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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pilgrim´s Progress

Stillness!  I spent more than a half an hour this morning watching the sun rise over a medeival bridge along a quiet river listening to the river, the wind in the trees, the birds, a rooster signalling the dawn, farm animals, and pilgrim´s making ready for another day.  The sounds were´n´t a symphony, but the colors in the sky were.  Two days and 42 Kilometers to Santiago.

In honor of my daughter Anamaria´s 25th birthday, I offered my walk on Tuesday for a deepening understanding in our culture of the complementarity of the sexes and on Wednesday for a healing of the culture, which is steeped in mind body dualism.  On Thursday, I offered the walk for President Obama and other world leaders that they may possess the wisdom to know right action and the courage to take that action.  Today, I offer the walk for my fellow pilgrims, and tomorrow my walk will be a reprise for all that I have prayed for during the past month.

October 30, 2009 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tale of Two Caminos: A Testimony to Community

The Camino is a metaphor and a microcosm of life.  And, like life itself, there are many facets to the journey.  This reflection will focus on the paradoxical freedom flowing from living in a committed community. 

Everyone walking to Santiago is on two Caminos, the common camino of our daily journey bringing us closer to Santiago, and our personal or individual camino.  We were drawn to the Camino for different reasons and the Camino speaks to each of us in unique ways.  My camino accentuates these two caminos having journeyed as a solo pilgrim for nearly three weeks, accompanied by those who have walked before me over the last 1000 years, those walking with me now, and those providing hospitality to tired, sore, and hungry pilgrims.  For the past two weeks, I have journeyed in the company of two good friend Mark and Bill, who I have know for 30 and 23 years respectively.

Both Caminos have been tremendous experiences, stepping away from everyday life and slowing down to the speed of three to five kilometers an hour from the normal 120 kilometers an hour I normally travel.  THis has allowed me to see and smell (lots of farm smells) and notice more details of life than usual.

One of the gifts of going solo for three weeks was sensing the importance of the incarnation in my life - the need, like Tom Hanks in Castaway, to connect with others, especially the OTHER, and the Other through other human beings.  I experienced this with the group I walked with the first day and a half (and reconnected with two of these folks around Leon). I also experienced this with my evening dinner companions (a changing group of around 10) over the next week or so.  I also experienced it in its absence on two occasions when I chose to eat alone in the evening.  But, I lacked real intimacy and deeper community with these very good people.  I didn´t consult them on my comings and goings.  If the camino brought us together so be it, and if it didn´t, so be it.  I woke up when I wanted, left when I wanted, stopped where I wanted, and slept where I wanted.  If I had fallen off the face of the earth, some of these folks would have noticed, but they would have assumed that I was a few K ahead or behind. 

Mark, Bill, and I each have our own Caminos in addition to our common Camino.  We walk many days in silent reflection+.  Mark took a different path one day, Bill has walked by himself two days, we will each walk by ourselves tommorrow, and Bill is spending the night 3K ahead of us tonight. But, there is deeo joy -  I don´t think I can adequately put it into words - walking with close friends, even when we are silent or apart.  For the most part we share our meals together, sometimes with other pilgrims and sometimes just the three of us.  And, on Saturday, we will celebrate as we walk into Santiago togehter after a short 20K.  On Sunday, we will celebrate together at the Pilgrim´s Mass at the Cathedral as our nationalities, starting dates, and starting places are recognized at mass.  Our families are intertwined with godparent relationships, baptisms, weddings, deaths, many camping trips, summer beach trips, a guys weekend (BARF) at Bill´s house in the Texas hill country and a women´s weekend at the same house.  We know each other´s quirks, strengthes, and weaknesses.  We have commited to being responsible to each other and we consult each other before deciding how to proceed on our own caminos.  In some mysterious or paradoxical way, in the act of seemingly limiting our freedom by agreeing to this joint venture, we have gained a great deal more freedom - and joy.  Those five days of moisture would have been a killer for me but for sharing the experience with these great friends.

We are made as individual persons for community, and I am thankful that in my life´s journey, I have been blessed with a great wife, family, and friends to share the walk with.  And, I am thankful that the Camino has provided an opportunity for reflection.

UPDATE on THE CULTURE - I commented earlier that I had seen very few single family dwelling and almost no farmhouses outside of villages in Spain.  Galacia seems to be different.  There are many more single family houses and farmhouses dotting the countryside. 

