On December 3, 2021, Catholic Law’s Director of the Center for Law and the Human Person, Elizabeth Kirk, participated in a virtual seminar hosted by the International Catholic Jurist Forum (ICJF). The seminar, Discussion of the Relevance of Saint Joseph for Our Times, was held in light of the Year of Saint Joseph which concluded on December 8 with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The interdisciplinary symposium, which included social scientists, theologians, and law professors each providing different perspectives on the state of fatherhood, explored “the break down of fatherhood in various areas of culture” and considered the meaning of fatherhood more broadly.
Kirk gave an overview of American family law, with a focus on the legal rights of fathers. She concluded: "The social science data continues to affirm the importance of fathers to the well-being of children, while demographic data reveals the experience of fatherhood is in decline. Contemporary family law scholarship, with its emphasis on an expansive notion of gender and intent-based determinations of parentage, poses special challenges for understanding and protecting fatherhood."