Between faith and law: a look at the reality of  Ecclesiastical law violations.-Kafka’s The Judgement and Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon.Implications from Law and Psychology.-English

Of course, labor do not know how each component is used.
They have no idea what a machine does for them.
-Simone Weil, Factory Diary.


Restrictions in faith should not be suppressed by clerical injustice. This time, the comparison and criticism of contemporary canon law and the reality of the Catholic Church with Franz Kafka’s The Judgement and Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is a step towards promoting the values and moral principles common to Japanese society in this country, which is not a state religion, and that the teachings of Jesus Christ are not misunderstood in a distorted way, as a step towards not being afraid to fight for peace rather than superficial peace.

The goal of rights-law is peace and the means to achieve it is struggle.

The life of Right=Law is struggle.

With one hand she holds the scales to weigh the rights = law. In the other hand the Goddess of Justice holds the sword to pierce rights=law.

Jhering ‘The Struggle for Rights’.

Ⅰ Natural law and Positive law

Josef K. was arrested. It must have been someone who slandered him’ If I were to be judged by a law I could not remember – Kafka’s ‘The Judgement’ was such a story. The story begins with a stranger who comes in after ringing the breakfast bell and tells K that the identity card he offers is meaningless and that he is a lowly worker who doesn’t care about such things, he just watches K and gets paid for it. The story is unfinished, but it is important to note that K says early on that he does not know of such a law. This is because K is not immediately sent to prison, but is on his way to die, looking for a woman or someone to help him.

One of the clergymen tells K that ‘the sentence is not pronounced immediately, but the trial gradually turns into a sentence’, but the story ends with Kafka’s death, without K knowing what ‘something’ he is bound by, as he said ‘the law I don’t know’. The story ends with K being treated cruelly, ‘like a dog’, and ends with a death that leaves him in shame.

Kafka’s The Judgement does not deal specifically with natural or positive legal norms. The novel focuses on the impact of social and political systems on the individual, particularly the legal system. It brings a unique perspective to the narrative by highlighting the powerlessness, absurdity and arbitrariness of human judgement in the face of the legal system.

Although much misunderstood, Catholicism is not just natural law, nor are social norms dictated by the values of a single individual. In fact, Catholicism has both natural law and positive law. Positive law refers to the codified law enacted by the Diet in Japan. In other words, laws, ordinances, cabinet orders and imperial decrees. Substantive law is enacted on the basis of the Constitution and has a hierarchy of laws. Substantive laws are enacted according to a specific procedure and come into effect after they have been passed and enacted by the issue so that the general public can be aware of them. For this reason, substantive law is expected to be widely known and respected by a large number of citizens. Catholic substantive law includes the decrees, teachings and canon law issued by the Pope. As natural law, it is based on ethical and moral principles and principles derived from the Bible and tradition. The teachings and laws of the Catholic Church are strictly respected in substantive law, but they are supposed to be based on natural law. Secondly, what is the position of  ecclesiastical law today?

Ⅱ Ecclesiastical law for Japan – The social consequences of non-compliance.

First, as we learn in secondary school world history, between the establishment of the Roman Empire by Caesar and its decline due to the invasion of the Parthians and Germans from the east, after the death of Jesus, the doctrine of faith in him as Christ (Greek for Messiah) spread through the missionary work of his disciple Peter and Paul from Asia Minor in 313. Emperor Constantine authorised this by issuing the Edict of Milan. He also began to settle doctrinal disputes, and at the Council of Nicaea in 325 he declared the Athanasian view to be orthodox. The Athanasian view was later established as the Trinity. Later, at the end of the 4th century, Emperor Theodosius banned all religions except Christianity. This laid the ‘foundation’ for Christianity as the unifying religion of the European world. What has been the relationship between church and state since then? Countries and religions went through schisms and revolutions until, for example, there are seven countries where there is a ‘church tax’ – Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland – and some countries where church taxes are not compulsory. Ecclesiastical law spread with the birth of Christianity, and although the early Christian churches met among fellow believers, there had to be some kind of resolution in case of conflict. It developed under the influence of Roman law, which led to the adoption of canon law in 395. Once Christianity became the state religion, however, disputes over status and rights arose. Gregory I played the first important role in the development of canon law.

 Ecclesiastical law developed in the Middle Ages, but when the Reformation took place in the 16th century, the authority of ecclesiastical law fell away as religion was separated from the state. Ecclesiastical law lost its role as the law of the state, with the law of the state taking precedence in judicial and administrative matters. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church attempted to make a comeback, and in 1917 the ‘Church Code’ was enacted. However, after the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the ‘Church Code’ was revised to ensure that the Catholic Church had the flexibility to respond to changes in society. Vatican City is the only country where the Code of Canon Law is equivalent to the law of nations. For other countries, it has limited validity, for example for legal proceedings within Catholicism.

