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Dr Helen Costigane SHCJ

Programme Director - Theology

Tel: 020 8240 8261


Helen Costigane is Programme Director for the MA in Theology. A member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, she has studied at the universities of Glasgow, London, and Leuven (Belgium). After 22 years at Heythrop College, University of London, she joined St Mary’s in February 2017. 

Dr Costigane’s research and teaching interests are wide-ranging and include Christian Ethics, Canon Law, Pastoral Theology, History, and Ecclesiology.

As a canon lawyer, Dr Costigane provides advice to solicitors, dioceses, clergy, Religious (individuals and congregations), and lay people on canonical issues such as temporal goods, rights and obligations in the Church, declarations of nullity of marriage, and penal processes. She has also taken part in discussions on radio on subjects such as ‘assisted dying’, ‘the legacy of Pope John Paul II’, and ‘the meaning of celibacy’ (BBC Radio), and has advised journalists on theological/canonical issues.

She is a member of a number of associations including the Canon Law Societies of Great Britain and Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand, the Ecclesiastical Law Society, the Catholic Theological Association (treasurer since 2017), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr Costigane has been involved in a number of institutions over the years, having been a visiting lecturer at KU Leuven, the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Charles University, Prague, Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana (in London), and the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Cambridge. In addition, she has acted as an external examiner and/or moderator to colleges in the UK, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Ghana, India, Singapore, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, and the USA. She has also been an examiner for research degrees in the UK and abroad.

As a speaker, Dr Costigane has been called on to give talks at home and abroad, at conferences and on-going formation events, and to various groups in parishes, dioceses and religious congregations.

Academic and Professional Qualifications

  • JCD (Doctorate in Canon Law), KU Leuven, Belgium, 2008-2011. Thesis: ‘Public Benefit – Threat or Opportunity? An Examination of the Public Benefit Requirement in Charity Law in England and Wales and Whether it Compromises the Church’s Independence in the Organization of Its Activities with Regard to the Objectives Stated in Canon 1254’.
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2009.
  • JCL (Licentiate in Canon Law, magna cum laude), KU Leuven, Belgium 2006-2008. Thesis ‘Clerical Sexual Misconduct: Is There Another Way Forward?’
  • M.A. in Canon Law (with congratulatory distinction), Heythrop College, University of London, 2005.
  • PhD, Heythrop College, University of London, ‘The Internal Forum Solution and Conscience’, 2003.
  • M.Th. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, Heythrop College, University of London, 1991.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Pastoral Theology (with distinction), Heythrop College, University of London, 1990.
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, 1986
  • Diploma in Management Studies, Middlesex Polytechnic, 1981.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Secretarial and Management Studies, Ealing College of Higher Education, 1980.
  • M.A. (Hons) in History and Politics, University of Glasgow, 1979.



  • Public Benefit and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales: A Potential Conflict between Canon Law and Charity Law, Germany, Lambert, 2011

Articles in books

  • ‘Canon Law and the Sensus Fidelium: Sense and Sensitivity’, New Blackfriars, March 2017         
  • Contributions to Faith Matters: A Comprehensive Introduction to Christianity and Christian Faith, Kevin Mayhew, 2013
  • Contributions to Facing the Issues: A Christian Approach to Moral Dilemmas, Social Concerns and Relationships, Kevin Mayhew, 2012
  • ‘Canon Law’, Dictionary of Political Theology, Sage Publications, 2010.
  • ‘Conciliarism’, Dictionary of Political Theology, Sage Publications, 2010.
  • Making Known the Reality of the Incarnation in Business Ethics’, The World’s Religions After September 11, 4 volumes, ed. A. Sharma, Westport CT, Praeger, 2009, pp. 77-79.

Articles in journals

  • ‘Canon Law and the Sensus Fidelium: Sense and Sensitivity’, New Blackfriars, March 2017         
  • ‘Conscience and Concordat: When Two Worlds Collide?’, Law and Justice, 2017
  • ‘Is Canon Law Fit For Purpose?’, Open House, June 2016
  • ‘Shepherding the Shepherds: What Care for Priests Suspended or Laicised?’ The Furrow, August, 2015
  • ‘The Quality of Mercy in Translation’, The Pastoral Review, July/August 2014

Media enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact our Press Office Team by emailing