Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Religious Lawyering conference at Fordham

On Friday, I had the privilege of participating in a conference at Fordham Law School commemorating the 20th anniversary of two conferences held there that, in retrospect, initiated the religious lawyering movement 2.0 (i.e., beyond the work of Tom Shaffer and Joe Allegretti).  MoJ's own Amy Uelmen did a wonderful job as a co-organizer of the event. A few highlights:

  • Strong participation from representatives of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, an organization that was birthed at those Fordham conferences and is now a flourishing presence in communities across the country.  Listening to UW-Madison law prof Asifa Quraishi-Landes describe the group's history, it was a blessing that Muslim lawyers came together to build infrastructure for fellowship and support before 9/11, anti-Sharia legislation, and travel bans inescapably pulled the organization in the direction of civil rights advocacy.  NAML brings a formidable litigation presence today, but it's important to recognize that the group was formed by lawyers who wanted to support one another on their faith journeys within the profession.   
  • Howard Lesnick's work was honored by several speakers, including Emory Christian Ethics prof Darryl Trimiew, who noted that, like Jacob, Lesnick wrestles with God.  For Lesnick - a deeply engaged skeptic - the wrestling is the point; the wrestling has not stopped; in the wrestling, there is beauty. 
  • David Opderbeck called for a new generation of law and religion scholarship, with a redoubled effort to engage the latest in Christian ethical thought and theology, and Russ Pearce noted the importance of identity questions to the religious lawyering movement, both past and future.

Lucia Silecchia and I offered remarks about what insights lawyers might take from Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation, Rejoice and Be Glad.  I focused on his lament that some Christians "become incapable of touching Christ's suffering flesh in others, locked up as they are in an encyclopedia of abstractions," and his pointing to Jesus as clearing "a way to seeing two faces, that of the father and that of our brother. He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands.  He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces."

This reminded me of John Noonan's Persons and Masks of the Law.  Noonan showed how lawyers use abstract principles and legal rules as masks to cover the real people affected by our work (e.g., "foreseeability" in the case of Helen Palsgraf). 

How do we train our students to utilize abstract principles wisely without obscuring the faces of those affected by their work?  How can we discard the masks without jeopardizing the healthy degree of detachment that is a key component of the rule of law?  These are not just insights for lawyers, obviously: to what extent have the bishops employed their own set of abstractions in ways that serve to obscure the faces of abuse victims?

We have not had as many conferences dedicated to such conversations since the Great Recession and ensuing Law School Troubles - ten years ago, we gathered regularly at conferences for, e.g., religiously affiliated law schools, Catholic legal theory, Catholic social thought and law.  Understandably, law schools have been focused on more pressing fiscal issues.  As the market stabilizes, reconvening with friends and fellow travelers at Fordham reminded me just how important these questions - and our persistent, institutional engagement with them - are to the well-being of our students and the broader society.

September 17, 2018 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Robert Louis Wilken at the Center for Law and Religion

We are delighted to host Professor Robert Louis Wilken (the author of one of my favorite books on the history of the early Church) tomorrow to discuss his forthcoming book, "Liberty in the Things of God." 

Professor Wilken's presentation is the first at our Colloquium in Law and Religion this fall, a seminar at St. John's Law School that my colleague, Mark Movsesian, and I co-teach. More soon on the substance of Professor Wilken's very interesting new book concerning the intellectual origins of the idea of religious freedom.

September 16, 2018 in DeGirolami, Marc | Permalink

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dean Announcement at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law

This year CUA's Law School Dean, Dan Attridge, announced he would be stepping down.  After this very successful Deanship, the University has begun its national search.  Below is the announcement as well as contact information.  Of course, MOJ'ers can also feel free to contact me directly with any questions as well as a more lengthy description of the position.


As the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, the Catholic University of America is committed to being a comprehensive Catholic and American institution of higher learning, faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed on by the Church. Dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason, the Catholic University of America seeks to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church, the nation, and the world.

Established in 1897, the Columbus School of Law is a national leader in preparing students of all faiths for the practice of law. The Law School has outstanding programs, institutes, externships, study-abroad opportunities, and nationally recognized clinics. Located in the nation’s capital, the Law School is housed in a beautiful modern building specifically designed for contemporary legal education, with state-of-the-art technology throughout its classrooms and library. The Law School offers three degrees: the Juris Doctor (J.D.), including a full-time day program and a part-time evening program; the Master of Laws (LL.M.); and the Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.)

The School’s approach to legal education can be summarized with three words: practical, focused, and connected, also referred to as the CUA Law Advantage. The School shines as a gem within legal education in Washington, comprising collegial and compassionate students, a supportive and academically distinguished faculty, and an accomplished and well-connected alumni base that is actively involved in assisting current students to reach their goals.

The Law School seeks a distinguished legal scholar or member of the legal profession to serve as its next Dean. Reporting to the Provost, the Dean is the School of Law’s chief academic, advancement, financial, and administrative officer, with overall responsibility for its academic programs, operating budget, personnel management, strategic planning, public relations, and fundraising. The Dean is also the Law School’s primary representative to the University, alumni, and legal communities.

