Monday, May 21, 2007

Suggestions for Law-School Students

Dear Mr. Romero,

Hail Mary, full of grace! I’m a law student from Brazil doing law studies in the US. Could you please indicate to me a very good book on Catholic philosophy (starting from the basics)? I’ve browsed Maritain’s Introduction to Philosophy, which is certainly better than the so-called-Catholic philosophers of today. But I wanted to read something more comprehensive and use it as a weapon against Kant and modern philosophy which permeates contemporaneous legal thought. Also, do you know a good book on Law from the true (Catholic) standpoint? A book that discusses justice, what the law should be, obedience, natural law, principles of law, etc. I was looking for a book that discusses (and dismisses) modern legal systems.

Thank you for your help,

Dear Alexandre,

I would recommend you begin with a solid, in-depth introduction to scholastic philosophy. Dr. D.Q. McInerny has a very friendly, introductory-level set of volumes on Scholastic Philosophy. He has written one volume for each of the main "branches" of philosophy:

1) Logic,
2) Natural Philosophy,
3) Philosophical Psychology,
4) Ethics,
5) Metaphysics,
6) Epistemology, and
7) Natural Theology.

You can obtain these through Fraternity Publications (note that there are more volumes than those advertized in the site; I suggest you contact the Fraternity directly, using the contact info provided in the site).

For law, properly speaking, the starting point is Aquinas' Summa Theologiae Ia-IIae, qq. 90ff. If you are interested in a more detailed treatise on the philosophy of law from a traditional scholastic perspective, I would find one of those classic Latin manuals published before Vatican II on the philosophy of law. For example: Bender, Ludovicus. Philosophia iuris. Romae: Catholic Book Agency, 1947. I have one such work, in two volumes. If you have trouble finding this or something similar, let me know. I can scan the one I have into a PDF file and mail you a CD with it (although I would ask you for a donation to cover the expenses).

I would further caution you about Maritain's political/legal thought, which contradicts standard Thomistic doctrine. Maritain "updates" Thomistic principles in order to advocate democracy; whereas the Angelic Doctor, obviously, thinks democracy is the worst kind of government (cf., De regimine principum, or "On Kingship," where Aquinas defends monarchy as the highest form of government).

I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best in your law-school career.

Sancte Thoma More, ora pro nobis!

-Francisco J. Romero-Carrasquillo.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Denzinger's Enchiridion: Paragraph Numbering Problems

Share/Bookmark Francisco,

I have a quick question regarding Denzinger's Enchiridion that you
might know the answer to, especially considering that you speak
several languages and it's one of your favorite books.

I have run into an apparent contradiction between the English edition of Denzinger and the French and Latin versions regarding the paragraph numbering system (I tried to compare with Spanish and Italian, the other languages I know, but the sites you linked to don't have the numbering system). For instance, I would like to cite the "Decree for the Jacobites" on Feb 4, 1442. In the French and Latin versions it begins with paragraph 1330. In English it is 703.

What's the deal? I'm using both an online version and a print version (The Church teaches: Documents of the church in English Translation, Tan Books) for the English translation and the links you have for the Latin and French.

Obviously, when in doubt, go to the original language and thus the Latin version would be correct, but why is there the discrepancy in the first place?

-Br. Thomas


Care frater Thoma!

Good question. In this case, the original Latin--at least your edition--does not really have the "correct" numbering. Let me explain. The Enchiridion Symbolorum (aka., Denzinger) has undergone a number of editions throughout the decades. Sometime around 1960, Karl Rahner became the editor of the Enchiridion and he expanded it significantly, adding a whole lot of paragraphs, almost doubling the size of the volume (he also took away a few parragraphs, and even replaced some texts with different editions). The result is that, e.g., what was previously parr. 703 is now parr. 1330. All later editions of the work follow and build upon Rahner's edition.

(As an editorial comment, I would add that much of what Rahner included is of doubtful dogmatic character and only serves to cast doubt onto the rest which was previously taken as unquestionable; also, some of what he took away was very important, and some of the editions of the texts he replaced at times can be misinterpreted in a heterodox way. So, as a whole, I am uncomfortable using post-1960 editions of the Enchiridion.)

The Latin edition you're using is most likely post-1960 and so it includes the Rahner numbering. The English edition, on the other hand, recently reprinted by Loretto press, is deliberately a pre-1960 edition and it uses the old numbering. Apart from any doctrinal benefits of using the old edition, there is the simple, practical fact that if you're trying to follow the traditional Latin scholastic manuals of theology, they're pretty much all written before 1960 and, thus, follow the old numbering--so if you use a later edition you're going to have trouble finding the texts they refer to from the Enchiridion.

Now, there are a few "interim" editions--I have one from 1962 in Latin--which includes BOTH numbering systems. So, for example, next to the parragraph in question from the Decretum pro jacobitis, it says "1330 (703)"; many of the new texts that Rahner added and which, therefore, do not appear in the old editions, would be numbered in this way: "4321 (---)."

Still, apart from the numbering problem, I would submit it is better to use the truly old editions, instead of the "interim" editions, because they have both a more traditional (if not better) edition of the texts--following the understanding we've always had of their meaning--and a more traditional (if not better) selection--following the understanding we've always had of their importance and relevance for dogma.

I hope this helps.

In Domino,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

«Somos un ejército que nos oponemos al aborto»

Share/Bookmark «Somos un ejército que nos oponemos al aborto» resalta Presidente de El Salvador.

Escrito por Hispánitas
miércoles, 02 de mayo de 2007
Ante la despenalización del aborto en Méjico D. F.

SAN SALVADOR, 01 Mayo 07 (ACI).-El Presidente de El Salvador, Elías Antonio Saca, afirmó hoy que "en El Salvador somos un ejército de defensores de nuestra fe cristiana, somos un ejército que nos oponemos al aborto", al comentar la reciente aprobación de la ley inicua que despenaliza esta práctica infanticida en México D.F.

"Los que queremos la vida, los que creemos en Dios, los que creemos en la vida no podemos estar a favor del aborto en ninguna de sus formas", añadió el mandatario y precisó que "yo respeto lo que ha pasado en México, yo no me voy a meter en las decisiones internas del Congreso de la capital mexicana".

"Gracias a Dios la Constitución del país y los que gobernamos el país nos oponemos al aborto", aunque hay algunos del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) que "creen en este tipo de cosas, en este tipo de modernismos peligrosos", dijo.

El Presidente salvadoreño indicó que "todos los cristianos tenemos que compartir el sentimiento de la Santa Sede, ya sean cristianos católicos o evangélicos", al referirse a la declaración del Secretario de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, Angelo Amato, que calificó al aborto y la eutanasia como expresión de "un terrorismo de rostro humano".

Asimismo, recordó que "el aborto es un crimen, incluso el Vaticano ha ido más allá y lo ha llamado terrorismo, porque es matar a una criatura que está en el vientre de su madre, es un verdadero terrorismo".

El mandatario brindó las declaraciones en una conferencia de prensa realizada en la ciudad oriental de Ciudad Barrios, a 156 kilómetros de San Salvador, luego de inaugurar las nuevas instalaciones del Palacio Municipal.