Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Catholic Social Thought and United States Family Law: Models of Interaction

Journal of Catholic Social Thought, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2010, pp. 315-336

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-62

23 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2012  

Helen M. Alvare

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

During the past two decades, a group of scholars have demonstrated how family law and religion, particularly Catholic Social Thought (“CST”), can work together for good ends. This project to encourage the interrelationship of CST and family law is a difficult but necessary endeavor in the United States today given the complexity and foundational importance of the legal questions that have emerged as a consequence of changing behaviors concerning sex, marriage and parenting. These include terribly basic questions about the legal significance, if any, of an individual’s sex, the relationship between sex and parenting, the relative social weight of adults’ desires versus children’s needs, and the relationship between marriage and the public good. Both private and public actors have begun turning to religion to help answer these questions, but there are also many objections to this interdisciplinary project, the most likely of which are 1) anthropological pessimism and the irrationality of religion, 2) Catholic sexism, 3) the irrelevance of religion to the future, and 4) the exclusion of moral norms from the legal arena. These objections, however, are not well-founded. To overcome these objections, this article provides a roadmap of the four existing models for the interrelationship of CST and family law. The first employs empirical data to illustrate and/or confirm a CST insight regarding norms for various family relationships. The second identifies an insight or norm held in common by CST and a secular source for family lawmaking, as a foundation for a particular family law. The third offers an insight from CST toward the project of addressing a particularly thorny family law dilemma. And the fourth explores the implications of the correlation between religiosity as a personal trait and good outcomes for families.

Keywords: African American, Benedict XVI, births, cohabitation, contraception, cultural, Deus Caritas Est, divorce, ecclesiastical, Familiaris Consortio, Gaudium et Spes, HHS, Harry Krause, Health Human Services, Hispanic, men, political, Pope John Paul II, teen pregnancy, Thomas Aquinas, wedlock, women

JEL Classification: A13, H51, J12, Z10

Suggested Citation

Alvare, Helen M., Catholic Social Thought and United States Family Law: Models of Interaction (2010). Journal of Catholic Social Thought, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2010, pp. 315-336; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-62. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2146073

Helen M. Alvare (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
60
Rank
305,452
Abstract Views
739