The next Dean will be presented with the opportunity not only to propel CUA Law to higher levels of prominence and distinction, but also to serve among the senior leaders of an international, Catholic research university.

CUA seeks a Dean who will make a significant contribution to advancing the University’s mission and goals, continue to advance the national academic and professional standing of the Law School, and provide strategic vision at an important time in its history. Candidates should have demonstrated leadership, administrative, and fundraising abilities and offer a long-term vision for the continued growth of CUA Law. Because the Law School seeks a vibrant intellectual leader, all candidates are expected to meet the qualifications for appointment at the rank of full professor with continuous tenure by their scholarly publications and/or distinguished contributions to the profession.

Nominations, inquires, and applications should be sent in confidence to: [email protected]

The Catholic University of America is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer.


September 13, 2018 in Leary, Mary G. | Permalink

A short opinion piece on religious freedom and church accountability

Thanks to Richard Reinsch, at Law & Liberty, for including this short piece of mine in today's symposium on "the Catholic Church's crisis."  A bit:

. . . [I] is clear, and it is crucial, that – in accord with due process, of course, and in keeping with important safeguards like statutes of limitations – alleged crimes be investigated, that criminal offenses be punished, that victims are compensated. This is true for bishops and clergy no less than it is for politicians and police or for laymen and citizens. It seems no less clear and crucial that not only repentance and penance but also reform and a reckoning are needed in the Church leadership, structures, and processes.

At the same time, calls for “accountability” should reflect careful thinking about the questions “accountable to whom?” There are matters over which secular political authorities and public officials have no power or say. . . .

September 13, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A podcast on Endo's "Silence"

Longtime MOJ readers know that a number of us are big fans of Shusaku Endo's (complicated, haunting, fascinating) novel, "Silence."  I was glad to see it featured the other day on one of my favorite podcasts, John Miller's "Great Books."  Check it out.  (I was intrigued by Miller's guest's "take" on the novel, which was clearly a product of her Protestant lenses.  I wonder if other Catholic readers will have a similar impression.)

September 11, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

A troubling opinion on church autonomy from the CJEU

Here's the press release.  Nutshell:

Dismissal of a Catholic doctor from a managerial position by a Catholic hospital due
to his remarriage after a divorce may constitute unlawful discrimination on grounds
of religion.

The requirement that a Catholic doctor in a managerial position respect the Catholic Church’s
notion of marriage as sacred and indissoluble does not appear to be a genuine, legitimate and
justified occupational requirement, which is nevertheless a matter for the German Federal Labour
Court to determine in the present case.


However, it is for the Bundesarbeitsgericht to determine whether IR has established that, in the light of the
circumstances of the case, there is a probable and substantial risk that its ethos or its right
of autonomy will be undermined.

Stay tuned.

September 11, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Stabat: Regenerating the Church from the Foot of the Cross

As I try to steady myself amidst the earthquake of the crisis in the Church, I frequently return in my mind’s eye to living and working in New York City during the tragic event that we mark today, 9/11.  I remember going to a liturgy for the victims in a large and packed church in the heart of Manhattan.  It was only when two very large candles were lit that I began to sob:  “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”  In the intense days that followed, I frequently touched that mercy in the atmosphere on the streets, and especially riding the subway.  We were strangers, but our best hope was to be human together and attentive to each other’s pain and each other’s needs.

And so now too, I am drawn to the foot of the cross: “Lamb of God.”  What a horrible, violent, shameful, ugly, fearful, repulsive scene.  What must it have been for Mary, who sang of the greatness of God’s work when Jesus was in her womb, to witness the body of her Son so reduced—to the point that he even seemed drained of his divinity: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) 

And yet in the Gospel of John, Mary is called to focus her attention on the person who is standing beside her: “Woman, behold your son.”  And John is called to turn to Mary: “Behold your mother.”  And so John took Mary into his own home. (John 19:26-27).  This is the powerful DNA of the newly born Church that emerges from Jesus’s radical identification with all forms of human weakness and suffering. 

It is true that this moment of intense purification calls for a creative brainstorm on how to start or strengthen structures and practices of transparency, accountability, and shared decision-making.  But perhaps in the midst of these conversations, we can also work together to identify some of the spiritual wounds that have led to unhealthy and even vicious practices within Church structures and institutions.  For example, many who work within the Church—priests and laity alike—do not experience the warmth of an intimate and human space that nurtures their spiritual, personal and emotional integrity, and also keeps them connected and accountable to the larger community.  Who is paying attention when inevitable personal crises emerge?  Who has time to listen and walk together through those questions and doubts?  What practices can sustain our focus and reinforce our efforts to be in the world, all together, a people of the Beatitudes: poor, meek, pure, just, close to those who suffer?

I think it may be here that Jesus’s words from the cross cry out to each of us: “Behold your son.”  In his Commentary on the Gospel of John, the Church Father Origen explained that Mary had just one Son.  The injunction was not to behold another son, but to behold her one Son, the Christ, in John: “Lo, this is Jesus, whom you bore.”  (Book 1:6)  When we behold the wounded body of today’s Church, we behold the wounded body of Christ. 

