The Faculty of Canon Law is an academic entity that pertains to “SagesseUniversity” in Beirut – Lebanon.
By fidelity to the ecclesial and educational mission of the Maronite Archdiocese of Beirut, the establishment of the Faculty of Canon Law in 1997, is the fruit of a long academic and cultural process conducted by Univeristé La Sagesse (ULS), since 1875.
This faculty, through its objectives and activities, finds its way forward by dialogue and required and defended research by the successive Maronite Archbishops of Beirut, since the late Msgr Joseph Debs, Founder of the Institute of Law, then, Msgr Paul Matar with whom the final decision of Founding the Faculty of Canon Law rested until his Excellence Msgr Paul Abdel Sater, current Archbishop, who continues working on the process of his predecessors through the renewal of the administration and management of the ULS.
The existence of a Faculty of Canon Law, in a country like Lebanon, is of a particular importance due to the multiplicity of personal status and religious courts, which hold a central role in the practices of worshippers and especially in the public life of citizens.
This particularity requires essentially an academic training for all generations of canonists. This training is based on the Church’s Magisterium, the commitment to the service of People of God, and motivated by the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law of Eastern Churches (CCEO) in 1990.
These factors have made it necessary to create a local faculty that provides this curriculum declared by the Fathers of the Church, in an oriental environment that is open to change and modernity.
The faculty, which was aggregated with Utriusque Iuris Institute of Pontifical Lateran University until September 2022, aims to grow and promote canonical disciplines in the light of the Law of the Gospel, to instruct and train students in research and teaching, but also in order to them to acquire the necessary competencies to fulfil certain particular ecclesiastical responsibilities.
This faculty aims to ensure the scientific and systematic teaching of Canon Law through its sources, institutions, and legislation, and initiate students to the knowledge of standards of the Latin and Oriental Codes.
The faculty of Canon Law is an academic unit within ULS. It is considered the unique center of Canon Law in the region delivering its teachings to the students in Lebanon and the neighbouring countries.
The aggregation, with the Pontifical Lateran University, was granted by the Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education on January 3, 2000, and it conferred canonical and pontifical baccalaureate and licentiate in Canon Law.
In the light of new provisions of the Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education “Instruction on the aggregation of institutes of higher studies” (December 8, 2020) concerning the ecclesiastic faculties, the faculty found it essential to modify its statutes according to spiritual instructions. These modifications came into effect at the beginning of the academic year 2021-2022.
Since its foundation in 1875, the Sagesse Superior Institute for law has been faithful to the mission of the Catholic Church, as well as to the spirit of research undertaken, in an era of openness and dialogue. A mission wanted and defended by Mgr. Youssef Debs, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut at the time, and founder of the Institute.
Since then, the Superior Institute of La Sagesse has become “Université la Sagesse”; and given the Lebanese context and the multiplicity of personal status and religious tribunals, the Chancellor of La Sagesse, Mgr. Paul Matar, actual Archbishop of Beirut, judged that one of the duties of his Institute was to deliver the teaching of canon law, a teaching highly claimed by the pastors of the church. This decision followed the promulgation by Pope Jean Paul II, in October 1990, of the new Code of Canon law for the oriental Churches.
Through this constitution, our archbishop evokes “the faithfulness” of La Sagesse to the first teachings of Christian law, as well as Muslim law that has been provided and renowned since the beginning. And if it is true that an academic institution can only gain consistence through a well established academic tradition, then the teaching of canon law at La Sagesse is inscribed in the secular tradition and is therefore rightly at its place.
It is in a context of openness and cooperation with the Universal Church that the connection with the Pontifical Lateran University gave to Sagesse University a new dimension.
Motifs et Objectifs
The existence of a Faculty of Canon Law in a country like Lebanon carries a particular importance in view of the multiplicity of personal status and religious jurisdictions. The latter, in each community, occupy a central place in the religious practice of the faithful, and more importantly in the civil life of the citizens.