Canonical Deep Breath Time, by Edward Peters

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By Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap., March 30, 2020

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.

Since COVID19 left Communist China last month and began its rampage around the world a myriad of issues and problems have been confronting us all. Among these crisis items are a host of canonical questions, questions that arise on a daily, sometimes an hourly, basis and which take almost innumerable forms, often reformulating themselves before anything like coherent answers from informed persons or authorities can be formulated to their first instantiation. The internet, of course, magnifies and speeds the dissemination of canonical views and opinions, right ones as well as wrong. In short, folks, it’s deep breath time. Not everything is going to be sorted, let alone sorted correctly, within a few minutes of its popping up.

Here I offer a few observations on six matters, in no particular order.

1. Do not assume that some wrong, even stupid, policies being announced by various levels of Church government are necessarily canonically illegal policies. Christ, who foresaw COVID19, nevertheless gave considerable authority to his Church, specifically to his bishops and popes, to formulate how the Church would carry on his mission in these days. People should be very wary of concluding that a given a local Church policy is canonically illegal and can therefore simply be disregarded.  ….

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