“Behold your mother.”  What might it mean for us to “take Mary home” in the wake of this crisis?  There would be many ways to invoke her presence and her closeness to us in this moment.  As our blog recalls, Mary is Mirror of justice, and she is also Refuge of sinners.  Both dimensions of her love can accompany us in the important work of truth-telling and healing in the wake of the unspeakable crimes and abuse that have been revealed.   

Perhaps one of the most powerful ways to bring Mary home is to focus on how her open adherence to God’s great love generates the presence of the living Christ in our world.  This presence can then in turn be our guide in the difficult work of in-depth cultural change.  Within the great mosaic of the Church we may have different roles and ways to respond to the crisis.  For some of us, our contribution might simply consist in helping to create a space of community and love where people are welcomed and accompanied in the ups and downs of our lives, so that many can experience the Church as the home and school of communion. (Novo millennio n.43).

All of this work can be an expression of Mary’s own love and care for the Church, through which, in that stabat, she beholds her own Son.  Mary, Seat of wisdomVessel of honor, Help of Christians, pray for us.  Amy Uelmen

September 11, 2018 in Uelmen, Amy | Permalink

Monday, September 10, 2018

First Things Supreme Court Roundup: "Kennedy's Last Term"

Kevin Walsh and I have this year's Supreme Court roundup at First Things: Kennedy's Last Term. In the piece we cover some of the major decisions of the last term, including First Amendment cases (Masterpiece, NIFLA, Janus), cases concerning what we call "the influence of social, technological, and moral change on Supreme Court doctrine" (Wayfair, Carpenter, Murphy v. NCAA), and political gerrymandering/judicial limits cases (Gill, Benisek), as well as a short comment on Trump v. Hawaii. 

Something from the conclusion:

What, then, should we expect from the post-Kennedy Court? Perhaps more of the same. There was not a single 5–4 decision this term in which Justice Kennedy joined with the more liberal wing of the Court. That has never before happened on the Roberts Court. And there were fourteen 5–4 cases in which Kennedy joined with the four more conservative justices to form a majority, including First Amendment cases such as Janus and NIFLA, separation of powers cases like Trump v.Hawaii, political process cases involving political and racial gerrymandering, and a range of statutory interpretation and business cases. This record suggests that, should Judge Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed, we ought to expect a fair amount of continuity rather than radical change.

But in other major areas—areas that happen not to have been addressed this term—the change may be more substantial. Consider, for example, the constitutional law of abortion. Here, Kennedy’s replacement might make a difference, particularly if there is a possibility that a Justice Kavanaugh might join with four colleagues in ending the regime of constitutional abortion law initiated by Roe v. Wade.

Social conservatives have been disappointed before. The Court’s first major abortion case after Justice Kennedy joined the Court was the 1989 decision Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, where it seemed there might be five votes to overrule Roe. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote an opinion for four justices that purported to “modify and narrow” Roe, but Reagan-nominated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor went her own way, introducing the “undue burden” standard that has remained the law until today. Scalia, meanwhile, lamented that this missed opportunity to reverse Roe meant that “the mansion of constitutional abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb, and never entirely brought down, no matter how wrong it may be.” Scalia was farseeing. Four years later, in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Kennedy joined with O’Connor and Justice David Souter to preserve what they called “the central holding” of Roe.

We are guardedly optimistic that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will eventually result in the rejection of Roe v. Wade. But nobody should expect a quick or complete demolition of constitutional abortion rights. Caution is in order because of both internal Court dynamics and external pressure on the ­institution.

The shift on the new Court should be measured not by the distance between Kennedy and ­Kavanaugh, but between Kennedy and Roberts. On a multi-member Court, the views of the median justice matter most in the close cases implicating the culture wars. And Roberts cares deeply about public perceptions of the Court’s legitimacy. The same concerns that motivate Roberts to embrace minimalism more broadly, as in the cases this term about partisan gerry­mandering and sales taxes, will likely mean even greater caution in these hotter and angrier areas of constitutional law.

Neither should we forget that the result of overruling the Roe/Casey regime is no panacea. It would simply lift restrictions on state legislation. But that is hardly always desirable. We can surely expect some, perhaps many, states to follow the lead of Massachusetts, where legislators passed a NASTY (Negating Archaic Stereotypes Targeting Young) Women Act that repealed abortion restrictions that might in theory have come back into force if Roe/Casey were overturned. New York’s governor has made extensive abortion rights a rallying cry of his campaign for reelection.

Just as the damage done by Roe/Casey is not exclusively legal, neither will it be undone by legal means alone. The Court and dominant cultural opinion shape each other, and the arrow of influence runs in both directions. However much “the mansion of constitutional abortion law” may be dismantled, the constitutional rot at its foundation is the result of powerful cultural forces. Let us not put our trust in judges any more than princes, not only because they are fallible, but also because judges are meant to judge, not to save us from ourselves.

September 10, 2018 in DeGirolami, Marc | Permalink

Winters's misrepresentation of Garnett re: public-sector employees and unionization

Over at Distinctly Catholic, Michael Sean Winters links to a funny bit at The Onion and then tosses a bit of off-color snark at MOJ, and a post of mine, regarding my view (expressed zillions of time here) that "it is not the case that the Church's social teachings -- including her teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers -- require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context)." 

