- Manuel De Droit Canonique
To the seven chapters commenting on the books of the Code of Canon Law, the author has added a first chapter outlining a brief history of canon law and a closing chapter on public ecclesiastical law and civil ecclesiastical law. The introduction lays out the general principles of law and justice, of natural law, of human rights, and finally of canon law. In each chapter, the author provides a useful bibliography, although limited to French books and articles. Paragraphs are numbered, allowing for easy internal references.
The book is written in a clear and non-pretentious style, with occasional humorous interjections, making it a work that is accessible to non-canonists as well as canonists looking for a general overview of the Code. The use of [End Page 300] titles and sub-titles draws the reader's attention to the core of the canon or canons of a particular section. References to the Eastern Code are meticulously added whenever required. In fact, the author has added sections, which, although pertaining to the Eastern Churches, are judged essential to a proper canonical understanding and overview of the law. For example, while commenting on Book II of the Latin Code, he adds an entire section on patriarchal churches, the powers, rights and obligations of the patriarch, and major archiepiscopal churches.
What is especially helpful is the author's generous use of examples to comment on a particular canon: for example, to explain a contra legem custom, references to canons explicitly mentioning reprobation of a custom are listed, both in the Latin and the Eastern Codes. The handbook goes beyond the mere commentary of a particular canon, often adding theological underpinnings or more recent papal pronouncements expounding legislative texts. When necessary, references to particular law are added, for example, when referring to the age for receiving the sacrament of confirmation or conditions under which general absolution may be allowed.
The commentary on Book II, the People of God, is the most voluminous, providing a more detailed instruction on the rights and obligations of the faithful pertaining to the conditio communionis, the conditio libertatis, the conditio activa, and the conditio subiectionis. The commentaries on Books V and VI are perhaps the shortest, but they do still contain the basic information and solid footing required by anyone seeking to make heads or tails of these oft confused or misused sections of the Code. Further readings would be required, however, of anyone having to apply the canons to particular cases.
This book fills a definite void. There is a sad paucity of French canonical works. The Manuel de droit canonique will be a useful tool for students as a good overview of the canons of the Code, for canonists requiring a brief refresher on one section or another, and for non-canonists wishing to acquire a basic but solid knowledge of canon law. [End Page 301]
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