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?
In addition to Marc's two recent and helpful posts, here are a few items from the MOJ archives that might be worth (re!)reading, as we reflect on the gift of the late Pope's life and work:
"Pope Benedict and the New Evangelization" (here)
"Another Garnett on Solidarity and Suffering" (here)
"'The Pope Is a Liberal'" (here)
"Pope Benedict on 'Following the Prevailing Winds'" (here)
"Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, and the Role of the Church in Public Life" (here)
"Benedict XVI on Martin Luther" (here)
"A Mortgage on the Church" (here)
"Pope Benedict XVI on Religious Communities' Freedom and 'Equality Legislation'" (here)
"Pope Benedict XVI's Visit with Youth with Disabilities" (here)
"Forgiveness: Pope Benedict's Legacy?" (here)
"Ambassador Glendon's Address to Pope Benedict XVI" (here)
"Catholic Legal Thought: Live at the Dubliner!" (here)
"'Patricipation in the Eternal Reason of God'" (here)
Like all MOJ readers and bloggers, I am sure, I am reflecting on the life, work, example, thought, and witness of the late Pope Benedict XVI. Of course, I am not qualified to provide anything resembling a worth-reading reflection on these matters -- I suggest reading a lot of Cyril O'Regan, for starters -- but I did want to remind readers of a very helpful volume, edited by my friends Prof. Marta Cartabia and Prof. Andrea Simoncini, called Pope Benedict's XVI Legal Thought: A Dialogue on the Foundation of Law. Contributors include (in addition to the editors) Mary Ann Glendon, Andrea Pin, Joseph Weiler, John Witte, and many others.
Here is the blurb from That Web Site:
Throughout Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's pontificate he spoke to a range of political, civil, academic, and other cultural authorities. The speeches he delivered in these contexts reveal a striking sensitivity to the fundamental problems of law, justice, and democracy. He often presented a call for Christians to address issues of public ethics such as life, death, and family from what they have in common with other fellow citizens: reason. This book discusses the speeches in which the Pope Emeritus reflected most explicitly on this issue, along with the commentary from a number of distinguished legal scholars. It responds to Benedict's invitation to engage in public discussion on the limits of positivist reason in the domain of law from his address to the Bundestag. Although the topics of each address vary, they nevertheless are joined by a series of core ideas whereby Benedict sketches, unpacks, and develops an organic and coherent way to formulate a “public teaching” on the topic of justice and law.
Friday, December 30, 2022
Over at The European Conservative, my friend Fr. S. Hendrianto, S.J., has posted an essay called "Constitutional Thomism: A Modest Proposal", which -- among other things -- engages Adrian Vermeule's Common Good Constitutionalism project. Here's a bit:
Constitutional Thomism is not concerned with governmental structures or constitutional interpretation so much as with the arrangement and distribution of offices. It focuses on examining the concept of a “best regime” ruled by a philosopher-king who holds office with practical wisdom while not devolving into a tyranny. Constitutional Thomism is compatible with modern constitutional democracy because both are centered on the art of statesmanship. Under Constitutional Thomism, statesmen rule through wisdom but do not force the citizenry to obey them. These statesmen must understand the instability, impatience, inattention, envy, and ignorance that plague the souls of their citizens, and counteract the restlessness of the soul. At the same time, the statesmen must also be able to lead their citizens to an understanding of the common good, not only in the temporal sense, but fullest sense—the seeking of God. By promoting the common good to their people, the statesmen will also foster statesmanship among the multitude.
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Paul Moses has a piece up at Commonweal, "Conscience, Contracts, & Covenants", about the recently argued 303 Creative case at the Supreme Court and about the more general question of religious-freedom-related exemptions from public-accommodations laws. Obviously, the question is tricky, because it is implausible either that (a) justice requires that anyone who invokes "conscience" as a reason for violating a public-accommodations law should be exempted or (b) public-accommodations laws should be applied entirely without regard to the religious commitments of those who are affected.
