Last week, I was invited to give the 20th annual ethics lecture by the Institute for Ethics at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. I chose to address Catholic Social Teaching and politics. Here is the text:
Time for Caesar to Render: How Catholic Social Teaching Can Heal What’s Wrong With American Politics
When I was asked to deliver this lecture last autumn, little did I know that the issue of rendering unto Caesar, that is, the relationship between Church & State, would become the stuff of nightly news and newspaper op-eds and polling data, and all the accoutrement of a modern democracy. The recent battle over if and how government mandates should extend to religious institutions reminded us all of something, actually many things, that we would rather forget:
The Constitution did not resolve the issue of the relationship of Church and State;
The Church never fits neatly into any political framework, many of the issues in contemporary political life have many answers and people of good will and good conscience can disagree, and disagree profoundly, as to which answer is best and, more importantly, which answers are even tolerable.