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65 Jurist 31 (2005)
The Exercise of Cura Animarum through the Twentieth Century and beyond

handle is hein.journals/juristcu65 and id is 35 raw text is: THE JURIST 65 (2005) 31-54

In any organized human society there is a constant and necessary ten-
sion between stability and change. One mechanism a society employs as
it negotiates the terrain between these forces is law, which provides sta-
bility to the society but which must also be flexible enough to allow for
change. The process is never-ending as long as the society is vital and
alive. No society ever achieves the perfect balance between stability and
change; no legal system ever articulates the tension adequately.
In this ongoing negotiation between stability and change, the Roman
Catholic Church is no different from any other organized society. Be-
neath the theological developments of the past century or so, from Vati-
can I to Vatican II, which have been extraordinary, the Church's legal sys-
tem has attempted to articulate a balance between change and stability,
valuing tradition while at the same time incorporating the new. This
search for balance can easily be seen in the 1917 Code of Canon Law,
published just a few decades after Vatican I, and the revised code pub-
lished in 1983, less than twenty years after the close of Vatican II. Both
codes, in different ways, value stability as well as change.
One area of notable difference in approach between the two codes
which particularly calls out for study is the involvement of laity in min-
isterial activities. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law lay ministry was
unheard of except, perhaps, in the area of catechetics. At Vatican II laity
were invited to participate in the mission of the Church in new and var-
ied ways, but in many instances clarity about the details of that involve-
ment was left to further development. The 1983 code is at best ambiva-
lent about laity being involved in some forms of pastoral activity. Despite
this ambivalence, in the Church of the twenty-first century, which for
now functions under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, lay ministry is flour-
ishing and in some ways running far ahead of any theological or canoni-
cal foundations. 1
* Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut.
For instance, see Zeni Fox, New Ecclesial Ministry: Lay Professionals Serving the
Church, (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1997); Together in God's Service: Papers from a
Colloquium, (Washington, DC: USCC, 1998); Philip Murnion and David Lambo, eds.
Parishes and Parish Ministers: A Study of Parish Lay Ministry, (New York: National Pas-

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