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Reviewed by:
  • Towards Future Developments in Penal Law: U.S. Theory and Practice
  • Christopher R. Armstrong, Pastor, St. Antoninus Church
Towards Future Developments in Penal Law: U.S. Theory and Practice. A Symposium held under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, March 5-6, 2009, edited by Patricia M. Dugan. Montreal: Wilson and Lafleur Ltee, 2010.

Patricia M. Dugan planned, presented and edited this symposium of seven canonists, including herself. All seven canonists have had vast experience working in the field of penal law, including its ramifications in civil law. Dugan initiates the symposium with a paper on "The Need to Know vs. Confidentiality." She describes confidential communications, gag orders, the pontifical secret, and privilege, showing each one's relationship to the U.S. media. Foley addresses preliminary investigations in which he considers the ordinary's initial response upon receiving an allegation and his options after receiving the investigator's report. Vondenberger investigates the role of the promoter of justice in balancing the rights of the accused and advocate, accusers and witnesses, parishes, and dioceses.

Deibel explores the pastoral principles within the penal process articulated in canon 1341, and the need to repair scandal, restore justice, and reform the offender. Robinson explores the collection and evaluation of proofs including: the nature, definition, types and elements of proof; the sources of evidence, especially the role of memory; an evaluation of proofs for their credibility and inherent or assigned value; and a caution about the possible legal consequences of the information gathering process. Lagges surveys the resolution of cases by rescript, penal precept, or decree.

These papers offer an important contribution to canonical science in general and penal law in particular. It is a prime example of what Most Rev. Francesco Coccopalmerio called for in his introductory remarks regarding professional collaboration: "It is my belief that every canonist should be engaged in reflecting upon the state of our canonical norms, in evaluating whether the code is up-to-date and coherent, in identifying any lacuna legis, in assessing whether individual norms have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time or changes in circumstances; and, ultimately, suggesting whether and which corrective action should be proposed to the Legislator, that is, the Holy Father."

This reviewer agrees with the contributors that a manual of penal procedure similar to the manual of marriage procedure would be helpful to all canonists and others involved in this complex process. Canonists involved in [End Page 295] clergy sexual abuse cases should read this book for information in the science of penal law. Students would profit from the text with its sound approach to the juridical and pastoral aspects of this area of canon law gleaned from professionals' broad experience. Bishops, canonists and those involved in these tragic cases should welcome this valuable book.

Christopher R. Armstrong, Pastor, St. Antoninus Church
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio


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pp. 295-296
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