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Winter 2007-08: Table of Contents
Volume XXVIII — No. 4

 = Article available online


Winter 07-08 Conscience cover

C Playing with Fire

A warning about the expanding role of religion in US politics and the 2008 election.

Less than two months before Iowans would go to their caucuses, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a “faithful citizenship statement” urging Catholics to “use the values of their faith to shape their political choice.” While the statement didn’t tell Catholics which candidates to vote for (or against), it reminded them of the “necessity” to oppose abortion and euthanasia and the obligation to promote the common good.

Jodi Enda

A True Balancing Act

Religion, Reproduction and Public Policy

The Catholic hierarchy has a long history of involving itself in debates over public policy. From advocating for the poor to opposing war and the death penalty, there is much good the church has done in this arena. However, in the area for which it is perhaps best known—debates over abortion, contraception and other “life issues”—the hierarchy’s advocacy has cost people their lives.

Jon O'Brien

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Is it too early to sound the death knell for religion in Europe?

In Denmark, Thorkild Grosboel, a Lutheran priest, declares, “There is no heavenly God, there is no
eternal life and there is no resurrection.” His local bishop, Lise-Lotte Rebel, suspends but cannot dismiss him. Not surprising in a country where just over 3 percent of the population attends church on a regular basis. Throughout Europe, church attendance is falling precipitously. In the United Kingdom, just over 10 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds attend church at least once a month, and fully 63 percent describe themselves as “closed to the church.”

Neil Datta

Religion and Politics in the New Europe

A forum at the European parliament in Brussels

A ground-breaking forum at the European Parliament in November discussed the front-burner issue of the relationship between European government institutions and organized religious influences. There were more than 100 attendees, one-half of whom represented religious and human rights nongovernmental organizations. Members of the European Parliament and their staff made up most of the remainder.

Catholics for Choice

The Validity of Marriage: Who Gets to Decide? Who Gets to Choose?

The history of marriage shows how both church and state wrote themselves into a private relationship

One of the most widespread myths about the history of marriage is that it has always had to be solemnly validated by the church or the state. In fact, for most of Western history, marriage was a
private contract between two families. It was the parents’ or kin group’s agreement to the match and not the sanction of church or state that confirmed its validity.

Stephanie Coontz

Freedom of Conscience and the Secular State in Latin America

Deep-rooted Catholicism in private life and secularity in politics, while a challenge to negotiate, can co-exist in Latin America

There was a time in Latin America when we were all equal. Or rather, we thought we were. And although in reality that equality only hid privileges and discrimination, we refused to accept it or to recognize that the world is better when we understand and value the existence of diversity. And when we accept and recognize difference, then we can aspire to true equal rights.

Roberto J. Blancarte

The Catholic Church in a Unified Europe

Exploring the Catholic church's role in forming Europe and its spheres of influence in years to come

As part of my job as a professor of political science, I regularly have the privilege of accompanying undergraduate students on visits to the institutions of the European Union in Brussels. Being young and admirably straightforward, the students always ask the Eurocrats they interview some version of the following questions: “What the heck are you actually doing?” “What on earth does ‘Europeanization’ mean?” “Where is European integration headed in the future?” The answers that we
invariably get to these excellent questions are an annoying mixture of avoidance and obfuscation.

Timothy A. Byrnes

Bearing Witness to America's Invisible Constituency

Reflections on the documentary Lake of Fire

Of the many memorable images in the documentary Lake of Fire, the most telling—to this reviewer, at least—is that of the women seeking abortions who appear with their faces turned away from the camera. Tony Kaye’s monumental film takes us past demonstrators into abortion clinics where we hear from these women and their doctors and see these operations.

Ruth Riddick

Flawed, but Still the Best

The birthplace of church-state separation remains its finest defender

I instinctively cringe when the need for a new paradigm in church-state relations is suggested. It suggests that the old, tried-and-true model has not worked. I would suggest that the historic, constitutionally mandated formula has worked well, with its balance of free exercise and no establishment. Admittedly, some eras of our history have seen some refining of the dual principles.

Albert J. Menendez


Editor’s Note


C In Catholic Circles


  • Aisha S. Taylor reviews William D'Antonio, James D. Davidson, Dean R. Hoge and Mary L. Gautier's American Catholics Today: New Realities of Their Faith and Their Church
  • Richard L. Sippel reviews Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher’s Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas
  • Jo Renee Formicola reviews Paul Christopher Manuel, Lawrence Christopher Reardon and Clyde Wilcox’s The Catholic Church and the Nation-State: Comparative Perspectives

A list of new and noteworthy books

C Postscript
In their own words: supporters and critics of the church speak

Back Cover
Index: The State of Separation