Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great piece by Dan Philpott on the HHS mandate

My colleague, Dan Philpott, has a first-rate piece on the mandate up, at the Berkley Center's web page.  The piece was written for Georgetown's Religious Freedom Project.  Among other things, Dan develops the important point (which I have been trying to emphasize, in my own interventions regarding the mandate) that the religious-freedom issue (and the technical RFRA questions about "burdens") cannot be reduced to "cooperation with evil" casuistry:

The debate over cooperation with evil, however, misses what is most at stake for Christians organizations in the HHS mandate, which is much the same as what has been most at stake for the Christian church in its relationship with the state over many centuries, which in turn is what is most at stake for the church in religious freedom: their right to give witness to the truths that they believe. . . .

Following the Catholic tradition, I regard the criterion of cooperation with evil as a valid one for a wide range of moral dilemmas, including the one at hand. The debate over cooperation with evil, however, whose every thrust and parry grows increasingly complex in its distinctions regarding intentionality, causality, and directness, obscures the larger, more important issue of whether Christian organizations enjoy the freedom to give witness to their professed truths.

To witness means to proclaim or to give testimony for a truth that the proclaimer believes is maximally important. To witness is to communicate a message – in the Christian’s case, that of God’s salvation of the world through Jesus Christ. For a Catholic, this salvation is embodied in, and its meaning for the Christian believer is manifested through, the teachings of the Catholic Church, including its teachings about contraception and the sanctity of life. Many Protestant churches make parallel claims, with due variations, about the role of the church in salvation. For (many) Christians, then, salvation is achieved through corporate entities as well as the faith of individuals. Consonant with this mission, churches and their affiliated universities, schools, hospitals, and orphanages share a duty not simply to avoid cooperating with what is false but to proclaim loudly what is true. . . .

Read the whole thing.  (Please.)


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