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On Juridical Elements in Theology

Louvain Studies, Vol. 28, 2003

Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-30

31 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2006  

Robert E. Rodes Jr.

Notre Dame Law School


Today, on the whole, mainstream theology rarely invokes concepts of law. This paper argues that important theological concepts have an inescapable juridical dimension that must be recognized and addressed if theological concepts are to be rightly understood. Drawing from secular law, it divides Catholic theological law into the three traditional separate categories of law: normative, constitutive, and epistemic. It then applies this juridical analysis to the polity of the Church, the validity of the sacraments, the magisterium, the status of non-Catholics, and redemption. It concludes, noting that while one can lead a good Christian life without paying attention to the legal analysis behind the law and teaching of the Catholic Church, such analysis is especially important today given the need for relating the unique claims of the Catholic Church to the requirements of a growing ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.

Suggested Citation

Rodes, Robert E., On Juridical Elements in Theology. Louvain Studies, Vol. 28, 2003; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 06-30. Available at SSRN:

Robert E. Rodes Jr. (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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