Contrary to what Winters says, I have never said that "the church's teaching that workers have a right to organize does not extend to public sector workers because the church never specifically said it so extends."  What comes before and after "because" in Winters's sentence is wrong.  I think that all workers have a right to "organize" (and, as it happens, the Church has long so taught).  I do believe that it is a distortion of the Church's social teachings to think that those teachings "require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context)."  And, I think this "because" not because public-sector unionism wasn't mentioned in Rerum Novarum, but because public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context) is, all things considered, contrary to the common good.

Winters ends his little jab with what I suppose is intended to be a funny comparison but it seemed more than a little inappropriate (not to mention inapt) to me.  Readers should, of course, decide for themselves.

September 10, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Forgiveness no matter what (but not necessarily reconciliation)

Forgiveness is the demand of the Gospel that can be the hardest to meet, at least when forgiveness is undertaken with the seriousness of purpose the Gospel and most of the Christian tradition understand it to require.  But what constitutes the act we call "forgiveness?" I attempt to answer this question in a paper I have just posted, Forgiveness No Matter What: Justice and Love among Equals, the abstract of which appears below.   

My argument for forgiveness "no matter what" does not imply, let alone entail, that those who forgive as they should should also reconcile with those they forgive.  Current events make it timely to be clear on where forgiveness ends and the distinct question of reconciliation can begin.  With Pope Francis and a growing chorus of Catholic bishops asking now for forgiveness for the acts and omissions of  so very many bishops and priests having to do with the sexual abuse of children, vile and sometimes criminal acts and cover-ups, it bears emphasis that, on my account of forgiveness, forgiveness, although it is to be given no matter what, does not entail reconciliation. A victim who has managed truly to forgive his or her offender may nonetheless have good and sufficient reason to avoid anything like reconciliation with the offender, no matter how contrite or eager for reconciliation the offender may be.  Even victims who can bring themselves to forgive bishops who concealed sexual crimes may surely have the best reasons for insisting that the offending bishops be removed, by the Pope, from office and duly punished.  Forgiveness is a moral act of love among equals, and as such it is agnostic concerning the strictly prudential judgments that should determine how to interact, if at all, with forgiven offenders. 



Abstract: This paper argues that, given an understanding of human persons as having good reasons to act for the natural happiness of which they are capable, forgiveness is properly defined as the extension of the due love of self of a person who has been offended to his or her offender, upon realizing that he or she has been offended. 

Every account of forgiveness presupposes some moral anthropology, and the teleological account of the human person made explicit here, with the help of the work of Thomas Aquinas and Alasdair MacIntyre, postulates a human function that in turn provides the person who would qualify himself as a rational agent good reasons for choice and action.  Those reasons include, when the rational agent has suffered an injustice in the form of an offense, choosing, on the one hand, to hate the injustice per se but, on the other, to love first himself and, by an extension of that love between persons who are by nature equals, his offender. The basic idea, pursued in conversation with a wide range of contemporary accounts of forgiveness, is that the obligation to forgive one’s offenders is unconditional exactly because it follows from the indefeasible good reasons a human person has to love himself or herself, even in the face of offense and any consequent misdirected desire to hate his offender.  

Forgiveness “no matter what” does not entail reconciliation with one’s offender; the self-loving forgiver may have good and sufficient reasons that in fact bar reconciliation with his offender, even the repentant and contrite offender.  But an offended person never lacks good and sufficient reason to love himself with (here in Aquinas’s terms) amor amicitiae and amor concupiscentiae, nor, upon reaching the correct judgment that he and his offender are moral equals, his offender with those same two forms of love.  Forgiveness involves willing the goods for one’s offender that escaped him when he chose to perpetrate the offense.

The analysis stresses the importance to forgiveness of what Harry Frankfurt called “second-order desires” because of the central place of forgiveness in preventing lives from going wrong because of misdirected desires, e.g., the desire to hate one’s enemy.  The analysis grapples with the implications of the inequality of persons’ capacities to form second-order desires and, further, to reach the judgment that we are essentially one another’s equals.  I also consider the place of grace, the divine gift by which the human person with a natural end is given also a supernatural end, in a complete economy of forgiveness. Finally, the paper suggests why modern nation states lack the important capacity to show offenders anything approximating the loving forgiveness by which those who have suffered injustice are bound back together with those who have done the injustice.


September 6, 2018 in Brennan, Patrick | Permalink

Important win in ministerial-exception case

Thanks to the merry band of happy religious-freedom warriors at the Becket Fund!  Full story here.  (I was honored to co-file an amicus brief with our own Tom Berg and others . . .).

