TribuneJuan Ignacio Arrieta

Professor Javier Hervada, teacher of jurists of the Church

The prestigious canonist Javier Hervada, considered by many a "master", passed away at the beginning of March. He was born in Barcelona in 1934. The author had a close relationship with Hervada, both professionally and personally.

April 7, 2020-Reading time: 3 minutes

On November 26, 2002, at the request of the Faculty of Canon Law, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross conferred on Javier Hervada an honorary doctorate. It was a formal academic expression, appreciated by the eminent university man that Hervada always was, of the gratitude of all of us who in 1984 began the adventure of that new Roman Faculty, for his enthusiastic encouragement of the initiatives that had arisen here and for the personal dedication that he had given to each of us in the almost two previous lustrums.

As had happened with Pedro Lombardía, until his death in 1986, what began as the Roman Section of the School of Canon Law of the University of Navarra found in Javier Hervada the sure support where to unload youth and consolidate security, method and objectives. The good university work of Lombardía and Hervada, widely recognized, paved the way for the development of the new Faculty and what they sowed here undoubtedly represents one of the main contributions of this institution to Roman canon law: making law from the theological reality of the Church - strongly renewed with the Second Vatican Council - using the juridical instruments that canon science developed over the centuries.

For twenty years Javier Hervada was among the visiting professors of the Faculty of Canon Law, with regular courses, seminars for professors and the direction of many research works. He participated in our Congresses, published monographs in several collections of the Faculty, and the journal Ius Ecclesiae -which in part owes its name to him- hosted during those years several of his best works. In Rome he spent, at times, prolonged periods of two or three weeks each year, residing in the present Domus Paolo VI, adjacent to the headquarters of the University in the Palazzo dell'Apollinare, or in one of the professors' residences. But the main fruit of his Roman sojourns always remained in the individual conversations with the then young professors of the Faculty, while savoring a coffee in Sant'Eustachio or strolling through the nearby Piazza Navona.

Javier Hervada devoted his best energies to train canonists or, as he rightly said, jurists of the Church. To his disciples he offered friendship and affection, always with exquisite respect for freedom and autonomy, which, not infrequently, initially withdrew him from expressing critical points of view, until he was strongly requested to express his opinion, which he then did with extreme delicacy. This was normal, because on exceptional occasions, when central aspects of Church law came into play in public congressional debates, he also knew how to express his critical observations with liveliness, as happened with his friend Eugenio Corecco, then professor at Fribourg in Switzerland, during the memorable Congress that the Consociatio held in Pamplona in 1976.

Hervada was a friend who made the professional successes of others his own and enjoyed listening to the novel aspects and research results of others, which he frequently enriched with contributions from his broad cultural background or with observations of an exceptionally clear legal logic. Even in the last years of his life, when in his physical limitations, Javier was more withdrawn, his disciples had developed an "art" of knowing how to "provoke" his canonistic vein, always obtaining clear-sighted syntheses, often unpublished, that shed new light on how to confront new criticisms of the juridical life of the Church. Probably one of his last trips abroad took place on the occasion of the brief course he gave in 2006 in Venice to the students of the St. Pius X Institute of Canon Law of the Studium Generalem Marcianum, then affiliated to the Faculty of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

There he resided for a few days in the apartment in Piazza dei Leoncini that Patriarch Scola had given to Arturo Cattaneo and me, enjoying Venice and, above all, the intellectual fruits he had sown throughout his life.

Javier Hervada's activity was always built on an exemplary fidelity to his Christian vocation in Opus Dei and on a sincere piety to the Mother of God, the Church and the Pope. As a long-standing disciple of his, and also a friend, I was always moved, after my episcopal ordination, by the simple devotion with which, when he welcomed me into his home, he would come forward to kiss the episcopal ring, moved by what for him was the reason for his existence.

We will miss you very much, Javier, but apart from our prayers, you remain in our hearts and in the way of working that you have taught us.

The authorJuan Ignacio Arrieta

Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

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