Dean Stephen C. Payne was quoted extensively by Catholic News Agency in connection with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in an article that focused on the conversation surrounding the intersection of the Catholic faith and the law—particularly what Catholic judges and lawyers can offer the United States legal system.
Catholic News Agency
By: Mary Farrow
Date: October 4, 2020
What the Catholic legal tradition has to offer the United States
“'God is the creator of reason and law is an important field in which human beings seek to apply reason for the common good,' he said.
'It's that commitment to reason that is an especially important contribution Catholic judges and lawyers...can make in today's environment, in which many people on both sides of the political spectrum seem to prefer to decide important questions by sheer force of power guided by appetite, or emotional sentiment, through a process that involves attacking other people and attempting to undermine their God-given dignity,' Payne added."
"Payne said he sees a Catholic influence in U.S. law with respect to some issues of social justice, especially as they are treated in Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, 'Rerum Novarum' and other works by the three most recent popes.
Their writings on social justice have had 'a significant influence on how many people, at least in our country, think about social justice, especially in such arenas as helping the poor, healthcare, immigration, abortion, end of life, workers' rights, the death penalty, and so on,' he said."
“'Our break with King George III was justified on natural law grounds, and many of our constitutional rights and much of our common law was founded in and flows from natural law and natural rights,' Payne said.
Furthermore, Payne said, 'the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social teaching have a great deal to say about the common good and the dignity of the human person. And a significant part of that focuses on the natural law, and how seeking the common good enables individual human beings to flourish in community.'”
“'I'm not sure why, from an objective point of view, there should be such a focus on the religious commitments of the candidates, especially in a country whose constitution is so clear about the human value of religious liberty,' Payne said.
'Belief in God is well supported by reason, though many in our culture think it's contradicted by it. In any event, many people who are not religious hold the values they do have very securely and apply them to important decisions in their lives and in their work.”’
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