Recent news and events have many religious-freedom defenders reeling and angry (understandably).  But the "freedom of the Church" proposal has never rested on a premise or claim that the Church's leaders, ministers, and members do not sometimes do awful things.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Amy Uelmen, "Celibacy is not about time management"

Charlie Camosy has a nice interview up at Crux with our own Amy Uelmen, regarding (inter alia) celibacy (As MOJ readers probably know, Amy has taken vows in the Focolare movement), its practice, and its point.  Amy's reflections are, as always, thoughtful and inspiring.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Lumen Christi Institute event: Joseph Singer, "Judging as Judgment"

More information about this interesting event in Chicago (Oct. 4) is available here.

September 6, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Monday, September 3, 2018

Laborem Exercens (and a friendly reminder)

It never hurts -- and on Labor Day, it makes particular sense -- to re-read Laborem ExercensHere it is.  

Also, just your friendly, regular MOJ Labor Day reminder that, despite what some opportunistic commentators contend, it is not the case that the Church's social teachings -- including her teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers -- require, or even recommend, support for public-sector unionism (as it exists today, in today's legal and regulatory context).

September 3, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Our faith is in Christ--and Christ alone

It is not the teaching of the Catholic Church that our faith is in priests or even popes. They have their roles and their authority, but they are imperfect human beings and, in any particular case--or even in many cases--may be corrupt. It is the teaching of the Church that our faith is in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone.

We go to Mass to hear his Gospel proclaimed. Holy Communion is communion with him. If we are fortunate, we are ministered to by a faithful, even holy, priest. (There are many such men, thank God.) But the priest is Christ's minister. Yes, it is the task and role of the priest to emulate Jesus, to be in persona Christi capitis, to serve Christ by serving us; but it is not the priest (or bishop or pope) who is the subject and object of our faith: it is Jesus Christ--and him alone. It is Christ and him alone who saves. It is him--Son of the living God, sent by the Father to atone for sins and be our redeemer--whom we worship; it is in him, and in no one else, that we place our hope and trust.

Considered in its human dimensions, the Church and its clergy--and laity--sometimes flourish and sometimes descend into corruption. The "institutional church" has had, and will, as long as Jesus tarries, have moments of glory and moments of shame. Like God's original chosen people in the Scriptures, faith will sometimes burn bright and other times fade--and be sustained only by a remnant. When the people and their leaders are faithful, the Church (again like the people of Israel in the Bible) will have glorious achievements, visible to the human eye. When they are unfaithful, when they fall into immorality and go "whoring after" the false gods of the day, the beauty of the Church as a divine institution--the bride of Christ--will be obscured and what will be most visible is ugliness and shame.

And yet, Christ, the faithful bridegroom, will remain with the Church, making reform and renewal possible, and ensuring that the gates of hell, whatever inroads they may make, do not prevail against her.

September 2, 2018 | Permalink

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Red Hat Plays the Race Card

Cupich-Ahern Interview

On Monday, August 27, 2018, Blase Cupich, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, gave an interview with Mary Ann Ahern of NBC Channel 5 in Chicago.  During the interview Cardinal Cupich responded to a number of questions related to the McCarrick scandal and the Vigano testimony that are at the center of the profound crisis now confronting the Church.  (The full transcript of the interview is available here.  The video of the interview is available here).  In response to the question “Is there a Catholic civil war underway?” Cardinal Cupich said the following:

Well, I would say, I would say not a civil war.  There’s a small group of insurgents who have not liked Pope Francis from the very beginning.  They don’t like the fact that he’s calling for more lay involvement.  They don’t like the fact that he is calling for a synodal church where we get the advice of people.  They don’t like that he’s talking about the environment, or the poor, or the migrants, or that the death penalty is something we should outlaw.  They don’t like the fact that he is saying that economies kill.  There are people who don’t like that message.  And so there is an insurgency of people who don’t like that.  And quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino, and that he is bringing Latino culture into the life of the church, which we have been enriched by.  And I think that that is part of all of this too.

There are many things in the Cardinal’s remarks with which one could take issue, including both how he defines Pope Francis’ agenda and how he characterizes the criticisms to that agenda.  (For my own part, I know many people who are glad to hear Pope Francis’ concern for immigrants, the poor, and the environment, as well as his opposition to capital punishment, and his desire for lay involvement, but who, as loyal sons and daughters of the Church, still question his proposed innovations with respect to sacramental discipline).  But from this litany of charges, one thing stands out: Cardinal Cupich’s claim that people oppose the Pope because he is “a Latino.”  In doing so, the Cardinal labels as a racist anyone who questions Pope Francis’ agenda.

With respect, this statement is outrageous.  It is utterly shameful and wholly unbecoming of one of the successors to the apostles.  It is a sad day in the life of the Church when a Cardinal-Archbishop plays the race card.  In doing so he has disregarded not only the dignity owed to his office but the dignity of the faithful who, in lending their critical intelligence to this pontificate, have sought to realize the very kind of lay involvement that Cupich says is part of Francis’ vision for the Church.  Chicagoans are accustomed to such tactics, of course, and although not a native son of Chicago, Cardinal Cupich appears to have mimicked this aspect of the local political culture.  Indeed, he seems to have made use of this tactic for the most crass of political reasons – to garner sympathy and support for his position.

