Ask a Canon Lawyer
Dr. Edward Peters, one of the most widely-known lay canon lawyers in North America, joined the graduate faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 2005 with his appointment to the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Peters went to Saint Louis University on a musicianship award, majoring in Political Science (B.A. 1979). He became active in pro-life activities and Catholic discussion groups and for two years was a member of the schola cantorum of Msgr. Martin Hellriegel's renowned Holy Cross Parish in North St. Louis. Peters next attended the University of Missouri at Columbia School of Law where he took his J.D. degree in 1982. He was a Superior Oralist in Tate Hall's Moot Court, received a teaching assistantship in the law school's Legal Research and Writing Program, and began writing for religious and legal journals. After completing civil law school, he worked for two years in California for educational and Catholic television projects.
In 1985 Peters began studies in canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He earned his licentiate degree (J.C.L.) in 1988 and was the first canon law student to be named a Johannes Quasten Fellow at CUA. He completed doctoral course work in 1990 and defended his dissertation "Penal Procedural Law in the 1983 Code of Canon Law" in August 1991.
For the next ten years Peters served variously as diocesan Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor, Director of the Office for Canonical Affairs, Defender of the Bond, and Collegial Judge for diocesan and appellate tribunals in the Dioceses of Duluth (Province of St. Paul/Minneapolis) and San Diego (Province of Los Angeles). Throughout this time he continued writing for a wide variety of religious and secular publications (his articles and reviews have since appeared in some fifty publications) and served as canonical consultant to numerous ecclesiastical institutions and persons. During this same time, in addition to several years of adjunct teaching in canon law for pastoral and graduate programs through the University of Dallas, Peters made dozens of appearances in Catholic and secular media explaining the interplay between Church law and life.
From 2001-2005 he taught canon law and liturgy/sacraments with the (Graduate) Institute for Pastoral Theology in Ypsilanti, Michigan. These same years saw the completion of his 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law in English Translation (2001), the re-publication of his Annulments and the Catholic Church (2004), and the release of his textual history of the 1983 Code, Incrementa in Progressu 1983 Codicis Iuris Canonici (2005). Peters maintains a prominent educational website dedicated to ecclesiastical law, www.Canonlaw.info.
Dr. Peters and his wife Angela have six children, several godchildren, and through PIME Missionaries of Detroit, they sponsor two children overseas. Their family interests include American Sign Language, chess, astronomy, classic cinema, and good books.
In Excommunication And The Catholic Church, canon and civil lawyer Edward N. Peters offers a compelling presentation of excommunication based on the current Code of Canon Law, answering some of the most commonly-asked questions about this most serious canonical penalty.