Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The latest issue of the St. John's Journal of Catholic Legal Studies contains a symposium, entitled Can God and Caesar Coexist?, featuring articles by three leading scholars commenting on Robert Drinan's book of that name, as well as his own introduction to the three pieces, which he completed only shortly before his death. The journal issue, dedicated to Drinan's memory, can be accessed here.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I've blogged here before concerning the wanton closing of my childhood parish. Sorry to be a bore, but the story isn't mine alone. Now Amy Welborn is linking to the most recent report about the closing and systematic desecration of St. Brigid, perhaps the most beautiful church in San Francisco and a parish that was, by all reasonable, relevant standards, doing just fine when Archbishop Quinn decided it would be useful for it to come to an end. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/25/MNGRSKRH2E223.DTL
This isn't just the now-usual business of selling everything to pay for the mistakes. A long time ago, but within clear memory, Archbishop Quinn's administration decided to reorangize the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bells that used to ring out joy were ripped down and thrown away. Why?
One thing the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't report this time -- it did years ago -- concerns how that administration's administration allowed the pastor of the neighboring (rich) parish to the vote to close St. Brigid, the parish that would most benefit from St. Brigid's destruction/suppression (btw,the parish of which he was previously an associate pastor). Canon Law covers this stuff-- and for good reason.
Rome, thank God, ALMOST came to the rescue. One almost has to read the Chronicle -- the current story as well as many in the '90s and since -- to believe how Quinn manoeuvered to end the parish. Its sale would generate the most money -- as the Chronicle alone revealed, back in the day -- to pay the settlements that, as we see now, loomed.
Arch. Quinn's reported egalitarian protestations to Rome, about why not to save a "rich" parish when others would go hungry, should be read against the record that reflects -- and unequivocally -- that the parish promised not only to retrofit and support itself, but also to retrofit any parish of the Archbishop's selection. Etc. Be sure to add the fact that the Archdiocese harvested nearly one million dollars from closing the parish's savings account. This is a story that reflects ill on almost all the American clergy involved, so far as I can tell.
Fr. Cyril O'Sullivan, however, is a hero in the story. He won't remember me, but I remember much of what he did back when the destruction loomed and then began. (Before and while he was defending the parish against the demolition artists, he was a wonderful minister to those who came to St. Brigid to pray and worship). Many members of the laity at St. Brigid, including some mentioned in the Chronicle, also deserve great thanks.
St. Brigid church is now an "art university."
I'm in France this month on a visiting professorship -- I'll try to offer something substantive soon, but for right now I can only report that Rob's fears about MOJ's naughty image appear to be coming true. While on a trip this past weekend, I tried to read the blog from the hotel computer, and the filter program blocked MOJ as a site containing "education sexuelle/notions avancées." And this in Paris no less!
March 23, 2007
March 23, 2007 / Volume CXXXIV, Number 6
Beleaguered is the polite word now most often used to describe the Bush administration. Yet making sense of the administration’s failures requires stronger language. As the events and revelations of the last few weeks remind us, almost nothing this administration does works and almost nothing it says adds up.
What is one to make of the deplorable treatment of wounded and damaged Iraq war veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center? How could an administration that endlessly boasts of its “support for the troops” allow those who have paid the highest price for this unnecessary war to be neglected in this way? Evidently, similar problems pervade the military health-care system. Veterans Administration hospitals, which under the Clinton administration were models of what good government stewardship could accomplish, are now also in disarray. Like everything else associated with the Iraq debacle, the military medical system was simply not equipped to deal with the unintended consequences of the war, namely the tens of thousands of severely traumatized soldiers who will require decades of care. Some generals have been fired, and a bipartisan commission has been established to investigate the scandal, but this should not distract attention from the fact that the buck stops in the White House.
A rare moment of accountability occurred in the conviction of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Libby lied to FBI agents and to a grand jury investigating the administration’s efforts to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration’s unfounded claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The legal issues of the case, which initially involved an investigation into the “outing” of Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent, were far from clear, and Wilson himself is no paragon of truthfulness. What is undeniable, though, is that Libby lied about his role in the administration’s feverish effort to smear an opponent of the war.
More evidence of the administration’s cavalier attitude toward the law came to light in the congressional testimony of six U.S. attorneys fired by the Department of Justice. The federal prosecutors complained of Republican political interference with investigations, and of threats of retaliation if they went public with their stories. Later in the same week it was revealed that the FBI has carried out unauthorized surveillance on thousands of U.S. citizens under predictably elastic applications of provisions of the Patriot Act.