UPDATE on the PACking List -  In addition to what I mentioned in my last post, I also packed a journal, a pen, John Brierly´s guide to the CAmino (it was the easiest to read for me despite the fact that he sometimes annoys me), the Magnificat in English so I could read the reading and do morning prayer (Mark, Bill, and I often find a nice park or a bench in a village and say morning prayer together), and the Magnicat in Spanish so I can follow the order of the Mass in Spanish and say the responses.  I intentionally did not bring a watch.  The only times I need one are to make sure I get to mass on time and to make sure I get to the albergue before it closes for the night.  And, so I just ask someone else.

We are two days and 42.8K from Santiago.

October 29, 2009 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The Nuns' Story", about Maureen Dowd

Like, unfortunately, many things that Maureen Dowd writes, this recent screed (which, as Michael noted a few days ago, was very, very widely read), "The Nuns' Story", tells us much more about the bile that sloshes around in Maureen Dowd -- bless her heart -- than it does about the alleged topic of the piece or about the real world generally. 

There are, to be sure, many reasonable questions for reasonable, faithful people to raise and debate regarding those matters -- the role (and treatment by the Church) of women religious, the recent outreach to "conservative" Anglicans, etc.  -- that the piece purports, in places, to be about.  But, at the end of the day, the piece is really just a blunderbuss bucket of half-informed, pandering hate.  I know we are supposed to be lamenting the state of public discourse, wringing our hands about the popularity of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh (and Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann) but it's hard to see how this New York Times feature columnist is any better.  

More here, at America.

October 28, 2009 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Family Law as Social Insurance

Anne Alstott has posted a new paper, Private Tragedies? Family Law as Social Insurance, that may be of interest to MoJ readers.  From the abstract:

In this essay, I suggest that family law constitutes a form of social insurance, supplementing public programs that address life risks including poverty, unemployment, and disability. Both family law and social insurance recognize some relationships (and not others) and protect against some risks (and not others). Further, both systems of law can be understood as distributing risks ex ante - rather than simply addressing failure ex post.

To make the discussion concrete, I focus on two cases, one involving spousal support and disability, and the other involving child support for multiple families. The cases illustrate the interdependence of financial entitlements in family law and in social welfare and demonstrate that a range of changes in family law, social insurance rules, or other elements of law could alter the distribution of life’s risks - and thus the likelihood and consequences of apparently “private” tragedies.

The essay also builds on these examples to outline a larger project. Today, large-scale social insurance programs shield individuals against disruptions in working life, including retirement, disability, and unemployment. And yet disruptions in affective life - a divorce, a breakup, a parent’s exit, even living without a family - can impose equally severe shocks on individual lives. While at first it may seem uncomfortable to consider personal relationships a matter for state concern, I suggest that the normative theories and analytical tools used in structuring conventional social insurance can also be brought to bear in considering the possibility of insurance for disruptions in affective life.

The thesis has some potentially disturbing statist implications for how we understand "family," but I won't comment further until I actually read the paper.

October 28, 2009 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

R. George at the William J. Clinton School of Public Service

On Thursday of this week, I'll be giving a lecture at the William J. Clinton Library and School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Here is the announcement:
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
October 29, 2009
Clinton School of Public Service (Sturgis Hall)

A leading scholar on constitutional law, the philosophy of law and political philosophy, Princeton University professor Robert George will revisit former New York Governor Mario Cuomo's famous speech on religious faith, ethics and public policy at Notre Dame University 25 years ago. In his speech, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective,” Cuomo discussed the separation of church and state as it relates to moral issues, particularly legalized abortion. Cuomo argued that his belief in the church’s teachings did not require him to support legislation in favor of those teachings in a pluralistic society.

When:    Thursday, October 29, 2009
     6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. – Lecture 

Where:   Clinton School of Public Service
  Sturgis Hall

*Reserve your seats by emailing [email protected] or calling 501.683.5239.

October 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Women may come out winners in the Synod for Africa

By John L. Allen Jr.

