Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

“A Liberalism Safe for Catholicism?” (Philpott & Anderson, eds.)

In June, the University of Notre Dame Press will release “A Liberalism Safe for Catholicism? Perspectives from The Review of Politics,” edited by Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame) and Ryan T. Anderson is (Heritage Foundation).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume is the third in the “Perspectives from The Review of Politics” series, following The Crisis of Modern Times, edited by A. James McAdams (2007), andWar, p03317Peace, and International Political Realism, edited by Keir Lieber (2009). InA Liberalism Safe for Catholicism?, editors Daniel Philpott and Ryan Anderson chronicle the relationship between the Catholic Church and American liberalism as told through twenty-seven essays selected from the history of the Review of Politics, dating back to the journal’s founding in 1939. The primary subject addressed in these essays is the development of a Catholic political liberalism in response to the democratic environment of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Works by Jacques Maritain, Heinrich Rommen, and Yves R. Simon forge the case for the compatibility of Catholicism and American liberal institutions, including the civic right of religious freedom. The conversation continues through recent decades, when a number of Catholic philosophers called into question the partnership between Christianity and American liberalism and were debated by others who rejoined with a strenuous defense of the partnership. The book also covers a wide range of other topics, including democracy, free market economics, the common good, human rights, international politics, and the thought of John Henry Newman, John Courtney Murray, and Alasdair MacIntyre, as well as some of the most prominent Catholic thinkers of the last century, among them John Finnis, Michael Novak, and William T. Cavanaugh. This book will be of special interest to students and scholars of political science, journalists and policymakers, church leaders, and everyday Catholics trying to make sense of Christianity in modern society.

Santorum, Catholicism, and Politics

An interesting and farily extensive story about Rick Santorum and the role he sees for Catholicism in politics, which the author characterizes as something of the inverse of John F. Kennedy’s view of the issue.

NY High Court Rules against Parishioners in Catholic Church Property Dispute

Another state high-court ruling highlighting the importance of the neutral principles of law doctrine in church property disputes. This week, the New York Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit that parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Church in downtown New York City (left) had brought against the church’s board of trustees, seeking to overturn a decision to dissolve the parish and demolish the church building. In 2007, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, citing the parish’s declining membership and the decayed state of the church building, directed that the parish be dissolved; shortly thereafter, the church’s board of trustees voted to demolish the church building. A group of parishioners then sued, arguing that as members of the parish they, not the board of trustees, had the ultimate say. Applying the neutral principles of law doctrine, the Court of Appeals examined the relevant legal instruments and rejected the parishioners’ argument. The church held the deed, the court explained, and the church’s bylaws gave the board of trustees, not the parishioners, control of the property, to be exercised in conformity with archdiocesan directives.  Our Lady of Vilnius Church, about 100 years old, was the traditional Lithuanian Catholic parish in New York City. The case is Blaudziunas v. Egan (N.Y. 2011).

Rudin, “Cushing, Spellman, O’Connor”

This looks like an interesting book about American Catholicism in the 20th century, Cushing, Spellman, O’Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations (Eerdmans 2011), by Rabbi James Rudin.  The publisher’s description follows:

James Rudin, a rabbi who has made a career of writing about and participating in interreligious dialogue, demonstrates how Cardinals Richard Cushing and Francis Spellman influenced the Second Vatican Council to adopt Nostra Aetate – a statement against anti-Semitism – and how Cardinal John O’Connor transformed that document’s sentiments into practical results a generation later. Two introductory chapters trace Jewish-Catholic relations from the first century to the twentieth, explaining the extraordinary nature of these cardinals’ actions.

Pithy and accessible, this book will spark lively discussion among church and synagogue study groups. It will also add compelling case studies to seminary courses on ecumenism and interfaith dialogue — regardless of any given group’s position on the ideological spectrum.

More on Lund and Anti-Catholicism Redux

As my colleague, Andrew Hamilton notes below, Christopher C. Lund of Wayne State University School of Law will soon publish The New Victims of the Old Anti-Catholicism in the Connecticut Law Review.  Having read Prof. Lund’s paper, I would like to complement Andrew’s post by detailing Lund’s claims.

Lund links the attitude underlying 21st-century, religious-freedom jurisprudence with the both popular and legal anti-Catholic prejudice that pervaded the United States in the 19th-century—yet he does so without examining any recent case brought by a Catholic.

Nevertheless, in the four cases Lund examines, the plaintiffs’ status as members of a religious minority—or an a-religious one—and their struggle for legal recognition bridge this apparent divide.  In other words, like 19th-century Catholics, all of the cases involve plaintiffs in a religious minority seeking recognition of their beliefs and practices as legal rights under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses.  Thus, Lund connects a present-day American Wiccan, Muslim, Evangelical Protestant, and Atheist to Catholics in America one-hundred-fifty-years ago.  More poignantly, in each contemporary case the plaintiff lost—outcomes that erode the idealistic notion that American legal and popular tolerance of minority religions expands with time.

For a description of each of the four cases Lund examines—and their significance—please follow the jump. Read more