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Article

The Shaping and Reshaping of the Relationship between Church and State from Late Antiquity to the Present: A Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law

Department of Social Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL 33965, USA
Academic Editor: Jo Renee Formicola
Religions 2022, 13(5), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050378
Received: 21 March 2022 / Revised: 11 April 2022 / Accepted: 11 April 2022 / Published: 19 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
This essay provides a historical foundation of the Church’s relationship with the State from late antiquity to the present. With such a broad scope, the integral role canon law played in the Church’s history serves as a window through which to view the shaping and reshaping of the Church’s socio-political character vis-à-vis the State. It argues first that between the fourth and fifteenth centuries, canon law intersected at different levels with the secular realm, which, in turn, bolstered the Church’s political authority. Canon law had an outward focus. Second, this essay argues that a reorientation of the relationship between the secular and the sacred, a process that came to fruition with the Reformation, resulted in the progressive stripping of the Church’s socio-political autonomy but also the adaption of the ius commune to suit new purposes. The divesting of its socio-political autonomy, as it is argued lastly, forced the Church to reassess its legal identity and influence. The First Vatican Council followed by the 1917 Corpus iuris Canonici turned reaffirming Catholic ecclesiology. By the Second Vatican Council, however, the Church reemerged on the global stage, having a renewed focus on pastoral care. Its efforts directly targeted social, politic, and economic issues facing society, expanding interfaith dialogue with other religions and missionizing efforts. The 1983 Corpus iuris canonici bears the mark of Vatican II’s renewed emphasis on shepherding its flock through its advocation for justice and equity in contemporary society. It demonstrates that the socio-political influence of the Church’s legal apparatus has not been extinguished despite contemporary canon law no longer possessing the all-encompassing socio-political control it once held. From a historical viewpoint, canon law’s impact on the Western world cannot be ignored: it has shaped legal structures still relevant to this day. View Full-Text
Keywords: canon law; history; ecclesiology canon law; history; ecclesiology
MDPI and ACS Style

Eichbauer, M.H. The Shaping and Reshaping of the Relationship between Church and State from Late Antiquity to the Present: A Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law. Religions 2022, 13, 378. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050378

AMA Style

Eichbauer MH. The Shaping and Reshaping of the Relationship between Church and State from Late Antiquity to the Present: A Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law. Religions. 2022; 13(5):378. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050378

Chicago/Turabian Style

Eichbauer, Melodie H. 2022. "The Shaping and Reshaping of the Relationship between Church and State from Late Antiquity to the Present: A Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law" Religions 13, no. 5: 378. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050378

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