Dr. Edward Peters


Updated 30 nov 2012


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Canon Law Articles & Reviews

Articles by Dr. Peters



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See also Major Single-Volume Commentaries on the 1983 Code of Canon Law



     The Exegetical Commentary is a breath-taking achievement. Nothing like it exists in canonical circles (except, of course, for the original Spanish language Comentario Exegético upon which this updated English edition is based.) One has to go back a hundred years to the publication of Francisco Wernz’s Ius Decretalium to find a similar treatise in canonistics that, immediately upon publication, was recognized as a standard by which future scholarly efforts would be measured. The same collegial spirit and widespread collaboration that Pope John Paul II noted had gone into the development of the 1983 Code is reflected in this great commentary not only by the fact that more than one hundred canonists from some dozen nations contributed their expertise to the project, but also in the teams of translators, reviewers, and editors that came together under Dr. Caparros’ leadership to produce a truly universal canonical commentary free of regional parochialisms and narrow concerns. There is, quite simply, a lifetime of learning contained within these pages. I cannot imagine an undertaking of comparable scope and quality even being attempted for decades to come. I add, finally, that, as is true of all major publications in the Series Gratianus, these volumes are quite beautifully printed and bound. They can be, and will be, consulted for centuries. enp


Reviews in:


Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly (Spring 2005)

Homiletic & Pastoral Review (March 2006)


 Exegetical Commentary

on the Code of Canon Law


in 8 volumes


Ernest Caparros, JCD, LLD

General Editor, English Edition


Available directly from:

Midwest Theological Forum (USA)

Wilson & LaFleur (CAN)


News item:

Presentan edición en inglés de comentarios exegéticos al Código de Derecho Canónico





St. Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275)

P. Payer trans., (2005)


Summa on Marriage


My GB&I Newsletter review.


E. Caparros, et al., editors (2004)


Code of Canon Law Annotated, 2d ed.,


My HPR review.



Click here for Review


Cormac Burke (1988)


Authority and Freedom in the Church


My Studia Canonica review.

Click here for Review


Canon Law Society of Great Britain

& Ireland (1995)


The Canon Law: Letter and Spirit


My Catholic Faith review.


Click here for Review


John Catoir (1997)


Where Do You Stand With the Church?: The Dilemma of Divorced Catholics


My NCRegister review.

Click here for Review


Michael Smith Foster (1999)


Annulment: The Wedding that Was: How the Church Can Declare a Marriage Null


My Theological Studies review.



Click here for Review


Russell Shaw (1994)


Understanding Your Rights: Your Rights and Responsibilities in the Catholic Church 


My Southern Cross review.


Velasio de Paolis (1986)



Antonio Calabrese (1990)



Alphonse Borras (1990)



My combined Jurist review.



Briefly Noted


Canon Law Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Index to the Code of Canon Law (1985)

     This book is only an index, and one must have the British (not the American) translation of the 1983 Code in order to use it properly. That said, this is probably the best index of canonical topics available in English. Note: those who get the major British commentary, The Canon Law: Letter & Spirit, will no longer need this separate index volume.


E. Capparos, et al., eds., Code of Canon Law: Annotated (1997). Purchase: 2d edition, 2004


     This work first appeared in Spanish, then in French, and now in English. It is a thoughtful, canon-by-canon commentary on the entire 1983 Code. It includes the Latin-English text of all canons, offers a superb English index, and provides a very useful appendix of complementary canonical legislation from numerous countries. With each translation, the editors slightly modified the original Spanish commentary to help make the notes more useful to readers of that language group. Still, in using this work, one will notice at times an approach to some canons that reflects what I will call "more European" concepts of canon law than North American. This is not bad, of course, but the approaches used here need not always be the exactly same as one would expect to encounter in other parts of the world-wide Catholic Church and its legal system. This commentary is of fine scholarship, the translations are very reliable, and, without doubt, the Navarra text has become a standard reference in modern canon law.


