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, August 31, 2015

Building in the Divine Style: Christian constitutionalism

Saints weren't born saints, and anyone who has become a saint has done so with lots of help.  There is a regrettable  tendency in our political culture and its institutions  to limit the help as a normative matter  to what goes on in private, if at all.  

In the Catholic tradition, however, the entire socio-political order, including the state, was -- and should be -- understood to have its service to perform in helping to bring people to the natural and the supernatural common goods.  Getting to heaven should not be despite humanity's best efforts at building impeding social barricades -- quite the opposite!  The state and the Church should cooperate with each other, without confusing one with the other, for the sake of the salvation of souls.  

One of the principal arguments for withdrawing the socio-political structure from a role in helping people to realize the supernatural common good is the assertion, popularized by Fr. Murray, that the state is a "know nothing" when it comes to the supernatural.  The state need not, however, be a know-nothing.

In the paper linked here, "An Essay in Christian Constitutionalism: Building in the Divine Style, for the Common Good(s)," I answer the question "What would a Christian constitution, in a predominantly nation, look like?"  The paper was prepared for a conference at Rutgers University School of Law, at which Islamic and Jewish answers to the same question, mutatis mutandis, were discussed.  

My paper argues that true Christian constitutionalism, that is, Catholic constitutionalism, is a project of building in the divine style, to which there is no real alternative over the long arc of history. 


Brennan, Patrick | Permalink