Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A short opinion piece on religious freedom and church accountability

Thanks to Richard Reinsch, at Law & Liberty, for including this short piece of mine in today's symposium on "the Catholic Church's crisis."  A bit:

. . . [I] is clear, and it is crucial, that – in accord with due process, of course, and in keeping with important safeguards like statutes of limitations – alleged crimes be investigated, that criminal offenses be punished, that victims are compensated. This is true for bishops and clergy no less than it is for politicians and police or for laymen and citizens. It seems no less clear and crucial that not only repentance and penance but also reform and a reckoning are needed in the Church leadership, structures, and processes.

At the same time, calls for “accountability” should reflect careful thinking about the questions “accountable to whom?” There are matters over which secular political authorities and public officials have no power or say. . . .

September 13, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A podcast on Endo's "Silence"

Longtime MOJ readers know that a number of us are big fans of Shusaku Endo's (complicated, haunting, fascinating) novel, "Silence."  I was glad to see it featured the other day on one of my favorite podcasts, John Miller's "Great Books."  Check it out.  (I was intrigued by Miller's guest's "take" on the novel, which was clearly a product of her Protestant lenses.  I wonder if other Catholic readers will have a similar impression.)

September 11, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

A troubling opinion on church autonomy from the CJEU

Here's the press release.  Nutshell:

Dismissal of a Catholic doctor from a managerial position by a Catholic hospital due
to his remarriage after a divorce may constitute unlawful discrimination on grounds
of religion.


The requirement that a Catholic doctor in a managerial position respect the Catholic Church’s
notion of marriage as sacred and indissoluble does not appear to be a genuine, legitimate and
justified occupational requirement, which is nevertheless a matter for the German Federal Labour
Court to determine in the present case.

However:

However, it is for the Bundesarbeitsgericht to determine whether IR has established that, in the light of the
circumstances of the case, there is a probable and substantial risk that its ethos or its right
of autonomy will be undermined.

Stay tuned.

September 11, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Monday, September 10, 2018

Winters's misrepresentation of Garnett re: public-sector employees and unionization

Over at Distinctly Catholic, Michael Sean Winters links to a funny bit at The Onion and then tosses a bit of off-color snark at MOJ, and a post of mine, regarding my view (expressed zillions of time here) that "it is not the case that the Church's social teachings -- including her teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers -- require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context)." 

Contrary to what Winters says, I have never said that "the church's teaching that workers have a right to organize does not extend to public sector workers because the church never specifically said it so extends."  What comes before and after "because" in Winters's sentence is wrong.  I think that all workers have a right to "organize" (and, as it happens, the Church has long so taught).  I do believe that it is a distortion of the Church's social teachings to think that those teachings "require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context)."  And, I think this "because" not because public-sector unionism wasn't mentioned in Rerum Novarum, but because public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context) is, all things considered, contrary to the common good.

Winters ends his little jab with what I suppose is intended to be a funny comparison but it seemed more than a little inappropriate (not to mention inapt) to me.  Readers should, of course, decide for themselves.

September 10, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Important win in ministerial-exception case

Thanks to the merry band of happy religious-freedom warriors at the Becket Fund!  Full story here.  (I was honored to co-file an amicus brief with our own Tom Berg and others . . .).

Recent news and events have many religious-freedom defenders reeling and angry (understandably).  But the "freedom of the Church" proposal has never rested on a premise or claim that the Church's leaders, ministers, and members do not sometimes do awful things.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Amy Uelmen, "Celibacy is not about time management"

Charlie Camosy has a nice interview up at Crux with our own Amy Uelmen, regarding (inter alia) celibacy (As MOJ readers probably know, Amy has taken vows in the Focolare movement), its practice, and its point.  Amy's reflections are, as always, thoughtful and inspiring.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Lumen Christi Institute event: Joseph Singer, "Judging as Judgment"

More information about this interesting event in Chicago (Oct. 4) is available here.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Monday, September 3, 2018

Laborem Exercens (and a friendly reminder)

It never hurts -- and on Labor Day, it makes particular sense -- to re-read Laborem ExercensHere it is.  

