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  • El derecho canónico catalán en la baja Edad Media: La diócesis de Gerona en los siglos XIII y XIV
  • Brian Ferme
El derecho canónico catalán en la baja Edad Media: La diócesis de Gerona en los siglos XIII y XIV. By Santiago Bueno Salinas. [Col-lectània Sant Pacià, Núm. 72.) (Barcelona: Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya. 2000. Pp. 415. Paperback.)

The Fourth Lateran Council, convoked by Pope Innocent III in 1215, was and remains one of the most important of the Ecumenical Councils in the history of the Church. Its importance lies not only in its doctrinal declarations but also in its practical and pastorally oriented decrees, which were the critical foundation for the reform of the Church. While the general juridical parameters of such reform were determined by the Council, its practical application was necessarily fashioned by the particular churches. Individuals were obviously important, but a central role was played by diocesan synods, which to varying degrees of effectiveness, sought to translate the ecumenical decrees into particular norms that reflected the traditions, problems, and realities of the diocese. Not all dioceses were equally successful or attentive to this task, but the study and analysis of the acts of the diocesan synods in the century after Lateran IV provide a unique and rich vein of information on how the local churches understood and consequently applied the decrees of Lateran IV. In the process they also offer an extraordinary insight into the life of the local churches, the challenges they faced and the means by which they might be confronted.

The present excellent volume, the basis of which was a doctoral thesis, analyzes the synods celebrated in the Catalonian Diocese of Gerona in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, specifically 1247-1368, namely, from the episcopate of Berenguer de Castellbisbal to that of Ennec de Vallterra, who was instrumental in the formation of the First Compilation of the Gerona synodal constitutions. The choice of these dates is particularly fortuitous as it neatly corresponds to a period in which the canon law acquired an invigorating and long-lasting configuration due initially to the promulgation by Pope Gregory IX of the Liber Extra (1234), which was followed by the authentic collections, the Liber Sextus and the Clementinae, and to the plethora of academic commentaries which analyzed and commented upon them.

While the fundamental sources of the universal canon law remained the decrees of the general councils and the ever important papal decretals, the role of other councils—legatine, provincial, and diocesan—cannot be underestimated. The study of these particular councils is important for two interconnected reasons: they complemented the universal law and they offer a unique insight into the practical questions that were either left unresolved or unattended to by the general councils but which were of some importance to the life of the particular church in its efforts at reform.

The synodal activity of the Diocese of Gerona continued on a regular basis well into the fourteenth century and alongside a detailed survey of its juridical foundations the author places it within the context of the history of the diocese. Each of the synods is masterfully presented and analyzed with erudition and meticulous care. What comes through is a fascinating corpus of canonical legislation the texts of which dealt with actual questions that required adequate solutions. In the process a highly fascinating and informative glimpse is offered into the actual life of the Church in Gerona which encompasses a wide range of reform related issues: the sacramental life, the rights and duties of clerics and [End Page 310] laity, and the patrimonial questions involved in the Diocese of Gerona. The author also offers judicious insights into the lives of the individual bishops who convened the diocesan synods.

This is a very important piece of scholarship with careful attention given to the manuscript tradition of the synodal acts and their printed editions. The seven succinctly written chapters are followed by three very useful appendices. Much work has been dedicated to diocesan synodal activity in the period after Lateran IV, and the present volume continues this important research. It has the particular advantage of a...


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