- Introduction au droit canonique: Principes généraux et méthodes de travail by Anne Bamberg
In Introduction au droit canonique, Anne Bamberg provides a brief overview of canon law and its application in the life of the Church. As this is a relatively short volume, it is necessarily limited in its discussion of the relevant topics. The work is divided into three parts, with a total of nine chapters (three chapters per part). In Part I, Bamberg addresses the history of canon law and certain fundamental principles of canon law (9–54). Part II reviews the principles of general norms embodied in Book I of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (55–92). In Part III, Bamberg considers certain special topics in canon law (93–124).
Part I includes three chapters. Chapter 1 reviews the historical roots of canon law (9–26), including an overview of the importance of the decrees of Gratian (23–26), as would be expected for any introduction to canon law, particularly one that considers the history of canon law. Chapter 2 addresses the initial codification of canon law in the 1917 code (27–30) with a very limited discussion of the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (33–35). The relationship between canon law and theology, particularly the theology developed through the Second Vatican Council and its importance as a source of law, is explained in Chapter 3 (41–54).
In Part II, Bamberg focuses on Book I of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Chapter 4, entitled “Les lois de l’Église,” addresses the promulgation of ecclesiastical law and the sometimes misunderstood yet important concepts of laws that are irritantes aut inhabilitantes as described in canon 10 (61–63). Chapter 4 also considers the interpretation of law (63–66), embodied in canons 16 through 19. Chapter 5 takes up the topics of general decrees, instructions, statutes and regulations (69–79). In Chapter 6, [End Page 296] Bamberg addresses particular administrative acts (as distinct from acts of administration). She briefly considers (81–83) singular decrees and precepts (cc. 48–58), rescripts (cc. 59–75), privileges (cc. 76–84) and dispensations (cc. 85–93). Bamberg’s summary diagram (86) provides a helpful overview of the process for hierarchical recourse from a contested administrative act to a final resolution at the Apostolic Signatura.
The special topics that Bamberg addresses in Part III include the concepts of ecclesiastical offices, the collaboration of members of the laity in working for the Church, and the sacrament of the anointing of the sick (93–124). Chapter 7 (95–103) discusses the nature of an ecclesiastical office (c. 145) and, in particular, the manner in which an ecclesiastical office is provided for (c. 147). Chapter 8 (105–113) primarily takes up a discussion of canon 231 on members of the laity who are devoted to the service of the Church, including sources for this canon and the various revisions undertaken before promulgation. In Chapter 9 (115–124), Bamberg addresses the third and final special topic of the priest as the only minister of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick (c. 1003 §1).
Introduction au droit canonique provides a rather limited and brief, yet helpful, overview of certain key concepts of canon law. The work would be of some interest to theologians and canonists but will, more particularly, be of interest to persons whose knowledge of these issues is rather basic, but who are attentive to developing their knowledge base. Bamberg provides numerous charts, diagrams and summaries that synthesize the information discussed, and offers generous sources for additional study, each of which should be particularly valuable to any reader. Of course, the volume is written in French, so a fundamental understanding of the French language is required as well. While the topics considered are limited, Bamberg’s presentation and discussion ought to be commended as a valuable contribution to the field of study in these areas. [End Page 297]