9. Murray: Faithful to Tradition in Context

Thomas Hughson

in Finding God in All Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780823228089
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236954 | DOI:
9. Murray: Faithful to Tradition in Context

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This chapter explores John Courtney Murray's relationship between the American experience and the legacy of Roman Catholic political thought. It first shows how Murray's Catholic, natural-law style of moral theology overlapped with the Enlightenment deism of the Founding Fathers. What Murray foregrounded through both his scholarship and his participation at the Second Vatican Council was the richness of the Anglo-American legacy of constitutionalism, a legacy seemingly unknown to the Catholic world of Latin Europe and certainly missing from Leo XIII's 1901 encyclical Graves de Communi Re on Christian democracy. The chapter argues that it is time to retrieve Murray's vision for the Catholic Church today, especially in terms of the relationship between church and state, and the distinction of the moral and legal orders that must be weighed in a pluralistic state. Murray believed that conscience should always be protected in this tension, not because freedom is its own reward, but because conscience is the point where the gospel and political life meet and interact.

Keywords: John Courtney Murray; political thought; moral theology; Second Vatican Council; constitutionalism; Leo XIII; Catholic Church; conscience

Chapter.  4875 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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