American Catholics Using Church Courts More

U.S. Catholics are more and more frequenting canonical courts for redress. So says The church has always had a court system, and for centuries canon law and civil law so closely paralleled that one could take degrees in both from the same university and practice in civil and ecclesiastical courts. This recent development in the U.S. could be a good development. After all, why say there’s “no justice” if you don’t try to take advantage of the extant justice system? That there is one in the Church is clearly news to some people; otherwise it wouldn’t be in the newspaper.

As the article shows, canonical cases in this country used to be limited to annulments, but now they run the full gamut, from attempts at stopping Church closings to clerics and religious securing their rights against abusive superiors. Dr. Michael Ritty, cited in this article, is someone I’ve dealt with professionally and enjoys a great reputation.

“The focus on canon law and penal procedures in the case of sexual misconduct has made people aware that the church has a law system, it can work and people can take advantage of it,” said Michael Ritty, founder of Canon Law Professionals, a private practice in Feura Bush, N.Y. “For so long, especially in the United States, many of the lay people did not speak up and did not know how to speak up, and many people in the hierarchy did not know how to accept things when people did speak up. I think that is changing.”