CHURCH LAW WITHOUT DARK SIDES? COMPARING CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT POSITIONS IN GERMANY
Authors: Burkhard J. Berkmann
A comparison between the internal laws of different religions reveals contradicting conceptions of law. From its beginning, Christianity has had an ambivalent attitude towards the law. The Protestant legal historian Rudolph Sohm (1841-1917) pointed out the dark sides of law (especially coercion). It is in this sense opposed to the spiritual nature of the church. The Munich school of Catholic canon law contradicts this. It states that the word of God and the sacraments have a legal dimension of their own. The author compares positions of Catholic and Protestant church law that were held in Germany in the 20th century. The main thesis is that the church also needs those facets of law which some people find disturbing.
Keywords: Canon law - Law and religion – Spiritualism - Legalism