Cardinal Cupich’s scurrilous charge has no foundation.  Indeed, the Cardinal appears to have fabricated the supposed racial opposition to Papa Bergoglio out of whole cloth.  One cannot find any evidence of prejudice against the Pope’s ethnic or cultural background anywhere on the Catholic Internet, even on the websites of the so-called “insurgency.”  The Pope is of course an Argentine, the son of Italian immigrants.  But, according to Cardinal Cupich, anyone who isn’t wholly on board with the "Francis project” as Cupich defines it must be against the Pope because he or she is bigoted against Latinos.  

A true shepherd doesn’t slander the flock when he disagrees with them.  He seeks to understand their perspective and tends to their needs, drawing them to the nourishing truth of the Gospel.

 Instead, Cardinal Cupich has engaged in a brazen ad hominem attack.  He has here leveled what is essentially the worst accusation that can be brought against a person in American civil society -- that he or she is a racist.  That is not the care of a shepherd but the tactic of a bully.  Sad as it is, one expects to see these sorts of tactics employed in the realm of secular politics.  The people of God expect something more from their pastors.

Cardinal Cupich’s accusation of racism is not only false and irresponsible, it is also a distraction that diverts attention away from the real conversation that must take place.  Going forward, the Church, the people of God—both lay and ordained—must, with honesty and integrity, confront the sexual depravity, clericalism, abuse of power, and deep corruption that the McCarrick scandal has partially brought to light.










August 31, 2018 | Permalink

Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women

August 30, 2018

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Vatican City

Your Holiness: 

You have said that you seek a more incisive female presence in the Church,” and that “women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.”

We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.

........  read the rest and add your name here.


I'm proud to be one of the original signatories.  Last time I checked, the count was over 12,000 (in less than one day!)

August 31, 2018 in Schiltz, Elizabeth | Permalink

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The logic of statism: religious faith is a "mental illness"

See this story, from The Atlantic ("China Is Treating Islam like a Mental Illness").  I have to confess, it is impossible for me to take seriously -- and, in fact, I find it increasingly maddening -- when China's corporate and other enablers and apologists hold themselves out as arbiters of virtue.  And, the willingness of too many elite academic institutions to collaborate and excuse is very disappointing.  That said, China is really simply following the logic of statism, so I suppose news like this should not be surprising.

August 29, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Disentangling the "Crisis"

A friend asked me what I thought about the Catholic Church's "current crisis."  I thought, and I said, "what, exactly, do you mean?"  It seems to me that (at least) the following issues/problems/trials/"crises" are happening and also that it's important to distinguish among them, even as we recognize that at least some of them are connected with others:

First, there is the awful, scandalous fact that some Catholic clergy (and lay Church employees) exploited and sexually abused children.  My own sense -- I'm not an expert, and I'd welcome correction if I'm wrong -- is that this abuse (the "causes" of which I'm not addressing) has been very, very rare in the last, say, thirty years, in part because of policies and practices implemented in response to revelations.  That is, my sense is that Catholic schools, parishes, etc., are, today, very "safe environments" for children - safer than, among other things, public-school environments.

Second, there is the awful, scandalous fact that some Catholic bishops and dioceses, with the help of some lawyers, covered up this abuse and helped to perpetuate it precisely by covering it up and failing to remove abusers from ministry.  We were confronted with this fact after "Boston" and are being confronted with it again because of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.  Again, my sense is that this happened more in the past than in recent years -- in part because, again, most of the abuse cases took place many years ago.  I am not aware -- but, again, I'd welcome correction -- of substantiated claims that current bishops have covered up or facilitated or otherwise badly handled recent (say, post "Boston") cases of the sexual abuse of children, although it continues to be the case that some past cases are not being appropriately acknowledged.

Third, there is the widely shared impression among Catholics and others that the bishops are generally out of touch, over-concerned with careerism and advancement, prioritize collegiality and gladhanding and fundraising over the faithful exercise of their office (which Patrick Brennan described nicely here), are ideologically divided, and are jaw-droppingly tone-deaf about how it looks when, say, a diocese that serves many poor people buys a multi-million dollar Silicon Valley home for a retired bishop.  This impression is unfair to some bishops, but it seems to me to be warranted in too many cases, and that's depressing (even if, looking back over the Church's long history, not unprecedented).

Fourth, there are the allegations that Ted McCarrick sexually exploited, for years, seminarians and other young men, that this exploitation was known to (inter alia) other bishops, and that he nonetheless advanced and exercised a great deal of power and influence in the Church.

Fifth, there is the concern that exploitation like McCarrick's has been, and perhaps still is, a not-rare feature of the culture of and life in Catholic seminaries and that this feature of the seminary experience has been covered up or "looked away from" by Catholic generally and, more particularly, by bishops who were and are responsible for the wellbeing and formation of seminarians.

Sixth, there is the worry of some that "networks" of clergy, including bishops use secrecy, influence, and pressure to (among other things) prevent responses to various problems, including those described above and below.  (This worry pre-existed, of course, the recent testimony of Bishop Vigano and this worry, as I've encountered it, is related to but is also more specific than the impression set out above, after "Third".)