Also, just your friendly, regular MOJ Labor Day reminder that, despite what some opportunistic commentators contend, it is not the case that the Church's social teachings -- including her teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers -- require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context).

September 3, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The logic of statism: religious faith is a "mental illness"

See this story, from The Atlantic ("China Is Treating Islam like a Mental Illness").  I have to confess, it is impossible for me to take seriously -- and, in fact, I find it increasingly maddening -- when China's corporate and other enablers and apologists hold themselves out as arbiters of virtue.  And, the willingness of too many elite academic institutions to collaborate and excuse is very disappointing.  That said, China is really simply following the logic of statism, so I suppose news like this should not be surprising.

August 29, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Disentangling the "Crisis"

A friend asked me what I thought about the Catholic Church's "current crisis."  I thought, and I said, "what, exactly, do you mean?"  It seems to me that (at least) the following issues/problems/trials/"crises" are happening and also that it's important to distinguish among them, even as we recognize that at least some of them are connected with others:

First, there is the awful, scandalous fact that some Catholic clergy (and lay Church employees) exploited and sexually abused children.  My own sense -- I'm not an expert, and I'd welcome correction if I'm wrong -- is that this abuse (the "causes" of which I'm not addressing) has been very, very rare in the last, say, thirty years, in part because of policies and practices implemented in response to revelations.  That is, my sense is that Catholic schools, parishes, etc., are, today, very "safe environments" for children - safer than, among other things, public-school environments.

Second, there is the awful, scandalous fact that some Catholic bishops and dioceses, with the help of some lawyers, covered up this abuse and helped to perpetuate it precisely by covering it up and failing to remove abusers from ministry.  We were confronted with this fact after "Boston" and are being confronted with it again because of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.  Again, my sense is that this happened more in the past than in recent years -- in part because, again, most of the abuse cases took place many years ago.  I am not aware -- but, again, I'd welcome correction -- of substantiated claims that current bishops have covered up or facilitated or otherwise badly handled recent (say, post "Boston") cases of the sexual abuse of children, although it continues to be the case that some past cases are not being appropriately acknowledged.

Third, there is the widely shared impression among Catholics and others that the bishops are generally out of touch, over-concerned with careerism and advancement, prioritize collegiality and gladhanding and fundraising over the faithful exercise of their office (which Patrick Brennan described nicely here), are ideologically divided, and are jaw-droppingly tone-deaf about how it looks when, say, a diocese that serves many poor people buys a multi-million dollar Silicon Valley home for a retired bishop.  This impression is unfair to some bishops, but it seems to me to be warranted in too many cases, and that's depressing (even if, looking back over the Church's long history, not unprecedented).

Fourth, there are the allegations that Ted McCarrick sexually exploited, for years, seminarians and other young men, that this exploitation was known to (inter alia) other bishops, and that he nonetheless advanced and exercised a great deal of power and influence in the Church.

Fifth, there is the concern that exploitation like McCarrick's has been, and perhaps still is, a not-rare feature of the culture of and life in Catholic seminaries and that this feature of the seminary experience has been covered up or "looked away from" by Catholic generally and, more particularly, by bishops who were and are responsible for the wellbeing and formation of seminarians.

Sixth, there is the worry of some that "networks" of clergy, including bishops use secrecy, influence, and pressure to (among other things) prevent responses to various problems, including those described above and below.  (This worry pre-existed, of course, the recent testimony of Bishop Vigano and this worry, as I've encountered it, is related to but is also more specific than the impression set out above, after "Third".)

Seventh, there is the concern that, in fact, many -- not just a few -- Catholic clergy are sexually active, notwithstanding their vows and the moral teachings they profess to embrace and are charged with proposing and defending, and that this fact is widely known among clergy (including bishops) but "winked at" or ignored.

I'm sure there's more.  And, of course, these are not simply (and never have been) problems or issues for the Church in the United States; nor are they problems that only emerged after the Second Vatican Council or after the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. 

My own concern is that much of the press coverage I'm seeing, and a lot of the online (and other) reactions I'm reading, talk about "the crisis" -- or the "sex-abuse crisis" -- without distinguishing and disentangling these and other matters, each of which (it seems to me) needs to appropriately addressed.   

August 28, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | Comments (0)