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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Sectarian or Civic?"

This piece is a few days old, but still worth a read, I think.  Over at the First Things blog, Michael Liccione reports on Helen Alvare's recent lecture, "The Catholic Voice in the Public Square:  Sectarian or Civic?"  A bit:

Alvaré suggested that we hammer home two points that ought to be obvious but aren’t: Most Americans are religious in some fashion, and few people are motivated by purely secular considerations to become . . . well, better people. This is why liberalism’s standard prescriptions for addressing various social problems—especially unwanted pregnancies, births out of wedlock, STDs, and family breakdown—just don’t work. The question is not whether religious voices may be heard; the law still says they may. And as we just saw in Congress, they can be heard. The challenge for the darkening future, though, is to mine our Catholic patrimony for language that can appeal to people’s hearts as much as to their minds. Two examples Alvaré gave were Joseph Ratzinger’s theme of conscience as “memory” and Karol Wojtyla’s theology of the body, in which life is defined as interpersonal communion established by mutual self-gift. It’ll be interesting to see whether the secular appeal of such themes can be enhanced in the public square.


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