If things are going badly at home, not much is going better in Baghdad, where the carnage continues virtually unabated. Holding his first news conference after assuming control of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus said the “surge” strategy will require more than the 21,500 troops already committed. It was then learned that President Bush had already dispatched nearly five thousand more troops. Petraeus also strongly hinted that the surge, which was presented to Congress and the nation as a temporary escalation, will be open-ended in duration. In other words, there will be no end to the war in Iraq on Bush’s watch, and therefore no need to face up to any ultimate failure.
Bush’s defenders complain that Democrats have no alternative strategy. On the contrary, several plausible proposals for gradual disengagement are being debated in Congress, all of which recognize, as General Petraeus himself has said, that there must be a political solution to the conflict. As columnist Jonathan Chait writes of Bush’s apologists, “Trust the commander in chief, don’t undermine the troops, withdrawal equals defeat, aren’t arguments to support Bush’s strategy. They’re generic pro-war arguments.” And that is all the administration has ever offered.
The heartwrenching stories from Walter Reed remind us that a very small number of Americans are paying a very high price for this open-ended war. Many soldiers are now being sent back to Iraq for the third time, while others are having their deployments extended. There has been remarkably little protest about this unjust and ruinous policy. If joining the armed services is the job these men and women chose, then they have to live with the consequences of that choice, or so goes the common wisdom. But war is not a “job” in any morally coherent sense. Even if service in the military is voluntary, placing the burden of the nation’s decision to go to war only on those who have chosen to serve is not right. Their choice does not absolve us of our responsibilities to treat them fairly. What was shameful about the abuse of the wounded at Walter Reed was easily understood. What is shameful about sending the same young men and women to fight again and again in Iraq should be too.
Here's an interesting post, from the "Crunch Con" blog, on the "separation of church and culture":
I heard a good talk last night by Ken Myers, the happy genius of the indispensable Mars Hill Audio Journal household. Our host was Dr. David Naugle, head of the philosophy department at Dallas Baptist University (N.B., for Dallas area readers, Ken's going to be speaking today at DBU at noon, on "Why There Really IS A War Between Science and Religion: C. S. Lewis's Vision of a 'Repentant Science'"; the lecture is free -- follow the link to Dr. Naugle's webpage for details). I've become a big fan of the Mars Hill interviews, and can't encourage thoughtful Christians interested in the intersection of faith and culture strongly enough to subscribe. So it was a treat to hear Ken speak in person. He talked last evening about how from the days of the founders, the American way of thinking about the role of religion in public life was not only to privatize it, but to individualize it. He explained how the inevitable result of this was to make Christian faith peripheral to the substantive questions in public life. Moreover, the principles behind this privatization of religion inevitably lead to the corruption of religion, because it becomes primarily a matter of expressing how individual men feel about God, rather than being an expression of how God feels about individual men, and what He calls us to do.
The upshot is that even among the most religiously enthusiastic Americans, the faith has become so inculturated that it has been turned inside out, and is no longer prophetic, but therapeutic. Ken talked about an interview he did in 2005 with sociologist Christian Smith, who had just written a book on the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. What he found was a consistent set of religious beliefs across denominations, and even traditions (i.e., Muslim teenagers told him the same thing). But it wasn't the beliefs of the particular traditions the kids came out of; rather, it was what Smith calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." It's principles, as Ken listed them, were startlingly familiar: God exists, but you really shouldn't get overly involved with Him unless you get into real trouble or something; the point of life is to be happy; it's important to be nice; good people go to heaven, and most everybody is good; et cetera. . . .
It's being reported over at the Volokh Conspiracy that Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen will be leaving the University of Minnesota and moving across town to the University of St. Thomas. This is, in my view, a fabulous hire, one that -- coupled with the news about our own Susan Stabile and Joel Nichols -- really brings home how successful the St. Thomas experiment has been. In terms of law-and-religion, it seems clear to me that St. Thomas is now home to one of the strongest groups of scholars in the country.
Many of us are interested in the enterprise of Catholic legal education, even if we teach at non-Catholic institutions. What lessons does the St. Thomas experience hold out for us, and for other Catholic law schools?
