Prof. Bainbridge is a law professor and a Catholic with a well-trafficked blog. He recently turned his attention to Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and the recent contradictory statements regarding a videotape taken by a priest removed for sex-abuse allegations. He makes some specific recommendations for what the secular law and canon law should do about it.
Meanwhile, Ed Peters—who is a canon lawyer—says that while Bainbridge’s secular legal accomplishments are impressive, he’s out of his depth when it comes to canon law, which is a whole different beast.
I am uncomfortable, though, when non-canonists like Prof. Bainbridge, grappling with complex canonical issues, make unguarded statements such as “despite the absence of a clear answer in canon law”, when what they should say is something like, “despite my not being able to find a clear answer in canon law” etc., etc. Prof. Bainbridge thinks that he can only muster the authority of “most observers” for his contention that surely the pope must be able to remove a bishop for the alleged grave violation of canon law. Here, though, he not only underestimates his position but, more importantly, the Church’s ability to enforce her own discipline.
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