Japan is a state of separation of church and state, a mixed night watchman and welfare state, and as a night watchman state it focuses on maintaining security and has a strong security dimension, including a police force and self-defence forces. On the other hand, as a welfare state, it has a well-developed social security, welfare and health care system, but its role as a welfare state is being challenged by a low birth rate, an ageing population and economic inequality. The integration of religion is mainly left to individual choice and lies in social norms such as morality and ethics.

For Japanese Catholics, Canon Law is a type of religious law, a set of rules and regulations governing beliefs and practices within the Catholic Church. It is structured on the basis of the biblical faith, the traditional faith and the continuing faith of the Catholic Church. For believers who belong to the Catholic Church, adherence to canon law means both the protection of the community and the expectation that they will live a life of faith. Since ‘canon law’ does not have the legal force inherent in the Japanese legal system, if we were to replace it with the situation in Kafka’s ‘The Judgement’, K’s invisible ‘judge’ and ‘supreme court’ have something in common with Christians in Japan. This is not just a psychological state, but also the fact that church law is not even legally enforceable, and the only way to claim damages is through civil lawsuits. Second, What is the problem with simply taking a case to court through civil litigation or national social norms?

It is that there are too many clergymen who do not show any sign of offence, as if trials and the voices of victims were mosquito nets. The negative effects on society of this failure to live canon law can be discussed in several ways. In the case of problems such as sexual abuse or injustice within society,: the damage to society as a whole is magnified. Believers are also members of society, and it is impossible for an organisation whose ethics have been neglected not to cause harm to society. the absence of functioning canon law means that victims do not receive just compensation or a fair trial. The lack of functioning church law also increases the harm to society as a whole, as internal church misconduct may go unchecked and criminal acts may be covered up. Although it may seem to have little impact in Japan, the lack of a living Church law leads to the possibility of a decline in the general ethical standards of society. Awareness of this crisis is particularly low among Japanese Catholics. The fact that the Church violates the law is not just a matter of faith. It raises the possibility of undermining the rule of law and the fair trial system. The Church’s failure to regulate itself means that it does not accept legal responsibility. Failure to protect victims means causing enormous emotional distress. Organisations and individuals that break the law are perceived as organisations that are not subject to the rule of law.

Therefore, even though it is not an important law in Japan, Catholics must make full use of ecclesiastical law as a discipline for society as a whole.

Ⅲ The Law of the Gates (Kafka’s Judgment insert)

There is an interpolated story in Kafka’s The Judgement. It is told by a clergyman as “The Law of the Gates”. (This also exists as a separate short story.) The story is that a man tries to enter the Gate of the Code, but the gatekeeper refuses to let him in. He told him that even if he went through his gate, there would be a stronger gatekeeper next to him. The man gave the gatekeeper gifts and other things, but he refused to open the gate. Gradually the man became aware that he was being rejected because of the gatekeeper’s decision. Finally, when the man’s life was about to end, he asked the gatekeeper. Why doesn’t anyone but me try to pass through here? The gatekeeper replied, “This gate was only for you. Why is it absurd to say that the gatekeeper has done his duty as a gatekeeper? The code of the gate represents the unjust nature of rules enacted for the purpose of judging individuals who withhold. If a legal code gives rise to the possibility of inequality, it must be flexible and include provisions for dealing with it. Gatekeeping rules are opaque powers and the law must be clear and fair to protect individual rights and interests. If this does not work, the position of the individual is suppressed and the law becomes meaningless. The gate was a pretended law, and people had no right to pass through it, only to be held back. This is the irony.

Ⅳ How to solve the Catholic Community’s problems.

Certainly, Catholicism has more tradition and less radical methods of baptism and propaganda than other emerging religions, and there is nothing in the criminal psychology that can be directly linked to ‘cult murders’, but child sexual abuse, embezzlement, etc. have often been committed against priests in the past. These incidents have caused problems not only in terms of lack of faith, but also in terms of abuse of power by those in authority and the hierarchical nature of the organisation. From a criminal psychology perspective, the reasons for such incidents in Catholicism range from a loss of trust in ethical and moral leaders, cover-ups of criminal acts by those in power, taboos about sexual treatment, and the concentration of power within hierarchical social structures.

