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"The contributions of Christianity have been and are decisive for the development of law and secular legal systems."

A new Oxford treatise, co-edited by Full Professor of the University of Navarra, analyzes the relationship between Christianity and law in all its spheres.

/Rafael Domingo, head of the Chair Álvaro d'Ors, is co-editor of the treatise 'The Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Law'.

12 | 02 | 2024

"The contributions of Christianity have been and are decisive for the development of law and secular legal systems". This was stated by Rafael Domingo, Full Professor and head of the Chair Álvaro D'Ors del Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra, in the framework of the publication of his latest book 'The Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Law'. Domingo is his publisher along with John Witte Jr, director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. Framed in the collection of great treatises of the prestigious publishing house Oxford University Press, this volume analyzes the mutual influence between Christianity and law throughout 60 chapters.

According to the jurist and Full Professor, the relationship between Christianity and law is not a mere accidental product of history, but has a permanent value for humanity. "That is why, in the West, one can speak of a necessary future relationship between Christianity and law," he assured.

Seventy professors from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Heidelberg and Notre Dame collaborate in the book. These experts analyze, from a historical, legal, theological and philosophical perspective, the interrelations between Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy) and law in each of its branches: constitutional, civil, criminal, canonical, human rights, etc.

Specifically, the book is divided into six thematic parts. The first deals with the history of Christianity and law, from its beginnings to the twentieth century. The second part focuses on the relationship between Christianity and law today in the various continents. The third part analyzes the historical positions of the church in different areas of law, such as Criminal Law, procedural, equality.... The fourth part deals with the contribution of Christianity to human rights, as well as to the training of concepts such as dignity of the person and religious freedom. The fifth part deals with the new challenges facing Christian law today: ecology, biotechnology, global law.... Finally, the sixth part focuses on the contribution of Christianity to legal values and principles such as sovereignty and solidarity.

Christianity and law in Spain

As Domingo explained, the contributions of Christianity to law are very diverse: "Some are original while others shed new light on already existing concepts or ideas". Among them are the idea of justice, the sense of forgiveness, the care of the universe, the Church-State separation, human rights, among many other concepts.

The expert also highlighted the contributions of Spanish theologians, jurists and moralists, particularly from the School of Salamanca, to issues such as the globalization of interdependence, colonialism, the exercise of power, human rights, cosmopolitanism, just war, Eurocentrism and the rules of the market.

"Spain cannot be understood without Christianity," he said. In the street there are nativity scenes, churches and cathedrals, works of art, historical routes such as the Camino de Santiago... He pointed out that the universities were also a Christian invention, such as Salamanca, Alcalá and, now, the University of Navarra. This is perfectly compatible with a healthy religious pluralism that serves to enrich," he said, "as well as with a necessary process of secularization that increasingly separates political functions from religious ones". For Domingo, any vision that contributes to society must have a place in the public space since "the public space is not only a space for political parties".