Special Issue "Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 3141

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jo Renee Formicola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, South Orange, NJ 07079, USA
Interests: Catholic politics; clerical sexual abuse; US Vatican relations, US Catholic social and education policies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues:

We are pleased to invite you to participate in this Special Issue of Religions whose focus is on “Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition.” Our volume will explore the changing political dynamic between the Catholic Church and its relations with civil states by examining events, treaties, laws, religious documents, political movements, and other sources as needed. This variety of approaches will serve to provide a broad palette of articles to identify, synthesize, and analyze Church–State policies and trends that reflect these shifts It will also enable discussions of their power consequences, and the ability of the Church to serve as a moral advocate and viable partner in social, economic, and political issues around the globe.

This Special Issue aims to provide original research in articles that reflect international relations between the Catholic Church and civil governments. Research areas and proposals may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Current Catholic Church–State policies: ideological, partisan, or independent?
  • Prophetic politics: a Biblical solution for today’s Church–State relations?
  • Benevolent secularism: a new model of Church–State relations?
  • How are Church–State politics changing in traditional Catholic states?
  • What are the major challenges to Church–State politics in secular states?
  • How do Vatican policies of life/marriage/sexuality/immigration, etc. impact Church–State relations?
  • What is occurring globally on issues of social justice, and human rights in a Church–State context?
  • What roles do canon law and civil law play in the context of Church–State relations?
  • What roles do Catholic political parties play in legislation, and adjudication in the Church-State context?

Description of the Special Issue:

Catholic Church–State relations are changing globally, causing the political dynamic between these two institutions to shift as well. This phenomenon can be characterized by a power transition—one in which independent Catholic political behavior, based on its theology and social doctrines, is being challenged by civil interests to adapt the Church’s principles to a new paradigm—one reflected in progressive public policies. These are mainly dealing with life and death issues, marriage, education, immigration, social justice needs, human rights, and international affairs.

This transition is occurring for many reasons. Among them is a need for the Catholic Church to adjust to shifting religious demographics; to respond to challenges from materialism, pluralism, and multiculturalism; to counter the increasing influence of civil over canon law and to repair the Church’s reputation due to clerical sexual abuse.

It is necessary, then, to ask how, or should, the Church retain its moral relevance and political influence in the context of Church–State relations during current global demands for social change? This broad question defines the scope and nature of this Special Issue of Religions, but others flow from it as well. How is support for Catholic policies on Church and State changing in theory and practice? Can the Church retain/recover its former position as a moral guide and advocate in international relations? What does the erosion of Catholic religious influence mean politically for the Church, traditional Catholic states, and increasingly secular ones in the future?

Significance: The purpose of this volume, then, is to examine, synthesize, and analyze the reasons behind challenges to Catholic Church–State relations and to help to articulate a balanced path forward for the common good of all.  In a larger and more pragmatic sense, this examination can discern both the positive and negative effects of these changes and enable scholars, political leaders, and Church officials to consider solutions to major challenges that impact the moral and political policies of the present and the future.

 Dr. Jo Renee Formicola
Guest Editor

Manuscript Proposals and Manuscript Submission Information

Proposals may be sent directly to the Guest Editor at [email protected] by September 1, 2021.  They should be no longer than two pages. They will be reviewed and returned by October 15 with recommendations about submitting manuscripts, if accepted.

Final Manuscripts may by be submitted to [email protected] or online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website by March 15, 2022.  Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form.   All final papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published in the special edition of the journal and will be listed together on the special issue website.  For accepted papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted Manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Church–State
  • moral advocacy
  • Vatican foreign policy
  • religious demographics
  • clerical sexual abuse
  • benevolent secularism
  • religious accommodation
  • liability
  • canon law
  • political parties

