Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canon Law Conference for Canon Lawyers and Civil Attorneys

From left to right: yours truly; Father Ronald Browne (a priest of the archdioese of Detroit currently Moderator of the Curia of the diocese of Marquette, Canon Law classmate - along with me - of Bishop Alexander Sample, bishop of Marquette, at the Angelicum, Rome); His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke (Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin); Father Benedetto Paris (Chancellor of the Diocese of Marquette)

Another excellent Canon Law Conference, hosted by Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, has concluded at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Maybe I'll get to write something about it, but for the moment just a photo of the Marquette contingent with His Eminence Cardinal Burke before a painting of Bishop Baraga, first bishop of Marquette, which is to be found in the downstairs of narthex of the shrine church. Cardinal Burke has a great devotion to Bishop Baraga whose cause of beatficiation is underway in Rome, currently awaiting approval of an alleged miracle.

This was only the second annual conference and there was a clear consensus that another should take place next year.

The conference was notable for its scholarly presentations from His Eminence Cardinal Burke, Dr Edward Peters (Professor of Canon Law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit), Father John Coughlan OFM (Professor of Law and Concurrent Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame) and Dr Charles E. Rice (Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School), and also for the profound sense of love for the Church. It was a wonderful occasion to experience a true communio amongst clergy, religious and laity, all desirous of furthering the project of ensuring that the Church is truly a speculum iustitiae (mirror of justice).

See posts about last year's conference here.


  1. AWESOME! I really need to start playing the lottery and praying, I would love to go and get a Theology Masters and/or a Canon Law degree.

    I guess my JD just isnt enough!

    So glad you got to go. If I can afford it next year, I am so there!

  2. Great for the lawyers, but what practical matters did you discuss? Was anything about the church scandal discussed? Will changes be made to honor the falsely accused priests? Will the zero tolerance which is unfair and of course unjust be changed and challenged by the Canon Lawyers? Or ... was it ... whatever the USCCB says we take as the word of God and will never challenge or disagree with a bishop let alone a cardinal. In other words, did you do something meaningful or was it more patting one another on the back? Thousands of priests have been "abused" by the Inquisition bishops under AB. Gregory. On the other hand, no one with an ounce of sanity can say that the church has not gone way, way, way out for the "victims" and given them all and more than they desire. The USCCB also has appeased SNAP and continue to live in fear of the media. These are PRACTICAL matters...did you discuss any of them?


  3. Fr. Boyle, please write a book called "Canon Law for Dummies"!

  4. Joseph: a long way for you to come but you would find it very worth while.

    Jude: it was certainly not a mutual back slapping convention. Many challenging questions were posed. One thing that was mentioned in this conference as in last year's was the antinomialism that has been a characteristic of recent decades, i.e. the disregard for Canon Law amongst ecclesiastics, the notion that law is somehow contrary to the Gospel, etc. This will have been one aspect of explaining the terrible situation the Church has got into over the issue you mention. Had penal law been applied in the cases of alleged child abuse rather than moving clerics around, the matter would have been dealt with. As it is, we now have the very sad and unjust situation you refer to of innocent priests being prevented from exercising ministry. Attending the conference were a number of excellent lay lawyers/canonists who advocate for priests and who are only too keenly aware of the injustice you mention and who are advocating actively for these priests. They raised important issues in Q&A sessions. I don't think you should draw too stark a distinction between theoretical and practical. The practical can only be truly just if it is founded on a proper philosopical-canonical basis.

    Vox: mmmmmmmmmmm!

  5. awesome picture!

    And yes, the conference was excellent - a whole lot to mull over and digest.

    Plus a great time to spend with fellow canonists and civil lawyers attentive to the teachings of the Church.

  6. Hi Father,

    I understand Cardinal Burke discussed a "new" approach to understanding annulments. Can you share some insight into which canons where discussed?

  7. Fr. Boyle - if it's too much work for one excellent Canon Lawyer on his own, I give you permission to co-author with Dr. Peters ;)


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