Copyright (c) 2007 Ave Maria Law Review
Ave Maria Law Review
ARTICLE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CANONICAL ACHIEVEMENTS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
6 Ave Maria L. Rev. 1
Edward N. Peters +
His Holiness Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla, reigned 1978 to 2005) was not a jurist-pope in the tradition of, for example, Pope Gregory IX, who directed St. Raymond of Penafort in the production of the Liber Extra, also called Decretales. 1 St. Raymond's work served as a cornerstone of canon law until the twentieth century. 2 Other examples of jurist-popes abound: Pope Innocent IV was a curial canonist during the drafting of Gregory's Decretales. 3 Innocent's Apparatus in quinque libros decretalium was regarded by many as the best commentary on decretal law ever produced. 4 The Baroque Pope Benedict XIV, often called the first modern canonist, authored extensive canonical publications both before and after his elevation to the Chair of Peter. Some of Benedict's work remained in print until the twentieth century. 5 Finally, Pope Pius XII, as a young priest with doctoral degrees in canon and civil law, served as an immediate assistant to Pietro Cardinal Gasparri while the master drafted what would become the Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law. 6 Pope John Paul II, in contrast, left us no imposing legal treatises, presided over no legislative councils, and rendered no significant judicial decisions. But do not conclude from this that my thesis is basically mooted; to the contrary, far from being a canonical sleeper, the papacy of John Paul II had an enormous impact on the canon law of the Catholic Church. 7
I will divide my remarks into three main areas. First, I will ...
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