Professor Torfs holds licentiate degrees from KU Leuven in law (1979), notary sciences (1980), and canon law (1981). In 1987, he successfully defended a doctorate in canon law. He was appointed lecturer of canon law at KU Leuven in 1988 and was promoted to full professor in 1996. He was Dean of the KU Leuven Faculty of Canon Law from 1994-2003. He has in addition been since 2000 visiting professor at both the University of Strasbourg (France) and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa). He serves as a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University (USA).
The author of nearly 350 articles and numerous books dealing with canon law, law, and Church and State relationships, Professor Torfs is editor of the European Journal for Church and State Research, is a member of the Board of Directors of the European Consortium for State-Church Research, and is a newspaper columnist and host of his own television program. In 2009 he became a member of the Commission for Intercultural Dialogue (Assises de l’Interculturalité) of the Belgian government.
Professor Torfs plays a prominent role in the Belgian media and commentates regularly on the relation between church and society. He was also active as a politician and served as a senator in the Belgian parliament.