Disagreeing with the U.S. Bishops' reservations about the recently passed Respect for Marriage Act, Mr. Moses quotes Pope Francis's Amoris laetitia, and then writes, "Francis wasn’t urging the bishops to be culture warriors. He was calling on the Church to do more to realize and express the beauty of a sacramental marriage, rather than to impose rules on others." Again: Far too often, the "culture warrior" epithet is directed at anyone who observes that unjust laws are being enacted or that various regrettable culture trends are in motion. It is not "culture warrior"-ing for the bishops to defend religious exemptions, and it is a misreading of the Holy Father -- who, obviously, understands that Christians today cannot expect positive law alone to communicate persuasively the soundness of the Christian understanding of marriage -- to read him as ruling out such a defense.
Thursday, December 15, 2022
John Gehring has published, in NCR, a long piece describing the career and views of Leonard Leo. (I am quoted in the piece.) Leo, it turns out, is both a practicing Catholic and a political conservative, and he has been successful as an institution builder and fundraiser. He's connected, in various ways, with the Becket Fund, the Federalist Society, Catholic University's business school, etc. Some, including Gehring and several sources, are troubled by the fact that Leo's causes tend to be on the conservative side of various debates, and also by the possibility that he is "reshaping" Catholic University. Such a reshaping would run counter, it appears, to what some regard as the natural order of things, namely, that higher education -- including Catholic higher education -- is and must be homogenously progressive.
A theme in the piece is the charge that Leo and others are "culture warriors", using organizations like The Federalist Society and "originalist" constitutional arguments in their partisan efforts. Near the end, Prof. Cathleen Kaveny, who was on the faculty at Notre Dame Law School for about 15 years, is quoted:
"It's an approach that is far more evangelical and fundamentalist than Catholic," Kaveny said. "If Catholics approached the Bible the way these originalists view the Constitution, we would be fundamentalists."
A former law professor at the University of Notre Dame, Kaveny watched as the school transformed and she glimpses a potential similar effort at Catholic University with Leo's influence.
"At Notre Dame Law School, they narrowed the notion of Catholic hiring to mean hiring a certain kind of Catholic who is committed to the culture wars," Kaveny said. "They hired very committed and talented people, and the money followed. It took 30 years, but they played the long game. And it was successful."
Prof. Kaveny should know better than to make the familiar, but inapposite, comparison between originalism as an approach to the interpretation of a written piece of positive law and "fundamentalism" as an approach to Scripture. She is certainly correct, though, that, during her tenure at Notre Dame Law School and mine, the institution hired a great many "committed and talented people", from the best programs and firms in the country, in no small part because the school, unlike nearly every other, declined to discriminate against practicing Catholics or people who might have clerked for Republican-appointed judges. Indeed, Kaveny herself was brought to the faculty, and promoted, as part of the John Garvey-led (and successful) effort to use Notre Dame's Catholic character as a brand-enhancer and program-strengthener. Of course, the claim that the "notion of Catholic hiring" was "narrowed" in the way she suggests is false -- the law faculty is easily the most balanced in the United States (and also in the University) -- as even a casual review of faculty hires over the last 25 years will confirm.
It's common, in publications like NCR, for "culture warrior" to used as a discussion-blocking epithet (though never against enthusiasts and activists on the political left). It appears to mean little more than "someone who thinks that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and that religious freedom is an important human good", or "someone who takes notice of various cultural developments and trends." Or, in a piece like Gehring's, it simply denotes "someone who is pursuing an understanding of the common good that does not align with my political team's."
