You wanna get sued. Tick off a Catholic.

In recent years, clergy and lay people in the United States have increasingly turned to the church’s internal legal system to challenge a bishop’s or pastor’s decision about even the most workaday issues in Catholic life, according to canon lawyers in academia, dioceses and in private practice. Sometimes, the challengers even win.

In one example cited by veteran canon lawyers, parishioners wanted to bar musical performances in their church that weren’t liturgical. Their priest had been renting space to a local band. In another case, a nun filed a petition after a religious superior disclosed the nun’s medical information to others – a potential violation of privacy. Regarding bishops’ often contentious decisions to close parishes, the liberal reform group FutureChurch posts a guide on its website called “Canonical Appeals for Dummies” on seeking Vatican intervention to stay open.

Another trend that annoys me. Canon law has its place for sure, but as Christians we are supposed to be able to work out our differences, no? No.

Canon law, like all other law, is a weapon of convenience to be wielded when it suits your purpose. Anything less would be Un-American.