The solutions to the problems of the Catholic Church are many and varied, but in this issue we will try to summarise them in four points:

1 Improving transparency: Transparency – setting up an auditing body run by the Church situation, clarifying where misconduct can be reported, and transparency in the disclosure of information.

2Improving victim support systems: considering the position of victims, not running away to defend themselves, but going back to what Jesus taught and improving systems to provide psychological and legal support.

3Expand education and awareness-raising activities: Education is an essential part of the way society is constituted. We call for the expansion of education and awareness-raising activities for believers and clergy.

4 Review the management and training of clergy: This means reviewing the way clergy are selected and trained, and working to prevent problematic behaviour. In recent years there has been a spate of sexual abuse of minors in the entertainment industry and in school education, but there has been no improvement in organisation. There is a need for Catholics to take the lead and set an example in tackling this problem. Otherwise, religion will lose more and more of its meaning. No matter how much faith you have, you cannot cover up Catholic injustice and clerical negligence, and I hope you will feel a sense of crisis that you are exposed to this situation.

In order to move towards a solution to these four problems, it is essential to change the mindset within the Church. For this reason, all those who work within the Church must be aware of this problem.

Ⅴ Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon: The Silent Majority.

Let’s take a story where 1-4 did not work well as an example.

In Michael Haneke’s film The White Ribbon, the 19th century is a closed village where a repressive pastor and a doctor who sexually exploits his own children hold sway. The First World War begins, but the adults pursue their immediate interests as if they had no egos and show no fear of war. With their backs turned, the children grow up, but they grow up to become members of the Nazi Party. There was no footage of actual Nazi Party members, but what did the story show? The film is in black and white, with little dialogue, and shows the evil ‘silence’ of the people. It can be described in social psychology as a ‘silent majority’.They demonstrate a change in their own values and behaviour to conform to social norms and expectations, but in closed village societies where power and conformity are seen as important and injustice and despicable behaviour are seen as normal. This silent majority as a psychological

This silent majority as their psychological state is greatly exaggerated, making it difficult to see the opinions and attitudes of the majority. It is therefore assumed that they became members of the Nazi Party in order to participate in society and try to improve their situation.

A similar trend can be observed in contemporary Catholic affairs. Sexual harassment, embezzlement by clergy, etc. continued to be covered up in the Catholic Church. This is due to the existence of a silent majority of clergy, laity and others, but it is so small that the seriousness of the problem is played down and there is a regression in the sense of ethics.

Ⅵ Evidence

Is there really a silent majority? There is a rare article by an active priest on this situation from a pastoral perspective. In “Lack of Faith and Nullity of Marriage in the Texts of the Pontifical International Theological Commission in 2020” by Father Noboru Tanaka, the laziness of the clergy is described even today. As for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the life of the Church, the keystone of unity, the source and summit of the life of faith (art. 897 of the Code of Canon Law, Catechism nos. 1324-1327), the faithful do not pray quietly during Communion, nor do the priests put so much heart into the words of the formula when they say them. Some celebrate Mass in a spectacular and inorganic way. In the worst cases, some priests do not even say a word of Scripture in their homilies, but end up making small talk. The sacrament of ordination from deacon to priest (article 1008 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, catechism nos. 1534-1536) says that priests are to be Christ’s representatives, carrying out the duties of teaching, sanctifying and pastoring as those of Christ.

Nevertheless, various problematic practices of the clergy in recent years, ranging from power, sexual and moral harassment to sexual violence, privatisation and misappropriation of church property, continue without improvement. The role of the priest is to communicate God’s grace and mercy in a practical way, to surround people with the love of Christ and to heal them.

