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Reviewed by:
  • Derecho Patrimonial Canónico
  • Jobe Abbass OFM CONV, Professor of Canon Law
Derecho Patrimonial Canónico by Jean-Pierre Schouppe. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A. (EUNSA), 2007.

As the author states (18), this manual is the Spanish version of his 1997 Elementi di diritto patrimoninale canonico but he has revised and augmented it [End Page 271] particularly from the perspective of Spanish civil and canon law (both universal and particular) as well as by his ten years of experience teaching this subject at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. Instead of the usual running commentary of the canons of Book V of the Latin Code, the author has opted for a more wide-ranging treatment of the matter that draws from these many perspectives in eight chapters for just over two hundred pages.

Chapter 1 provides a very brief description of the present structure of the Latin Code in terms of temporal goods and its application of subsidiarity and the "canonization" of civil law. Chapter 2 describes constitutive principles of canon law respecting temporal goods (CIC cc. 1254-1258), while chapter 3 treats the classification of those goods. The juridical ways of acquiring temporal goods (Title 1, Book V) are dealt with in chapter 4. At the core of the book (100 pages), chapter 5 concerns financing the Church in the various ways indicated by the Latin Code (Titles 1 and 4, Book V), while the administration and alienation of ecclesiastical goods are treated in chapter 6 (Titles 2 and 3, Book V). Chapter 7 examines the diocesan and parochial structures that oversee financing. Finally, chapter 8 regards the administration of goods in religious institutes and societies of apostolic life although the latter do not seem to be covered.

The option to treat the subject of temporal goods from so many perspectives was both interesting and innovative. That said, however, the lack of any index proved frustrating for one searching to find where a certain canon was discussed. The author might think of adding an index to a second edition of this manual or, even better, to an augmented edition of his 1997 Elementi since there is really a need for a good, updated commentary on temporal goods in the Catholic Church.

That is not to discount in any way the importance of the interrelationship of civil and canon law in the context of Church ownership of goods in society today. In fact, it is a very delicate subject that has to be studied more thoroughly especially in the light of increasing legal claims against Church property and the hierarchy. In this regard, as a canonist, it is easy to agree with the author that the pope does not have shared ownership (dominium) but, instead, assures the ecclesiality over property by his power of governance (50). While this argument might convince theoretically-minded civil law jurists, it probably would not persuade concretely-minded common law judges who are increasingly asked to judge the vicarious and/or strict liability [End Page 272] of the hierarchy, and even of the pope, in abuse cases. Here, details regarding the pope's primacy and power over temporal goods (177-178), if introduced into evidence, would probably assure a civil judge's unfavorable decision.

Following repeated papal calls for comparative studies of the two Codes of the Catholic Church, it is to be hoped, at least at the doctoral level and beyond, that canonical studies duly consider the integral parts of the Church's one Corpus iuris canonici. The book's introduction, however, expressly states that the manual deals with temporal goods in the Latin Church but it does, happily, make a few, footnoted references to the Eastern Code. Still, footnote 3 should be updated bibliographically for Eastern references on the subject [see Folia canonica 5 (2002) 125-147].

This manual is undoubtedly the product of serious and ongoing scholarship. In the area of ecclesiastical goods, it is bound to be useful as a reference for canonists in general and as an important resource for Italian and Spanish canonists in particular.

Jobe Abbass OFM CONV, Professor of Canon Law
Saint Paul University
Ottawa, Canada


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pp. 271-273
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