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1. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Batule

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symposium 1: robert reilly's america on trial: commentary and critique

2. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Paul R. DeHart

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Many scholars view political contractarianism as a distinctly modern account of the foundations of political order. Ideas such as popular sovereignty, the right of revolution, the necessity of the consent of the governed for rightful political authority, natural equality, and a pre-civil state of nature embody the modern rupture with classical political philosophy and traditional Christian theology. At the headwaters of this modern revolution stands Thomas Hobbes. Since the American founders subscribed to the social contract theory, they are often said to reject classical political philosophy and traditional Christian political theology as well. In America on Trial, Robert Reilly rejects the usual argument. He maintains that the building blocks of the American founding originate in medieval Christian political theology. In this essay, I argue that a morally and metaphysically realist contractarian tradition—one that affirms natural equality, the authority of the society over government, the necessity of consent for legitimate government, the right to resist tyrannical rulers, and the idea of a pre-civil state of nature—predates Hobbes and also that the voluntarist contractarian tradition inaugurated by Hobbes is self-referentially incoherent. A coherent political contractarianism logicially depends on the sort of metaphysics and moral ontology Hobbes rejects.
3. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Kenneth L. Grasso

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Robert R. Reilly’s America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding argues that the intellectual roots of the founders’ political theory are found in the Christian understanding of man, society and the world, and in the tradition of natural law thinking that emerged under its aegis. The American founding, he concludes, must be understood as an attempted “re-establishment” of “the principles and practices” of medieval constitutionalism. While finding the broad outlines of Reilly’s argument persuasive, the author worries that Reilly does not adequately take into account the eclectic character of the founders’ thought, the influence of the Enlightenment and Reformation on it, and the long-term implications of the latter influences for the historical trajectory of public order they created. The contrast between Reilly’s understanding of the founding and John Courtney Murray’s more nuanced account (which recognizes the predominant influence of Christian natural law tradition on the American experiment, while acknowledging the presence of less wholesome influences as well), the article argues, underscores both the strengths and weaknesses of this book. While both Reilly and Murray would agree that the founding was “good,” Murray, unlike Reilly, recognizes that “the seeds of dissolution” were present from the beginning and worries whether it is ultimately “good enough” to sustain the American experiment in self-government and ordered liberty.
4. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Christopher James Wolfe

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Robert Reilly’s America on Trial presents a lengthy defense of the principles of the American Founding against recent critiques, especially focusing on those written from a Catholic perspective. His book finds a place in a larger discussion of American Catholic political thought that has been going on for more than a century. I first situate Reilly’s book within that debate, and then argue that Reilly’s account is correct on most counts. Some loose ends remain, but they can be dealt with by expanding some of the points that Reilly has already made. I think, though, that other points not even raised by Reilly’s critics will require further reflection by future American Catholic political thinkers. In 2020, the sensus communis in America has ceased to be “cool and deliberate,” a desideratum for the regime mentioned in Federalist 63; we need to figure out ways to make it cool again.
5. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Robert R. Reilly

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symposium 2: orestes brownson, catholicity, and the american regime

6. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Jerome C. Foss

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7. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Adam L. Tate

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Written in the aftermath of the Civil War, Orestes Brownson’s The American Republic is careful to address the arguments of the recently-defeated southerners. The running debates between southern constitutionalists and their nationalist opponents had produced a rich literature from the 1790s through secession. Brownson himself had known some of this literature and had greatly admired John C. Calhoun, the pre-eminent southern constitutionalist of the 1830s and 1840s. Brownson drew on the Old Republican constitutional tradition in The American Republic in order to counter the tendencies he saw in the northern movement for a national democratic politics. Through comparing Brownson’s ideas in The American Republic to those of Jeffersonian theorist John Taylor of Caroline, his reliance on Old Republican thinking becomes apparent.
8. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Jerome C. Foss

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This essay describes Orestes Brownson’s general orientation to the American regime. As an initial starting point, comparisons are made between Brownson and the other great commentator on the American constitutional order, Alexis de Tocqueville. Brownson tends to emphasize general ideas whereas Tocqueville begins with particulars, but both recognize the unique relationship between religion and politics in America, which presents a new approach to Church-state arrangements in the modern world. Brownson is hopeful that American Catholics can take the lead in American affairs and serve as an example to the citizens of other nations, but this will require a robust educative formation in which love of Truth and love of country are both appropriately nourished.
9. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Michael P. Krom

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The compatibility, or lack thereof, between Catholicism and American citizenship is continually raised by Catholic political theorists. With each new political crisis we face as a nation, proponents and opponents trot out their arguments in an attempt to prove that Americanism continues to nourish, or poison, the Body of Christ. This argument has been raging for nearly 200 years, and today an important contributor to this conversation is often overlooked: Orestes Brownson. While in his magnum opus, The American Republic, he spoke eloquently of America’s providential and Catholic mission, in 1870 he confided in Isaac Hecker that he had lost all hope for America and saw her as a corrupting influence on the Church in America. In this essay I explore Brownson as for and against America, showing how his later book, Conversations: Liberalism and the Church, reveals a consistency between his apparently contradictory stances.
10. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
P. Bracy Bersnak

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While Orestes Brownson’s works are the object of renewed interest, his writings on the relationship between Church and polity have received little notice. Some attention has been given to Brownson’s analysis of these issues in America, but little has been given to his views on Church and polity in Europe and the West more broadly. This article considers Brownson’s analysis of the history of Church-state relations in Europe to examine how it shaped his view of Church-state relations in the U.S. It then put Brownson in dialogue with subsequent Catholic debates in America about those relations down to the present.

