Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tim Staples, Steve Ray and a room full of young people.

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Canon Law Case. You Decide.

by Steve Ray on November 13, 2012

Good morning class. Our canon law topic for today is irregularity for the exercise of orders arising from mutilation. As you know:

Canon 1041 states “The following are irregular for receiving orders: . . . n. 5. A person who has mutilated himself or another gravely and maliciously or who has attempted suicide.”

Canon 1044 § 1 says “The following are irregular for the exercise of orders received: . . . n. 3. A person who has committed a delict mentioned in can. 1041, nn. 3, 4, 5, 6.” and

Canon 1397 reads “A person who commits a homicide or who kidnaps, detains, mutilates, or gravely wounds a person by force or fraud is to be punished . . . according to the gravity of the delict.”

Okay, let’s assume you’ve got two priests who get into a brawl and—why are they fighting? I dunno, let’s say they’re fighting over a parking space—anyway, while they are swinging away at each other, one bites an ear off the other. Clean off. Now, analyze the status of the biter and the bitee. Are either, neither, or both of them irregular for the exercise of orders due to mutilation? Cite the law, account for the facts, and explain your answers.

Any questions? Okay, then, see you this afternoon.

Excuse me? Whaddya mean, you don’t like my goofy classroom hypotheticals? Would it be more believable for you if I said these two clerics were, say, tough old Aussies? Anyway, who says this is a made-up case? Just for that, I’m gonna call on you first, young man.

See y’all this afternoon.

Taken from Ed Peters’ Canon Law Website.

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The Butler Did It, but Should the Pope Pardon

by Steve Ray on November 13, 2012

New post on In the Light of the Law by Dr. Ed Peters

Some thoughts on a possible papal pardon for Paolo Gabriele
by Dr. Edward Peters
The ink was hardly dry on Paolo Gabriele’s conviction last month for stealing hundreds of confidential documents out of Pope Benedict XVI’s personal quarters when there was open curial speculation about the possibility (nay, probability) of a papal pardon being accorded the disgraced ex-butler. Fueling such speculation has been the pope’s sending of a book of psalms to Gabriele and, just a few days ago, reports that a commission of cardinals investigating the theft has “green lighted” a reprieve of Gabriele’s already reduced sentence.

Now, I have no idea whether Gabriele ought to be pardoned—only the pope knows for sure—but I can foresee, I think, some significant questions being raised about such a pardon if it comes to pass.

Consider: in the book-length interview he granted to journalist Peter Seewald, Benedict observed: “After the mid-sixties [punishment] was simply not applied any more. The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people. Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and the need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth. And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love.” Light of the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 2010) 25-26.

To be sure, the gap between these papal words on the appropriateness of just punishment and a papal pardon of a serious crime against the governing authority of the Church is not unbridgeable but, should such a pardon be issued, a coherent reconciliation of these two views would certainly need to be provided.

Personally, I don’t see the pope’s sending a devotional book to Gabriele as a sign of coming leniency; I see it more as a sign of continuing love. Benedict was the victim of a very serious crime, but he still loves the offender. The pope seeks Gabriele’s personal good but, precisely as pope, Benedict also has the future of the papal office to consider; pardoning Gabriele could well make the next pope’s job that much harder to perform—and who knows better than Benedict how hard it already is to be pope?

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