The 25 Catholic-affiliated law schools in America today have their differences, but are united in offering their students “a connection between love and theology,” said John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America.
Garvey, who became the university’s 15th president in 2010 and who is also a member of the faculty of the Columbus School of Law, delivered the law school’s 21st Annual Mirror of Justice Lecture, “Catholic Legal Education” on April 25th.
Co-sponsored by The Pope John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers, the Mirror of Justice Lecture was founded in 1986 to “recognize and support the law school faculty whose commitment to the teaching of the law and whose scholarship advances our insights towards achieving justice through law in contemporary society.”
Garvey used the occasion to extoll the virtues of a legal education informed by Catholic economic teachings and social ideals, such as the Church’s preferential option for the poor.
“A law school where these ideas are in wide circulation is going to have a different intellectual climate,” Garvey said.
The university’s president devoted a portion of his remarks to the value of intellectual pluralism among a Catholic law school’s faculty, explaining that while differing points of view moves debate forward in a healthy way, the Catholic approach to the teaching of law students is essentially collaborative. The resulting benefit to students is more supportive mentoring and better sharing of information within the law school generally.
Concluding his lecture, Garvey touched upon the role of virtue on Catholic legal education, positing that “the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate undertaking for universities,” yet noting that its pursuit needs to be a collective endeavor, something that Catholic law schools are particularly well-suited for.
“We come to understand virtue in groups, not in private contemplation,” he said.
When his remarks were finished, President Garvey was presented with The Mirror of Justice Scholars Award by Angel Rafael Hernandez, President, Pope John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers.
A nationally renowned constitutional law expert, Garvey has previously held professorships at Notre Dame Law School and at the University of Kentucky. He has also served as president of the American Association of Law Schools.