symposium 3: catholics and the trump presidency

11. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Steven J. Brust

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12. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Thomas F. X. Varacalli

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It is too early to know if the judicial appointments of President Donald J. Trump will be an enduring legacy of his presidency because the Biden-Harris administration may have several opportunities to roll back his achievements. Still, Trump’s election in 2016 stymied the Left’s hope of a progressive Supreme Court. Trump has remodeled the Supreme Court into an originalist court. His Supreme Court appointments – Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett – have defended religious liberty claims repeatedly. Thus, if the Democrats are not able to pack the Court, Trump’s one-term presidency may have produced the most important cohort of judges in a generation.
13. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Steven J. Brust

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The “Catholic Vote” is usually understood to mean the descriptive measurement of the presidential candidate whom a majority of Catholics vote for. The more important question arises as to which candidate Catholics ought to vote for. Applying the Church’s relevant teachings on politics and morality and moral reasoning, especially the distinction between prudential and principled (non-negotiable) policies, demonstrates that one ought not to vote for former Vice President Biden, but suggests a vote for Donald Trump.


14. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Limore Yagil

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France is one of the countries of occupied Western Europe where the Jewish community best survived the Holocaust. The bishops, religious congregations and the priests there contributed to this situation in great measure. Many bishops remained silent about the roundups of Jews, but they helped to save many Jews in their dioceses. Most of them had been nominated to the episcopacy in the 1920s and 1930s when Eugenio Pacelli was nuncio and influential in the appointment of bishops. These bishops followed the policies of the Vatican which enabled the Church in France to fight Nazism and racism. During World War II, the Vatican sent enormous sums of money to rscue Jews and other fugitives in France. The encyclical of Pope Pius XI Mit brennender Sorge (1937), widely distributed in France, encouraged Catholics to assist Jews and other fugitives. This article offers insights into Vatican policy for the years 1940 through 1945.
15. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Ryan J. Barilleaux

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Donald Trump’s one-term presidency was significant for Catholics. Trump pursued policies that promoted the pro-life cause and helped to protect traditional marriage, human nature, and religious freedom. Trump’s judicial appointments were also important to supporting Catholic interests. At the same time, there were drawbacks to Trump’s presidency and his conduct of it. This article provides a preliminary assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency from a Catholic perspective.
16. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Emma E. Redfield, Erin K. Luciano, Monica J. Sewell, Lucas A. Mitzel, Isaac J. Sanford, Andrew J. Schmidt

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This study looks at the number of clinical trials involving specific stem cell types. To our knowledge, this has never been done before. Stem cell clinical trials that were conducted at locations in the US and registered on the National Institutes of Health database at ‘’ were categorized according to the type of stem cell used (adult, cancer, embryonic, perinatal, or induced pluripotent) and the year that the trial was registered. From 1999 to 2014, there were 2,357 US stem cell clinical trials registered on ‘,’ and 89 percent were from adult stem cells and only 0.12 percent were from embryonic stem cells. This study concludes that embryonic stem cells should no longer be used for clinical study because of their irrelevance, moral questions, and induced pluripotent stem cells.
17. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Ligia De Jesus Castaldi, Robert Fastiggi, Jane Adolphe

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This article answers common moral questions on civil divorce and legal practice relevant to faithful Catholics in the legal field, such as whether a Catholic lawyer may be morally involved in civil divorce litigation and, if so, to what extent, in light of basic Catholic moral principles on marriage and civil divorce. It addresses moral dilemmas that Catholic legal practitioners, judges and law students may face in employment situations and divorce-related legal services. In addition, the article addresses civil divorce alternatives like reconciliation, declaration of marriage nullity and legal separation.
18. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
J. Marianne Siegmund

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Francis Bacon is known for equating knowledge and power. Today, one might interpret his idea of knowledge as an electronic club to manipulate others. In this essay, I examine one’s relation to knowledge in terms of a receptivity that might be described as service. Whether one actually treats another in harmony with relation to knowledge remains, of course, a matter of one’s free will. Nevertheless, at the level of being, the person is more fittingly described as a humble servant of the truth and of one another rather than as a domineering figure seeking to manipulate.
19. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
James Dillon

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This paper examines ideas in psychology that eclipse a proper understanding of happiness. There are good reasons to believe in the existence of an obligational realm, a metaphysical territory over which a sovereign being rules. Once we recognize the obligational realm’s power, we can help others understand what it calls them to do in their small choices and major life decisions. Unfortunately, the force of the obligational realm is occluded by a social science model rooted in Epicureanism and Liberalism which casts happiness as a function of autonomy and utility. A duty-based conception of decision-making is offered as an alternative.
20. Catholic Social Science Review: Volume > 26
Giovanni Sadewo, Stephen Bullivant, Stephen Cranney

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The former Cardinal McCarrick was often dubbed as the “Kingmaker” for his power to influence episcopal promotion in the United States and even in the Vatican. However, most of the information to support this argument is often lacking in context, making the claim easy to downplay. The purpose of this study is to look at one of the networks of Catholic bishops in the United States and to provide empirical evidence of McCarrick as the “Kingmaker” using social network analysis. The result of this study supports the claim that McCarrick was indeed the “Kingmaker” in his appointments of his former subordinates.