This introductory chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to discuss the ways in which antinomianism and legalism have impacted on canon law as the rule of law in the Roman Catholic Church. Focusing on contemporary canon law, it examines several specific topics, including the sexual abuse crisis, the ownership of church property, and the refusal of Holy Communion to Catholic public officials. The chapter then treats some concepts that are basic to the study as a whole. First, it defines antinomianism and legalism in canon law and offers some historical examples of each. Second, it describes the meaning of Anglo-American legal theory, and discusses it in relation to comparative law. Finally, it poses a question about canon law as the rule of law in the church from the comparative perspective.
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