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, September 22, 2014

SSPX Succumb to modernity: Update on black mass in OKC

Thousands of faithful and faithfilled Catholics along with members of other Christian faiths attended a Holy Hour and Eucharistic Procession at St. Francis Church in OKC yesterday afternoon to pray for Oklahoma City as a group of satanists prepared to hold a public black mass (sans consecrated host) at the OKC Civic Center. As reported by Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick, "Archbishop Coakley said during the Eucharistic Holy Hour and outdoor Eucharistic procession that he and several bishops, dozens of priests and some 3,000 lay persons 'gather not to protest.' He urged attendees to 'put aside the outrage,' and instead 'adore, and listen to the holy Lord, and open our hearts to the promptings of the spirit.' It was a beautiful and reverant event reminding Catholics of the Lord's presence in the Eucharist, a fact that even the satanists seem to understand.

In recent column, Archbishop Coakley continued to urge people to stay away from the Civic Center before and during the staging of the black mass: "I am aware that other groups are planning to show their opposition to the blasphemous event that evening at the Civic Center. I urgently ask everyone to avoid confrontations with those who might oppose them. Our witness ought to be reverent, respectful and peaceful." 

In another show of disobedience to the local ordinary, the schismatic SSPX was one of the "other groups" who ventured downtown to the Civic Center. Their presence, along with other groups, completely changed the narrative as it played out on local television. 

The Archbishop's focus was on reverant prayer, Christian unity in Christ's body, and continued conversion of those attending the Holy Hour in addition to conversion of those staging the blasphemous event. The protests by SSPX and others at the Civic Center allowed the media to frame the narrative as one of clashing First Amendment rights - the free speech rights of the protestors against the religious freedom rights of the satanists.

Lost in this narrative was the authentic Catholic response: 1) a belief that Christ really is present in the Eucharist, 2) the devil, evil, and demonic forces are real and are dangerous to people and communities who open themselves up to these forces, 3) through Christ's passion, death, and resurrection, final victory, but skirmishes remain as long as this life endures, and 4) our response is prayer, the Eucharistic, and continued conversion and not clash of modern rights.

FYI, 88 people bought tickets to the black mass and 42 of those attended. Please pray for their souls. Many have told me that the Catholic Church should have just ignored this event because by opposing it and responding to it, it received much more media attention than it otherwise would have received. My response: If this had been a blasphemous b-movie, I would have agreed. But, as the Archbishop said, there is a very real danger to a community because "satanic ritual invokes powers of evil and invites them into our community."

Update: Here is Archbishop Coakley's homily given during the Holy Hour.

September 22, 2014 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

Midwestern Catholics Take Charge

With the appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane to be Archbishop of Chicago, products of Omaha, Nebraska are now leaders of two of the most important institutions of American Catholicism: the Archdiocese of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame (Father John Jenkins, CSC). Also, former Bishops of Rapid City, South Dakota will now be Archbishops of two of the six largest dioceses in the United States (in addition to Archbishop-elect Cupich in Chicago, my own Archbishop, Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. of Philadelphia, was formerly Bishop of Rapid City).

The prominence of Omaha and Rapid City may be a geographic coincidence, but there might also be a larger point here about the rise of Midwestern Catholicism in the American Church.

Consider that almost all of the ordinaries of the redoubts of the East Coast Catholic Church are Midwesterners: Boston (Cardinal O’Malley is from Lakewood, Ohio and Pittsburgh), New York (Cardinal Dolan is from St. Louis), Philadelphia (Archbishop Chaput is from Concordia, Kansas), and Washington (Cardinal Wuerl is from Pittsburgh). (Pittsburgh is a close call, but I say the Midwest begins when you pass the Alleghany Mountain Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike—and surely Pittsburgh historically has been more like Cleveland or Detroit than it’s been like New York or Philadelphia.) Only Archbishop Lori of Baltimore—a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington originally from Kentucky—is from an East Coast diocese. None of the American cardinals serving now as archbishop of a diocese is native to the East Coast: besides O’Malley, Dolan, and Wuerl, Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston is from Pittsburgh (via Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa). And Catholic university presidents at Notre Dame (Nebraska, as mentioned), Boston College (Father William Leahy, SJ is from Iowa), and Villanova (Father Peter Donohue, OSA is from Michigan) are from the Midwest.

The larger story, if there is one, may be that those formed by Midwestern Catholicism—less clerical, less dependent on the large institutions that have marked East Coast Catholicism—are suited to address the challenges of the 21st century American Church. Regardless, congratulations to Bishop Cupich and best wishes in retirement to Cardinal Francis George, OMI (originally from...Chicago).

