Saturday, October 31, 2015
Claremont Review of Books has recently launched a website and currently features my review of Katha Pollitt's Pro and two other books--among them, Robin West's collection of pro-choice and pro-life voices. MoJers Lisa Schiltz and Susan Stabile write in West's collection, and I remain convinced that West takes so well to pro-life argument because of knowing pro-life women like Lisa and Susan!
As Rick and Richard earlier noted, last week witnessed the passing of fellow MOJ contributor Rev. Robert John Araujo, S.J. I was fortunate to know Bob as a friend and colleague during the time that he served on the faculty here at Loyola University Chicago School of Law as the inaugural John Courtney Murray, S.J. University Chair.
Bob (as he preferred to be called by those who knew him) was an incredibly learned man, holding degrees from Georgetown, Columbia, the Weston School of Theology, and Oxford. He put this immense learning to good use as a prolific scholar, writing especially well about the natural law and its meaning for positive law, and the juridical standing of the Holy See and the history of papal diplomacy (here and here).
For Bob this latter subject was not merely theoretical. He was a frequent contributor to the work of the Church in the United States, both through the nuncio’s office in Washington, D.C., and the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations.
During Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. a few weeks ago, Bob was able to make one last trip to the nunciature. His friend, Archbishop Vigano, the current papal nuncio to the U.S., arranged for Bob to have a private audience with the Pope. Bob had hoped to talk with Francis (his fellow Jesuit) about the state of Jesuit higher education in the United States, a subject that was dear to his heart. But when the Pope was told of Bob’s illness, the conversation took a different course. The Holy Father blessed him and kissed him.
Bob courageously battled the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that racked his body and ultimately took his life. He was in an enormous amount of pain from the cancer, literally for years, but especially as the disease progressed in the last several months. Having said that, I think the most painful thing in his life was the lack of faith and courage that he witnessed among some of the members of his beloved Society of Jesus. Some of this affected Bob directly. He was, for example, prohibited by a fellow Jesuit from celebrating Mass at Loyola’s Madonna della Strada Chapel because he once preached on the meaning of human sexuality according to the mind of the Church.
Bob had many good friends within the Society, but the treatment he received from some was a source of bitterness in his life. Although through prayer he tried to put this bitterness aside, it continued to gnaw at him. And on a certain level, this reaction was entirely understandable. How bizarre that one should be punished by an institution within the Church for being faithful to the Church!
Bob was a good friend. I very much miss our morning conversations over coffee in his office before class, discussing news in the School, in the Church, and in the world. He loved to serve as a host. Even in the midst of his illness, he loved having people visit him at Ignatius House, the main Jesuit residence at Loyola, and share a meal together (although the cancer greatly restricted the foods he was able to enjoy). My family and I were fortunate to take advantage of his hospitality in this regard, and I joined him for working lunches there on a number of occasions.
Unfortunately these working lunches too often centered around new challenges to Loyola’s identity as an authentically Jesuit and Catholic institution, often in the form of potential faculty hires. Bob was a stalwart champion of the robust sense of Catholic identity that Catholic universities should have – engaged in the contemporary world but grounded in the Christian intellectual tradition and confident in the capacity of that tradition to say something fresh, unsettling, and true.
He was not a fan of the insipid brand of Jesuit identity pandered in the slogans popularized today knowing that without a definite content of how one can be a “man or woman for others” one might actually work against the genuine good of those one had thought to serve.
Bob was a faithful priest. Although he didn’t insist on the formality of being called “Father” by anyone, he had a great respect for the priesthood to which he was called. Many MOJ contributors can attest to his devotion to his priestly ministry, celebrating Mass at various conferences we would attend. He welcomed students at Loyola with the same hospitality that he shared with peers. Much has been made of the “theology of encounter” and of the need for “accompaniment” that Pope Francis has emphasized. Bob Araujo had been a practitioner of this method of connecting with students intellectually and caring for them pastorally long before the current moment.
Before Bob left Loyola to move to the Campion Center in Weston, Massachusetts, he began to give away some of his possessions – books, a complete set of Theological Studies, clothes, art work, etc. My family and I received a framed copy of the study of Thomas More that Holbein did in preparation for his famous portrait – something he acquired during his student days at Oxford.
Bob was a great admirer of Thomas More – as a lawyer and public servant, as a devoted family man and loyal son of the Church. He saw in More’s life the struggle of our times – the temptation to give in, to get along, to pursue popularity and material prosperity over fidelity, to sacrifice the truth for a more comfortable life – a struggle witnessed not only in, for example, the controversy over the HHS contraception mandate and religious opposition to same-sex marriage, but in the temptation of Jesuit universities to lose their charism in the process whereby following Jesus and living the Gospel is neutered and transformed into pursuing a secular kind of “social justice.”
