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Congratulations, Cardinal Stickler

March 27, 2007

I’m not into birthdays, but anniversaries of the accomplishments in one’s life are something else. Today, Alfons Maria Cdl. Stickler marks 70 years of priestly life. And that’s something to celebrate. But, with due regard for Pope Benedict’s admiration of Cdl. Stickler’s unsung labors in the Vatican Archives, it is Cdl. Stickler the canonist whom I congratulate today.

Some 57 years ago, Cdl. Stickler published the first of three projected volumes on the history of canon law, Historia iuris canonici Latini (Pontificia Studiorum Universitas Salesiana, 1950). Although the other two volumes were put on indefinite hold as the Holy See called him to task after task, the first work remains a standard introduction to canonical history. Among his many other writings, I would call attention to The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations (Ignatius, 1995) which is in my opinion the best overview of this important area now available. It was, by the way, translated from German into English by Msgr. Brian Ferme, now dean of the School of Canon Law at Catholic University of America; Msgr Ferme was, ni fallor, the last canonical doctoral student directed by Cdl. Stickler. Finally, canonists know of other documents that Cdl. Stickler drafted on behalf of the Holy See over the decades, but I won’t “betray” His Eminence’s reticence to accept the credit for them! God will reward him in His own good time.

On behalf of my canon law blog readers, then, may I offer Cdl. Stickler these small congratulations, and ask in return only the favor of being remembered in his powerful prayers. (Photo from: Salvador Miranda, The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church).

Update, 12 Dec 2007. Cdl. Stickler died today.

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