Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Friendly Amendment - Theology and Catholic Legal Theory

Patrick Brennan offered a friendly amendment to my posting on homosexuality and Catholic Legal Theory.  I appreciate Patrick's post, but speaking solely for myself I must in friendship decline his amendment.  I agree with Patrick that "what we face are, in the first instance, questions of theology, not of Catholic legal theory."  In developing Catholic Legal Theory, a Catholic worldview (including its theology and philosophy) are brought to interact with the law and legal institutions. 

As a lay person involved in the law, I view my vocation as attempting to bring Christ into the world within the particulars (as a law professor at a public unviversity) of my life.  To do this, I struggle to learn some theology and philosophy, and I also beg God daily for the grace to conform my life and my will to His.  (As you know, I need a lot more grace in this department).  For me, this is a full plate.

When it comes to the teachings of the Church (on issues of faith and morals), I try to understand and adhere to them to the best of my ability knowing that professionally these teachings - with a rich 2000 year history of intellectual thought and fervor addressing almost every aspect of life - provide a firm and thick launching pad for my work. 

I do not, however, have a professional vocation when it comes to the internal workings of the Church - to the development of doctrine within the Church, to debating whether particular matters are even open for development, etc.  I'll leave these internal issues to those who have been called to address them.  This does not mean that I am a wilting flower blindly deferring to priests and the institution.  More than once, I have privately (as a parishoner not as a law prof) helped our priest to become a better pastor by criticizing (sometimes severely) his behavior. 

In the end, I view my professional call as outward looking, helping the world see through the Church's eyes (as Frank Sheed once said), and not inward.  Again, I speak only for myself and my calling.   

Pax Christi,



Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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