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Book Review: Surprised By Canon Law (Volume 2) by Pete Vere & Michael Trueman

1. Must we abstain from eating meat on Fridays?

2. Can someone be denied a Church funeral?

3. If a 14 year-old girl has an abortion, is she excommunicated?

If you’re a Catholic, the answers to the above questions should be easy…right? Actually, unless you’re an expert in Canon Law, the answers may not be what you would expect. In Surprised By Canon Law (Volume 2), Pete Vere & Michael Trueman answer these and many other questions that didn’t fit in the first volume of their book.

While the very thought of Canon Law sends chills up and down the spine of most Catholics, the authors do a nice job of providing answers to commonly asked questions in language that can be understood by lay people. In the book’s foreword, Catholic apologist Tim Staples observes, “When the faithful see the truth behind the law of the Church, they will begin to see the Church as she is: a mother whose laws have the children’s best interests at heart.”

Other topics covered in this edition are Holy Orders, Institutes of Consecrated Life, Parish Life, Church Goods, The Election of a Pope, Penal Law and more. If you’d like to explore more about the meaning of various Church laws in an easy to understand format, then I would recommend reading this book.

In case you were wondering, the answers to the above questions are:

1. Yes (CIC 1251), but in some countries (such as the U.S. and Canada) the bishops have granted permission to substitute other forms of penance, charity or piety.

2. Yes (CIC 1184), but the Church is very reluctant to do this. Funerals can only be denied for notorious heretics, those who choose cremation specifically for anti-Christian reasons such as disbelief in the resurrection of the body, or for “manifest” sinners whose funeral would cause public scandal.

3. No (1323). Normally someone who has an abortion incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, except if they are under 16 years old.

(This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Suprised By Canon Law – Volume 2.)

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