In his last e-mail to me a few days before he died, aware of his impending death, he said “I’m sure I’ll see you on the other side one day.” May everyone involved in MOJ join me in praying that Father Bob Araujo, now free from the pain and bitterness of this life, experiences the joy of “the other side” in the company of St. Thomas More and all the saints, praying for the members of St. Ignatius’ “little company” and all the world Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
October 31, 2015 | Permalink
The Catholic Information Center in DC honored this inspiring duo this past week: Seamus, for his leadership protecting religious freedom as founder of the Becket Fund, and Mary, for her lifelong dedication to Catholic teaching on life and the family, now as founder/director of the Catholic Women's Forum at EPPC where she is a fellow. Watch the moving video dedicated to their work here. And Mary's beautiful acceptance speech is well worth a full read. Here's a taste:
It’s time for men and women within the Church to bring the efforts and witness of women to the foreground of the Church’s work evangelize the culture—not just for the strategic reason that women are half the population—and we must reach them and speak to them through shared experiences and in language that resonates. But because as a Church, we must live the truth that we preach: That men and women are complementary—that we need each other, and we need to collaborate, that the Church needs our witness to the world, a sign of the great bond between Christ and the Church. The Church needs us—men and women—to witness to the love of God in a powerful way, together.
Finally, if you missed Seamus' commencement speech at Ave Maria University in 2013, it's deeply inspiring.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Here is a thoughtful piece, by Elizabeth Corey, on "Diversity in the Christian University." Here's a taste:
. . . Perhaps the greatest benefit of actual diversity across a university, for both faculty and students, would be the modeling of a certain kind of political relationship. If a faculty is diverse—not just demographically, but also politically and intellectually—and can nevertheless work together without characterizing opponents as enemies, then it might offer something that contemporary politics does not. This would consist in a kind of civil discourse that acknowledges profound disagreement but also seeks compromises where they may be found and respects all participants as equals.
It’s easy enough to talk about this ideal, but much harder to put into practice. It requires, at minimum, candid conversations with people you’re not inclined to agree with. . . .
. . . Moreover, within a Christian university, the legitimate goods of diversity must be balanced against a notion of unity, an idea of the particular “constitution” of a place—its heritage, its tradition, and the constituency it serves. Even while we embrace aspects of diversity, Christian schools must be bold enough to say that we prioritize a certain kind of particularity and difference from our many secular competitors. Perhaps the most effective contribution that a self-consciously Christian university can make to the sum total good of diversity is merely to be what we are. Thus, the confessional requirements of Christian schools are not a hindrance but an asset. Not everyone will feel perfectly comfortable working for, or attending, such a university, but that has traditionally been why distinct kinds of schools exist: historically black colleges, women’s and men’s colleges, large state universities, community colleges, small liberal arts colleges and many varieties of Christian institutions. . . .
Read the whole thing.
The above is the title of a piece in last month's National Law Journal that is worth a read. Written to coincide with the Pope's visit, I myself missed it in the deluge of press coverage. However, especially after Pope Francis's historic address to Congress and the craze with which politicians tried to reap professional benefit from his visit, the article is worth review.
Marcia Coyle documents the 11 cases in which the pope was mentioned in oral argument during the last 60 years. While some are expected cases regarding the establishment clause in Lynch v. Donnelly and the ministerial exception in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, others were far more surprising. The pope has been used in several hypotheticals by the justices, well before it experienced its majority Catholic representation. Even a solicitor general quoted Rerum Novarum and Mater et Magistra in an NLRB dispute with the Bishop of Chicago.
As the discussion of the appropriate role of the pope in the world percolates in the wake of Francis' visit, the piece is worth a fresh read.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
I want to call a bit of notice to Professor Samuel Moyn's very interesting and elegantly executed new book, Christian Human Rights (2015), which traces the specifically 20th century Christian roots of contemporary (secular?) human rights. Moyn begins really in 1937 and devotes special attention to Pope Pius XII's 1942 Christmas message, "The Internal Order of States and People," in which Pius announced both the "dignity of the human person" and that man "should uphold respect for and the practical realization of...fundamental personal rights."
I've just started to dig in to the book, but I wanted to highlight a few passages from the introduction to illustrate some of the accents and grace notes of the book. There is, for example, this line: "The trouble, after all, is not so much that Christianity accounts for nothing, as that it accounts for everything." (6) Part of Moyn's project is remedial with respect both to those "secular historians" who have "nervously bypassed" "the Christian incarnation of human rights, which interferes with their preferred understandings of today's highest principles" and those other scholars, "overwhelmingly Christians themselves," who go about defending the Christian tradition of human rights "in a highly abstract way" and by recourse to "long ago events" stretching back to the very beginnings of Christianity.
There is also this, on the idea of tradition (admittedly, a subject of some interest to me):
No one could plausibly claim--and no one ever has--that the history of human rights is one of wholly discontinuous novelty....But radical departures nonetheless occurred very late in Christian history, even if they were unfailingly represented as consistent with what came before: this is how "the invention of tradition" most frequently works. (5)
The citation is to Hobsbawm's essay (in his edited volume of essays) on The Invention of Tradition (in which Hugh Trevor Roper's typically and enjoyably acid essay on Scottish tartans is one of my very favorites in the 'tradition-as-fraud' genre). Yet I hope it is not too tart of me to wonder whether this phenomenon might just as easily be called "the invention of novelty," novelties being, of course, the stuff on which scholars make their living. Perhaps a little of both?