September 22, 2014 in Moreland, Michael | Permalink

The Catholic/Evangelical/Baptist/LDS/Lutheran amicus curiae brief in support of cert in the Utah same-sex marriage case

A couple weeks back, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod filed an amicus curiae brief in support of certiorari in the Utah same-sex marriage case.

The basic thrust of the brief seems right. The Supreme Court should "resolve without delay whether the Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples." At the same time, attention to the careful wording in the brief reveals the difficulty of simultaneously recognizing the Supreme Court's ultimacy in one sense, while also indicating the limited scope of that ultimacy and the possibility (and perhaps the likelihood) that constitutionalizing this matter will not shift the controversy over marriage from the Court to the People. 

The brief opens:

The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage. We are convinced that a charter “made for people of fundamentally differing views,” Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting), does not prescribe a single national definition of marriage so contrary to the beliefs, practices, and traditions of the American people. We are convinced that the best way to resolve this wrenching controversy is by trusting the People and their democratic institutions. But a chorus of federal courts disagrees.

It may be tactically wise to suggest in an amicus brief in support of certiorari that a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has the potential to "end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage." And it might make sense to invoke Holmes's Lochner dissent. But I would be surprised if there is anything that the Supreme Court would write in an opinion that would end the debate over whether states are constitutionally required to define marriage to include same-sex couples. And we've already seen what one Holmesian approach to this issue results in.

The religious organizations argue, persuasively, that the legal uncertainty created by Windsor has impeded legislatures from acting on religious liberty protections in connection with same-sex marriage:

In our experience, legislators and other officials are frequently excusing their unwillingness to negotiate protections for religious liberty in the context of same-sex marriage on the specious grounds that such protections are invidious because same-sex marriage is a constitutional right or, conversely, unnecessary because this Court has yet to decide it is a constitutional right. Impeding the channels of democratic debate and engagement has been especially detrimental for religious organizations, given that States adopting same-sex marriage through legislative or popular lawmaking have often included at least some protections for religious organizations, while States compelled to make that change by courts have tended not to include such protections at all.

Even after a likely 5-4 decision creating a new constitutional right to same-sex marriage, however, much uncertainty will remain. The fight will turn to the scope and contours of this right, as well as the implications (both political and logical) of the Court's reasoning. Unlike desegregation, there will be no need for complex remedial decrees in particular cases. But the transition will not be as simple as issuing new forms that eliminate the terms "husband" and "wife." The scope of protections for cultural dissenters from the new federally imposed understanding of marriage, and everything that comes along with it, will be up for grabs. And it will be essential for religious organizations and others who adhere to a different orthodoxy from the new federal orthodoxy to work quickly with all reasonable people of goodwill, not so much to negotiate terms of surrender as to change the terms of engagement.

Depending for one's protection on the very judicial institution that so profoundly aligned itself in opposition to one's view of the legal institution of marriage does not seem a sound long-term strategy. In the short term, though, it is necessary to obtain a definitive declaration from the Supreme Court about where that institution stands amidst the legal uncertainty that it has created. 

September 22, 2014 in Walsh, Kevin | Permalink

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Economist on the Pro-Life Brief Supporting Pregnant Women

The Economist's Democracy in America column notes the Supreme Court brief from 23 pro-life organizations (my previous post is here) supporting pregnancy-discrimination plaintiffs:

ACTIVISTS on warring sides of the abortion debate rarely take the same position when it comes to Supreme Court cases involving women’s rights. But pro-choicers and pro-lifers have found common cause in Young v United Parcel Service, a pregnancy discrimination case the justices will take up on December 3rd. . . .

For the liberal women’s rights organisations, the question is one of gender equality. Workers like Ms Young, they say, have a legal right to the same kinds of accommodations that companies offer to employees unaffected by a pregnancy. For pro-life groups, there is an added dimension: women facing inflexible bosses tend to consider abortion. The amicus brief from 23 pro-life organisations quotes Senator Harrison Williams, an architect of the PDA who died in 2001. “One of our basic purposes in introducing this bill,” he had said, “is to prevent the tragedy of needless, and unwanted abortions forced upon a woman because she cannot afford to leave her job without pay to carry out the full term of her pregnancy.”

September 20, 2014 in Berg, Thomas | Permalink

Student centered legal education - RALS

Big thanks to Mark Osler for organizing and Rob Vischer for hosting the RALS conference at St. Thomas this week. There were many excellent panels and presentations, including by MOJ’ers John Breen, Susan Stabile, Amy Uelman, and Rob Vischer. Titled “Religious Identity in a Time of Challenge for Law Schools,” the theme that tied the conference together for me was refreshing and intentional emphasis on students. With strong faculty governance many law schools (and I suspect many institutions of higher educaiton) have created cultures around faculty prefences and comfort. As a quick example, if you were to study the course offerings at a given schools, the number of credit hours devoted to different subjects, and the frequency of courses offerings, I suspect the organizing principle would be faculty desire. The market is forcing law schools to move toward a more student centric model, but the transition will often be painful as faculty members are asked to leave their comfort zones, perhaps teaching more, changing teaching pedogogy, teaching different subjects, advising students in a more intense way than in the past, etc. The Deans Panel and panels on Employment and Student Well-Being; Scholarship; and The Challenge of Pope Francis were testimony to the successes achieved and the challenges and obstacles that still remain in this cultural transformaton. A key to success is, as Dean Tacha and others said, the building of community, especially among the faculty, that is other regarding, centered on the students, their education, well being, and professional formation.

