Judith Hahn

Canon Law Research and Teaching with a Focus on Constitutional Law, the Theory of Canon Law, the Sociology of Canon Law, Law and Religion, Law and Culture, and Law and Language

New Article (open access)

Hahn, Judith, Sex Offenses—Offensive Sex: Some Observations on the Recent Reform of Ecclesiastical Penal Law, Religions 13 (2022), Special Issue: Sexual and Spiritual Violence against Adult Men and Women in the Catholic Church..

Abstract: In recent years, the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church has received much attention. This is also true of the related changes to ecclesiastical legislation. Less attention, however, has been paid to other aspects of the reform. The revised penal law of the Code of Canon Law, in any case, demands closer study from the point of critical legal studies. It is striking that while the reform focused on improving the legal protection of minors, it also had rather detrimental effects on the legal standing of women in the church. Reading the revised law, it appears that the reform missed the chance to improve the legal situation of the mostly female adult victims of clerical sex offenses and abuses of power. It rather spotlighted “female” offenses such as abortion in contrast to typical “male” offenses such as homicide, and it moreover criminalized women who attempt ordination. Thus, the regulations of the reformed penal law not only generally leave the systemic causes of abuse untouched, but also establish norms which reinvent or even exacerbate abusive structures. The latter finally sustain clericalism and reinstitutionalize gender inequality, commonly identified as factors fostering abuse.

Books forthcoming in 2022–2023

J Hahn, Foundations of a Sociology of Canon Law, Cham, Springer Nature, 2022.
J Hahn, The Language of Canon Law (Oxford Studies in Language and Law), Oxford, Oxford University Press.
J Hahn, The Sacraments of the Law, the Law of the Sacraments, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.