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Queer Politics: Re-Shaping the Politics of Church and State
Religions 2022, 13(7), 663; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070663 - 18 Jul 2022
Viewed by 263
Abstract
The impact of LGBTQ+ individuals upon church institutions, state organizations, and political actors is expanding globally. Considerable policy objectives that protect queer people and families, most notably on marriage, trans rights, and non-discrimination policies, have been enacted in many nation states. However, although [...] Read more.
The impact of LGBTQ+ individuals upon church institutions, state organizations, and political actors is expanding globally. Considerable policy objectives that protect queer people and families, most notably on marriage, trans rights, and non-discrimination policies, have been enacted in many nation states. However, although there are exceptions to queer political progress, broader church and government inter-actions have been altered as well, demonstrating a dynamic religious and political relationship. Far-right nationalists and traditional religious conservatives respond to queer influence by moving further to the right and using LGBTQ+ individuals and political groups as rhetorical and political targets to motivate their base. The result is a draconian environment for progressives inside these institutions. Also notable is the political power necessary to provoke this obsessive focus upon anything ‘queer’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
Article
Catholic Transitions and Tensions: Marriage, Divorce, Plural Normative Standards, and New Paradigms
Religions 2022, 13(7), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070629 - 07 Jul 2022
Viewed by 310
Abstract
In the framework of the process of secularization of civil society, the institution of marriage has traditionally been at the crossroads between religious and secular law, and it gives the opportunity to investigate whether and to what degree a religious law can develop [...] Read more.
In the framework of the process of secularization of civil society, the institution of marriage has traditionally been at the crossroads between religious and secular law, and it gives the opportunity to investigate whether and to what degree a religious law can develop when it interacts with a secular juridical context without weakening its identity. The Italian lawmaker has traditionally adopted a “benevolent secularism” approach, trying to balance new social expectations with the Catholic idea of marriage. The above-mentioned approach has resulted in aligning with the mainstream opinions in Italian society, which are consistent with the guidelines of the Catholic Church. Indeed, in Italy, the Catholic Church, which considers marriage as a sacred unbreakable bond between a man and a woman, has often had an open and incisive influence on legislative policy choices. Since 1970, there has a been a gradual erosion of Catholic influence on public policies. New statutes and judicial rulings concerning such issue have emphasized a sharp ideological and political polarization between two opposite ethical narratives: the secular and the religious/Catholic one. Catholic tenets are no more able to influence political democratic processes. In the last fifty years, Italian legislation has followed a more progressive direction with regard to the issue of marriage, taking distances from the Catholic model. The Italian legal system has also started to face controversial issues, such as the status of same-sex unions, recognizing broader rights with a view to guaranteeing the coexistence of multiple views about marriage. Thus, the Catholic Church is challenged by new paradigms and is undergoing deep internal tensions and transitions. The present paper aims to focus on some new challenges, with regard to the status of divorcees who married again, unmarried couples, and same-sex couples in canon law. In the framework of the debate concerning the role and the reformability of religious laws, it will take into consideration new pontifical approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
Article
Communicating Transcendent Love: Interpersonal Encounter and Church–State Transitions in Fratelli tutti
Religions 2022, 13(6), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060532 - 09 Jun 2022
Viewed by 520
Abstract
This essay analyzes Pope Francis’ social teaching on relationality within his 2020 encyclical letter Fratelli tutti [Brothers all]. The relationship between the Church and modern nation-states is an important macro-level social dynamic, and Francis explains it by placing Church–State relations into a broader [...] Read more.
This essay analyzes Pope Francis’ social teaching on relationality within his 2020 encyclical letter Fratelli tutti [Brothers all]. The relationship between the Church and modern nation-states is an important macro-level social dynamic, and Francis explains it by placing Church–State relations into a broader spiritual context of human communication and interaction. He articulates norms of fraternal contact growing from the bottom-up, that is, from interpersonal encounters through groups and movements on to countries and the United Nations. After a focused research question and discussion of critical method, this article offers a rhetorical critique of Fratelli tutti. To provide context, it explains the genres of Judeo-Christian and papal communication, Francis’ biography, and the immediate global context of his encyclical. Working within the text, this study details the Biblical foundations of his argument for “fraternity and social friendship” and shows how they are applied to global social media dystopia and accelerating migration/border crises. Conclusions include the utility of Francis’ contact terms in analyzing complex religio-political dynamics and their value in advancing peace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
Article
The International Responsibility of the Holy See for Human Rights Violations
Religions 2022, 13(6), 520; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060520 - 06 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 435
Abstract
In recent years, the Holy See has been accused of violating its human rights obligations because of acts of sex abuse by the Catholic clergy. Such accusations are based, in various ways, on the authority of the Holy See over the clergy. The [...] Read more.