More seriously, perhaps what these lines in Moyn's insightful book really suggest is that what is really needed is a true and clear-eyed account of the idea of tradition and its importance for law and legal institutions generally, one that is committed neither to lionization nor demonization.
"Should a Self-Driving Car Kill its Passengers in a 'Greater Good' Scenario?", this article asks:
Picture the scene: You’re in a self-driving car and, after turning a corner, find that you are on course for an unavoidable collision with a group of 10 people in the road with walls on either side. Should the car swerve to the side into the wall, likely seriously injuring or killing you, its sole occupant, and saving the group? Or should it make every attempt to stop, knowing full well it will hit the group of people while keeping you safe?
This is a moral and ethical dilemma that a team of researchers have discussed in a new paper published in Arxiv, led by Jean-Francois Bonnefon from the Toulouse School of Economics. They note that some accidents like this are inevitable with the rise in self-driving cars – and what the cars are programmed to do in these situations could play a huge role in public adoption of the technology. . . .
Okay, all you experts on intention out there . . . What's the answer?
Anthony Kennedy, Kim Davis, lawmakers from nowhere in particular, and legal change while looking each other in the eye
A few concluding paragraphs in John Finnis's lecture on judicial power linked by Michael earlier helped me to understand part of what I found frustrating in reading the recent news story "Justice Kennedy says officials must follow law or resign."
Here is Finnis speculating about the drift toward the subjection of legislative power to judicial power:
Why, then, is the drift everywhere towards the subjection of legislative power, directly or indirectly, to judicial power? Why do many judges in many jurisdictions ever more confidently give judgments assuming the roles of constitution makers and legislators? Answers must remain speculative; the causes are various.
One cause is hidden in that word “jurisdiction” I used just then when I meant countries, political and civic communities of households, families, people. Discourse in law schools and courts increasingly locates its participants in a universe of standards of correct thought and decision, and of the incorrect and unacceptable, which are generated and shared among persons who speak as if they were nowhere in particular. And they can carry on this discourse, and make, commend or recommend the corresponding judicial decisions for whole countries and sets of countries with amazingly little pushback by those whom our constitutions still firmly designate as the makers of the law that shapes its people’s future. Why is some pushback in order? Why was and is that historic constitutional distribution of responsibilities sound?
One way of putting a sound answer is this. Pushback, seeking to adaptively restore that constitutional distribution, is timely and fitting because the members of a properly functioning legislature, chosen by persons who (with their families) will be affected, have to look each other in the eye, even while they are deciding, with no pretence that their decision is anything other than what it is: their personal choice of one kind of future, in preference to all others, for themselves, their fellow legislators, and the people they represent and live among. They do not (and cannot) make the claim that bearers of judicial power must at least profess: that this decision of ours about the law merely or essentially conveys (transmits into the present and the future) positions that have already been settled by our law and are found in it by a learned art (Coke’s “artificial reason”) called interpretation, applying commitments made (at least in principle) back in the past. Or interpreting and applying commitments made (it is professed) over there in a haze of “global law”, made how or by whom no-one really can say, but identifiable and professable as rights and standards even by scholars and judges who in another conversation, eye to eye, might well admit their doubt or denial that there is really any moral right or wrong. – their belief that no value judgments are true: all are “subjective”.
That discourse community – or academic, NGO, judicial echo chamber – treats as strangers the legislators in merely local assemblies such as national Parliaments, and the politicians taken to be persons who are unskilled in that learned discourse’s latest tropes and precepts, and who fail to measure themselves against the standards of esteem or disesteem that prevail in a given decade in that community or echo chamber. There is urgent need for legislators who have retained or regained their sense of constitutional place and legitimacy, and who are aware that this whole style and movement of global juridical discourse and judicial reformism is -- like judicial process even at its best – a defective, inferior way for a historically constitutionally minded people to take responsibility for its own future.
There is a lot going on in these few paragraphs, not all of which directly applies in the United States. But still.
Can anyone imagine Justice Kennedy looking Kim Davis in the eye and telling her on the afternoon of June 26 that she must now accept and effectuate the Supreme Court's new understanding of marriage or else quit her job? Surely he could not do so with no pretence that he had not just changed the law.
Does anyone believe that that Justice Kennedy could describe Obergefell as a decision "about the law [that] merely or essentially conveys (transmits into the present and the future) positions that have already been settled by our law and are found in it by a learned art (Coke’s “artificial reason”) called interpretation, applying commitments made (at least in principle) back in the past"?
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
With the support of the newly established Mother Teresa Project, the Stein Center for Social Research at Ave Maria University will host the conference, "Reimagining Care for the Poor" on November 5-6. From the promo:
This goal of this meeting is to facilitate creative discussion about the possibility of developing new, Church-based solutions to poverty in the United States, with a particular emphasis on parish activities of the Catholic Church. We have invited a mixed group of thinkers from academic, business, and non-profit sectors. The unifying thread is that our participants share a passion for the poor, and the firm conviction that strong church communities are vital to social change.