Wednesday, January 21, 2009
MOJ reader Stephen Braunlich responds with these thought provoking comments:
"Prof. Shiffrin seems to be less concerned about drawing in progressives than he is more heterodox Catholics. His concern is not about getting more Catholics who think within the Magisterium in progressive ways, but about more Catholics who dissent from the Magisterium. These are, of course, two very different things; depending on the mission of MOJ the former ought to be more welcome than the latter.
If MOJ is attempting to develop Catholic legal theory -- and by that I mean a legal theory informed by the teachings of the Catholic Church -- it makes little sense to intentionally develop dissent around those teachings: you would be carving away at the very foundation you're trying to build upon. I cannot agree with Prof. Shiffrin that doing this would add anything to the richness of the site, either; the site is already a rich vein of thought. I love to watch the tension within orthodoxy that plays out between the (political) conservatives and progressives. Prof. Uelman's posts, for example, which are informed by the Focolare movement (which is aligned with the Magisterium), are fascinating, orthodox, and something that I don't find elsewhere.
Nor do I think that changing the definition from Catholic to something unmoored from the Magisterium would lend any richness to the idea of Catholic legal theory. In looking around, one can find sacramental theology, liturgical styles, and intellectual depth in a variety of different faiths. What sets Catholicism apart from them, though, is the authority claimed and coupled with all of the above. Indeed, it is also what makes it so applicable to developing a legal theory informed by it.
I do hope that MOJ does not make a concerted effort to attract more Catholics who disagree with the Church. I fear the result would lessen the Catholic identity of the blog, it's mission of developing a legal theory informed by the Church, and bog it down in dissent of doctrine rather than the development of its application."
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