Thursday, July 20, 2017
Melissa Moschella, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics at Columbia University, wrote an excellent analysis of the competing interests of the doctors, the courts, and the parents of 11-month old Charlie Gard, who was born with a rare genetic disease known as mitochondrial depletion syndrome. The hospital in England where Charlie is being treated wants to withdraw his life support, while his parents want to take up the offer of an American specialist at Columbia University in New York to try some experimental treatment. The High Court in Britain first refused the parents permission to do so, and is now reconsidering the matter. More recently, Melissa offered some interesting thoughts about the propriety of having Charlie's court-appointed guardian ad litem being represented in court by a lawyer who is actively involved in an organization closely aligned with Dignity in Dying, an advocacy group for assisted suicide.
Friday, June 16, 2017
I'm not sure what the most effective response to the dearth of civil, respectful political debate in our country is, but I certainly don't think the answer is to quelch all dialogue. But that seems to be exactly what the Republican leadership in the Senate is doing with its response to the House's American Health Care Act. As this Washington Post article reports, Senator McConnell has invoked the fast-track procedure that will bring the bill right to the floor for a vote, without any committee hearings. The bill itself is being negotiated in private, with the expectation that it would be released within 24 hours of a vote, leaving nobody who might want to undertake a thoughtful examination of these important issues with any time to do so. I don't pretend to understand all the details of the complexities of the ACA or its reform, but I am seeing desperate appeals from disability advocacy groups (like this from the National Down Syndrome Congress, and this from The Arc), describing the devastating effect the changes to Medicaid currently in the House bill, and likely to be in the Senate bill, will have on services to people with disabilities. If you don't have a family member with a disability, have you heard anything at all about this aspect of ACA reform?
This really isn't any way to run a country, is it?
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
If you are in the DC area tomorrow evening, you might be interested in attending a Conversation with Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the new Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development, on "Vatican Perspectives on Care for Creation, Economic Injustice, the Refugee Crisis, and Peace." Details and registration are here. John Carr, Director of Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, has organized this public event in connection with a convening of US Academic Centers on Catholic Social Thought. Should be a very interesting couple of days in DC!
Thursday, May 25, 2017
One of the greatest privileges of serving on the Board of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability is learning from my talented and committed fellow board members. Two of them (Michael J. Boyle, Director, Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, and Pamela R. Bernards, Director for Professional Development, National Catholic Educational Association) have just published a fantastic white paper entitled One Spirit, One Body: An Agenda for Serving Students with Disabilities in Catholic Schools, available here.
Some interesting findings:
Despite the fact that private schools are not required to legally comply with the least restrictive environment mandates of the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), there is evidence to show that Catholic schools are responding to the Church’s challenge to serve students with disabilities.
The principle findings of the USCCB (2002) study, Catholic School Children with Disabilities, found that nationally, 7 percent of children enrolled in Catholic schools are children with disabilities, compared to 11.4 percent enrolled in public schools. When comparing disability types, Catholic schools enroll a greater percentage of children diagnosed with hearing impairment or deafness, developmental delay, speech/language, uncorrected vision impairment or blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments than public schools (USCCB, 2002: p. 11). Huppe (2010) notes that other disability categories such as mental retardation, autism, and emotional disorders have a “significantly lower representation in Catholic schools than in public schools.”
Boyle and Bernards offer great suggestions for dealing with some of the challenges of including students with disabilities in Catholic schools. They acknowledge the tension felt by many Catholic schools between wanting to serve students with disabilities and the financial burdens of doing so, but remind us that:
. . .the United States Catholic Bishops have stated:
Costs must never be the controlling consideration limiting the welcome offered to those among us with disabilities, since provision of access to religious functions is a pastoral duty (USCCB, 1998, p.2).
