javier Hervada. Errazuriz's response to Sohm is particularly poignant. The sacraments are not empty rituals, but expressions and vehicles of divine grace. To be truly charismatic is not to be in opposition with the institutional. Sohm's distinction between early and therefore authentic Christian charismatic leadership and later and therefore corrupt institutional regulation in the Roman Catholic Church is the origin of Max Weber's famous account of "the routinization of charisma". The privileging of spontaneous leadership over legal institutions is as old as the ambivalence in the Old Testament about Israel's shift from the rule of "judges" to the institution of kingship. In short, Errazuriz makes a powerful statement that vindicates the institution, which is integrally part of the "spontaneity" of Christ. Volume one also contains indispensable analyses of the trends of thought that over the centuries have created grooves in the European treatment of the relationship between the Church and society, and what it means to claim membership in both. No introduction to canon law available in English rivals Errázuriz’s description of ecclesiastical justice and its indication of communion and sacramentality.

The availability of this work coincides with scandals and demands for justice in the Church and in the world. But what is justice, what are rights, in the Church? “These rights are the juridical goods––especially those that are directly salvific (such as the Word of God and the sacraments)––that are due each person and the Church itself as institution, in the economy of universal salvation operated by Christ and actualized in history by the Church in his name.” No serious answers to practical issues and solutions can be realized without the bearings reestablished by Errázuriz’s first volume to his sweeping introduction to the study and discipline of canon law.

Volume one contains the first three chapters of the original, Corso fondamentale sul diritto nella Chiesa (in two volumes, Giuffrè: Milan, 2009 and 2017): “Rights, Justice and Law in the Church,” “Canon Law in History,” and “The Configuration of Rights and Law in the Church.” After Errázuriz, students who read the Code of Canon Law will no longer be confined to the limited perspective that has characterized American scholarship for the last century. Its appeal to canon lawyers is obvious, but it also demands the attention of theologians and political scientists alike for its illustration of the singular ecclesiastical notion of objective justice. As the scientist is a careful observer of the tides of civil government, so is the theologian beholden to this masterwork that offers a profound panorama of what the Church is, even in the post-modern era.