The subject of canon law has been much discussed in broader circles than usual in Australia over the last five years or so, largely because of the work of the now concluded Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It has been surprising to this particular observer how many people who would never have uttered the words ‘canon law’ now have a greater awareness to its existence and, in some cases at least, a great understanding of its role within the life of the Church.
In some quarters, however, there remains a misunderstanding of what canon law is and what its role is in the life of the Church. Some of that misunderstanding is deliberate, for purposes only the proponents of that misunderstanding truly understanding; most of the misunderstanding is because the Church a) doesn’t necessarily have a consistent view of the what and why of canon law. and b) hasn’t done a very good job of explaining the place of canon law in the Church.
Writing for Eureka Street, Justin Glyn makes a good start at doing the latter, while also outlining some of the former distinctive views about the nature and role of canon law. It is, in the opinion of this observer, well worth reading as a starting point in grappling with the canon law of the Church in response to the Royal Commission and its recommendations.
Of particular interest is the last paragraph, which most definitely needs to be owned and addressed by the Church in Australia and around the world:
Nevertheless, it is also true that many of the civil courts’ most scathing denunciations of Church authorities have come from their failure to follow canon law procedures and, in so doing, covering up issues or denying people their rights. Real damage can be caused to people not only by covering up accusations but also by making false ones. While there is no doubt that the Church is always in need of reform, as the Council put it, the challenge will be to ensure that the reform of canon law keeps pace in order to restore broken trust and allow the Church to be the loving community which we believe it was always meant to be.
Read the whole article below.