Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A closer canonical look at the Schiavo-Centonze marriage

I have expanded my earlier (23 Jan 2006) blog concerning potential canonical problems with the Schiavo-Centonze wedding and published those more developed observations in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly 29:2 (Summer 2006) pp. 6-8: "Canonical questions about the Schiavo-Centonze marriage". Together with my January 2004 essay from This Rock, these three short pieces set forth why I think that several important canonical and pastoral questions have been raised by a Schiavo-Centonze wedding taking place under Catholic auspices (21 Jan 2006).

I anticipate, however, and want to respond to, one related point: contrary to the perception of some, canon lawyers are not "private attorneys general"; canonists qua canonists cannot compel ecclesiastical authority figures to take or refrain from taking action on specific cases. We can set out, to the best of our ability, the salient ecclesiastical issues in a case—and, of course, await evaluation of our positions by qualified critics—but ultimately, responsibility rests with officials in the local Church (or their hierarchic superiors) to investigate (or to direct the investigation of) important pastoral and social matters such as those arising from the Terri Schiavo case. Or not, if that is what they decide.