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3 - Canon Law between Nature and Culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2019

Judith Hahn
Affiliation:
Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany
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Summary

The potential of natural law arguments is often doubted. Yet, there are reasons for retaining it. 1) Recent legal theory reveals that natural law is reflected in the secular debates on the foundation of law (see human rights debate). 2) In the normative discourses between Jews, Christians and Muslims, natural law contributes to the development of an inclusivist view of salvation. In any case, modernising the concept of natural law within the church requires the historicity and culturality of each law to be uncovered. As universalistic normativities are also shaped by their historical and cultural context, natural law has to be reinterpreted as a natural normativity in history and culture. This particularly challenges global canon law, whose “universal” validity is often explained by its supercultural character. It has to be recognised as impregnated by the Roman curia’s legal culture. If the church understands the cultural plurality of the local churches to be ecclesiologically significant, it has to be protected from a hegemonic romanity. More subsidiary law-making could help to achieve this. The local legislators’ legislative power has to be broadened to include all matters which do not require homogeneous regulation as a consequence of the church’s demand for unity.
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Church Law in Modernity
Toward a Theory of Canon Law between Nature and Culture
, pp. 116 - 173
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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