Book Reviews – February 2021

The Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward. By Ralph Martin. Reviewed by Eduardo Echeverria. (skip to review)

Sex and the Spiritual Life: Reclaiming Integrity, Wholeness, and Intimacy. By Patricia Cooney Hathaway, ed. Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak. (skip to review)

Dorothy Day: An Introduction to Her Life and Thought. By Terrence C. Wright. Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak. (skip to review)

Called to be Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification. By Fr. David Meconi, S.J. and Carl E. Olson. Reviewed by Jim Baur. (skip to review)

Justice and Mercy Have Met: Pope Francis and the Reform of the Marriage Nullity Process. By Kurt Martens, ed. Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak. (skip to review)

The Church in Crisis – Ralph Martin

Martin, Ralph. The Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward. Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2020. 536 pages.

Reviewed by Eduardo Echeverria.

Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries, director of graduate theology programs in evangelization and a professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, has written an extraordinary book on the contemporary crisis of the Church — A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2020). His analysis of this crisis, in this time of confusion and division, as Martin argues, is comprehensive in scope, considering its ecclesial, doctrinal, and moral dimensions. The book has two parts: the first part, consisting of six chapters (15-230), gives an in-depth analysis of these dimensions, and the second part, which consists of seven chapters (231-400), outlines pathways forward to attain “real and deep renewal in the Church” (231).

The three dimensions of this crisis are interdependent, that is, doctrinal and moral confusion will affect the ecclesial dimension of the crisis, and vice-versa. For instance, consider the “pastoral passivity of the Bishops (297-336), meaning thereby, according to Martin, “a remarkable silence regarding the areas of truth revealed by God that are most in conflict with our culture” (298). The Church has failed to take seriously that this conflict confronting the Church today is a crisis of truth engaging the full spectrum of culture — powers, principalities, and organized centers of hostility (251-295).This passivity has rendered the Church, in many instances, a fence sitter, straddling the crucial issues of the day (147-200). Furthermore, Martin argues, “Catholics are cooperating with, and even welcoming, political and intellectual forces that are hostile to the Church. This has happened because many Catholics have begun to lose their grasp of and commitment to basic Christian truths” (234).

Throughout his book, Martin cites the Church’s pastoral passivity and accommodation to the sexual liberationist worldview (97-145). Examples of silence here abound regarding sexual sins (e.g., cohabitation, homosexuality). There is also passivity regarding universalism — that is, as a matter of either necessity or contingent fact no one will end up in hell (67-96) — evangelization and its conflation with proselytism, the eternal consequences of rejecting the Gospel, the de facto fostering of religious indifferentism, and the distinction between subjective and objective morality, the former dealing with the question of responsibility and the conditions under which a person is to be held morally responsible (201-230).

At the root of the ecclesial crisis is the confusion, resulting in a dualism, between what John Paul II called “the coexistence and mutual influence of two equally important principles [of mercy and truth],” (Reconcilatio et Paenitentia, §34), and what Martin describes as the “conflict between objective truth and actual life, between the clarity of truth and the depth of compassion” (309). In the light of the Church’s ecclesiology, we can understand that these two equally important principles of mercy and truth are grounded in the Church’s nature as both Mother and Teacher (see John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, §33; Catechism of the Catholic Church §§2030-2051). This ecclesiological principle has also been dualistically construed in the Church’s pastoral passivity. Martin, then, urges the Church, “We need to preach [and teach] clearly and boldly the call to repentance and conversion.” (200).

At the root of the moral crisis, as analyzed by Martin, is the confusion regarding a set of conceptual distinctions first introduced by John Paul II in helping us to understand the dynamics of moral progress, namely, the “law of gradualness” and the “gradualness of the law” (Familiaris Consortio §34). The former unproblematic law entails that the Church must be sensitive to a man’s moral progress, namely, that he is striving to become good by stages of moral growth, understanding sin, weakness, and confession (cf. 1 John 1:9). The latter law is deeply problematic because it understands the role of the moral law in the Christian life in such a way that it turns the obliging force of the law into an aspiring force, rendering the moral law an ideal. Furthermore, this view of the law holds that there are “in divine law various levels or forms of precept for various person and conditions” (Familiaris Consortio, §34). This view of the moral law tilts into a version of situation ethics. It has caused confusion and concern in the Church regarding sexual morality (97-145).