If there's one big idea that seemed to surface at the nearly monthlong Synod for Africa in Rome, it was a call to take women more seriously -- in society, and also in the church. In keeping with the candor exhibited throughout the synod about the church's need to confront its own failures, the bishops called for, among other things, new structures to foster decision-making authority by women in the church.
Read More

October 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Practical Camino and an Update

Since the clouds lifted and the rain ended around 10 am on Sunday as we descended from O´Cebrerio with its partially 9th Century Church (the oldest extant church associated with the Camino), we have had two glorious days of walking.  The views on Sunday as we walked were stunning as we could see green pastures and woods all around us for miles.  On Monday, we were a bit lower walking through high hills or small mountains, along chestnut tree lined paths with moss covered stone hedges, along mountain rivers and through little villages.  The roofs here are slate, which is in abundance and not the red tile associated with much of Spain.  Sunday as we awoke to fog and moderate rain, I could tell spirits were starting to sag among the 100 or so pilgrims in the albergue.  We had been walking for the better part of five days with overcast skies and some form of moisture - at least mist.  Our clothes were wet and dirty.  So the sun came just in time. 

On Sunday we did have our first encounter with mean unleashed dogs.  Mark and I were walking along a path maybe 15 feet off the road and 6 feet above it when we heard dogs barking (not unusual) and then we heard a woman screaming at the dogs.  She was on the road with her two trekking poles up fending off two big dogs and doing a great job of it.  Mark helped out by picking up a big rock and throwing it in the direction of the dogs (missing the woman) and scaring them off.

A reader asked me to provide some details of the practical path - what I packed, when I walk, etc.  The basic packing list (all clothes are quick dry) includes:  two pair of underwear, two pair of pants (one with zip off legs), two shirts, three pair of socks, boots, sandals or flip flops for evening and shower, toilet paper just in case, a towel, soap, sleeping bag, pillow case, flashlight, clothes pins, first aid kit, safety pins, plastic bags to put the above in, and water bottle.  Because of the time of year I walking, I also have couple of heavier layers of clothing, a wind-rain jacket, and water proof pants. I also brought a camera and I have a European cell phone but keep it off most of the time except calling home or communicating with Mark and Bill (one day Mark took a different route than Bill and I and called to tell us where he was waiting for us).  I think that is the complete list.

At this time of year, pilgrims can walk throughout the day, often arriving at their day´s destination after 5pm  During the summer, my sense is that pilgrim´s walk early arriving by noon or early afternoon to avoid the heat and to assure themselves a place to stay because the route is more crowded.  Pilgrims first started coming to Santiago in the 9th century and during the middle ages it was one of the three main pilgrim destinations (Rome and Jerusalem being the others) with millions making the way.  The Camino has gained modern popularity in the last 20 years or so with 100,000 (I think) finishing the route last year.  When St. James´feast day is on Sunday as it will be in 2010, the number of pilgrim´s increase  by at least 50 percent.  Some are predicting 200,000 pilgrims next year. 

My next post will focus on my two caminos - alone and with my compadres Mark and Bill.  Saturday, I offered my walk for all those suffering from chronic or debiltating diseases, Sunday for an end to abortion and the healing of all those implicated in the taking of innocent preborn life, and yesterday for an end to the death penalty.

October 27, 2009 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 26, 2009

"The Nuns' Story"

This is, as I post, the most e-mailed story of all the stories that have appeared recently in the NYT:

The Nuns' Story.

October 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Same-Sex Unions: As the World Turns ...

NYT, 10/27/09

In Battle Over Gay Marriage, Timing May Be Key

In a San Francisco courtroom two weeks ago, a prominent lawyer opposed to same-sex marriage made a concession that could mark a turning point in the legal wars over the purpose and meaning of marriage.

The lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, has studied the matter deeply, and his erudite briefs are steeped in history. He cannot have been blindsided by the question Judge Vaughn R. Walker asked him: What would be the harm of permitting gay men and lesbians to marry?

“Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know,” Mr. Cooper said. “I don’t know.”

A couple of hours later, Judge Walker denied Mr. Cooper’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The concession and the ruling that followed it have transformed a federal lawsuit that had been viewed with suspicion by many gay rights advocates into something with the scent of promise.

The suit, filed in May by Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, made the bold claim that California’s voters violated the federal Constitution last year when they overrode a decision of the state’s Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriages.

The suit was, gay rights advocates said then, the wrong claim in the wrong court in the wrong state at the wrong time. There was wariness about Mr. Olson, a former solicitor general in the Bush administration, and there was frustration about what some viewed as his meddling in a carefully plotted and methodical strategy focused on state-by-state litigation and lobbying.

