We’ve now had two difference canon lawyers weigh in on Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln’s statement on Friday that the National Review Board can go pound sand with its demand that the US bishop provide “fraternal correction” to him for failing to cooperate with their audits. On the one hand, Ed Peters says Bruskewitz is in the wrong, because the Charter for the Protection of Youth and Young People has been approved by the Vatican and has become particular law for the US. He does admit that there is some dispute over whether a distinction should be between the Essential Norms approved by the Vatican and the Charter proposed by the USCCB. Peters says it is a distinction without a difference, while I’m not so sure about that.
On the other hand, Peter Vere responds to Peters by saying that Peters is mistaken (while also pointing out that both Bruskewitz and his vicar general are accomplished canonists). He notes that Bruskewitz’s point is that the audit process violates the basic principle of canon law that “every accused has the right to face his accuser,” and also that the review board and its derivates have no real power, that the Norms and Charter only give it advisory and consultative power. So for the board to call for “fraternal correction” for failing to cooperate with them is well beyond their right and place within canon law. Vere also gives us a line-by-line analysis of the statement.
Update: Peter Vere emailed me to make sure that I understood him correctly: “Just to clarify, I believe the Board has both the right and the mandate under canon law to call for Bishop Bruskewitz’s ‘fraternal correction’. They simply have no right to impose it or mandate to enforce it. On the other hand, His Excellency has the right to tell the board to ‘go pound sand’.”
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