Martin rightly insists that fundamental to the doctrinal crisis of the Church is the “question of revelation.” (45-65) He explains, “Has God revealed himself? If so, how can we have access to what he reveals? If we can have access to what he reveals, how can we discern true ‘development’ from false development in our understanding of the truths of faith”? (45)

Now, theories of revelation in the last century have not denied that God has revealed himself , but they have opposed God revealing himself and propositional truth, that is, revealed truth. Indeed, this opposition grants a secondary status to theological propositions. The latter are formulated on the basis of an experience of the living God, but there is as such no revealed truth concerning God, man, salvation, the world, and so forth; hence, revelation is not “a source of certain truth and . . . reliable guidance for our lives.” (46) This idea of revelation has assumed something like a consensus in the last century or two.

By contrast, Martin affirms Dei Verbum §2’s statement that God’s “plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity.” Thus, jointly constitutive of God’s special revelation is its inseparably connected words (verbal revelation) and deeds, intrinsically bound to each other because neither is complete without the other; the historical realities of redemption are inseparably connected to God’s verbal communication of revealed truth (60). Without this idea of revelation, we lack a solid place to stand. (45)

This idea of revelation is also necessary to counter “a nebulous understanding of ‘development’ that seeks to weaken the clarity and certainty of revealed truth, leading in some cases to an actual reversal of the explicit teaching of Jesus as it has been understood in the Church for almost two thousand years” (63-64). Martin’s book is a tour de force. In the words of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, “An important book that should be widely read.”

Eduardo Echeverria is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

Sex and the Spiritual Life – Patricia Cooney Hathaway, ed.

Cooney Hathaway, Patricia, ed. Sex and the Spiritual Life: Reclaiming Integrity, Wholeness, and Intimacy. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2020. 185 pages.

Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak.

God created human persons out of a superabundance of love and for loving relationships. Saint Pope John Paul II highlighted this truth in his inaugural encyclical Redemptor hominis, where he poignantly wrote: “Man cannot live without love” (n. 10). “He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless,” the Holy Father eloquently expounded, “if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (n. 10). In other words, every human person is powerfully propelled by a deep yearning to love and to be loved. This collection of insightful reflections on sexual integrity offers an excellent exposition of how God’s plan for human love is lived out authentically, maturely, and vibrantly.

In the foreword, entitled “Sexual Integrity Is for Everyone,” Father John Riccardo sets an upbeat tone by explaining that “the Gospel is good news for sexuality as well as every other aspect of human living” (xviii). While acknowledging that the drive for love can become distorted, he inspires hope that the pursuit of sexual integrity and personal transformation is certainly possible through a renewed relationship with God, others, and one’s self.

In chapter one, entitled “What Is Sexual Integrity?”, Janet Smith situates the discussion within the framework of virtue ethics. In chapter two, entitled “Educating for Sexual Integrity within the Family,” Timothy P. O’Malley shares his practical advice about shaping the rising generation’s moral imagination. He recommends that parents seek out opportunities to talk to their adolescent children, teach explicitly, consider the effect of technology on the sexual formation of their children, and invite mentors into their children’s circle of influence (25-27).

In chapter three, entitled “Sexual Integrity and the Challenge of Addiction,” Jeff Jay enumerates some spiritual maladies that may underlie addiction and proposes spiritual reawakening as a powerful force for recovery and healing of wounds. In chapter four, entitled “The Joyful Dance of Sexual Connection,” Timothy and Karen Hogan share their journey of growth in love as a married couple. They highlight that “God himself created sexuality, which is a marvelous gift to his creatures” (Amoris laetitia, n. 150).

In chapter five, entitled “Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Single Life,” Susan Muto discusses the healthy habits that enable love to flourish in singlehood. In chapter six, entitled “Hidden Treasures for Gay Catholics,” Eve Tushnet poignantly writes that “individual sexual integrity rests on the assurance that no one is single — all of us have a Lover who is more faithful than we could ever hope” (94). A trusting friendship with the Lord and life-giving friendships in the Lord are key to flourishing.

