"Catholic Social Thought and the American Regime"

Symposium: "Catholic Social Thought and the American Regime"

The Catholic Social Science Review Vol. VI (2001)

Contributors: Gary D. Glenn, Northern Illinois University
Carson Holloway, Concord College
Leon Holmes, Williams & Anderson, LLP
Kimberly Shankman, Ripon College
John Stack, Northern Illinois University

This symposium examines the issue of how well Catholic social thought fits with the underlying principles and philosophy of the American regime. The contributors to the symposium take different views of this issue. On one hand, Carson Holloway argues that Catholic social thought is at odds with certain aspects of the regime. On the other hand, Kimberly Shankman argues that a properly understood natural law teaching is essential to a sound American constitutionalism. These positions are subjected to careful scrutiny by contributors Leon Holmes and John Stack.
  • Gary D. Glenn: Introduction
  • Carson Holloway: Rerum Novarum and the Tenth Federalist: Roman Catholicism and American Liberalism on the Politics of Class:
    Is man fundamentally a moral and religious being, as Pope Leo XIII insists in Rerum Novarum? Or, is man a being fundamentally driven by a desire for material gain, as is asserted by Thomas Hobbes and James Madison? This article argues that Leo’s view of humanity is the more accurate one, and that implies problems for the underlying ideas of the American regime. Rather than seeing religion as too weak to restrain man’s desire for gain, as does Madison (and the American Republic), Leo understood that religion can be a powerful force for drawing society to a high level of moral rectitude.
  • Leon Holmes : Comment on Holloway:
    Dr. Holloway invites us, as American citizens, to examine our own regime in the light of Catholic teaching. He asks us to begin the inquiry with a comparison of Rerum Novarum with the Tenth Federalist because both are foundational for their respective traditions; and he concludes that the two are “starkly incompatible.”
  • Kimberly Shankman: “The Wages (and Hours) of Sin: Rerum Novarum, Lochner v. New York, and Natural Law Constitutionalism”:
    Beginning with an examination of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Lochner v. New York, this article examines the necessity of natural law jurisprudence for a proper sort of constitutional interpretation. Natural law jurisprudence, properly understood and applied, would not be a cover for judges to read their own preferences into the Constitution.
  • John Stack: Commentary on “Catholic Social Thought and the American Regime":
    Holloway and Shankman ask the right questions in trying to figure out whether and to the extent to which Catholic social thought is compatible with the American regime. By directing our attention to fundamental disagreements between the Church and modern political philosophers such as Hobbes and Locke, Holloway and Shankman render a great service. In protraying Madison as overly Hobbesian, though, Holloway implies that the tension between Catholic social thought and the Federalist is more pronounced than it actually is. And in endorsing a common law approach to judging, Shankman ignores the serious reservcations against such an approach voiced by Madison, other Founders and case law.