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Salvific Law: Salvific Character of CCEO, An Historical Overview by Thomas Kuzhinapurath

Salvific Law: Salvific Character of CCEO, An Historical Overview by Thomas Kuzhinapurath

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Published by Cherian Thomas
The doctoral thesis of Thomas Kuzhinapurath published by M.S. Publications, Trivandrum - 15, Kerala, India
The doctoral thesis of Thomas Kuzhinapurath published by M.S. Publications, Trivandrum - 15, Kerala, India

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Published by: Cherian Thomas on Nov 05, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/07/2012

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INTRODUCTION
The only Christian law we have is the law of love – love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus said, “I give you a newcommandment that you love one another” (Jn.13, 34). All other laws are supposed to be specifications of the law of love. Theyare meant to help us to love God and our neighbour better inspecific situations. The 1546 canons of the
Code of Canons of theOriental Churches
(CCEO) are meant to promote this law of love.It is also noteworthy that the new code of canons gives greatimportance to pastoral exigencies.In confronting the Pharisees Jesus said, “The Sabbath was madefor humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath” (Mk.2, 27). HereJesus teaches that laws should be framed for the good of man.They are not meant to enslave people. It further implies that everylaw must be discussed in order to be more fully understood. Somelaws are time-bound and culturally conditioned. If they are obsoletethey should be changed and replaced with more useful laws. Iremember my friend Fr. Augustine Joseph telling me about a recentmovie called,
Provoked 
. It is a true story about a Punjabi girl whomarries a Punjabi boy settled in London. As their marriage progresses the girl suffers great violence from her husband. Unableto stand it any longer she one day sets her husband on fire as hesleeps. She is arrested by the police and convicted for the crime.A human rights organization in London takes up her case andappeals for a retrial. They prove to the judge that the girl had beenso “provoked” for so long that she was no longer in control of her faculties when she committed the crime. The case called for aredefinition of the British law.While speaking about laws, India presents an interestingchallenge. India has all types of laws and a legal system as goodas that of any other civilized nation in the world. Kautilya’s
 Arthasastra
(4
th
century BC) is a world classic in the field of governmental laws and statecraft.Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has said, “Mankind is not ‘lawless’. All the same, there is an urgent need to preserve and to
 
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Salvific Law
encourage the legislation of individual states to converge towardsa recognition of fundamental human rights. The growth of a global juridic culture depends, for that matter, on a constant commitmentto strengthen the profound human content of ‘Internationalnorms.’”
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In this context it is worth recalling the words of Jesus,“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt.5, 17).In a country like India it is a difficult task to explain the profundity and usefulness of laws. Observing laws help us to live peaceful and meaningful lives. Observing Church laws help us towalk in the path of salvation. This work is an attempt to examinethe concept of law from a salvific viewpoint on the basis of the
Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches
(CCEO). When weconsider this I would like to disagree to the view of Coriden, afamous canonist who said, “Canon law is not salvific; it is not acause of grace; it is not a measure of Christian life or of goodconscience; compliance with it is not specially pleasing to theLord. We are saved by faith and love. Salvation is not gained nor the Lord’s favor won by obeying the law either civil or canon.”
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Here Coriden opines that law as such does not impart any grace.However it is good to quote Prof. Salachas who said, “The CanonLaw is law of grace, the firm and certain guide which leads anddirects the faithful towards grace.”
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None can deny the salvificinstrumentality of the laws of the Church. Since the Church is thesacrament of salvation its laws can be nothing else except trueindicators to the mystery of salvation. Nowadays the law is oftenthought of as a rigid code designed to limit human freedom or atleast human behaviour, however, this is not a proper understandingof law. According to the original Christian view, law has a morehuman and equitable meaning.
1.BENEDICT XVI, “Message for the World Peace day 2008”2.CORIDEN, “Law in Service to the People of God”, 5.3.SALACHAS,
 Il Regno
, 51
 
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Chapter 1
THE SALVIFIC CHARACTER OF LAW:AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
1.0 Introduction
The Christian idea of God is that of infinite goodness andholiness. He is conceived as the Creator of all reality other thanHimself. The origin of each and every existence is understood as by an act of creation by God. St. Ephraem of Nisibis wrote in oneof his hymns, “It is You, who fashioned the dust at the beginningin Your mercy, and it is You who have conferred upon it Your giftin love. It is You, O Good One, who have created Adam, eventhough You knew that he would be ungrateful and go astray: Youfashioned him nevertheless, so that You might make himvictorious.”
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God conceived all existence to have an intrinsicmeaningfulness to be worthy of His love. The Christian conceptof human existence, however, is that of a certain finite nature.Karl Rahner wrote, “Moreover there is in man, and consequentlyin the world, the mystery of sin and guilt, and consequently of evil and the absurd.”
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Therefore, there is a certain incompatibility between the concept of the ultimate goodness of God the creator and the limitations of man, the crown of His creation. It leads usto a genuine concept of the salvific will of God. God, therefore,gave humanity the commandments so that it would go forward toits eternal destiny, salvation.The first chapter attempts to examine the concept of law froma salvific point of view, first we consider the nature of salvationas propounded by the Catholic Church, and then analyse the
1.ST.EPHRAEM,
 Nisibene Hymns,
69, 1-22.RAHNER, “Salvation, 405

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