In chapter seven, entitled “Growing in Sexual Integrity as a Consecrated Man,” Daniel Keating discusses becoming fully converted and fully committed as a member of an institute of consecrated life. In chapter eight, entitled “Love and Intimacy as a Religious Sister,” Sara Fairbanks explains how her vocation to religious life grew out of a recognition of God’s gift of self. It inspired “a deep desire to reciprocate” fully and undividedly (120).

In chapter nine, entitled “Sexual Integrity and the Diocesan Priesthood,” Bishop John M. Quinn discusses the need for introspection through spiritual direction. Notably, he cites the scriptural scene at the crucifixion where Jesus refuses the wine mixed with gall offered to him (Matthew 27:34). He explains: “Jesus refused the cheap wine that would dull his senses and reduce his pain and loneliness” (135). Instead, Jesus embraced the challenges and sufferings with sacrificial love. In chapter ten, entitled “Sexual Integrity and the Formation of Seminarians,” James Keating frames priestly celibacy as a positive call wherein one is captured by the beauty of God (154). In the conclusion, the editor weaves the themes together. Each chapter ends with prompts for further reflection.

Surprisingly, none of the reflections reference the beatitude of purity: “Blessed the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). While the beatitude can be interpreted broadly as living consonantly between inner dispositions and outward actions, many exegetes within the Catholic tradition have also read it as relating to chastity, that is, the virtue of regulating the sexual appetite. This scriptural passage could serve as a fruitful source for further reflection.

This accessible work, which looks at the God-given gift of sexuality from various angles, fills a lacuna in pastoral literature. It brings to the forefront of the mind vocabulary and ideas repressed by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which destigmatized non-marital sexual activity and valorized sexual expression. Moreover, the scandalous revelations of heinous crimes against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by some members of the clergy and their coverup have led to a certain reticence, on the part of some leaders and teachers within the Church, to discuss matters of human sexuality. Drawing on a diversity of vocations, this much-needed collection advances the view that sexuality and spirituality are happily linked. The chapters can stand alone, or the book can be read in its entirety so that the various perspectives inform each other and prove mutually enriching. In sum, this thoughtful collection of reflections helps to reclaim from libertinism the authentic freedom to love.

Christopher Siuzdak is a canonist in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Portland.

Dorothy Day – Terrence C. Wright

Wright, Terrence C. Dorothy Day: An Introduction to Her Life and Thought. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2018. 162 pages.

Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak.

With an unflagging passion for social justice inspired by the Gospel and influenced by her journalistic career, Dorothy Day comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. After a bohemian youth and a dalliance with political subversives, she discovered the beauty of the Catholic faith and earnestly sought to concretize in contemporary society the challenging injunctions and comforting truths of the Gospel. She co-founded the Catholic Worker movement, with its houses of hospitality and an eponymous newspaper that explicated and popularized Catholic social teaching. Far from being a bystander indifferent to those experiencing hardship, she actively sought to integrate the dispossessed and challenged the errant mentality of social Darwinism that ran roughshod over the least, the last, and the lost. As Pope Francis highlighted in his historic address to a joint session of the United States Congress on September 24, 2015, Dorothy Day (b. 1897-d. 1980) serves as a valuable model of faith in action.

Chapters one and two of this concise introduction sketch a biography of Dorothy Day, ranging from her developmental years as a girl who witnessed her mother sheltering earthquake survivors to Dorothy Day’s struggles as a single mother during the Great Depression. Chapter three examines the intellectual foundations of the Catholic Worker movement, including and especially personalism. Chapter four briefly introduces the saints whose spirituality influenced Dorothy Day — namely, Saints Benedict of Nursia, Francis of Assisi, and Therese of Lisieux. Chapter five considers Dorothy Day’s “understanding of obedience and authority and her relationship to Church hierarchy” (81). “When Day was critical of the Church,” the author is careful to note, “it was not from the perspective that it should change its teachings but rather from the perspective that it needed to embrace more fully these teachings and the teachings of the Gospels” (86). Given that the works of mercy were the signature theme of Dorothy Day’s thought and action, the sixth chapter offers an overview of the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy.

