A Symposium on Religious Liberty

Black Lives Matter Discussion

For nearly a century, the Notre Dame Law Review has hosted symposia which annually bring to the University’s campus diverse groups of prominent legal scholars to discuss timely legal topics. Last fall, its 2015 symposium took place during the 2015-16 Notre Dame Forum, whose theme, “Faith, Freedom, and the Modern World: 50 Years After Vatican II” had been chosen by Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of pivotal documents of the Second Vatican Council that have resonance today.

“The defense of religious freedom, the fostering of inter-faith and ecumenical dialogue, and the vigorous engagement of the Church with the modern world are salient issues for us today,” Father Jenkins said. “The golden jubilee of transformative documents of the Council makes this a particularly appropriate time to consider some of the Council’s most urgent teachings.” Among the most urgent of those teachings, Father Jenkins said, were those found in the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), the Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes).

Organizers of the 2015 Notre Dame Law Review symposium decided upon Dignitatis Humanae as an appropriate theme for the event, which they entitled “Religious Liberty and the Free Society: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae.”

The document Dignitatis Humanae explicitly asserts the Catholic Church’s support for the protection of religious liberty and also describes the appropriate relationship of the Church to secular states.

Two keynote speakers were featured in the 2015 symposium—Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, to introduce the symposium, and John H. Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, to conclude.

There were also three panel discussions moderated by Judge Richard Sullivan of the Southern District of New York.

The first panel, “Religious Freedom, the First Amendment, and U.S. Law,” included Thomas Berg of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, Richard Garnett of the Notre Dame Law School, Paul Horwitz of the University of Alabama Law School, and Christopher Lund of the Wayne State University Law School.

A second panel, “Examining the History of Digntitatis Humanae and Religious Freedom,” included Phillip Muñoz of the Notre Dame Law School, Brett Scharffs of Brigham Young University Law School, and Anna Su of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

The last panel, “Religion, Society, and the Modern World,” included Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian of St. John’s University School of Law and Steven Smith of the University of San Diego.