Denver, Colo., Apr 30, 2018 / 12:12 pm
Monsignor Thomas Green, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., died peacefully on Saturday morning. He was 79 years old.
Monsignor Green was the Stephen Kuttner Distinguished Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America. Among canon lawyers, he was renowned as an expert in the Church's penal law and processes, and he was among the general editors of the "New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law," an invaluable resource for the study and practice of canon law. He served previously as editor of the The Jurist, the premier English-language journal of canonical scholarship.
In more than ten years of canonical practice, I regularly sought guidance from Green's scholarship, as do nearly all canon lawyers involved in the Church's administrative, procedural, or penal affairs.
Monsignor Green was also my teacher. I studied canon law at CUA from 2005-2007, and took several courses from him. His lectures were brilliant. His insights were unparalleled. His tests- always oral exams- were legendary. Green would invite students into his book-lined office, sink into a comfortable chair, and invite students to begin a "conversation" about the course material. The conversation would continue until the student, inevitably, found himself beyond his depth- no amount of studying could prepare students to keep pace with Green on the technical minutiae of the Church's canon law. When he was satisfied with the conversation, Green would extend his hand, offer a kind word, and suggest some additional reading or further reflection.
He was a good teacher. He was also a good man. Monsignor Green was affable, warm, and charitable. He made himself available- he took my calls well after I had graduated, and was willing to spend time on the phone talking through a thorny canonical problem, until a path forward became clear. He took students' ideas seriously, and engaged them with respect, and with openness to the idea that his own positions might change, or his own skills could be further sharpened, even with decades of scholarship and practice under his belt.