The seventh chapter demonstrates that Dorothy Day’s positions on questions of war and peace were deeply principled and sincere. She took a prophetic stand, unafraid of being a sign of contradiction when prevailing cultural orthodoxies anesthetized questioning. Her criticism of the military-industrial complex and her civil disobedience during the Cold War-era air-raid drills (including multiple arrests) struck many of her compatriots and coreligionists as unpatriotic. Her outspoken criticism of the Vietnam War sparked controversy at the time. Dorothy Day saw the need to serve as an active and uncompromising peacemaker.

The eighth and final chapter discusses Dorothy Day at the sunset of her lifespan and the opening of the cause for her canonization by the Archdiocese of New York. Her past was far from pristine, but it powerfully underscores that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Passing through a dark period in her life, she procured an abortion, attempted suicide twice, cohabited in a quixotic quest for love, and associated with political radicals. Yet these experiences and paradoxes render the story of her religious awakening all the more potent. She experienced mercy and metanoia firsthand. She became a leading advocate for the dignity and sacredness of all human life. She accepted and promoted the sexual morality taught by the Church even against the backdrop of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, evidenced most concretely by her heart-aching decision to part with the father of her daughter because he refused to marry. In an American milieu fixated on “upward mobility,” Dorothy Day intentionally adopted a path of downward humility in order to be of greatest service to those experiencing marginalization. She became an unparalleled champion for the “underdog,” due in large part to having experienced tribulation and triumph in multiple domains of her own life. Dorothy Day, who has not been without detractors over the years, emerges as a faithful daughter of the Church.

The author, who teaches at Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver, helpfully contextualizes Dorothy Day’s life and legacy within the Catholic tradition. The portrait painted of Dorothy Day in this book whets the appetite for further study of her life story, her writings, and the social doctrines of the Catholic Church. The account, moreover, is motivational. Readers will be inspired to become loving servants of the less fortunate. This accessible introduction appeals to a broad readership. It will prove particularly useful to undergraduate students of theology and history.

Christopher Siuzdak is a canonist in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Portland.

Called to be Children of God – Fr. David Meconi, S.J., and Carl E. Olson

Meconi, Fr. David, S.J., and Carl E. Olson. Called to be Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2016. 292 pages.

Reviewed by Jim Baur.

After two prayerful readings of Called to be Children of God, I would highly recommend this valuable work to all levels of theology teachers, priests, those in formation, and all religious, ministers and spiritual directors, and to parents, for themselves and their families. This work makes one contemplate: just how good will God make me?

This splendid reality, called to be children of God, is addressed by fifteen contemporary scholars, if one includes the introduction by Scott Hahn. Deification or theosis is presented explained by using countless biblical passages, saints from the East and West, from every era in Church history, in the Liturgy and the Catechism of the Catholic Church; Luther and Calvin even addressed this reality, even if in passing or dimly. It is, therefore, an ecumenically beautiful and powerful work.

This masterpiece’s goal, to quote the introduction, is: “While it is commonplace for all Christians to stress God’s becoming human — what theologians have named the ‘Incarnation’ — this book wants to show what happens when such love is returned, when we humans become God — what is referred to as ‘deification,’ ‘divinization,’ or the Greek term ‘theosis.’”

In the first chapter, the Scriptural roots are mined. The reality of deification or theosis is that we are called to be children of God. Our authors address this in both the Old and New Testament. I will use three principle passages. Exodus 4: 22 “And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my first-born son’”. Moreover, in John 10: 34 Jesus quotes Psalm 82: 6: Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods’”? We also see in II Peter 1: 4: “Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to partake in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

The term “koinonos” is the Greek for “partake.” This reality is handled with care by both our primary authors and the contemporary scholars. We are adopted children of God, and not of the same substance or nature. One of the many blessings of this work is that it facilitates meditation on the reality that I am a child of God, and God will make me grow in Christian maturity.

Moving on from Scripture, in two chapters, the Greek and Latin Fathers are covered. To name a few Greek Fathers, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa. Gregory of Nazianzus was the first to use the term theosis. To quote Gregory of Nazianzus on the benevolence of God: “The full one empties himself; for he empties himself of his own glory for a short time, that I may participate in his fulness.” This idea is stated many different ways throughout this study. Here it is labeled “exchange formula,” other times the “great exchange,” and “admirabile commercium” (wonderful exchange). Or, as is stated at least twice, “In his kenosis is our theosis.” The Latin Fathers used a variety of terms: “. . . many Latin Fathers are reticent to use the word ‘deification,’ though by drawing on a range of complementary terms — ascent, adoption, grace, contemplation, vision, knowledge, likeness to God, imitation, perfection, sanctification, participation, union, angelic life, immortality — they all, to a greater or lesser degrees, point to the same reality of deification.”

