Canon Law and Secularization: Societal Trends and the Changing Role of Religious Law

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2025 | Viewed by 98

Special Issue Editor

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Law, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Napoli, Italy
Interests: ecclesiastical law; canon law; confessional rights; secularism and religious freedom

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The relevance that religious laws assume in contemporary societies confirms the overcoming of the Weberian meaning of secularization understood as "disenchantment of the world" and as the progressive retreat of religion from its role as the foundation of social and individual life. On the contrary, the move towards forms of post-secular society—characterized, as stated by Habermas, "by a profound pluralism that requires a public debate in which religious arguments are on the same level as secular ones"—allows us to welcome a different meaning of secularization, supported in the most recent sociological studies and in particular by Charles Taylor, which refers to the circumstance that the choice of faith appears in current societies to be only one of the many human possibilities.

The transition towards plural and fragmented societies is not without implications also for religious laws, and in particular for Canon Law.

Since the birth of the Church, Canon Law has borrowed legal categories and concepts, primarily from Roman law, to become a vehicle for transmitting the Christian message, demonstrating at all times its ability to adapt and renew with respect to the transformations of the socio-cultural context of reference. In this sense, the current processes of secularization and globalization undoubtedly constitute two important factors in the evolution of Canon Law, some essential features of which are represented by the current trends aimed at valorizing the sources of particular law and the ius proprio of religious communities.

This Special Issue aims to explore the role of Canon Law in the current era and intends to contribute to the deepening of the reflection on the changes induced by the secularization of societies on Canon Law as a tool through which to regulate the new forms in which the mission of the Church unfolds in the world. The paradigm shift related to the progressive affirmation of an outgoing Church, as stated in Evangelii Gaudium, also affects the performance of the power of jurisdiction (munus regendi), the power of order (munus sanctificandi), and the power of magisterium (munus docendi).

This Special Issue will also explore the impact of secularization on Protestant Church Law—including the discussion in German-speaking countries—and on other religious laws, such as Jewish and Islamic law.

Finally, this Special Issue welcomes the submission of papers concerning the relevance recognized to the institutes of Canon Law and other religious laws in the context of the processes of the legal translation of cultural and religious identity issues within secularized societies.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 200–300 words summarizing their intended contribution. Abstracts are to be sent to the Guest Editor, Professor Maria d’Arienzo ([email protected]), or to the Religions Editorial Office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of this Special Issue. Full manuscripts will then undergo a double-blind peer review process.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Scholars are invited to submit essays on specific and general topics, as follows:

  • Universal Canon Law and particular Canon Law;
  • Canon Law and reform processes;
  • Canon Law and secularization;
  • Codification and secularization;
  • Codification and regulatory centralism;
  • Synodality and Canon Law;
  • Canonization of civil laws;
  • Decentralization and transformation of the sources of Canon Law.


  • Annette Pitschmann and Thomas Schmidt (eds). Religion und Säkularisierung: Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch. Stutgard: Springer-Verlag. Stutgard, 2014.
  • Carlo Cardia. L’esercizio del governo ecclesiastico in un contesto secolarizzato. Stato, Chiese e pluralismo confessionale 2017, 40: 1 ff.
  • Carlo Fantappiè. Per un cambio di paradigma. Diritto canonico, teologia e riforme nella Chiesa. Bononia: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2019.
  • Giuseppe Dalla Torre. Società secolare e diritto. Rome: Studium, 2020.
  • Hans Joas and Klaus Wiegandt (eds.). Secularization and the World Religions. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022.
  • Jesus Minambres (ed.). Diritto canonico e culture giuridiche nel centenario del Codex Iuris Canonici del 1917. In Atti del XVI Congresso Internazionale della Consociatio Internationalis Studio Iuris Canonici Promovendo, Roma, Italy, 4-7 October 2017, 2019, p. 431 ff.
  • Jurgen Habermas and Leonardo Ceppa. Rinascita delle religioni e secolarismo. Brescia: , Morcelliana, 2018.
  • Mario Ricca. Simmetrie rovesciate della secolarizzazione. In Diritto e Religioni. 2021. Available online:
  • Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge. The Future of Religion Secularization, Revival and Cult FormationUniversity of California Press: Berkeley, CA, USA, 2023.

Deadline for abstract submission: 10 July 2024

Notification of abstract acceptance: 3 September 2024

Deadline for full manuscript submission: 29 February 2025

Prof. Dr. Maria D’Arienzo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • secularization
  • canon law and secularization
  • religious laws and secularization

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Back to TopTop