Tuesday, February 26, 2013
It is reported in the NYT this morning (here) that "Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage". One of those Republicans is former Utah governor--and also former, and possibly future, presidential candidate--Jon Huntsman. In an article published just last week in The American Conservative (here), Governor Huntsman wrote:
"While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. I did so not because of political pressure—indeed, at the time 70 percent of Utahns were opposed—but because as governor my role was to work for everybody, even those who didn’t have access to a powerful lobby. Civil unions, I believed, were a practical step that would bring all citizens more fully into the fabric of a state they already were—and always had been—a part of.
That was four years ago. Today we have an opportunity to do more: conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry. I’ve been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.
All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall. This does not mean that any religious group would be forced by the state to recognize relationships that run counter to their conscience. Civil equality is compatible with, and indeed promotes, freedom of conscience.
Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one’s own experience with family, neighbors, and friends. The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans."
Monday, February 25, 2013
Raised in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Fr. Ashley attended the University of Chicago where he studied the great books under Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins; studied literature under Thornton Wilder; and studied grammar under Gertrude Stein. In Cloth Bound: How the Great Books seminar turned a radical poet into a philosopher and priest, the biographer says: "Stein liked Ashley’s poetry and encouraged him to write more. As for the verse novel he had written in high school, she told Wilder that she enjoyed it but advised Ashley to 'leave out the fleshy stuff.'"
As for his conversion:
Chicago had exposed him to religion in its many varieties; in the beginning of his first year, his close Jewish friend had taken him to Yom Kippur services at a synagogue, and a Catholic friend occasionally brought him to mass. But it was only after reading Aquinas that he found an intellectual challenge to his Marxism and atheism. “I was gradually convinced by my own reflections that Aquinas had provided a better case for theism than Marx or Darwin had provided against it,” he says. Then faith entered: as he recovered with difficulty from an appendectomy at the University of Chicago Hospitals in 1937, he started to pray. ...
Ashley started studying Catholicism in River Forest with a priest of the Dominican Order, the same order Aquinas belonged to. He attended daily mass at St. Thomas the Apostle church in Hyde Park and in 1938 was baptized. “The Socialist Workers’ Party expelled me as a scandal,” he recalls, “and I was forced to rethink my Marxism.” He still sympathized with the movement’s call to equality and social justice, but its dogmas and party commitments were incompatible with his new religious path. Ashley transferred to the University of Notre Dame to finish his studies; in 1941, he took vows as a Dominican, adopted the name Benedict, and commenced studies to become a priest.
Although I never met Fr. Ashley, I am grateful for our correspondence and for his contribution to Recovering Self-Evident-Truths: Catholic Perspectives on American Law. His chapter is titled "A Philosphical Anthropology of the Human Person: Can We Know the Nature of Human Persons?"
I'll be giving a short talk at the Catholic Lawyers Guild of New York this Friday, March 1, at the kind invitation of Robert Crotty. Mass is at 7:45, there is a little light breakfast thereafter, and then I'll offer some thoughts about the HHS contraceptives mandate, after which we'll talk together.
The location is the Church of Our Saviour, 59 Park Avenue (Park Avenue at 38th Street). Please stop in and say hello.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Speaking of Supreme Court precedent and the cause of human life in the courts, the meaningful success of the Pro-Life movement since the darkest days of Roe v. Wade is now confirmed out of the mouth of one of its strongest adversaries. In a January issue of The National Law Journal, Roger Evans who has been lead counsel or co-counsel for Planned Parenthood in many of the leading Supreme Court cases explains how much the jurisprudential landscape has changed –- against the abortion provider position -– in the decades since Roe v. Wade:
I think it clear that the courts have weakened the doctrinal protections of this right. Indeed, outside the political context, I think we can no longer refer just to Roe, but must refer to Roe/Casey, recognizing that Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed significantly the judicial analysis applicable to this area of the law. Roe/Casey is characterized by increasing deference to so-called state interests at the expense both of the woman's individual liberty interests and of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship at least in the context of abortion care.
As Time magazine has recently reported (here), “abortion-rights activists” have been slowly and steadily but almost always losing ever since their victory in Roe v. Wade some forty years ago. Now is not the time for Pro-Life advocates to lose heart, heed the nay-sayers, and withdraw from the battle, lest we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
According to this editorial in the Virginia Pilot, a bill that would prohibit (more here, at Religion Clause) public institutions, that recognize student organizations generally, to discriminate against groups that exercise their right to "determine that ordering the organization's internal affairs, selecting the organization's leaders and members, defining the organization's doctrines, and resolving the organization's disputes are in furtherance of the organization's religious or political mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities" is itself "discriminatory" and should be rejected. According to the Pilot, "[t]axpayers should not be required to support groups that don't open membership to all classes of taxpayers. Such groups are permitted to exist, but if the groups demand purity through exclusivity, they should do so on their members' own dimes."
In my view, the expressed concern about "taxpayers" is something of a red herring. The issue here (as in the Christian Legal Society case) is one of recognition and equal access; any financial "subsidization" is almost certainly de minimis. The bigger problem with the Pilot's complaint -- as I try to explain in this paper -- is that there isn't necessarily anything wrong (there isn't necessarily any reason for "taxpayers" to worry) with groups "discriminating" or being "exclusive" in their membership.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
George Weigel writes, in the Wall Street Journal, about what we should hope the Holy Spirit gives us with the next Pope:
A radically converted Christian disciple who believes that Jesus Christ really is the answer to the question that is every human life. An experienced pastor with the courage to be Catholic and the winsomeness to make robust orthodoxy exciting. A leader who is not afraid to straighten out the disastrous condition of the Roman Curia, so that the Vatican bureaucracy becomes an instrument of the New Evangelization, not an impediment to it.
The shoes of the fisherman are large shoes to fill.