September 20, 2014 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

RALS: Religious Identity in a Time of Challenge for Law Schools

[cross-posted from Creo en Dios!

Yesterday I participated in the biennial conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS, for short), conveniently located this year at University of St. Thomas law school. The theme of the conference was Religious Identity in a Time of Challenge for Law Schools.

We covered many topics over the course of the day, including employment and student well-being, scholarship, and the relationship between justice and mercy.

Part of the joy of this conference is the fellowship among those of us who see our faith as an integral part of our lives of law professors, both in and and outside of the formal sessions of the conference. That leads to our deep concern with helping our students discern with God who they will be in the world after they graduate law school and our commitment to model for our students how our faith impacts our professional identity.

One of the statements made early in the day that troubled me is that evidence shows that people enter law school more other-oriented than they leave law school. IF that is the case, law school is doing something drastically wrong and we should be deeply troubled. (In fact, I said during my talk yesterday afternoon that if that is the case for religiously-affiliated law schools, then we should close our doors and stop what we are doing.)

I hope it is not the case that our law students leave more self-centered and with less concern for others than they arrive at law school. But evidence like that cited yesterday should cause all of us who train professionals to reflect on whether we are doing enough to help people grow in their other-orientation and how we might more effectively do so.

September 20, 2014 in Stabile, Susan | Permalink

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dreher on Phil Bess, "faith, reason, and urban design."

Catholic "new urbanist" and classical architect Philip Bess is a dear friend and colleague, and I know I've mentioned his work here at Mirror of Justice many times (and, from time to time, vented my friendly frustration with some of the more preening and irritating aspects of some new-urbanist writing).  (Buy his "Til We Have Built Jerusalem" here, after reading my First Things review!)  Here, Rod Dreher interviews Bess and discusses his work.  

Dreher's praise of Bess's work is well-deserved.  That said, in my view, Dreher is a bit too hard on those conservatives who have appropriate reservations about "new urbanist" plans, proposals, and ideology.  So long as "new urbanism" is reasonably seen as travelling moer comfortably with hipster aesthetics and environmental-apocalypse fantasies than with Bess's Aristo-Thomist invocations of the conditions for authentic human flourishing . . . and so long as "new urbanists" appear not-too-keen on large families and relatively uninterested in where the churches and parochial schools fit in to their ideal built environmetns . . . a little skepticism -- even of the friendly kind -- is in order.

September 17, 2014 | Permalink

The Virtues of Consumer Law

I just came across an interesting Call for Papers for the 15th Conference of International Consumer Law, to be held in Amsterdam next summer.  The theme of the conferences is "Virtues and Consumer Law."

Proposals on the following possible topic areas are identified as being especially encouraged, presumably because they represent the "virtues" contemplated by the conference organizers.  Setting aside some qualms I have about the very first one, this struck me as a very interesting list of 'virtues' in this particular field of law.  

- Self-realization (in tourism, air travel or entertainment sector);

- Faith (in public and/or private enforcement of consumer law, in collective redress);

- Curiosity (in e-commerce, telecommunication sector or on innovation and consumer law);

- Compassion (towards vulnerable consumers, in medicine or in clinical trials);

- Frugality (in the banking sector or in financial contracts);

- Fairness (against unfair commercial practices and/or misleading advertising, against unfair contract terms, in protection of SMEs, through good faith and fair dealing);

- Trust (through data protection, on privacy and security issues, through product safety and/or product liability, from behavioural economics perspective);

- Forgiveness (through mediation or ADR);

- Self-development (through education, through services, through consumer sale contracts);

- Hope (against overindebtness, through clean-slate doctrine, by way of insurance).

