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Surprised By Canon Law: 150 Questions Laypeople Ask About Canon Law Paperback – January 15, 2005
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About the Author
PETE VERE, J.C.L., is a lay canon lawyer and freelance writer. He is pursuing a doctorate in canon law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. In his spare time he volunteers with the International Order of Alhambra, a Catholic family organization that works with the mentally and developmentally challenged.
MICHAEL TRUEMAN, M.Div., J.C.L., completed his license in canon law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, after graduating from St. Peter's Seminary in London, Canada. He serves as ecclesiastical judge in the Archdiocese of Detroit and defender of the bond in the Diocese of London. Michael and his wife Cheryl have two children.
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The book begins by explaining the different types of law, and which one is covered by the Church's Code of Canon Law. Last revised in 1983, this code helps with day-to-day workings within the Church. Surprised By Canon Law answers questions such as whether a non-Catholic can have a Catholic funeral(yes), may a layman say a homily(no), and is it all right to have a single godparent(yes). Sensitive topics such as divorce and remarriage, sacraments for severely disabled Christians, and abortion are handled clearly and without harshness. The difference between heresy and schism is laid out, with concise definitions and explanations as to how to avoid falling into one or both. This book also clears up any confusion about the difference between what is valid or illicit; a bishop that was validly ordained but then excommunicated for a schismatic act may still validly ordain priests, but his and their sacraments, though also valid, are illicit.
Easy to read and reference, with a well laid-out format and index, Surprised By Canon Law should be in every Catholic household. Its 150 answers are eminently useful, and could help when confronted by someone angry or confused over the Church's policies. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking to be more firmly grounded in the Catholic faith. It may also prove most helpful when discussing the Church with those of other faiths. Most of all, this book demonstrates that far from a crushing burden, canon law is simply a framework within which the Church may live and breathe, and address the problems of our current age.
Wonder no more. Messrs. Vere and Trueman have written a crisp, orthodox set of answers to questions commonly asked by curious Catholics.
Questions concerning whether laypersons may give homilies (they can't), what can be done about Catholic instructors teaching "questionable" topics, whether First Confession must precede First Communion (it must), and what is required of a godparent are all given thoughtful responses.
Worth noting is the language and style used by the authors. Canon law is often perceived by laypersons to be inscrutable and "off-limits" to all but priests, bishops and canon lawyers. But Vere and Trueman show how canon law really exists to guide the faithful, and their jargon-free responses don't require anything more than curiosity to understand them.
They also provide a link to their website for readers to submit additional questions, so "Surprised by Canon Law 2" is not out of the question.
Congratulations also to Servant Books for producing a slim, handsome little book. Gone are the days when "authentically Catholic" was synonymous with "looks cheap".
Both interested Catholics and curious non-Catholics ask questions about the Church, but often the questions they ask don't deal with doctrine or sacred Scripture. Instead, they concern the procedural and practical aspects of Church life. People wonder whether a non-Catholic is permitted to receive Holy Communion under any circumstances; whether a priest can write and use his own prayers in celebrating Mass; and what's involved in the "annulment" process.
All of these issues involve church law, but most educated Catholics don't know where to look for the answers. In this book, Pete Vere and Michael Trueman have brought their gifts of organization and clarity to the subject. Their 150 questions and answers, based on the Church's canon law and liturgical law, get to the point, while also explaining the Church's intention behind each point of law. Each of them has as its purpose "the supreme law", which is "the salvation of souls."
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Unfortunately canon law is one of the most misunderstood and consequently least appreciated aspects of the...Read more