Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Same Sex Unions and the Catholic Church: How Law and Doctrine Evolve

That's the title of a paper that Charles Reid, Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, has just posted to SSRN.  Given the subject matter of the paper, some information about Professor Reid's academic background is relevant.  Professor Reid attended the Catholic University of America, where he earned J.D. and J.C.L. (license in canon law) degrees.   Reid later attended Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of medieval law under the supervision of Brian Tierney.  His thesis at Cornell was on the Christian, medieval origins of the western concept of individual rights.  Over the last ten years, he has published a number of articles on the history of western rights thought, and is currently completing work on a book manuscript addressing this question.  In 1991, Reid was appointed research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law, where he has worked closely with Harold Berman on the history of western law.

Reid's article on same-sex unions and the Catholic Church is downloadable for free here.  This is the abstract:

This Article makes the case for reforming the Catholic Church’s law and teaching on the topic of same-sex unions. It is divided into two large parts. Part I surveys the present state of the Church’s rules governing same-sex relations. It is further subdivided into three subsections: the first examining the formation and reinforcement of the anti-sodomy norm in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the second reviewing the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota (one of the Vatican’s two supreme appellate tribunals) on homosexuality; the third glancing briefly at more affirming recent statements of Pope Francis and leading Cardinals and bishops. The second part then states the case for reform. It begins by recapitulating the natural-law case against same-sex unions, especially as articulated by Pope John Paul II; it then focuses on personalist philosophy to build a case grounded in human dignity and human rights; it looks to see how arguments grounded on dignity, respect, and human rights were used in legislative and constitutional reform in the United States and in three Catholic countries; and it returns again to natural law. Building on the premise that natural law requires an understanding of nature, the Article reviews the state of the science on same-sex attraction. It closes with a reflection on the many ways the Church has dynamically reinterpreted its normative structure and proposes that reform of the law on same-sex unions would be in keeping with other large historical shifts in the Church’s law and doctrine.

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2016/11/same-sex-unions-and-the-catholic-church-how-law-and-doctrine-evolve.html

Perry, Michael | Permalink