Monday, March 19, 2012

A Jesuit Critique Of An Editorial Essay At The Jesuit Magazine America

Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J.
In its March 5 issue, America magazine has a series of essays which fall within the caption “Religious Liberty at Risk?”. The question mark in the cover title suggests in the periodical, which bills itself as “the National Catholic Weekly”, that the issue of religious liberty at risk is a debatable one, at least for Catholics, in the United States today. Some of the contributions in this issue of America argue that the concerns being raised these days about religious liberty by Roman Catholics, largely but not exclusively within the purview of the HHS mandate, necessitate a “balancing act” between the rights of the Church and “the rights of all.” Who the “all” are is never addressed (people who want birth control, abortion, and sterilization?), and the question surrounding what are the “rights” claimed is ambiguous in large part. Several of the contributions rely on the thinking of John Courtney Murray, S.J. regarding the subjects of religious freedom, morality, and the law (civil). In this regard, I am sure that most folks who read carefully his work would agree that Murray, the Declaration on Religious Liberty, and international texts such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights share the same view that authentic religious freedom is simultaneously a personal and communal right with both private and public dimensions that must be protected. But I detected from time to time that some of the conclusions in portions of the America articles cannot be supported by the thought of Murray as is suggested by several contributors. To comprehend what are the contentions that misuse of Murray, one must take stock of how Murray is brought into the neuralgic issues of the day (same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception). Second, it is crucial to comprehend all of Murray rather than just some of Murray.
Link (here) to read the full article by Fr. Robert John Araujo S.J. entitled The Misunderstanding and, therefore, the Misuse of John Courtney Murray: at the blog Mirror of Justice


Anonymous said...

Surprisingly a thin article--mostly raw assertion with the weak claim of coercion. The HHS mandate does not coerce at all.

It's worth re-reading Murray's memo to Cardinal Cushing.

RJA sj said...

I have read carefully and often Fr. Murray's memo to which Anonymous refers. Murray did not discuss consensus, the topic I addressed, in the memo to Cardinal Cushing at all.

R. J. Araujo, S.J.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said...

"our staff members asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. They were informed that they are. So much for 'working out the wrinkles.' Instead, they advised the bishops' conference that we should listen to the 'enlightened' voices of accommodation, such as the recent, hardly surprising yet terribly unfortunate editorial in America."

Anonymous said...

As Hollenbach notes in the JOURNAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY he did argue agains the use of coercive civil restraint when there is significant disagreement in society about the ethical values at stake.

Anonymous said...

p.s. civil law need not seek to abolish all immoral activities in society.

Araujo's argument hinges on the assertion that the govt. is coercing Catholic institutions.