My Catholic Kerry Watch colleague Jeff Miller helpfully draws our attention to a complaint charging heresy on the part of CINO Senator John Kerry recently filed with the Archdiocese of Boston by canon lawyer Marc Balestrieri, J.C.L., an assistant judge with the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In this regard, the informed observations of Dr. Edward Peters, who has served as a canonical consultant to numerous ecclesiastical officials and institutions, merit our consideration. "The now-abrogated 1917 Code of Canon Law expressly recognized the right of individual faithful to make formal denunciation of another's delict and to assert a personal right 'to seek satisfaction or to recover damages' for an alleged canonical crime," Dr. Peters observes on his blog, In Light of the Law.
In fact, this right of denunciation was recognized as a duty under natural law when the crime(s) alleged represented a "danger to faith or religion or some other imminent public evil was present."
Unfortunately—if predictably—the matter is far less clear under current canon law, as Dr. Peters details. As he observes in this regard:
It is ironic that just at the time when...a real place for what we might call "private attorney general" actions might have played a role in circumventing episcopal lethargy in responding, say, to clergy sexual abuse cases, the very canon authorizing such actions was dropped from the revised law.
Ironic indeed, as reflected in our headline. Nevertheless, as Dr. Peters concludes:
Whatever else this case does, it recognizes that the faith and conduct of a prominent Catholic is at issue, as is the welfare of the faith community with which he claims communion, to say nothing of the fate of untold third-parties whose very lives are at risk under certain measures strongly endorsed by Sen. John Kerry. Such concerns figure prominently among the issues that Christ charged His Church to watch over, and that makes the Kerry case something canon law speaks to. ...As general knowledge of canon law spreads among the faithful, its ability to respond to a much wider range of questions than, say, clergy personnel matters and annulments, is going to become clear. This is good news. Two millennia of legal and pastoral experience is too much to ignore any longer.
Defenders of the faith owe a debt of gratitude to conscientious canon lawyers like Drs. Balestrieri, Peters, and St. Blogs' own Pete Vere for keeping fellow members of the Body of Christ informed of this critical body of law. No blow for truth is ever struck in vain.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.