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v2.1 Reference

The Key to Unlocking the Door to the Truth

Father Ignacio Gordon, SJ, and His Contribution to the Discipline of Canonical Procedural Law

Father Ignacio Gordon, SJ, taught canon law (the Catholic Church's law) from 1960 until 1985 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with a concentration on procedural law, or the laws on trials. By all testimonies, he was outstanding for the clarity of his teaching, his humble affection for his students, his indefatigable and hidden service to the Apostolic See, and his priestly zeal. Notable among his endeavors was an educational initiative for the ongoing formation of judges and other ministers of justice in ecclesiastical tribunals. In his teaching, he stressed the ecclesial importance and supernatural implications of procedural law in general, and the indispensability of the judicial protection of marriage in particular. Special efforts were made to make procedural law understandable to his students and to canonists in general, at a time when the Church was celebrating and implementing the teachings of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, as a result of which her law was undergoing a major revision. Father Gordon taught from the consistent canonical tradition, while also laying bare the latest developments in law and jurisprudence. He taught the entirety of the law on trials, producing numerous scholarly works on questions both timeless and new, giving marked emphasis to the problem of the excessive length of trials and the causes of delayed justice. An area of his particular attention and dedication was the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura—of which he was a consultor (referendary and later votans)—including both its proper law and its history. This history displayed, in part, why that Tribunal was the natural one to function as the supreme administrative tribunal of the Church. Father Gordon's contribution to the question of ecclesiastical administrative justice was among those leading the novel and dynamic discussion about it in the 1960s and 1970s.

About the Author

William Daniel is associate professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America.

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November 25, 2022
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