Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I hope it is not too late to pass on this link to the Pope's September 17 address in Westminster Hall. His remarks might be of interest to lawyers, legal scholars, and law students, given that he shared them
conscious of the privilege afforded me to speak to the British people and their representatives in Westminster Hall, a building of unique significance in the civil and political history of the people of these islands. Allow me also to express my esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries and which has had such a profound influence on the development of participative government among the nations, especially in the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world at large. Your common law tradition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe. . . .
After noting that he was speaking in the very room in which Thomas More was tried and condemned, he observed that
The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process. . . .
This matter -- i.e., the "proper place of religious belief within the political process" -- is, of course, of great interest to many of us, and I'd welcome any thoughts on the Pope's short reflection. Are his thoughts and his proposal consonant with our understanding of how this matter should be treated in American law?