Those objections are waning. The ship has sailed, said Kenji Yoshino, a law professor at New York University, and gay rights advocates “need to focus on getting it to the right destination.” He added that Judge Walker’s refusal to dismiss the case “was a major victory for Olson and Boies.”

In the courtroom, Mr. Cooper’s arguments seemed to fall of their own weight. The government should be allowed to favor opposite-sex marriages, Mr. Cooper said, in order “to channel naturally procreative sexual activity between men and women into stable, enduring unions.”

Judge Walker appeared puzzled. “The last marriage that I performed,” the judge said, “involved a groom who was 95 and the bride was 83. I did not demand that they prove that they intended to engage in procreative activity. Now, was I missing something?”

Mr. Cooper said no.

“And I might say it was a very happy relationship,” Judge Walker said.

“I rejoice to hear that,” Mr. Cooper responded, returning to his theme that only procreation matters.

Later in the argument, Mr. Olson added his own observation. “My mother was married three years ago,” he said. “And she, at the time, was 87 and married someone who was the same age.”

[The rest is here.]

October 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Martin Marty on "Anglicans and Rome"

Sightings 10/26/09


Anglicans and Rome

-- Martin E. Marty


The top ecumenical – some are saying un- or anti-ecumenical – news of the year occurred October 20th with a Vatican announcement.  Bypassing forty years of Anglican-Roman Catholic conversations-cum-negotiations and blindsiding Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the seventy-million-member Anglican Communion, Vatican officials announced that they were taking steps to receive Anglican (in the United States, Episcopal) clergy through conversion into the Roman Catholic priesthood.  Headlines had it that Rome wanted to “lure,” “attract,” “bid for” or “woo” priests and congregations to make the drastic move, while the Vatican front man, as he fished for Anglicans, said he was not fishing for Anglicans.


What was behind the move?  It was hard to read as a positive ecumenical gesture – Pope Benedict XVI has made some – since it did not revoke or revise what the Pope in 1896 declared and what is always reinforced:  Anglican “orders,” for sacramental credentialing, were “absolutely null and utterly void.”  As recently as last year, Rome’s ecumenical officer and Anglicanism’s ecumenical partner, “good guy” Cardinal Walter Kasper, spoke softly but carried a huge stick when he charged that some parts of Anglicanism had made things worse:  Is it that the orders are now absolutely-absolutely and utterly-utterly null and void?  The pope visits the U.K. next year. Wait and see.


What was at issue?  There were subtleties on the side, irritations which had not yet prompted a radical twist, but observers agreed that a) ordaining women as priests and b) ordaining a gay bishop and more gay priests were the grand offenses.  In the good old days Christian bodies fought over the Trinity, the Incarnation, Salvation, and Sacraments.  In our epoch they and the media who cover them converge obsessively on issues of sex-and-gender, where contraception and abortion, “women” and “gays,” are the flame issues.  Some Anglican moves have long alienated significant minorities; four dioceses and some parishes beyond them have pulled out of the Episcopal Church in the USA.  They already sought and found what is legitimate and strategic in their sight, the cover provided by especially African Anglicans who also abhor gay and women priests.


Some Episcopal priests seemed ripe for plucking, and Rome set out to harvest, even if the Church will thus be accepting some married priests, while leaving their own home-grown priests-who-marry in exile.  Those with even slight suspicion suspect that the Vatican initiative is also a desperation move to help solve the shortage of priests in the Roman communion.  Some of the only half-gruntled Anglicans have uttered some “not-so-fast!” or “count-me-out!” cautions.  As one leader among them reminded, “there was a Reformation, you remember,” as he spoke for those who knew that being received by Rome, even with gestures that would allow Anglican converts some liturgical and traditional free range, still demands a great doctrinal gulp.  Converts would have to accept papal infallibility and, with it, the infallible doctrine (1950) of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and other teachings which long offended non-Roman Catholics.


Archbishop Rowan Williams, though embarrassed by the surprise announcement of dealings behind his back, was characteristically Williamsian and old-style Anglican, as he reacted not in anger but with patience.  The Anglican communion for centuries aspired to promote “comprehension,” doing what it could to prevent heresy and schism but in a spirit of openness.  The papal visit next year will occasion fresh thinking and policies.

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

October 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)