“Missionary Canon Law: The Propaganda Fide Congregation and the Challenge of Daily Life Moral Cases in China, 18th-20th centuries”

DATE: Sep 27, 2023

TIME: 07:30 AM – 09:30 AM (ET)

SPEAKER: Eugenio Menegon (Boston University)

Bodies of law are based on general legal principles as well as on actual cases in daily life. Traditionally, scholars saw church canon law as a human expression of divine law, chiefly organized around theological and moral principles. More recently, however, new historiography has shifted our attention to the contribution in canonistic codification from casuistic judgments over social-moral conflicts, reported to the central church by the local clergy, state authorities, and the faithful.

Religious encounters in early modern and modern times produced a plethora of detailed reports on “moral cases” (dubia) from the new missionary fields outside Catholic Europe, requiring the central authorities in Rome to issue specific decisions, and then to enshrine such decisions in broader canon law. Building upon the recent historiographical focus on peripheral influence over the center and the importance of dubia from the missions, this presentation will discuss the specific “Chinese” contribution to Catholic “missionary canon law,” and offer a preliminary introduction to some sources for its study.

This lecture is part of the lecture series Rites Controversy: An Entangled History of Normativity Between the East and the West, co-hosted by two Max Planck Partner Groups (Beijing, Trento) and their home department Historical Regimes of Normativity at MPI.

The session is held in English and takes place online. Participants may contact Sandra Michelle Röseler (roeseler@lhlt.mpg.de) for meeting link.

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