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  • Dissertations and Theses

Doctoral Dissertations

The following dissertations was submitted during 2016 for the degree Doctor of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America. This constitutes the most recent addition to the series of Canon Law Studies which have appeared, in numerical order, since 1916.

In keeping with standard academic practice in the United States, these dissertations have been published in microfilm form. However, book-sized editions produced by photocopy, in either soft or hard bindings, can be obtained. Order directly from: University Microfilms International, 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106; or, University Publications International, White Swan House, Godstone, Surrey RH9 8LW, England. Please consult the publisher for prices.

Decker, Zabrina R.

An Examination of the Foundation and Activation of the Cooperation of Laity and Pastors in the Munus Docendi in Catechesis according to Canon 776

Zabrina R. Decker, J.C.D.
The Catholic University of America
Canon Law Studies #579, 2016

Canon 776 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law establishes both the obligation of the pastor to provide catechetical formation and responsibility of laity to cooperate in such formation. This study uniquely focuses on the foundation and activation of the cooperation of the lay Christian faithful with pastors in catechesis. Such cooperation derives from baptism (both the right to witness to the gospel message [c. 211] and the correlative obligation of suitable preparation to exercise that right [c. 229]). [End Page 607]

Chapter one establishes baptism as the canonical foundation for incorporation, personhood and catechetical responsibility in the Church. From this constitutive basis, chapter two presents the ecclesiology of the sanctifying, governing and teaching (catechetical) mission of the Church for both laity and pastors. Conciliar, ecclesial and canonical definitions of catechesis are the focus of chapter three. Chapter four explores the definition of the lay Christian faithful as derived from their ontological status in baptism. This definition provides the specific synthesis required for both unifying the preceding chapters and setting the basis for the final chapter. Chapter five promotes cooperation of laity with pastors through encouragement of a basic common formation and responsibility in their canonical mission of catechesis.

The method used is a conciliar-juridical comparative analysis employing the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law to illustrate the foundation for catechetical cooperation between laity and pastors while respecting both the common priesthood of all the faithful and the sacramental priesthood. Special focus is given to the 1997 Instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio and the 2005 publication of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.

The study contributes to the catechetical canonical mandate found in canon 776 regarding both the ontological obligation of the pastor for the catechetical mission and the active cooperation of laity in catechesis through a focus on shared formation so as to create a common catechetical language. Significantly, the study provides and unifies the theological and canonical basis for participation in the Church's salvific mission (c. 225), the necessity of proper formation (both obligation and right; c. 229), and particular application to the means by which the laity cooperate in catechetical formation. [End Page 608]

Esposito-Garcia, Juan R. Esposito-Garcia

The Declaration of Absence of the Respondent in Marriage Nullity Trials: A Strategy for Dealing with the Obstructive Respondent?

Juan R. Esposito-Garcia
The Catholic University of America
Canon Law Studies #580, 2016

The purpose of the marriage nullity process is to discover whether the marriage under review is or is not a valid marriage. Since it is primarily the parties who provide the tribunal with the information needed to determine the truth about the marriage in question, the participation of both the petitioner and the respondent in the process is critically important.

Although the law is clear that respondents who refuse to participate in the trial can legitimately be declared absent (c. 1592), it is not clear about what tribunals can legitimately do when confronted with respondents who indicate an initial willingness to participate in the process but whose actual participation is obstructive. Cases with obstructive respondents pose a real challenge to the normal flow of the marriage annulment process, often causing great delays in the resolution of the case...


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pp. 607-613
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