Serie Diritto Canonico
GREGORY N. SMITH, THE CANONICAL VISITATION OF PARISHES History, Law, and Contemporary Concerns
The ordinary episcopal visitation of parishes, treated in canons 396-398 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, is studied here from its origins to the present. The dissertation's first chapter traces the historical development of this ancient canonical institute, particularly with a view to showing its usefulness for Church reform. The second examines the canons of the 1917 and 1983 codes and provides a detailed commentary on the latter. A final chapter studies the visitation of parishes in Canada.
Three methods are used, corresponding to the three chapters. In the first chapter, a primarily historical review draws on Scripture, the Fathers, papal legislation, the decrees of provincial and ecumenical councils (particularly the Council of Trent), and other sources.
The second chapter takes an exegetical approach, interpreting the 1983 canons on the visitation in light of the former law, the Second Vatican Council, and contemporary papal and curial documents. The visitation is related to the diocesan bishop's power of governance.
The third chapter presents the results of the author's survey of Canadian bishops, carried out according to the methods of social science research. Without arguing that the visitation is a panacea for all the Church's ills, the author concludes that it is a highly effective way for bishops to address some present difficulties and avoid future ones.
GREGORY N. SMITH is a priest of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Canada, which he served as chancellor, episcopal vicar, and moderator of the curia. Ordained in 1986 after seminary studies at the Pontifical Beda College, he received the licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1995 and completed doctoral studies at the Gregorian in 2007. Msgr. Smith is presently pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish in West Vancouver, British Columbia.
(C) PUG 2008