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Tomás Rincón-Pérez, defender of the church and the rights of the faithful


Published in

Diario de Navarra

Javier Otaduy

Professor Emeritus from the School of Canon Law

Tomás Rincón died unexpectedly, in the middle of August, in a village in Segovia (Abades, his lifelong village). It was all very untimely. Many of us could not even go to his funeral. And that hurts a lot, to be honest.

Tomás came to Pamplona from Segovia in 1964, when he was still a young priest. By then he already had his licentiate degree in Theology. He came to study Canon Law, the year before the end of the Council, but after finishing his licentiate degree and his doctorate he stayed 40 more years as a professor. For many of us he has been one of the most important contacts with the origins. The School of Canon Law of the University of Navarra was born in 1959, five years before he arrived, but he coincided in Pamplona with all the great masters and assumed with admirable naturalness his original ideals.

Of course, in addition to being an academic, Tomás was a priest. He lived at residency program in the parish of San Miguel and there he carried out his pastoral work. We saw him arrive every day at School after celebrating the ten o'clock Mass.

In the development of the teaching he had his share of everything. He was professor of Criminal Law Canon Law, the specialization program that left the least trace in his bibliography. Then he explained Marriage Law. I remember that he gave me that subject in 1974. The topic of his doctorate had been the sacramentality of marriage, and in fact, he never abandoned that interest in marriage law. Later on, he had to structure a complex and very broad subject , the Administrative Law Canon Law, the general part of which he explained during several courses. The last years of his academic work gave rise to three publishing pearls, which also came at the same time as his teaching: the manuals on the liturgy and the sacraments, on sacred ministers and on consecrated life.

All this back and forth of subjects was due to two causes that had the good fortune to meet. On the one hand, the need for the development of the curriculum professor in a School that was just starting, and on the other hand, the availability for the service on the part of Professor Rincón. I would like to say that to always be available you have to be very humble, but also very capable. Especially to do well what you have to do, whatever it is, as was his case. For fifteen years he was also the director of the magazine Ius canonicum, to which he did a lot of good. And she did him a lot of good, of course.

Thomas was interested in many things, but I would say that what attracted and concerned him most was the good of the Church and the rights of the faithful. To proclaim what the Church is and to defend what the faithful have. He had a great capacity to hit on real problems and real solutions. It was instinctive. But in addition to getting the solutions right, he knew how to defend them with an extraordinary authenticity.

Fifteen years ago I had to write an academic portrait of Tomás, because he was retiring. In that semblance I pondered the conditions of Tomás Rincón in his academic dialogues. I wondered why he was so convincing when he argued. I referred to a few of his intellectual dispositions that seemed important to me. They had nothing to do with rhetoric but with his way of understanding and dealing with truth.

I then added a little joke, which has suddenly become very serious. "It comes to my mind what will happen when he reads this, if he reads it. He'll say to me: that's very good for a dead man, but I'm not dead yet". So he is no longer uncomfortable with praise, and everything can be exposed much more freely, as I have done here.