Monday, March 26, 2007
An interesting profile of Sen. Brownback, from a New Hampshire paper:
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback introduced himself to state voters Monday as a "full-scale conservative" and made no apologies for his hardline stances against taxes, abortion and gay marriage.
The Kansas Republican, making his first trip to the earliest primary state since announcing his presidential ambitions, told conservative activists at a luncheon he's "pro-life, whole life," saying candidates can't fight for fetus' rights and then abandon them after they are born.
"I believe the child in the womb should be protected, and that we should also protect the person that's in poverty, and the child that's in Darfur, and working with prisoners so they don't have so much recidivism and always back in the system," Brownback said.
I am emerging from the swamp of the deanery long enough to post this Call for Papers to be presented at the Fifth (mirabile dictu!) Annual Conference on Catholic Social Thought and the Law here at Villanova Law in September 2007. Many MOJ-ers and friends-of-MOJ have presented at or attended these conferences. This year's topic will be one that has engaged several of us on this blog over the years -- what does CST tell us about the relationship of the market, the state and the law? Confirmed speakers include David Hollenbach, who will speak about "Economic Justice for All 20 Years Later," the economist/theologian Daniel Finn, who has recently published "The Moral Ecology of Markets" with Cambridge UP, our own Susan Stabile, and yours truly. But there is plenty of room for other papers and respondent. I hope my co-blogistas and our readers will be kind enough to circulate this call to their colleagues and other interested parties.
VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL
JOURNAL OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT
The Fifth Annual Conference on Catholic Social Thought and the Law
Catholic Social Teaching on the Market, the State and the Law
CALL FOR PAPERS
Villanova University Conference Center
Friday, September 21, 2007
The nature and implications of Catholic social teaching on the significance of the market for human dignity, and on the role of the state in the regulation of the market, is one of the most controversial aspects of the social doctrine. Catholic social teaching on these issues can best be described as sui generis and non-assimilable to secular conceptions of âleftâ or âright,â but both the left and right have claimed that teaching for their own. This has led to fundamentally inconsistent characterizations of Catholic social teaching as either left-communitarian or as supportive of a strong form of economic liberalism. Can both characterizations be correct? Does disagreement over the proper role of the state prevent creation of a coherent theory of how the market contributes to the common good?
Even more troublesome is the argument that the teaching on the market and its relation to the state is so general and abstract, and so deferential to secular/technical knowledge, that virtually all specific questions of economic and regulatory policy should be regarded matters of prudence, and that the social doctrine gives no or little guidance to their resolution. If that is true, then the value of Catholic social teaching in this field is questionable, to say the least. Is such a wholesale deference to prudential judgment consistent with Catholic social teachingâs robust conception of the common good?
These contesting claims about Catholic social teaching have broad implications for Catholic legal theory. Can the social doctrine provide a framework for determining when and how the market should be freed or constrained by law? Can we derive from it a set of normative propositions about the nature and purpose of the corporation that would provide a foundation for the law of corporate governance and social responsibility? What implications does Catholic social teaching about the market have for the legal structuring of the employment relationship? These are just a few of the questions that will be considered at the Conference.
The Conference will bring together legal academics, economists, theologians and philosophers. Articles presented at the Conference will be considered for publication in the Journal of Catholic Social Thought, a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal. Please submit paper proposals or requests for more information to Dean Mark A. Sargent, [email protected] or Professor Michael Moreland, [email protected] at Villanova University School of Law.
Information for those wishing to attend the Conference will be published shortly.
Last week Michael P. posted an op-ed by Susan Jacoby arguing that religious believers too often mistake disagreement for discrimination. Jonathan Watson responds here. On the Washington Post's website, Jacoby has a post exploring a similar theme, but focused more particularly on the "phony issue" of anti-Catholicism. An excerpt:
The accusation of anti-Catholic discrimination, like the labeling of all critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, is a cover for what is essentially a dispute between conservatives and liberals (both within and outside the Catholic Church). I wouldn't vote for a Catholic like [Bill] Donohue, but then I wouldn't vote for an atheist, a Jew, a Muslim, a Protestant or (what was it?) a believer in "Tibetan Buddhist deities" who shared Donohue's views.
A Catholic wit, looking back on the certitudes of American Catholicism in the fifties, once remarked that "it was the only THE church." Not any more. And never, thankfully, in America. Catholicism, like every other religion, enjoys no immunity from secular criticism in our nation.