Questions of Canon Law

lreli1380  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Questions of Canon Law
5.00 credits
30.0 h
This course assumes no prerequisites.
Main themes
It provides a pragmatic introduction to a religious legal system, i.e. the current law of the Catholic Church. (Other teachings on canon law are also provided in other programs organized by UCL). The course introduces students to the practical arrangements for legal intervention in the Catholic Church, managing the religious status of more than one billion followers worldwide. A mainly technical analysis is adopted to introduce more specific topics of canon law, chosen by the students.
The specificity of canon law over state law or in relation to other religions is analyzed about marriage and its forms of nullity and dissolution; about ecclesiastical status; about penal canon law against abuse in religious practices (e.g. the crisis of sexual offenses), about the status of religious courts.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 -   understand the locus and role of canon law within the life and practice of the Roman Catholic Church understood as a community of believers;
-   evaluate the relationship between canon law, State law and human rights as a joint project for good citizenship;
-   find (at least some) ways of resolving issues using canon law.
An introduction defines the fundamental concepts of canon law, and presents a brief historical overview of the evolution of canon law. This path will help identify methodological problems with canon law and uphold the criticisms that have been addressed to it.
The introduction also shorthly describes the main structures of canon law : rights of the faithful, sacramental law, procedures of appeal.
The course in a more detailed way analyses two completely distinct matters: - the canon law of religious marriage (with a special awareness to the contemporary debates within the Catholic Church and the society as well); -the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church (sanctions, procedures, status of victims). 
In addition, students may also choose another specific focus: canon law control to dissidence and doctrinal abuse; canon law about the relations between different religions and beliefs; status of the lay faithful (specific engagement to Catholic marriage, engagement in society, engagement in a religious NGO).
At the end of the course, the student will have acquired the ability to research documents and an adequate working method in canon law.
Teaching methods
Classical ex catedra teaching.
Evaluation methods
For 20% of the points, a bibliographic research paper will be done on a theme specific to each student.
For 80% of the points, an oral exam will be given on : -(a) a question drawn at random from a list communicated at the end of the course, as well as (b) the resolution of a practical case, in particular from the reading of a canonical judicial sentence (translated into French) or a press report.
In the September term, a similar written exam will account for 100% of the grade.
Other information
Online resources
See the moodle website of the course.
  • Codex de droit canonique (1983) est indispensable (en accès libre sur internet).
  • CHRISTIANS, L.L., Le mariage en droit canonique, Bruxelles, Larcier, 1995, 100 pp.
  • VALDRINI, et al., Droit canonique, Paris, Dalloz, 2e ed., 1999
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Certificat universitaire en théologie (fondements)

Minor in Sciences of Religions (discipline to complement the major)

Additionnal module in law

Minor in Christian Theology

Minor in Sciences of Religions (openness)

Additionnal module in Religious Studies