St. Augustine is given his own chapter. This chapter has four outstanding section, not counting the introduction and conclusion: “Divine Images Restless for Divinity,” “God Becomes Human So Humans Can Become God,” “The Love Poured into Our Resting Hearts,” and “The Whole Christ.” Each section is enlightening, fascinating, beautiful, and, therefore, inspiring.

The Dominican and Franciscans are each given a separate chapter. In those chapters we hear from Albert, Thomas, Catherine, Francis, and Bonaventure. For me, the most inspiring is Catherine; I am sure you will have your favorites. Her explicit statements imply so much. As she says: “In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love, and you have given humankind a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created us.” The implication for me: I, with God’s love, will be transformed into a loving husband and father.

Then there is an exciting tour through the Reformation, Trent, and the Counter-Reformation. As always throughout the theology of history in the Church, all sides teach some degree of theosis. One example, I was overjoyed to read, was about Luther: “. . . Luther’s account was not exclusively forensic in nature, but also included transformation aspects.” And from Luther’s own Christmas sermon of 1514: “Just as the word of God became flesh, so it is certainly also necessary that the flesh may become the word. In other words: God becomes man so that man may become God.”

In my hearing of such statements, the excitement is that I, by the grace of God, while in the flesh, will be made good by God Himself; that is truly good news for me and my family — I am confident my family is hoping for my maturity. Then we are treated to four exhilarating chapters covering the French School of Spirituality, Neo-Thomism, John Henry Newman, and Matthias Scheeben. If one loves to be inspired by theosis in one’s daily life, they are in for a treat. To whet one’s appetite, I will only address the French School. Whether it is Francis de Sales, Jean-Pierre de Caussade or Therese of Lisieux, all of these great saints encourage us to live each day lovingly, because of divinization — the question is not, can one be good? Rather we should contemplate: just how good will God make us?!

The concluding four chapters cover the Vatican Councils, John Paul II, the Catechism, and the Liturgy. What a treat with which to end a work on theosis. To mention four quotes, first, Arintero: “Earthly adoption is nothing more than a moral union. It confers rights, but it does not change the nature of the adopted. . . . Divine adoption, on the other hand, not only implies the name, but also the reality of filiation.” Also, Pope Saint John Paul II is proclaiming how powerful theosis is in daily life: “The hour of conjugal and family spirituality is therefore the hour of transcendence of the self into the image of the Trinity, the hour of becoming a house of God, a home of the Most High, an icon of the trinity, memory and prophecy of the wonders of salvation.”

How to decide which gems from the Catechism to quote is tough. Let us ponder CCC 460 because it uses several saints at once:

For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” (Adv. haeres. 3, 19, I: PG 7/939). “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (De inc., 54, 3: PG 25, 192B). “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods” (Opusc. 57: 1-4).

In the last chapter, “Liturgy and Divinization,” we are blessed with a panoramic view of the liturgy. Many authors of the past are quoted such as Gregory of Nazianzen, Louis Bouyer, Dionysius, Augustine, Benedict XVI, Thomas, and many others. David W. Fagerberg says it well: “Religion brings one before God, but liturgy brings one into God, into the perichoresis.” This theme runs from the introduction by Scott Hahn, “we are saved for sonship, to be divinely adopted sons and daughter of God”, to the concluding pages. And, as we all know, “The Liturgy is the source and summit of our faith.”

In conclusion, I found this work inspiring because it demonstrates that the Holy Bible, Tradition, and the constant teaching of the Church, East, West, and early Protestants, all believed that through theosis God is making us better people ever day! This book fully convinced me to see that God promises and fulfills theosis in our life: God is Life, and you will not murder, but you will be a Life-giver; God is Generous, and you will not steal, but you will be Generous and benevolent; God is Truth and you will not deceive, but your life will clearly proclaim the Truth of God’s mercy; and God is Love and you, too, will Love as God Loves.

