Friday, January 6, 2012

"I am a canon lawyer, and you're not"

 Page from Gratian's "Decretum"

"Moreover, I say the AOD is right.  Which settles it."  Unfortunately, this is the essence of Dr. Peter's new post on the AOD v. Michael Voris/Real Catholic dispute, with aspersions against "webmasters" and "combox jockeys" thrown in for good measure.   Dr. Peters does not address the issues raised by Canon 221, which I noted here.

According to his website, Dr. Peters holds the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit MI.   Since that is the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Detroit, one wonders if Dr. Peters has been consulted by the AOD regarding its dispute with Michael Voris/Real Catholic.  To be sure, in his first post relating to the dispute Dr. Peters noted that he "comment(s) here not as an advisor to the AOD, but as an established observer on public canonical issues."   However, that is not at all the same thing as saying Dr. Peters is not an advisor to the AOD.   Dr. Peters may in fact be an advisor to the AOD, who endeavors, in his blog, to comment on matters involving the AOD as though he were not.   Success in such an endeavor would seem to require internal bulwarks against the intrusion of self interest such as the average person does not possess.   One can even think of some saints who may have lacked such internal bulwarks.  For this reason, if Dr. Peters does indeed advise the AOD in this matter, it seems fair that he disclose this.  At any rate, it is fair for readers of Dr. Peters' blog to bear in mind, as they consider comments Dr. Peters makes merely "as an established observer on public canonical issues," that Dr. Peters is employed by the AOD.  

The early canonists recognized that apparent contradictions had arisen in the laws of the Church, and consequently set about restoring the canons to their divinely intended harmony.  That is why the great canonist Gratian entitled his work Concordia Discordantium Canonum, the "Concord of Discordant Canons."  The decretists and glossators who followed Gratian carried on this work.  In view of the dialectical process through which canon law developed, it seems insufficient for Dr. Peters to claim that the dispute between the AOD and Michael Voris/Real Catholic is entirely a matter of canon law, and then point to a single Canon, claiming the matter is thereby entirely resolved.  Canon 221, and perhaps other Canons, bear on the issue as well, and it seems reasonable and consistent with tradition that those Canons also be considered in bringing about a just resolution to this dispute.  As Dr. Peters himself puts it:

"The canon law on use of the word “Catholic” and on certain types of public activities carried on by Catholics is considerably broader and more complex than any descriptions I have yet seen accorded it in the blogosphere. Folks who look up a canon or two and purport to explain their meaning risk doing a disservice to both the law and the community that law is meant to serve."

St. Raymond Penafort, patron of canon lawyers, pray for us.


  1. And...!

  2. Dear Ms. Hammond,
    If it wishes, Real Catholic TV will have its day in (canonical) court, and there are many reasons to be hopeful Real Catholic TV will prevail there, despite Dr. Peters' imperious insistence to the contrary.
    Thank you for the link and the comment,
    Inigo Hicks