It was encouraging to see in your Newsletter no. 110. that the debate on the bonum coniugum is very much alive. While Fr. Paul Churchill's article marks a particularly thought-provoking contribution, he makes a few points concerning my own ideas that I would like to clarify.
Canon 1055 of the new Code presents matrimony as being directed to two ends: it is "by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and toward the procreation and education of offspring" ("indole sua naturali ad bonum coniugum atque ad prolis generationem et educationem ordinatum").
Progress in juridic science
Juridic science must progress, just as any other science. Otherwise it stagnates and loses vitality. By means of continuous reflection it needs to seek deeper insights on major questions that have always been at its very basis, such as the relation of truth and justice; or on the juridic treatment to be given to what may be considered new but are certainly not secondary themes, such as the definition and legal protection of human rights; or again on lesser but still important topics, such as the way of accelerating legal procedures without violation of due process or detriment to justice.
May I offer a few comments on Fr. Patrick Connolly's interesting paper "Reflections on the Good of the Spouses", given at the 1996 Canon Law Conference in Glasgow. In his opening paragraphs he makes very important points: a) that the "bonum coniugum" is an objective (institutional) end of marriage rather than any subjective end of the parties ; b) "post-conciliar documents give great attention to the good of the spouses, [but] do not identify its specific elements" (pp. 27-28). In these latter words he pinpoints the main problem, and suggests the dangers of over-invoking a totally new term without having identified not just its elements but its very nature. It seems unwise to make any broad use of a new term without having a fairly precise notion of what it means; and particularly, in the case of canonists, of its juridic scope and effect.