Saturday, December 31, 2022
Here is a short essay I wrote, for a conference at Villanova, a million (well, 15) years ago, on Pope Benedict's encyclical Deus caritas est and church-state relations:
In his first encyclical letter, Deus caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI describes the Church as a community of love. In this letter, he explores the organized practice love by and through the Church, and the relationship between this practice, on the one hand, and the Church's commitment to the just ordering of the State and society, on the other. God is love, he writes. This paper considers the implications of this fact for the inescapably complicated nexus of church-state relations in our constitutional order. The specific goal for this paper is to draw from Deus caritas est some insight into what is a fundamental and - at present - the most pressing challenge in church-state law, namely, the preservation of the Church's moral and legal right to govern herself in accord with her own norms and in response to her own calling. It asks, what does the new Pope's work and thinking, about the future and present state of the Church and her organized practice of love, suggest about the appropriate content and vulnerable state of the rights and independence of religious groups - and of the freedom of the Church?