Pro-life progressivism topic of University of St. Thomas Law Journal symposium March 11

The University of St. Thomas Law Journal will host its spring symposium, “Can the Seamless Garment be Sewn? The Future of Pro-Life Progressivism,” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 11, in the Schulze Grand Atrium at the university’s School of Law.

“Pro-life progressivism” is a term that describes the combination of opposition to abortion and euthanasia with “progressive” or left-leaning positions on other issues, such as the death penalty, anti-poverty policies, civil rights, and war and peace. The symposium will explore the intellectual basis for this combination of views, which is sometimes called the “seamless garment of life” approach after a 1983 speech by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.

The symposium also will explore questions as to whether pro-life progressivism has any political future in America. Although a focus of the 2004 presidential election was on moral issues, this particular approach appears to have no political home.

Keynote speaker Jim Wallis will give the symposium’s luncheon address at noon.   The Washington, D.C.-based speaker, author and activist is an international commentator on ethics and public life. He was a founder of Sojourners, a Christian ministry integrating spiritual renewal and social justice, in 1971. He is editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, covering faith, politics and culture. He offers regular commentary and analysis for radio and television and teaches a course at Harvard University on "Faith, Politics, and Society." In 1979, Time magazine named Wallis one of the "50 Faces for America ‘s Future." His books include Faith Works (2000), The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change (1994), Who Speaks for God? A New Politics of Compassion, Community, and Civility (1996), Call to Conversion (1981).

The symposium’s other speakers will participate in panel discussions throughout the day:

  • Helen Alvaré, an associate professor at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. Since 1987 she has worked at the National Conference on Catholic Bishops, first in the Office of General Counsel and later as the director of information and planning for the bishops’ pro-life office.
  • Susan Frelich Appleton, the Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins  Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. She is a nationally known expert on family law and secretary of the  Council of the American Law Institute. She has served as an adviser for the ALI’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution and as a consultant to the New Jersey Bioethics Commission, assisting that agency in its recommendations for laws addressing “surrogate-mother” arrangements.
  • Dr. Sidney Callahan, an author, lecturer, professor and licensed psychologist who is on the board of advisers of the University of Notre Dame Center or Ethics and Culture. She is the author of numerous books and articles devoted to religious, psychological and ethical questions, including In Good Conscience: Reason and Emotion in Moral Decision Making (Harper San Francisco, 1991) and others.
  • John Carr, director of the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference and a frequent commentator on Catholic social teaching and the moral dimension of public issues. He speaks regularly on the social mission and message of the Catholic Church and the demands of faith in public life. He is a 1972 graduate of the University of St. Thomas.
  • Kevin Doyle, a Catholic lawyer who heads the Capital Defender Office — which provides lawyers trained in capital law to defend those accused of capital crimes — for the state of New York.
  • Dr. Ted Jelen, professor of political science at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. His main research interests are in public opinion, religion and politics, feminism, and the politics of abortion.  He is a former editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and is associate editor of three other journals: Social Science Quarterly, Women and Politics, and Review of Religious Research.  He is the author of  many books, including To Serve God and Mammon: Church-State Relations in the United States (Westview, 2000), The Political World of the Clergy (Praeger, 1993), and The Political Mobilization of Religious Beliefs (Praeger, 1991).
  • U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), a 1956 College of St. Thomas graduate who is serving his 16 th term in Congress.
  • Dr. John O’Callaghan, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
  • Janet Robert, a Washington County attorney who is on the board of directors of Democrats for Life.
  • Mark Sargent, dean and professor of law at the Villanova University School of Law.
  • Dr. Kevin Schmiesing, research fellow at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty . He is the author of Within the Market Strife (Lexington Books, 2004) and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895–1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and of a number of articles in the areas of Catholic social thought and the history of economics. He serves as book review editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality.

For further information about the Law Journal Symposium, contact Melanie LaComb, (651) 962-4853, or visit the symposium Web site.

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