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Canon Law professors attend private audience with Pope

30 October 2019

This September, two members of the School of Law and Politics’ Centre for Law and Religion attended a private audience with Pope Francis in Rome.

Professor Norman Doe and Honorary Professor Mark Hill QC took part in the fiftieth anniversary Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches, which was held in Rome 16-20 September with experts from the Eastern Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Churches in attendance.  The Society aims to promote better international and inter-church collaboration among specialists in the law of the Eastern Churches and of the civil law.

On 19 September, at the Apostolic Palace, the participants were received in private audience by Pope Francis who, in his address, spoke about how churches can learn from one another in all areas of ecclesial life, such as theology, spirituality, liturgy, pastoral activity and canon law - he said, “Canon law is essential for ecumenical dialogue”.

Professors Doe and Hill represented an ecumenical panel drawn from ten Christian traditions worldwide which was first convened by Professor Hill in 2013.  In 2016 the panel issued a Statement of Principles of Christian Law (Rome 2016) which was suggested and initially drafted by Professor Doe on the basis of his book Christian Law: Contemporary Principles (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

The Statement is now being fed into the work of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. Professors Doe and Hill presented the Statement to Pope Francis at a meeting in April 2019 and the latest pronouncement by the Pope underscores the wider significance of the panel's initiative.

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