Doctrine & Discipline

Doctrine & Discipline October 13, 2014

Writing on the Catholic World Report site in response to the eminent and irreplaceable canonist Edward Peters, I make some remarks about the intimate if sometimes distant relation between discipline and doctrine, which it seemed to me Dr. Peters had slightly disconnected. The third paragraph, which gives the basic point:

One hesitates to argue with the learned doctor of canon law, especially as he is the canon lawyer to whom almost everyone I trust turns to, but I don’t think this is quite right. Disciplinary rules must necessarily have a direct (if sometimes distant) relation to doctrine, because they describe practically how to live the life the doctrine requires. The Church does not impose arbitrary rules. We have particular practices because we believe certain things to be true about the cosmos, things that must be lived out. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what people do. The Church requires us to fast before communion. She doesn’t require us to wear matching socks.


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