Richard Cunningham, Annotated Bibliography of the Work of the CLSA 1965-1980 (1982)

     A one-stop reference for those researching the work of (mostly) American canon lawyers between the end of Vatican II (1965) to just before the publication of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The annotations are somewhat uneven in quality, but remain generally useful.


John Gilchrist, the collection in 74 Titles: a Canon Law manual of the Gregorian Reform (1980)

     As modern secular scholars continue to discover the untapped riches preserved in the texts and treatises of medieval canon law, most of them immediately confront the problem of working in Latin, especially juridic Latin. Gilchrist, an historian of immense credentials, chose wisely in translating the Collection in 74 Titles, one of the earliest, most influential, and (from the point of view of readability) most manageable canonical texts available. Gilchrist's introduction and indexes along with handsome production values make this the kind of work one can simply sit down and enjoy, even if one approaches it with only the vaguest familiarity with the topics.


Augustine Mendonça, Rotal Anthology: an annotated Index of Rotal Decisions from 1971-1988 (1992)


     A Herculean achievement. All matrimonial cases heard by the Roman Rota and published from 1971-1988 are summarized in English (from the Latin); indexed by protocol number, date of decision, canonical grounds, judges, and country of origin. Presentation of cases appears unbiased, indexing seems highly accurate. Allows researches to determine in a few minutes whether a given annulment case needs to be studied in more detail, and permits immediate study of Rotal trends during years of intense canonical development in marriage law.


Judge John Noonan

John Noonan, Jr., Power to Dissolve: Lawyers and Marriages in the courts of the Roman Curia (1972)


       John Noonan, now a prominent judge on the federal Circuit Court of Appeals, was also for many years a respected scholar of canon law history at Boalt Hall, University of California Berkeley. This work, based on Noonan's direct study of Vatican archives, caused quite stir upon its publication in 1972, by painting an accurate, if not entirely flattering, picture of the complex canonical process by which, prior to the Second Vatican Council, Catholic marriage cases were adjudicated. The work is respectful of canonical tradition and, in my opinion, basically wanted only to see a franker admission by some canonical judges that adjudicating marriage cases is as much an art as it is a science.

Photo by Jim Block, Boalt Hall, UC-B.


J. Provost, ed., Code, Community and Ministry: ... Studies for the Parish Minister (1982)

     A short book, consisting basically of overviews of workshops done in the early 1980s by the CLSA on canon law in practical pastoral situations. Dated by now but still worth a quick read. Does not contain text of canons nor significant research commentary. Is actually better as a help in figuring out what kinds of canonical topics might be involved in a given pastoral situation.


Elissa Rinere New Law and Life: 60 Practical Questions on...Canon Law (1985)

     A reprinting of canon law questions-and-answers penned for Catholic newspapers in the early 1980s. Neither a code nor a commentary, the materials tried to respond briefly (sometimes, extremely briefly) to a few of the more common questions about Church law being floated in Catholic circles at the time. Some pretty famous canon lawyers contributed to the project, but unless one's current questions coincide exactly with a given question in the book, there is not much point in consulting it anymore.


Michel Theriault & Jean Thorn, eds., 

Le Nouveau Code De Droit Canonique: 5th International Congress of Canon Law (1986)


     Beautifully printed 2-volume proceedings of one of the largest canon law conventions ever held, with over 50 addresses in five languages covering more than 1,000 pages. A real who's-who of international canon law experts. The strength and weakness of this work is its time of presentation, ie., concurrent with the revised Code of Canon Law. That was a time of marked uncertainty in Catholic Church law, and several of the papers reflect this. For all that, a highly regarded work of lasting value.


Constant Van De Wiel, History of Canon Law (1992)

     The list of modern histories of canon law is very short, especially in English; fortunately, this text swells that number. This work assumes the reader has little knowledge of canonical sources and spends, therefore, a bit more time explaining basic concepts than do some other studies. The material is reliable however, and it merits a reading by those looking for material on the history of canon law.