Seventh, there is the concern that, in fact, many -- not just a few -- Catholic clergy are sexually active, notwithstanding their vows and the moral teachings they profess to embrace and are charged with proposing and defending, and that this fact is widely known among clergy (including bishops) but "winked at" or ignored.

I'm sure there's more.  And, of course, these are not simply (and never have been) problems or issues for the Church in the United States; nor are they problems that only emerged after the Second Vatican Council or after the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. 

My own concern is that much of the press coverage I'm seeing, and a lot of the online (and other) reactions I'm reading, talk about "the crisis" -- or the "sex-abuse crisis" -- without distinguishing and disentangling these and other matters, each of which (it seems to me) needs to appropriately addressed.   

August 28, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Our hope does not lie in better "leadership"

The current crisis in the Church, the one crystalized by Archbishop Vigano's epochal "Testimony" (which remains to be verified in the time-tested procedures and processes of the Church), has led lots of well-intentioned, good, prayerful, and hurt people to denounce failures of "leadership" in the Church.  And it is no doubt true, I think, that we have witnessed and are witnessing hour by hour a failure of leadership on the part of our Catholic bishops. 

But "leadership" is not a Catholic, nor even a theological, concept, and no manner or amount of better "leadership" will lead (sic) to solutions to the deep problems that are afflicting the Mystical Body of Christ.  The Church has always taught that the successors to the Apostles who are the bishops are entrusted by their consecration with three distinct but inter-related functions: to teach, to govern, and to sanctify. Cf. CIC No. 375.  Today and for more than a few decades, many of the bishops as individuals, the bishops as groups (such as national episcopal conferences), and the bishops as the college of bishops (cf. CIC 337) have failed the People of God in ways that, as the growing light reveals, are both abject and systemic.  What we we are witnessing but also suffering is not merely a failure of governance;  it is also cause and consequence of failures of teaching and sanctifying.

All I can think at this excruciating moment is that, along with the prayer and penance that are overdue and that are more needful than ever before, the solution must be sought in the exercise of the three true gifts of the office of bishop, not in more "leadership"or, its cousin, bureaucracy.  This is a time for prophecy, yes, but more immediately for fervent exercise of the office of bishop in all three of its aspects -- teaching, governing, and sanctifying, and all three starting with the Bishop of Rome, as Pope Francis has preferred to be called from the time of his election to the Chair of Peter.  The only true future for the pilgrim Church lies in orthodox teaching, just and effective governance, and the grace of the sacraments and prayer.  


August 27, 2018 in Brennan, Patrick | Permalink

"Religious Lawyering at Twenty" conference

This upcoming event, at Fordham, should be wonderful.  If you can attend . . . do!

