Thursday, February 13, 2014
As I reflect on the significance of a decade of discussion regarding Catholic legal thought, I approach the endeavor from a slightly different perspective than many of the previous posts (most of which are summarized nicely here). Unlike many of my colleagues, I am relatively new to blogging with MOJ (under two years) and do not have the same institutional memory as many of them.
My reflections, therefore, have drawn me toward thinking about those on the outside: the MOJ audience and the manifestation of Catholic legal thought on the front lines.
Regarding the audience, I share Michael's thoughts on the importance of MOJ to the practitioner or the young academic. I graduated from a Catholic law school saddened by the lack of guidance it offered students regarding Catholic legal thought, uniquely Catholic intellectual experiences, or even the interplay of faith and law in this vocation called lawyering. It seemed to me that a career - which, by definition, seeks to help people, businesses, and governments negotiate through some of their most difficult times - would demand training on how to negotiate the moral and personal issues that flow from such a vocation. Therefore, having this forum where legal issues of the day are discussed through a lens of Catholic legal theory fills a gap too often left by secular legal education.
Regarding the front lines – I had a recent experience in which the importance of Catholic legal education became very apparent. Last week I had the opportunity to give a keynote presentation to a group of international lawyers participating in a State Department program regarding "Children in the United States Justice System." The audience was a group of international judges and lawyers from throughout the world who were working in various capacities with victimized and vulnerable women and children. They were from countries as diverse as Finland, Guyana, and Japan. Needless to say it was an impressive group of professionals working on very challenging issues in their courts, trying to protect children, and trying to make systemic changes. The dedication to this important work was apparent as many of them were from countries without the resources of the United States and working under difficult conditions.
Many of them took the time to mention to me during the day that they were graduates from one of their country's Catholic universities. They mentioned it with such pride and suggested that they were offered the information to forge a connection with one another on their shared mission to improve the world. It was no surprise to me that men and women committed to justice and dignity affiliated with a Catholic university or law school. But it was a reminder of how critical it is to keep the dialog alive and vibrant about Catholic legal thought and Catholic principles. The "harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few." (Mt: 9:36-38). I think that this blog helps those of us in legal academia shape some of the laborers, and then helps the laborers sustain themselves while in the field.