Elizabeth Vodola, Excommunication in the Middle Ages (1986)

     Vodola ably presents the matter of excommunication from its Old Testament roots through its "high point" during the late medieval Church. Accessible for non-canon lawyers, with plenty of scholarly apparatus for specialists.


Lawrence Wrenn, Authentic Interpretations on the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1993)

     This slim volume documents the first 24 official interpretations (answers) given by the Vatican to questions under the 1983 Code. Wrenn, a nationally respected canon lawyer, makes sense of the cumbersome process by which canonical interpretation issues are resolved. A copy of the 1983 Code is necessary in order to make use of this book. Slipping further out of date each year, of course, but still a good place to start.



Highly Respected Law Professor

   Law Professor Ernest Caparros has written some 50 chapters in collective works as well as six books dealing with Canadian Law since immigrating to Canada from his native Spain, 1967. Born, Malaga, 1938, he earned an LL.L, University of Zaragoza, 1961, and spent two years, University of Navarra, obtaining his doctorate degree, J.C.D., before immigrating to Canada where he became Editor, Les Cahiers de Droit, 1965-70, and Assistant Professor, Law, Laval University, 1966. He was Adjunct Professor, 1967; Associate Professor, 1970, Professor 1975, and twice served as Vice-Dean, 1971-74 and 1976-77. At Laval he also earned an LL.D., 1973. In 1981, he moved to University of Ottawa as Professor of Law, and Professor, School of Graduate Studies and Research. Besides teaching, Ottawa University, Professor Caparros has been a visiting Professor at such universities as Toronto, Dalhousie, Calgary, McGill, and Sherbrooke, in Canada, and has served in similar roles in Mexico, Columbia, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, and France. He was a consultant on Canada’s Law Reform Commission, 1971-75, Civil Code Revision Office, 1975-76, and Legal Council, Assembly of Bishops, Quebec, 1982-90. Since 1986, he has also been a Judge, Ecclesiastical Appeal Tribunal of Canada, and served as Canadian President, Canon Law Societies of America, 1991-93. Honours and distinctions include Fellowship, Royal Society of Canada, 1985; Knight of Magistral Grace, Order of Malta, 1992, and Associate Member, International Academy of Comparative Law, 1994.





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Michel Thériault, 1942-2000

by André Paul, Acquisitions and Bibliographic Services

Michel Thériault

Complete essay, and selective bibliography, here.


   After a two-year-long fight with cancer, our former colleague Michel Thériault passed away on September 27, at the Elisabeth Bruyère Health Centre in Ottawa. Between 1975 and 1985, Michel Thériault was responsible for the Retrospective Bibliography Division of the National Library.

   The funeral was held at Ottawa’s Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste on September 29, 2000, and was attended by his sister, Marie-Josée Thériault, as well as by many friends and colleagues from the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University. As one of the speakers at the funeral mentioned, illness limited Michel’s activities, but did not stop him. During his illness, he worked on the preparation of a glossary of expressions used in canon law, Canonical Glossary: 125 Terms to Help You Through Culture Shock. It was his strong desire to complete and publish this book, devised especially for new students, before he passed away. He also worked up to the last minute on the contents of Studia Canonica: A Canadian Canon Law Review, vol. 34, no. 2, of which he was the editor, and which was published shortly before his death. Michel Thériault was a fine example of an individual who has the courage and determination to promote learning despite personal difficulties.

   Michel Thériault, son of the famous Canadian author Yves Thériault, was a relentless and meticulous worker and a canon law scholar. Those qualities were reflected unanimously in the comments made at his funeral, and in those made by individuals who had worked with him at the National Library. His career took two very different directions: immediately after completing his Ph.D. in canon law, in 1967, Michel obtained a master’s in library sciences (University of Toronto, 1969). After finishing his studies, he chose the route of the professional librarian, but at the same time maintained his interest in canon law, working for 15 years as a professional librarian. Then, he returned to use his original training in canon law, and for these last 15 years he worked in the canon law area, as professor of canon law and Secretary at the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University....

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