Jim Baur has served the Church for over 40 years by teaching Catholic Theology and is currently stationed at Althoff High School in Bellville, IL. He and his lovely wife Jenny are blessed with five beautiful children.

Justice and Mercy Have Met – Kurt Martens, ed.

Kurt Martens, ed. Justice and Mercy Have Met: Pope Francis and the Reform of the Marriage Nullity Process. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017. 380 pages.

Reviewed by Christopher Siuzdak.

With the aim of increasing the efficiency and accessibility of ecclesiastical courts, Pope Francis amended the procedural law pertaining to marriage nullity cases by means of Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, the 2015 apostolic letter given motu proprio for the Latin Church (which is governed by the 1983 Code of Canon Law), and Mitis et Misericors Iesus, the apostolic letter given motu proprio for the Oriental Churches (which are governed by the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches). In this anthology of essays, noted canon lawyers situate the reforms in greater context and shed light on their proper implementation.

Recapitulated briefly, the changes introduced to the judicial process include the elimination of automatic appeals (that is, the suppression of the requirement of a double conforming affirmative decision), an increase in the proportion of lay canonists who can constitute a panel of judges, legitimization of the possibility of assigning full probative value to the judicial confession or sworn testimony of one party, the institution of an abbreviated process adjudicated by the bishop personally when the nullity is manifestly evident and both parties agree to an affirmative decision, and an elimination of the need to secure the consent of the judicial vicar of the respondent’s domicile when launching a case.

The following contributions constitute the anthology: “A First Approach to the Reform of the Process for the Declaration of Nullity in Marriage” (Frans Daneels, O.Praem.); “An Analysis of Pope Francis’ 2015 Reform of the General Legislation Governing Causes of Nullity of Marriage” (William L. Daniel); “Reflections on the Role of the Diocesan Bishop Envisioned by Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (Bernard A. Hebda); “Mitis Iudex Canons 1671-1682, 1688-1691: A Commentary” (John P. Beal); “The Abbreviated Matrimonial Process Before the Bishop in Cases of ‘Manifest Nullity’ of Marriage” (William L. Daniel); “The Ordinary Process According to Mitis Iudex: Challenges to Our ‘Comfort Zone’” (John P. Beal); “The Notion of Canonical Jurisprudence and its Application to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and Causes of Nullity of Marriage” (William L. Daniel); “Applying Article 14 of Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus to the Processus Brevior in Light of the Church’s Constant and Common Jurisprudence on Nullity of Consent” (Ronny E. Jenkins); “Implementation of Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois” (Thomas J. Paprocki); “Questions Regarding the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (Roch Pagé); “Letters Clarifying Some Unclear Points of the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts).

This book would have benefited from the inclusion of the subsidium distributed by the Roman Rota, prefaced by a discussion of its weight. Moreover, essays by members of the Special Commission for the Study of the Reform of Matrimonial Processes, constituted by Pope Francis in August of 2014, would have been a welcome addition (for example, a contribution by the Canadian canonist Father Francis (“Frank”) Morrisey, O.M.I., J.C.D.). Some questions raised by commentators immediately after the promulgation of the changes, such as whether civil jurisdictions that recognize and enforce the decisions of ecclesiastical tribunals will find the procedural rights in the briefer process sufficiently robust or whether the “cleric” on the panel of judges (turnus) must be a priest, were not addressed in these essays. These, however, are wishes whose absence does not detract from the value of the present volume.

This handy collection of essays is intended, first and foremost, for practicing canonists and tribunal staffers, yet it also appeals to a broader range of ecclesiastical observers because the essays reveal the leitmotifs of Pope Francis’ pontificate and show the logical ordering of the Church at a time when some perceive the Church as functioning arbitrarily. This single-volume collection of erudite essays on what is arguably the most significant reform of matrimonial procedure since Pope Benedict XIV’s Dei miseratione of 1741 is an essential reference book for all ecclesiastical tribunals and canonists who are involved in matrimonial nullity cases. Clergymen and lay pastoral ministers who accompany petitioners and respondents in annulment cases will also find this book, which explains the intricacies of the Church’s ministry of justice, illuminating.

Christopher Siuzdak is a canonist in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Portland.

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