"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eastern Canon Law

Though Robert Taft has called canon law the "bad side of the good news," it does have a role to play. Recent studies of Eastern canon law have included Panteleimon Rodopoulos, An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law, ed. George Dion Dragas (ORI, 2007); Patrick Viscuso, Orthodox Canon Law: A Casebook for Study: Second Edition (Holy Cross Press, 2011); Lewis Patsavos, Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons (Holy Cross Press, 2007); and other books mentioned previously.

Now two new studies have just been released. The first, from the Pontificio Consiglio Dei Testi Legislativi, Il Codice Delle Chiese Orientali, was published in August by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and brings together papers given at a symposium hosted by the Pontificio Istituto Orientale last year on the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. About Il Codice, the publisher tells us very briefly:
La Storia, le Legislazioni particolari e le Prospettive Ecumeniche Atti del convegno di studio tenutosi nel XX anniversario della promulgazione del Codice dei Canoni delle Chiese Orientali Sala San Pio X Roma 8-9 ottobre 2010.
Forthcoming from Ashgate is another study that takes a comparative approach to Western (especially Anglican) canon law, and Eastern Orthodox law: Will Adam, Legal Flexibility and the Mission of the Church (Ashgate, 264pp).

About this book, the publisher tells us:
Legal scholars and authorities generally agree that the law should be obeyed and should apply equally to all those subject to it, without favour or discrimination. Yet it is possible to see that in any legal system there will be situations when strict application of the law will produce undesirable results, such as injustice or other consequences not intended by the law as framed. In such circumstances the law may be changed but there may be broad policy reasons not to do so. The allied concepts of dispensation and economy grew up in the western and eastern traditions of the Christian church as mechanisms whereby an individual or a class of people could, by authority, be excused from obligations under a particular law in particular circumstances without that law being changed.

This book uncovers and explores this neglected area of church life and law. Will Adam argues that dispensing power and authority exist in various guises in the systems of different churches. Codified and understood in Roman Catholic and Orthodox canon law, this arouses suspicion in the Church of England and in English law in general. The book demonstrates that legal flexibility can bebe found in English law and is integral to the law of the Church, to enable the Church today better to to fulfil its mission in the world.

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