September 17, 2014 in Schiltz, Elizabeth | Permalink

Caledonian Peronism and Majoritarianism: Two Thoughts about Scottish Independence

Those of us from an Irish Catholic background are inevitably reserved, to say the least, about British Unionism. But as Rick pointed out last week, the prospect of Scotland voting tomorrow to secede from the United Kingdom seems extraordinarily foolish and may, as argued here by Walter Russell Mead, usher in an era of wider political instability that we will all soon regret (and some of the damage may already be done). Two offhand thoughts on this eve of the referendum:

First, rather than a modern domesticated version of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish nationalist movement today seems more a Caledonian variant of Peronism—socially progressive, yes, but also a brew of authoritarianism, economic populism, and class resentment (see Tom Gallagher's piece earlier this summer). Many voting for Scottish independence tomorrow have hopes of creating a Scandinavian welfare state utopia shorn of retrograde English capitalism, but they are more likely to get economic stagnation, debt crises, currency instability, and political turmoil. And as John Haldane wrote here, none of this will be good for the Catholic Church or for religious liberty.

Second and as a matter of political and legal theory, there is something odd about the bare majoritarianism at work in tomorrow’s vote. 50% plus one of Scottish citizens age 16 and older (well, those who live in Scotland—Scots living in other parts of the UK can’t vote in the referendum) can decide to form an independent country and abrogate the 1707 Act of Union with England—and that result binds 50% minus one of Scots. Jeremy Waldron elegantly argues in The Dignity of Legislation (Cambridge UP, 1999) against the arbitrariness of majoritarianism and the legitimacy of Locke's "physics of consent" by majority rule. Fair enough as to normal politics—popular voting for candidates or legislative majorities. Ultimate questions of sovereignty, though, seem to me to require an account of authority and a background political culture that majoritarianism alone can’t provide--a problem rarely (and fortunately so) posed in the modern state. As Tyler Cowen wrote this morning, crudely posing certain questions and asking the people to resolve them (here by bare majority rule) threatens any political order, and independence "might just be a question which should not be asked in such a blatant form." And as he wrote presciently some months ago, "If a significant segment of the British partnership wishes to leave, and for no really good practical reason, it is a sign that something is deeply wrong with contemporary politics and with our standards for loyalties.”

September 17, 2014 in Moreland, Michael | Permalink

The Feast of Saint Robert Bellarmine, SJ


Today the Universal Church celebrates the optional feast of Saint Robert Bellarmine—a Catholic intellectual, a faithful priest, and prudent but courageous member of the Society of Jesus. He understood well Father Ignatius’s declaration that the purpose of the Least Society is to strive to defend and propagate the faith and to assist souls in Christian life and doctrine. But, really, is this not the calling of everyone who claims to follow Christ knowing that he or she is a citizen of two cities—the City of God and the City of Man? I hold and profess the view that all Christians, including those who advance Catholic legal theory, are, in one fashion or another, called to similar purpose as was Robert Bellarmine, who was trained in both theology and juridical science (like your humble correspondent). One other important element of Christian life needs to be recounted here as we consider today’s feast observing the life and death of Bellarmine: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross which we celebrated this past Sunday. As I was celebrating the Eucharist, I prayed very slowly the words of the Collect: “O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of redemption in heaven…” This prayer is intensified by the Gospel reading for the feast from Saint John that includes the oft-prayed passage of John 3:16. I am certain these principles of the Catholic faith were an ever-present guiding star of Robert Bellarmine in all that he accomplished and all that he tried to achieve in Christ’s name.

While Bellarmine was a learned man, a bishop, and a cardinal, he was first and last a humble servant of his and our Church who followed Christ in simplicity. Like our current Holy Father, Francis, he was attracted to the plainness of life lived by Saint Francis of Assisi. For us Jesuits, we are reminded how Father Ignatius states in his autobiography how he would like to be as Dominic or as Francis (of Assisi). But Father Ignatius’s exhortation is not limited to Jesuits; I am convinced it applies to all who follow Christ or claim to do so.

Returning to the nexus between the life, discipleship, and the work of Robert Bellarmine, I am certain that he continues to show those of us who dedicate our lives to Catholic legal theory how to seek in our apostolic service the pressing need to meet the grave challenges of our present age with prudence, courage, and fidelity. We cannot take for granted that all we meet and with whom we may labor are practitioners of the same virtues. One essential tool of which I have spoken often in the past, given the vineyards in which we work, is the need for the Catholic Christian to be mindful of the gifts of objective intelligence given to us by the Creator to comprehend the intelligible reality of the world and of the universe. Using these gifts wisely and without reservation should enable those of us who teach human law, as it is intersected by God’s law (we can never get away from our dual citizenship, now, can we?), to do so in a fashion the replicates the way of proceeding utilized by Robert Bellarmine throughout his life. He, too, lived in an age of skeptics fueled by a world of corruption, vainglory, and power-over-right, but he was not deterred from seeking out and collaborating with his fellow disciples and people of good will in his striving for the defense and propagation of the faith and assisting souls in Christian life and doctrine.

May we profit from his example not only on this day but for all the days of our lives.

Saint Robert Bellarmine, pray for us! Amen.



RJA sj

September 17, 2014 in Araujo, Robert | Permalink