Following on an interesting discussion in a previous post aboutSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his view of the relationship between his Catholic faith and his rulings--or rather the lack of said connection--John Thavis over at the CNS blog picks up the thread and expands on it greatly. After summarizing Scalia's conversation with Tim Russert, Thavisnotes the Vatican's take on this. He writes:

Not everyone thinks thedistinctionbetween a legislator and a judge is so clear-cut when it comes to the responsibilities of Catholics in public life.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II told the International Union of Catholic Jurists that Catholic magistrates share in the mission to build a society that conforms to the demands of the Gospel. He warned against considering the law as something uninformed by faith:

There are even cases in which the magistrate and the legislator take decisions independently of any moral value, as if positive law could serve as its own foundation and prescind from transcendent values.

I asked one informed Vatican official whether the church viewed themoral responsibilities of a Catholic judge assignificantly different from those of a Catholic legislator. He said no, not inthe case of a constitutional court, which is often called on to make political decisions.

If were telling politicians to respect the natural law, the obvious conclusion is that this would apply to a judge even more. The Constitution is not supreme over natural law, he said.

John went on to recount Scalia's 1996 address at the Gregorian, which he reproduces, and notes Scalia's reluctance to invoke natural law claims that are becoming very much a theme of this pontificate. Interesting stuff. Thoughts?

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

Also by this author
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.