Friday, December 2, 2022
Excellent news out of Oklahoma:
In an official legal opinion, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor says a state law that prohibits religious entities from operating a public charter school likely violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and “therefore should not be enforced,” based on rulings from both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
AG O'Connor's opinion is sound, and rock-solid (and not simply because he has the good judgment to cite Nicole Stelle Garnett)
The opinion concludes:
Based on state court rulings, the attorney general’s opinion declared that allowing religiously affiliated participants to provide educational services to children by entering into a written agreement with a charter school “would not violate the Oklahoma Constitution” because “charter schools are entirely optional for parents” and “allowing the religious or religiously affiliated to participate would make the system neutral rather than hostile to religion.”
“The State cannot enlist private organizations to ‘promote a diversity of educational choices,’ … and then decide that any and every kind of religion is the wrong kind of diversity,” the opinion stated. “This is not how the First Amendment works.”
It has taken many years, but the correction in the Supreme Court's First Amendment doctrine relating to cooperation between governments and religious schools is both striking and welcome. Contrary to what one reads in the typical Court-watching-journalist's commentary, the version of "strict separation" that is so often treated as canonical was a weird, ahistorical, and unwise blip, that distorted education-reform policy for a few decades but that has no basis in American history and practice and that -- thankfully -- has been, step-by-step, dismantled since the mid-1980s.
Monday, November 28, 2022
I am glad to see The Economist reporting on the continuing efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to oppress -- indeed, to coopt -- the Catholic Church in China. In recent years, some Catholics identifying as "post liberal" have expressed a strange admiration for the . . . efficiency and goal-orientedness of Xi's PRC; these expressions are misguided. Also misguided, I think, have been the various reported statements of admiration for the PRC by some of the Holy See's bureaucrats. The introduction of the piece:
When the Vatican signed a deal with China in 2018 on the appointment of bishops, the pact was denounced by a former leader of the Catholic church in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen. He said it would legitimise the Communist Party’s control over Chinese Catholics, and be like “giving the flock into the mouths of the wolves”. The flock has not yet been devoured, but the grip of the government’s jaw has been tightening. The authorities have accelerated a campaign to “sinicise” the church by making its buildings, art and rituals look more Chinese and, crucially, its followers more loyal to the party. Catholics in Hong Kong are in their sights, too.
Among other things, the piece discusses the plight of Hong Kong's heroic, and Catholic, pro-democracy advocate, Jimmy Lai. (If you have not seen the movie about Lai, "The Hong Konger", you should.)
Thursday, November 10, 2022
An . . . interesting piece, in the Chicago Sun-Times, about the text-relationship between Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago. There is, in my view, nothing inappropriate about these two leaders talking about shared interests and goals, and also about tactics for promoting and accomplishing them. (One suspects that this text-relationship would prompt a five-part series in the New York Times about "theocracy" if it involved a Republican governor and a Catholic bishop, but put that aside.) The unfortunate thing here is that the means they supported in pursuit of their goals were, in many instances, unwarranted and harmful. Still, we should pray that Cardinal Cupich will (a) learn a lesson about reflexive deference and (b) be similarly communicative about, say, the Governor's support for rules permitting children to get abortions, at any point in pregnancy, without their parents' consent.
The Notre Dame Law Review has put together a(nother) great symposium, on "Liberalism, Christianity, and Constitutionalism", which will be held tomorrow morning. All South Bend-area folks, come by!
Symposium participants will include Professors Nathan S. Chapman of the University of Georgia School of Law, Kathleen A. Brady of Emory University School of Law, Richard W. Garnett of Notre Dame Law School, Andrew M. Koppelman of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Melissa Moschella of the Catholic University of America, Brandon Paradise of Rutgers Law School, Rev. Dr. Sergey Trostyanskiy, Amy Sepinwall of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Steven Smith of the University of San Diego School of Law, and Paul Billingham of the University of Oxford.
The authors will discuss their written scholarship, which will appear in Volume 98, Issue 4 of the Notre Dame Law Review. Dr. Jonathan Chaplin of the University of Cambridge and Michael Moreland of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law will be writing a response to the symposium.
Panel One: 9 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.
Panel Two: 10:20 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.
Panel Three: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.