Posts by Dr. Edward Peters
- A thought on the passing of Geza Vermes on May 8, 2013
- When schadenfreude turns into demonic delight on May 7, 2013
- Clerical slumming on April 30, 2013
- Not a bad ‘Law and Morality’ Final Exam on April 26, 2013
Dr. Peters has held the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit since 2005. He earned a J. D. from the Univ. of Missouri at Columbia (1982) and a J. C. D. from the Catholic Univ. of America (1991). In 2010, he was appointed a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI. For more infomation on Dr. Peters, see CanonLaw.Info.
1. This blog represents my views and not necessarily those of other individuals or institutions with whom I might be associated.
2. I strive to present my opinions in a manner consistent with the values expressed in Canon 212 § 3, but final judgment on that rests with competent ecclesiastical authority.
3. In commenting on current events, I draw only on reports as they appear in publicly-available sources.
4. I fix obvious textual errors or infelicities of expression in my posts promptly (even if an email version has already gone out on it), but after a few hours, I either leave the text in place or clearly mark amendments as amendments.
5. Most translations of the 1983 Code are taken from the CLSA revised translation (1999, and largely available here); all translations of the 1917 Code are mine.
VI. In omnibus, magno cum timore ad haec ascendo timens ne optimae causae culpa causidici pessumdentur. Sed fretus divina gratia et vestra benevolentia res aggredior.
I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. [S]ome people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about [canon law] – many regard it with contempt [and] find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. . . . Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. . . Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. . . . They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of. (Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516)
A political wag once remarked that the fastest way to start a ruckus on Capitol Hill was to point out what the Constitution actually says. It seems that something similar may be said about what happens in the Church when someone points out what the Code of Canon Law actually says.
The first thing I would tell a student of canon law is, canon law is not for the faint of heart !
More good advice from His Eminence:
“The too rapid growth of practice without a clear and solid theoretical foundation has its most serious consequences in the confusion regarding the very foundations of law”. Burke, Lack of discretion of judgment (1986) at 85.
CanonLaw.info and its affiliated blog, In the Light of the Law, are two of the largest sources of canonical information on Internet. Both are private initiatives of Dr. Peters and are not underwritten or supported by any institution(s).
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• know everything there is to know about canon law (although I know quite a lot);
• think every issue in the Church is canonical (although many more ecclesiastical issues are canonical, or can be usefully assessed from a canonical perspective, than most folks realize);
• have access to inside information (although I have been in Church work for some 35 years and have picked up a few things along the way);
• think bishops are always right (or always wrong, or are always anything, for that matter, except Successors to the Apostles);
• think Vatican II was the end of the Church (or that it was the greatest event since Pentecost);
• have authority to enforce canon law (although I write, in part, to encourage sound enforcement of, or compliance with, canon law by those under its authority);
• think the West is doomed (although it faces some tough times ahead and needs Christ more than ever).
Note that these e-mailed versions of my blog posts go out very quickly (indeed, it seems, instantaneously), but sometimes they contain typos or other obvious errors that I don't catch until I can see the posted version, as noted above (DA 4). I regard the versions posted here as representative of my thoughts.
I have thought about enabling comboxes on my blog for some time. My reasons for declining at present are:
First, open comboxes are notorious occasions for grave sin (calumny, detraction, falsehood, even blasphemy). I won’t have it here, of course. But that leaves only monitored comboxes, and monitoring comboxes takes time—more time than I have and certainly more time than I wish to devote to, well, monitoring comboxes. Of course, if someone comes up with a way for me to get paid for monitoring comments, I’m open to reconsidering—my children are always screaming for more caviar and diamonds.
Second, the purpose of this blog is not primarily to air my, let alone others’, opinions (itself a legitimate purpose, of course) so much as it is to educate people on an important yet complex area of Christian life, namely, the operation of canon law. This is not to imply that I don’t express my opinions on various matters, even less is it to claim that everything I post is the only way to view XYZ, but rather, to underscore that most of what this blog does is explain the canonical aspects of issues in the news. I know of no other site in cyberspace that does that, and I think such a specific focus is a good thing.
Now the kind of education offered here can take place quite well, I think, without entertaining questions (questions that are often ill-formed and/or inappropriate for many others in my audience), and without entertaining comments (comments that, if right, would add little to what I already said, and if wrong, would often require considerable time for me correct). It seems better for all concerned if I just post what I think canon law or closely related disciplines say about this matter or that, include some appropriate references for folks to verify my sources, and leave it at that. Time will tell whether my analysis of various issues is, in the main, right or wrong.
Third—and mind, this comes from someone who often posts in others’ comboxes!—I find that combox discussions never really resolve anything; they are effectively interminable in that, no matter how thoroughly one might have answered a question or addressed an issue, there will always be one more bloke out there able to reword the matter in such a way as to suggest that it has not yet been adequately aired. And that is not counting the people who post as breand-new questions things that were expressly dealt with just a few posts higher up! Sheesh! Anyway, I grant that this could just be the lawyer in me talking, but I like it when judges rule (usually correctly) that X is irrelevant so drop it, or that Y has been asked-and-answered so move on, or that the burden of proof in case Z has been satisfied so the matter is closed. No one really performs that kind of service in any combox I've yet seen. Perhaps no one can.
Anyway these are some of the reasons why I haven’t enabled comboxes on this site. Perhaps another canonist will start a blog that does allow comboxes. If so, I’d be happy to go over and post comments there!
A professional knows the limits of his knowledge. An amateur does not know the limits of his knowledge. A dilettante does not know that there are any limits to his knowledge.
• Sometimes I think Ed Peters is just using his knowledge to tell us things we don't already know.
• Peters is a perfect example of how celibate old men in the Vatican think.
• Huelga decir que el trabajo de Edward Peters es sumamente útil.
• A Protestant would never say things like what he says.
• Peters obviously has no idea what it costs to raise a child these days. True, but I have some idea as to what it costs to raise six.
• Il est un éminent canoniste Anglophone.
• I see people disagree with Peters, but they almost never have a reason, except they don't like what he said.
• I like saving time, so I like reading Ed Peters.
• Ed Peters ruft zu einem vorsichtigen abwägenden Herangehen auf. Definitiv nicht "pressure group."
• Whenever I read one of Dr. Peters' blog posts, I feel smarter.