Resisting the Grand Coalition in Favor of the Status Quo by Giving Full Scope to the Libertas Ecclesiae

Freedom and the Moral Law: Proceedings from the Convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, 2013

Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3060

43 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2013  

Patrick McKinley Brennan

Villanova University School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2013

Abstract

This paper argues that questions about "religious freedom" must be subordinated to the fundamental principle of the liberty of the Church, libertas Ecclesiae. The First Amendment's agnosticism with respect to the liberty of the Church is not ultimately normative. Catholics and others who merely seek religious "accommodation," as with the HHS mandate, for example, are agents of a status quo that illegitimately has comfortable self-preservation as its highest value. It is Catholic doctrine that "creation was for the sake of the Church," not for the sake of, say, religious freedom. The paper argues that the contingent constitution of the state must conform itself to the given constitution of the Church. It is a matter of divine right that the purpose of creation itself be respected in law. The Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae (1965), requires, as Catholic doctrine always has, that the state promote acts of true religion -- not merely "freedom" -- as part of its duty to promote the common goods, both natural and supernatural. While it would be a gross injustice to force a person to embrace the Catholic religion, the Catholic religion is entitled to be the religion of the state in a Catholic society. Pace the views of many contemporary Catholics, Catholic doctrine does not bless settling for constitutional agnosticism.

Keywords: religious freedom, liberty of the church, Jesus Christ, common good, free exercise, First Amendment, freedom of conscience, liberalism, Catholic Church, John Locke, HHS mandate, John Courtney Murray, Judge John Noonan

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Patrick McKinley, Resisting the Grand Coalition in Favor of the Status Quo by Giving Full Scope to the Libertas Ecclesiae (September 1, 2013). Freedom and the Moral Law: Proceedings from the Convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, 2013; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3060. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2341793

Patrick McKinley Brennan (Contact Author)

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

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