“The focus on the inequities in funding between public and private schools often provides an opportunity to justify the inability to provide services for children with special needs” (Moreau, Weaver, R. Davis, S. Landers M. 2006). However, the failure to serve students with disabilities in Catholic schools may actually be “due to an underlying belief on the part of many Catholic educators that children with special needs would be better served elsewhere” (Moreau et al., 2006). In many instances, it has been an assumption that the responsibility for the education of students with disabilities lies in the public school domain, whereas Catholic education encompasses so much more than just academic preparation. Catholic education offers spiritual formation, a faith community and a sense of belonging to the larger church which cannot be replicated within the public school setting. Certainly, the Bishops have noted the value in the interaction between those individuals with disabilities and those without. In such an interchange, “it is often the person with a disability who gives the gift of most value” (USCCB, 1998). Educating individuals with disabilities within the Catholic school setting helps those without disabilities to see the real world reflected in their school, creates a sense of normalization that disability is a part of life and helps to minimize the stigma of disability.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Call for Papers: "Building Institutions for the Common Good: The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy"
My colleagues at the Ryan Institute have put out a call for papers for a conference next summer that is sure to be of interest to many MOJ readers.
The Tenth International Conference on
The Sixth Colloquium on Christian Humanism in Business and Society
"Building Institutions for the Common Good:
The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy"
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul - Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 21-23, 2018
The common good is a prominent principle and one of the pillars of the Catholic social tradition. Its origins in Judaism and Hellenistic philosophy were taken up by the early Christian community and reinforced by Christ's commandment of charity, forgiveness, and service. As suggested by its ancient roots, the principle is not exclusive to Christian faith; other religions and philosophical traditions uphold it too. Still, sharing an appreciation for the concept does not remove the important work about the meaning of the common good and its operational and institutional significance in business.
Scholarly reflections on the common good vary in correspondence with the whole range of existing philosophical, economic, political, and social positions. This is certainly true among leading voices in the development of Catholic social thought -- Jacques Maritain, Neo-Thomism, civil economy, personalism, and Catholic liberalism, among others. What has not been as developed is a tradition of thought that engages the common good with the purpose and practice of business. This conference is set out to make a contribution in this area.
As business and its impact have moved into virtually every country and culture on the planet, so have questions about its role in regard to human well-being and to what society holds in common. This makes the common good a subject for reflection in the education of all future business professionals. There may be as well a particular opportunity and benefit for reflecting on the common good in the context of business education in Catholic universities. Uniquely prepared to address the idea of the common good from a theoretical perspective, Catholic business education is also uniquely positioned to reflect on it as a moral principle for leaders and as an aspirational principle for a business mission.
This conference on "Building Institutions for the Common Good: The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy" welcomes participants from multiple disciplines and perspectives ready to engage in a constructive dialogue on the common good and how a growing number of people can participate in the market economy and finance in an equitable, stable, and sustainable way. We take the common good within the Catholic social tradition as our starting point in this discussion.
We are looking for papers in three tracks: broad, organizational and theoretical treatments of the common good; the common good in relation to individual disciplines (marketing, personnel management, strategy, etc.); and curriculum design, materials, and pedagogical approaches for addressing the common good in a business context.
Track One - Exploring the Common Good, Its Meaning and Its Capacity to Inspire and Sustain Ethical Institutions
It is relatively easy to criticize what does not work and even necessary to do so. The much more challenging task is to build a humane and flourishing society. Catholic social teaching has examined property, free and ethical markets, businesses, the rule of law, and the legal protection of workers as some of the institutions that are essential in creating institutions that work. However, the best institutions falter if they are undercut by a lack of individual conscience and social virtue. Thus, Catholic social teaching also repeats demands for virtuosity: structures and institutions alone are not capable of solving the problems that beset society
Track Two - Exploring the Common Good and Its Relevance for Specific Fields of Management
Principles that are discussed on an abstract level can remain bloodless and unsubstantial. Not infrequently the abstract principles, like the common good, become clear by application in concrete circumstances. We welcome papers that explore the meaning and relevance of the common good in specific fields of management and business, especially (but not exclusively) if they discuss the institutional dimension in fields such as the following:
Track Three - Providing Curricular Materials, Processes, and Ideas that Reflect the Significance and Practical Wisdom of Business and Leadership Reflection on the Common Good
In the area of curriculum development, we are specifically looking for syllabi, background notes, and teaching notes that engage the Catholic social tradition and the disciplines of business and liberal education. For examples, please see
Monday, May 8, 2017
Here is the link to the recent Murphy Institute conversation between Ross Douthat and Cornel West on "Christianity and Politics in the U.S. Today." We've edited the wide-ranging 2-hour conversation down to a manageable hour, including highlights such as: an analysis of recent U.S. military interventionism in light of Christian principles; a fascinating debate about whether the term "white supremacy" is applicable to any situation other than the relationship between blacks and whites in the United States; Ross Douthat asking Cornel West: "What about sex?", and the ensuing discussion; and the moving and thoughtful response to a young Latina woman's request for advice to her generation about dealing with the perception of increased racism, discrimination, and xenophobia.
