John Courtney Murray

The Tyranny of Tolerance

When the Supreme Court re-defined marriage in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to include same-sex relationships, it was immediately clear that this sea change would create a conflict between this newly-discovered constitutional right, and the first freedom listed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: the right of religious liberty. Everyone from pundits [...]

Are Atheists Addled?

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”  ∼ G. K. Chesterton “When I hear the word culture,” Herman Goering boasted, “I reach for my revolver.” Since he was, after Adolf Hitler, the second-most powerful man in the Third Reich, attention was paid. And while he may have stolen the line from Nazi playwright [...]

Catholic Ties to the American Public Order Continue to Unravel

It has been clear for quite some time that a new and different public order is taking shape in America in which Catholics (or at least Catholics faithful to the magisterium of the Church) will have serious difficulty finding a comfortable place. The recent election does nothing to change this fact because it does not [...]

Whither the Idea of God?

The trouble with atheists, some wag once wrote, is that they are always talking about God.  How endlessly they obsess about him!  And what strikes one straightaway about the sheer mind-numbing attention they pay to God, including especially the problems posed by us benighted folk who persist in believing in him, is that it so [...]

Cultural Assimilation: A Threat to Catholic Identity

For the most part, American Catholics have wanted to be like other people. They arrived in America as immigrants from places where they had a definite (if sometimes lowly) position. They left that for a country where social positions were fluid, they would be held in contempt if they stayed as they were, and they [...]

Barbaric Fragmentation: John Courtney Murray Foresaw the U.S. United in Confusion

Voting patterns of this last election give ample support to the notion of the divided country, and it is now virtually obligatory to bemoan polarization while calling for unity in our fragmented polis. As obvious as our polarization seems, perhaps disunity is not the real problem; instead, perhaps we already have a unity, just of [...]

The First Freedom: Religious Liberty as the Foundation of Human Liberty

You may know the name of John Courtney Murray. He's worth remembering. Father Murray was the American Jesuit who helped craft the Second Vatican Council's landmark Declaration on Religious Liberty. A year after World War II ended, with millions dead and Europe and Japan in ruins, Murray wrote that "those who deny the sovereignty of [...]

Life in the Late Republic: The Catholic Role in America After Virtue

Exactly 70 years ago, in 1940, Rev. John Courtney Murray gave a series of three college talks. For his theme, he chose the "concept of a Christian culture." After his death, his Jesuit brothers fused the talks into a single essay called "The Construction of a Christian Culture." It's a modest word change. But that [...]

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