Until I found Father Noboru Tanaka’s papers and books, the voice of a single believer was silenced by the verbal abuse of arrogant priests. It was these priests who did the injustice. But this time I was able to write this criticism as evidence in my university registered thesis. And I am confident that it is a good argument. The importance of the silent majority was illustrated by the term used by US President Richard Nixon in his 1969 speech on the Vietnam War, when he spoke of the ‘silent majority’. At the time, there was a strong belief in social change in US society, including the anti-war movement and the counter-culture, and Nixon sought to win over Americans with pro-war and conservative values, known as the silent majority, to suppress these movements. Nixon believed that the Silent Majority was the real healthy force in America, and that under their leadership the war in Vietnam would be won. In business, recognising the silent majority also helps to identify needs and improve poverty and services as much as possible, he said. It is important for companies to use this information to improve their products and services in order to increase their competitiveness, he said.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself was more in conflict with the majority of the lawyers and clergy and refused to follow orthodox doctrine. (Mark 2:13-17) The early Christians were also persecuted for not following the political and religious system of the majority Roman Empire. History repeats itself, and although the historical background on which Kafka’s “The Judgement” and the film “The White Ribbon” were based has already been written about by human reflection, there is not a single development in the present day. This is the cruelty of our mediocrity, which is above all the result of our lack of progress. Kafka’s “The Judgement” was a story that exemplified reality, as if it represented what cannot be divided by civil lawsuits and what will surely come to pass. In the love and justice of Jesus Christ, love can be interpreted in any number of convenient ways, but we who are awakened to justice are the silent majority. We are likened to believers and clergy who remain silent and do nothing to make the teachings of Jesus Christ a gate of ‘pretence’.They maintain stability by flirting with those around them. Even to the point of ignoring their personal obligations and conscience. And we extinguish our egos for the sake of friendship and trust. What does this mean for faith? From the point of view of the non-religious, doesn’t it look like a cult if you don’t confront our injustices and cover-ups and talk about the love of Jesus in a matter-of-fact way? In social psychology, this is due to the ‘bystander effect’. Also, the majority of Catholics in Japan lack the interpretation that an organisation with disordered ethics commits crimes against society by indulging in what the world does not expect.


Kafka’s ‘The Judgement’, he compared the oppression of the individual by an opaque authority to things inside Catholicism, where the law does not live. In the episode ‘The Gates of Justice’, he compared the pitiful waiting at the gates of hypocrisy with the situation of Catholics. Next, Michael Haneke’s ‘The White Ribbon’ drew out the silent majority from a psychological point of view stronger than that of the judge, and how buried voices can have power if they are not kept alive. The two films were chosen for their similarities to Kafka’s The Judgement, in which invisible authority and oppression prevented them from freely choosing their own actions and beliefs.Why are we ‘sick’ as Christians? It is that we are silent when we violate laws and ethics only within our organisation, without considering the structure of society as a whole and without knowing the implications for society. If it were from God, people would only misunderstand religion.And if you bring up the Bible and preach as if you understand it, everyone gets scared. Not being understood is certainly painful, but we mistakenly believe that the target of criticism is ‘irreligion’ or ‘atheism’.‐For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.1 Corinthians 13:12‐We should always remember the humility that no matter how much wisdom we have, we only know part of it. We should also consider what it takes to see clearly.

These are metaphors in which a fairy tale is not isolated from reality, and an organisation whose ethics are not alive will be an untrustworthy organisation in the eyes of society.

Have you ever considered that if there is a group that inhibits an individual’s ability to reason?
that it does not stay within the church, but affects the outside world.

Why do you think that you are in such a group and that crime does not seem to
does not seem to happen?

If you pray with self-deception, you will always have falsehoods. Will we continue to live without knowing what we are? The words of the Our Father, its meaning. To deceive them would be like Kafka’s “Judgement”, like a death that would leave only a final “shame”.

These stories do not sound like fairy tales, even if they are far away. How much better it would have been if abstract, cruel stories were fairy tales without reality. Unfortunately, those who ignore justice are praying for a world of bad dreams. When will the liars who are drunk on agape – it’s so fake agape – day after day wake up?

This is reality. 

Peace of the Lord


Franz Kafka celebrates the 140th anniversary of his birth this year, on 3 July 2023.

・Franz Kafka, ‘The Judgement’, Aozora Bunko.

・“Lack of Faith and Nullity of Marriage in the Texts of the Pontifical International Theological Commission in 2020”, Nanzan University 45 (March 2022), pp. 87-169: Fr. Noboru Tanaka, pp. 87-96 -For some time now, the mission of the Church has not been going well, the vocations of clergy and laity have also been declining. For some time now the mission of the Church has not been going well, and the vocations of clergy and laity have been declining. The Church is not doing well in its mission, and the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is declining.

「家庭の友」: 2023 Apr, by Noboru Tanaka. 

P.6 The Church is a place where people encounter “holiness” and are allowed to grow by grace, without finding an identity, without understanding the Word of God, without prayer, without teaching about the Church and without a sense of morality. The Church is nothing more than a private entity with a sense of achievement and mission in social movements and organisational management. P7,The Catholic Church has always been questioned as to whether or not it is a legitimate religion.

・Fundamentals of Law, 2nd edn, Shigemitsu Danto, p35 – If the law becomes totally divorced from social morality, it means that it can no longer function as law.


・High School World History B, Yamakawa

・Michael Haneke  Das weiße Band

・Jahring, The Struggle for Rights.

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