In recent years, the Holy See has been accused of violating its human rights obligations because of acts of sex abuse by the Catholic clergy. Such accusations are based, in various ways, on the authority of the Holy See over the clergy. The Holy See is often referred to as a state and its obligations as state obligations. UN treaty bodies understand that the human rights obligations of the Holy See, as a treaty party, are of a legal––not moral––nature and apply extraterritorially, i.e., beyond the territory of the Vatican City State. The notion of state jurisdiction is, therefore, applied to the Holy See in the same way as to any other state. UN treaty bodies implicitly conclude that, for the purpose of human rights responsibility, the crimes of the clergy must be attributed to the Holy See and that anyone under the religious authority of the Holy See is under its state jurisdiction. However, a closer examination of the nature of the Holy See and its authority under international law, church doctrine, and church law paints a more complex and nuanced picture, where it is hard to describe the clergy as state organs or religious authority as state jurisdiction. Still, there are reasons to understand that certain acts and omissions of the Holy See in the context of the sex abuse crisis can be characterized as violations of its positive obligations of conduct. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
Article
The Shaping and Reshaping of the Relationship between Church and State from Late Antiquity to the Present: A Historical Perspective through the Lens of Canon Law
Religions 2022, 13(5), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050378 - 19 Apr 2022
Viewed by 553
Abstract
This essay provides a historical foundation of the Church’s relationship with the State from late antiquity to the present. With such a broad scope, the integral role canon law played in the Church’s history serves as a window through which to view the [...] Read more.
This essay provides a historical foundation of the Church’s relationship with the State from late antiquity to the present. With such a broad scope, the integral role canon law played in the Church’s history serves as a window through which to view the shaping and reshaping of the Church’s socio-political character vis-à-vis the State. It argues first that between the fourth and fifteenth centuries, canon law intersected at different levels with the secular realm, which, in turn, bolstered the Church’s political authority. Canon law had an outward focus. Second, this essay argues that a reorientation of the relationship between the secular and the sacred, a process that came to fruition with the Reformation, resulted in the progressive stripping of the Church’s socio-political autonomy but also the adaption of the ius commune to suit new purposes. The divesting of its socio-political autonomy, as it is argued lastly, forced the Church to reassess its legal identity and influence. The First Vatican Council followed by the 1917 Corpus iuris Canonici turned reaffirming Catholic ecclesiology. By the Second Vatican Council, however, the Church reemerged on the global stage, having a renewed focus on pastoral care. Its efforts directly targeted social, politic, and economic issues facing society, expanding interfaith dialogue with other religions and missionizing efforts. The 1983 Corpus iuris canonici bears the mark of Vatican II’s renewed emphasis on shepherding its flock through its advocation for justice and equity in contemporary society. It demonstrates that the socio-political influence of the Church’s legal apparatus has not been extinguished despite contemporary canon law no longer possessing the all-encompassing socio-political control it once held. From a historical viewpoint, canon law’s impact on the Western world cannot be ignored: it has shaped legal structures still relevant to this day. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
Article
The Catholic Church and Prophetic Mission: Transitioning Church-State Relations in Africa
Religions 2022, 13(4), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040339 - 09 Apr 2022
Viewed by 509
Abstract
The Zimbabwean Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter on 14 August 2020. Its title, “The March is not Ended”, echoed the words of the late American civil right activist and politician John Robert Lewis. In the introduction, the bishops reminded their fellow [...] Read more.
The Zimbabwean Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter on 14 August 2020. Its title, “The March is not Ended”, echoed the words of the late American civil right activist and politician John Robert Lewis. In the introduction, the bishops reminded their fellow citizens that “Peace building and nation-building are never completed tasks. Every generation has to establish national cohesion and peace”. In using the biblical text from Micah 7:1–6 where the prophet denounced corruption and oppression in his own days, the bishops took a swipe at Zimbabwean political leaders. African politicians never take responsibility for their misrule of the continent, which has kept Africa largely underdeveloped. The perplexity of the situation in Zimbabwe is reflective of similar situations in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa where leaders look the other way and shift blames. This research undertakes to explore how the Catholic Church in Africa has fared in its prophetic mission in relation to the political-cum-socioeconomic questions on the continent. It will acknowledge instances where the Church, through certain prelates, has proven itself to be a moral conscience. It will also indicate how the efforts of African bishops closely align with those of Pope Francis in relation to the prophetic mission of the Church as a defender of truth, human rights and social justice. Contribution: Africans, like most people in the world, have a very simple vision of the good life: to live in reasonable material comfort and in peace. This research is essentially anchored within Catholic social teaching. It underscores how the Catholic Church in Africa has defended and continues to uphold the rights of the people to actualize their aspiration of a simple good life in a hostile and self-serving African political and socioeconomic context. It notes that the Church cannot take the place of political leaders because its role is basically the promotion of the common good, which includes public order and peace, development, equality, justice and solidarity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Church–State Relations in Global Transition)
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