Minnesota Public Radio will be broadcasting the conversation as part of their MPR News Presents series, tomorrow (May 9) at both noon and 9 pm (CST). That link is here.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
My colleague Rachel Lu wrote this very perceptive essay for The Federalist on the Murphy Institute's Douthat/West conversation. She captures the extraordinary generosity and depth of the conversation very well. I was asked by a reporter why we were so confident that this conversation would be as rich as it turned out to be, and I told her that it was because of a couple of attributes we knew these two speakers shared: fierce intelligence, a strong faith commitment, and senses of humor. Rachel confirms this in her essay:
It would be difficult to script a more genial conversation between representatives of the political left and right. Charging headlong into the hard questions, West and Douthat discussed capitalism, white supremacy, traditional sexual morals and more. Neither man at any point lost his poise or sense of humor. In the end, the audience was left wondering: Is there a way to recreate this dynamic elsewhere in America? Why were these two able to venture where so many others have feared to tread?
There is an obvious answer: West and Douthat can understand each other because they are both Jesus freaks. That is to say, their perspectives are shaped in significant ways by a serious Christian commitment.
We're still working on the video link! It's turning out to be a bit complicated. Stay tuned!
Sunday, April 9, 2017
On Friday, the Murphy Institute hosted a truly memorable conversation between Cornel West and Ross Douthat on "Christianity and Politics in the U.S. Today." We had about 1,200 people coming from all over the university, as well as the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul communities -- a testament to the appetite in this country for civil dialogue between people of different viewpoints. And both them lived up to their well-deserved reputations for incisive, principled, generous, and inspiring commentary. I was privileged to moderate the conversation, and it was one of the most enjoyable 2 hours I've ever spent on a stage! We will post a link to the video as soon as we can arrange it. In the meantime, here are a couple of the highlights to look for: the fascinating debate about whether the term "white supremacy" is applicable to any situation other than the relationship between blacks and whites in the United States; Ross Douthat asking Cornel West: "What about sex?", and the ensuing discussion; and the very last audience question, from a 16 year old Latina woman, and both responses.
Here's a picture taken right after the program, showing (from left to right), Dr. Julie Sullivan (President of UST), Cornel West, Ross Douthat, Seanne Harris (the program manager of the Murphy Institute, without whom -- and I mean this very literally -- the program would not have been possible), and me.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A few days ago, Christine Horner posted an appeal to Pope Francis on Huffington Post (a site that no doubt the Holy Father has bookmarked on his computer), calling for "an end to the religious ritual of the declaration of unworthiness" during Mass. She's talking about the Centurion's refrain of “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof...” She argues that "dialogue and constructs that perpetuate “I am not worthy” are the root of all evil behavior. It is divisiveness personified."
My colleague at St. Thomas, Deborah Savage from the Seminary/School of Divinity, has written a powerful response, published in Notre Dame's Church Life Journal. She argues, among other things:
The cause of violence in our culture is not the call to admit my weakness, my uncertainties, my mistakes. The cause of violence in our culture is the refusal to accept the reality of sin and to recognize that, in that regard, we are all the same: in need of forgiveness and compassion. The cause of violence in our culture is our inability to see the humanity of another and to love them—to will their good—even if we think they might be flawed.
Deborah's essay contains a lot to chew on for these troubled times.