The Catholic University of America

On the final day of the conference, three scholars discussed "Law and the Theology of Pope Benedict's Social Writings." L-R: Rev. John Langan, S.J., professor of philosophy, Georgetown University; Rev. Gregory A. Kalscheur, S.J., associate professor of law, Boston College; and Patrick McKinley Brennan, professor of law, Villanova University.

A Meeting of Minds

More than 20 years ago, like-minded conservative legal scholars banded together to form the Federalist Society, a professional membership organization that grew with startling rapidity in size, influence and recognition.

Catholic legal scholars haven't set out to replicate the model, but their ranks are also growing fast.

The 4th Annual Conference on Catholic Legal Thought, hosted by The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law from June 9 to June 11, 2009, assembled scholars from more than a dozen law schools who met to explore ways to foster the development of the emerging body of Catholic legal thought.

"As with the prior conferences, this meeting is for those law professors who are just beginning to integrate Catholic social thought into their scholarship and teaching, as well as those law professors who are more experienced," said CUA law professor Lucia Silecchia, a member of the executive board for the annual conference.

As has become traditional, the first afternoon covered the basic principles of Catholic social teachings. The next two days consisted of in-depth, interactive presentations and discussions. Participants also attended daily Mass and spiritual exercises.

The scholarship theme for 2009 was "The Legal Implications of the Work of Pope Benedict XVI." Discussion was organized around three central themes in his writings: Love, Hope, and Law, which correspond with the first encyclicals of his papacy.

Begun in 2006, the conference has been hosted so far by Fordham, the University of St. Thomas, and Seattle University.