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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Comes Creighton

Shortly after posting yesterday about the card "Announcing Dean Eric A. Chiappinelli," Dean Chiappinelli emailed me regarding what's really going in terms of the Jesuit Catholic mission of Creighton Law.  Dean Chiappinelli assures me that the Jesuit Catholic identity is important both to him and to his faculty.  His welcome page on the Creighton Law homepage does include this:  “[W]hat makes Creighton truly distinctive are the timeless values that infuse our approach to legal education. These values, which start with our Jesuit, Catholic identity, mark Creighton graduates as particularly called to serve others and as lawyers dedicated to civic engagement and to social progress.”  He writes that this is a theme that he emphasizes in person.  He then adds (and I quote with his permission):  "I also highlighted our Jesuit Catholic aspects in a long interview with the Omaha legal newspaper (I’m taking the liberty of attaching a PDF of that interview so you can judge for yourself). I could go on (e.g. I could tell you about our 1L orientation that includes a unit on Jesuit higher ed, or the fact that Creighton sent four of our 28 faculty to the RALS conference in April, or that the law school will have the first incumbent of a University endowed chair for visiting Jesuits) but I’m sure you get the picture."

I am sincerely grateful to know what I didn't know from the card I received in the mail or from the Creighton Law mission statement: the Jesuit Catholic mission of Creighton law is important to Dean Chiappinelli.  I wonder, though, what the content of "Jesuit Catholic" is.  What difference does it make?  How do Creighton Law faculty understand their work in relationship to the unifying disciplines of philosophy and theology?  Does Creighton law actively seek engaged Catholics to join its faculty?  Does it seek faculty whose work brings the Catholic perspective to bear on issues of contemporary legal and social concern?  Does it see itself as part of the apostolate of a religious order?  Do its students hear anything about TRUTH (cf. "value-centered")that they wouldn't hear but for the "Jesuit Catholic" identity?     

As we know, there is no complete model of Catholic legal education to look back to.  The deans and faculties of Catholic law schools that aspire to be Catholic today must shape their institutions' identities without benefit of a pattern.  Catholics know how to think about colleges and universities, but they grow unsteady when they are asked about professional legal education.  I again express our collective willingness to join with Dean Chappinelli and his faculty in dialogue about how to show ourselves and the world that our law schools are the work of people who have a mission, of people who are sent.


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