Jaeger David M. ,
Recensione: Giorgio Feliciani, Le basi del diritto canonico: dopo il Codice del 1983; Giorgio Feliciani, Il popolo di Dio ,
Antonianum, 67/1 (1992) p. 158-159
Giorgio Feliciani is without a doubt one of the best known and most highly regarded contemporary canonists. A married layman and father of a family he is professor of canon law at Milan's Sacred Heart University, as well as a consultant to the Holy See and a prolific writer, together with being one of the moving spirits in the academically-oriented Consociatio internationalis studio iuris canonici promo-vendo. It is no doubt his varied experience - within and without the groves of academe - that endows his writing with realism and clarity, as well as with incisive-ness and depth. As a teacher of canon law at different levels and with experience of diverse ecclesial and academic contexts, this reviewer would have no hesitation in placing both these volumes at the top of the list of required - or else, most emphatically recommended - reading in any of them. Indeed both books have the merit of multiple usefulness. Teachers could base their courses on them, and students could benefit greatly from them at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Researchers too could easily find reason for being grateful for the Indica-zioni bibliografiche per ulteriori approfondimenti at the end of each volume, as well as for the well-reasoned and appropriately documented presentation by such an authoritative writer of a number of thorny or delicate questions. For Feliciani is at all times an eminently fair writer, extremely well-informed, clear thinking and with no particular axe to grind or «party line» to follow.
It is a welcome characteristic of both books that they take account of the newly promulgated Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, with its implications for a correct ecclesiology and for a true understanding of the Church's constitution and laws. That this is being said at all is a reflection of a situation, in which this is by no means as yet a general practice among writers on the canon law.
The two books are not commentaries in the most basic sense, but well-integrated thematic expositions solidly grounded in the promulgated law. Le basi deals with four major themes: The laws of the Church; «law» in the Church; the powers proper to the Church and their active subjects; the Faithful of Christ and persons in the Church. II popolo di Dio, being in a sense a further elaboration of the latter theme, deals in this order with the Faithful of Christ in general; clerics; the laity; religious; associations and movements. Its attention to the still relatively new phenomenon of motus ecclesiales deserves special mention. In all only two or three pages are devoted to the subject, yet the seeds are there for a far more ample exposition along the same lines. Feliciani is quite clear about the irreducible originality of the «movements», and the need to respect their «charismatic» nature and to avoid the temptation of trying to «contain» them within the sort of legal framework that more properly applies to the variety of bodies to which a «movement» may give rise on different planes - or in different «dimensions» - of the Church's life. Yet he manages succinctly to convey the need for some truly appropriate canonical recognition of the «charism» proper to a movement for it to be safeguarded, in its various expressions. One should very much like to see him essay a book-length elaboration of this in the not too distant future.
The two volumes are well produced, and it is a particular pleasure to find the respective tables of contents at the beginning of each volume, in a sensible departure from the regrettable - and unfailingly irritating - continental tendency of leaving them to the end. No doubt the publishers deserve credit for showing the way in this regard too.