Kanonistik im Zeitalter von Absolutismus und Aufklärung: Spielräume und Potentiale einer Disziplin im Spannungsfeld von Kirche, Staat und Publizität (Canon Law in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment: Scope and Potential of a Discipline between Church, State and Publicity)
92 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2012 Last revised: 9 Jun 2022
Date Written: December 21, 2012
This article is devoted to the impact public opinion had on the development of canon law in the 18th century when the Catholic Church was judged increasingly critically and started to shift away from the centre of publicity. In view of the growing influcence public opinion exerted on the Church the question arises whether or not the science of canon law was still able to fulfill its traditional function of defining the universal Church juridically and to expound its law. As regards the second half of the 18th century, historiography traditionally presents a picture of canon law that is characterized by institutional crisis, academic decline and growing dissent (e.g. Juridisctionalism and Febronianism). This article aims at a critical ascertaining the extent of this view.
After a general introduction as well as an overview of the history of canon law and its science in the 18th century the article first deals with the controversy regarding the Bull ‘In Coena Domini’ (1768-1770) which highlights the contemporary debate about Church and state. After a brief outline of the conflict some copper engravings from writings on ‚In Coena Domini‘ and canon law are analyzed with regard to their underlying concepts. Looking at the symbol of light the divergent philosophical and theological views about public opinion become apparent. Finally three examples are taken which show both the different forms of state influence on the development of canon law and the reactions of curialist authors. The respective examples are: the transformation of the science of canon law into a science of Austrian Church law in the age of Maria Theresia (1740-1780), the debate on the promulgatio in acie Campi Florae and the academic study of the so-called public ecclesiastical law (ius publicum ecclesiasticum). As a result of this inquiry a particular sustainability of canon law jurisprudence at the threshold of the modern era becomes apparent.
Note: Downloadable document is in German.
Keywords: canon law, history of canon law, legal history, Catholic Church, Church and State
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