Fordham Law School, New York City
Thursday, September 13, 2018 - Friday, September 14, 2018
Building on the seminal work of Tom Shaffer (On Being a Christian a Lawyer, 1981), the late
1990s saw a very creative ferment in reflection on how religious values might inform legal
education and the practice of law. In 1997 and 1998, lawyers, judges, law students and law
professors from various religious traditions gathered at Fordham Law School for two interfaith
conferences: The Relevance of Religion to a Lawyer’s Work (1997) and Rediscovering Religion
in the Lives of Lawyers and Those They Represent (1998). At about the twenty year mark, we
pause to gather insights from personal and institutional journeys thus far, and look toward the
CORAL (Council on Religion and Law)
Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work, Fordham University School of Law
Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University
Thursday September 13, 2018
Festschrift in honor of Howard Lesnick, Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania Law
School, author of Religion in Legal Thought and Practice, Listening for God, The Moral Stake in
Legal Education, and numerous other articles and essays that are foundational to the field of
religious lawyering.
4:00 p.m. Afternoon Discussion: Humanizing Legal Education
“... I want to teach people to be people, to become people, to become more fully human. And what that
means to me is to lead students to ask themselves: Who am I? What am I doing in the world? What do I
want to do in the world? -- Howard Lesnick (1982), quoted in Roger C. Cramton, Beyond the Ordinary
Religion (Dec. 1987)
The Honorable David Shaheed, retired Superior Court Judge, Associate Professor at IUPUI
School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Amy Uelmen, (Lecturer, Georgetown Law), will
spearhead a discussion with graduates who while in law school benefitted from Howard
Lesnick’s work (Georgetown Law alumni: Daniel DiRocco, Lindsey Kaiser, Patricia Jerjian,
James Simmons, David Schwartz).
6:00 p.m. Dinner: In Appreciation of the Work of Howard Lesnick
● Deborah J. Cantrell, Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
● Emily Albrink Hartigan, Professor of Law, St. Mary’s University School of Law
● Timothy Floyd, Tommy Malone Distinguished Chair in Trial Advocacy and Director of
Experiential Education, Mercer University School of Law
● Darryl Trimiew, Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics and Interim Director of Black
Church Studies At Candler School of T
Friday, September 14, 2018: Religious Lawyering at Twenty
8:30 Continental Breakfast and Coffee, Registration
9:00 Welcome and Brief Introduction from CORAL (Council on Religion and Law)
9:15 - 10:40 - Religious Lawyering at Twenty
In conversation with the next generation: Scholars of the religious lawyering movement share
their insights, how they see the future of the project, and the crucial questions and challenges to
● David Zeligman, SJD Candidate, Emory Law School
● Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Founding
Board Member of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers
● Russell G. Pearce, Professor of Law; Edward and Marilyn Bellet Chair in Legal Ethics,
Morality, and Religion, Fordham University School of Law
● Marcia Pally, professor of multilingual multicultural studies at New York University and at
Fordham University; guest professor of theology at Humboldt University, Berlin
● David Opterbeck, Professor of Law and co-director of the Gibbons Institute of Law,
Science and Technology, Seton Hall University School of Law
CLE credit available for this session.
10:40 - 11:00 Break, with time to peruse display tables
11:00 - 12:15 Workshops
The workshops are designed to create space for scholars and lawyers from particular religious
communities and/or with an interest in a particular topic to gather and reflect on their own
journey over the past two decades.
1. Muslim Perspectives. Coordinators:
Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Yasir Billoo, Partner, International Law Partners LLP, Board Member and Secretary of the
National Association of Muslim Lawyers
Saleemah Snow, Associate Professor of Law, David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the
District of Columbia
2. Jewish Perspectives. Coordinators:
Tsvi Blanchard, Meyer Struckmann Professor of Jewish Law at Humboldt University Faculty of
Law in Berlin, Scholar-in-Residence, Institute for Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work, Fordham
University School of Law
Perry Dane, Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law
Samuel J. Levine, Director of the Jewish Law Institute and Professor of Law, Touro Law Center
3. Hindu Perspective on Criminal Defense
Presenter: Sai Santosh Kumar Kolluru (Emory Law School, ‘18).
Moderator and commentator: Clark D. Cunningham, Director National Institute for Teaching
Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP); W. Lee Burge Chair in Law and Ethics, Georgia State
University College of Law
Commentator: Marie Failinger, Judge Edward J. Devitt Professorship, Professor of Law,
Mitchell-Hamline School of Law
4. “Rejoice and Be Glad” for Lawyers: Insights from Pope Francis. Coordinators:
Robert Vischer, Dean and Mengler Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Lucia Silecchia, Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America
12:15 - 1:15 LUNCH
1:15 - 2:30 Report Back and Shared Reflections from the Workshops
Full-group gathering to connect and relate conversations that occurred in the morning
workshops. The gathering will use a “relational perspectives” methodology to foster an
interactive, interreligious exchange.
Facilitator: Deborah J. Cantrell, Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
2:30 - 2:45 Break
2:45 - 4:00 Religious Lawyering and the Commitment to Justice
● Gadeir Abbas, President, National Association of Muslim Lawyers
● Doug Ammar, Executive Director, Georgia Justice Project, Atlanta
● Mary Novak, Associate Director for Ignatian Formation, Georgetown Law, Chair of the
Board for Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty and Promote
Restorative Justice
● Gemma Solimene, Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
● Ian Weinstein, Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
CLE credit available for this session.
4:00 - 4:30 Conclusions: Looking to the Future
Brief discussion with a small group, followed by plenary discussion of ideas for follow-up, as well
as needs and desires based on particular practice areas.
4:30 - 5:15 Reception

August 27, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites."

It's almost as if the Holy Spirit is giving us painfully apt readings these days:

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves. . . ."

August 27, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Cause Greater Than Yourself

For much of my life, but no longer, I was very active in politics and frequently volunteered in campaigns, including presidential campaigns.

When I was still little more than a boy, I was the second youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1980, where I proudly cast my vote for the nomination of Ronald Reagan.

More recently, now old enough to be a member of the AARP, I was proud to caucus in Minnesota in 2016 for the presidential candidacy of Senator Marco Rubio (who didn’t fare so well nationally, but carried Minnesota by a large margin). 

5C787332-61BA-4B3E-A0D9-11C3073190A8During my decades of political activism, I saw the Republican Party as the party of honor, optimism, freedom, and decency. For those same reasons, I am no longer a Republican. Without any political home, I have turned my attentions and devoted my passions more and more to family, students, and my wonderful prisoner clients in our pro bono Appellate Clinic. I admire those who remain in the political arena, but for me, this is the better course at present.

When I was politically active, of all the people I was lucky to meet and talk with at least briefly, Ronald Reagan and John McCain naturally stand out in my mind as legends and, especially in John McCain’s case, a true American hero.

President Reagan and Senator McCain stand as a reminder that there was a time, and not that long ago, when leaders put country first, maintained integrity, and never failed to uphold basic human decency.

John McCain wrote in his memoir, Faith of My Fathers: “Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”

With Senator John McCain’s passing, we have suffered an unimaginable loss. I hope that our realization of loss might inspire us to seek something more, once again.

August 26, 2018 in Sisk, Greg | Permalink

"Master, to whom shall we go?"

From today's (strikingly, depressingly) apt Gospel:

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" 
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."


August 26, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

From today's first reading:

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
summoning their elders, their leaders,
their judges, and their officers. 
When they stood in ranks before God,
Joshua addressed all the people:
"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. 
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

But the people answered,
"Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods. 
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery. 
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed. 
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

August 26, 2018 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink