Judging by the correspondence I get, my The Theology of Marriage: Personalism, Doctrine and Canon Law (Catholic University of America Press, 2015), has stirred up quite a bit of interest; and also, as I expected, some controversy.
A number of correspondents have professed perplexity at my thesis that the Church no longer proposes a "hierarchy of ends" in marriage (cf. chapter 3, especially pp. 67-69). Apart from a more pondered re-reading of what I say, may I recommend to them a recent book by the late Msgr. William B. Smith: Modern Moral Problems, Ignatius Press, 2012 (pp. 107-109). There Msgr. Smith, a better-known theologian than I, sums up my views and agrees with them fully.
As I mentioned some time back, my years as judge at the Roman Rota (1986-1999) drove home a truth I have always held: that pastoral practice, canonical thought and sound theology must go hand in hand, especially in the field of marriage. The 1980s-1990s constituted a unique period when canonists, pastoral workers and theologians alike were challenged to interpret and apply the new Code of Canon Law which had come in force in 1983 (being then described by Pope John Paul II as "the last document of the Second Vatican Council").
Many main ideas of the Code, again particularly in relation to marriage, stood in such apparent contrast with those of the previous 1917 Code as to give a sense of rupture with earlier Church teaching and practice. Such ruptures, in the Church which proposes the teaching of Christ, do not occur - of that I was sure. Yet the challenge - to show continuity where there was continuity, and development where there was development - remained. The result was that my service at the Rota was a period not only of judicial and jurisprudential work but equally of theological research, reflection and writing.
Later on, a number of friends (especially Dr. Janet Smith) encouraged me to put together and publish what might be considered my more innovative theses and analyses in this particular field of theology. Hence my book; further information can be had at:
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