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.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Realism in Christian Public Theology"

The Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy (co-directed by Lisa Schiltz and formerly co-directed by Tom Berg) is hosting an engaging conference entitled "Realism in Christian Public Theology:  Catholic and Protestant Perspectives."  Today's offerings include Rob Vischer on lawyering, Victor Romero on immigration, David Skeel on "Law, irony, and the Church in Reinhold Niebuhr," and Bill Cananaugh on "A Nation with the Church's Soul:  Realism and Ecclesiology."  Yesterday, Susan Stabile (following her talk at Georgetown last week) provided us with some thought provoking questions in her talk entitled "An Effort to Articulate a Catholic Realist Approach to Abortion."  The questions centered around where, when, and how can we work with and find common ground with our pro-choice opponents.  I'll let her elaborate if she feels so inclined.

The conference started with two excellent talks by Jean Elshtain and Gerry Bradley.  The two papers provided a good comparison and contrast Niebuhrian realism and unicity of morality found in Catholic moral thought.  During the lively Q & A, Bradley articulated his understanding of the development of Catholic thought on capital punishment, which as Bradley noted, has not yet been fully fleshed out.  If I understood him correctly, he said:   1) The Church teaches that intentional killing is always morally wrong.  2) Under the principle of double effect, self-defense or the defense of others using lethal force if necessary  is not morally wrong (you are trying to stop and aggressor, not kill a person). 3)  capital punishment is justified but only for the purposes of defending the community.  4)  SInce western nations have other means for protecting the community from aggressors, there is no (or almost no) justifiable reason to use the death penalty in those nations.


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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