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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category Religion and Ethics. clear filter
  •  Why is Religious Liberty the First Freedom? (podcast)

    Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012 5:17 PM

    Hear a talk by Michael McConnell, Mallory Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, and Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, on freedom of religion.  McConnell explores whether religious liberty should have priority over other rights. This question is at the heart of the current national debate over religious freedom, contraception, and the new federal health care law.

  •  Religious Liberty: The First Freedom

    Friday, Apr. 13, 2012 2:52 PM

    Michael McConnell, a leading authority on freedom of speech and religion, will discuss "Why Religious Liberty Is the First Freedom" in a talk Tuesday, April 17, at noon on the Santa Clara University campus.  A professor of law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University, McConnell is the author of The Consitution of the United States and Religion and the Constitution, and the co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought.  The presentation will be held in the Wiegand Center, Arts & Sciences Building.

  •  Conscience Models

    Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 1:33 PM

    In an article today for the National Catholic Reporter, David DeCosse, director of campus ethics at the Center, explores the reaction of American Bishops to last week's decision by the Health and Human Services Department to require religiously-affiliated organizations to provide insurance for their employees that includes birth control:

    On Friday, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that religious institutions would have a year before they would be required to make contraception available at no cost to all female employees. In response, the Catholic Health Association both criticized the HHS statement and called for an 'effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country." Will the Church in the next year enter into such a conversation and possibly find solutions that balance the concerns of religious freedom with the respect for democratic equality? How this question is finally answered may well depend on what conceptual model of the Catholic conscience the Church brings to the table. 

    DeCosse analyzes that model with reference to Thomas Aquinas' definition of conscience as combining obedience to moral law and the exercise of practical reason.

  •  Bishop Robert McElroy on Conscience

    Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 1:58 PM

    In a talk yesterday on the engagement of the Catholic conscience with American public life, Robert McElroy of the San Francisco Diocese reviewed three dimensions of conscience that, he argued, should frame our understanding about our role as citiznes:

    The Motivational Level: McElroy urged his audience to examine what motivates them in their political lives, to determine whether tribalism or self-interest were at the heart of their motivation or whether they were striving to be an instrument for attaining the common good.

    The Directive Level: McElroy identified key social teachings of the Church that should inform conscience, including:

    • The right to life and the dignity of the human person
    • The enhancement of family life
    • human rights
    • The option for the poor and the vulnerable
    • The dignity of work and the rights of workers
    • Solidarity
    • Caring for God's creation

    The Deliberative Level: McElroy pointed out that these key aspects of Catholic social teaching "bisect American politics."  Republicans, he said, tend to focus on the right to life and family values; Democrats are in sympathy with the option for the poor and the concern with the environment

    To McElroy, voting is a moral act.  It's not an endorsement of a candidate's entire platform; it's an assessment, using conscience, of what person will best advance the common good in the particular situation they face.

    McElroy's talk is available here as a podcast.




  •  Conscience, Catholicism, and American Politics

    Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 1:05 PM

    Recently, the New York Times reported, " Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money....  "The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws."

    The bishops have increasingly raised concerns about what they regard as impositions on the Catholic conscience in American public life. Conversely, many Catholics have invoked the primacy of conscience to justify their support of something like pro-choice legislation.

    On January 18, the Ethics Center will welcomes Bishop Robert McElroy, one of the leading intellectuals among the American bishops, who will address these vexing issues in his talk, "Conscience, Catholicism and American Politics."  Join us at at noon in the SCU Wiegand Center.

  •  Ethics and the Catholic Church

    Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 11:33 AM

    Center Campus Ethics Director David DeCosse has given a series of talks this month offering a Catholic perspective on a variety of ethical issues. 

    At the Faith Formation Conference sponsored by the dioceses of San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Monterey, and Stockton, he spoke on "Conscience and the Catholic Tradition: Contemporary Challenges."  He explored the topic of "Conscience in St. Ignatius' Contemplation of Divisne Love" at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco and the topic of "Fathers, Sons, Forgiveness" at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Calif.  For the Institute for Leadership in Ministry of the San Jose Diocese, he addressed "Ethics in Church Ministry."

  •  Religious Exemptions

    Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 4:25 PM

    When the Department of Health and Human Services announced this month that contraceptives and sterilization would be among the mandated preventive services for women under the new health reform law, they started a new chapter in the debate over religious exemptions. Should religious organizations be required to follow laws--about gay marriage, vaccination, hiring, etc.--with which they disagree in principle?

    The Ethics Center's Emerging Issues Group discussed religious exemptions with Tom Reese, S.J., a distinguished visiting scholar at the Center and a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University. (podcast)

  •  Tom Reese to Speak on "The Future of the Church"

    Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 4:23 PM

    Thomas Reese, S.J., distinguished visiting scholar at the Ethics Center this summer, will speak August 16 addressing the questions:

    What will the Catholic Church of the future look like?
    If current trends continue, what will it look like?
    What unforeseen events could shake things up?

    Reese is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, and author of the forthcoming "A Survival Guide for Thinking Catholics." His presentation is at 5 p.m. in the Wiegand Room, Arts and Sciences Building, Santa Clara University.

  •  Where Does Morality Come From?

    Wednesday, May. 11, 2011 2:00 PM

    Have advances in evolutionary science undermined the more traditional, often religious bases of morality? Or are there ways of integrating the most advanced contemporary science with more traditional views of the human good? The eminent evolutionary biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala explored these issues May 4, when he gave the second 2010-11 Regan Lecture for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.    (podcast)


    Professor Ayala was awarded the 2001 National Medal of Science and the 2010 Templeton Prize for "an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works."  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as many international scientific societies and academies. 




  •  Francisco Ayala to Speak on the Origins of Morality

    Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011 11:37 AM

    Whence Morality: Evolution, Culture, Religion? will be the topic May 4, 5 p.m., when biologist and philosopher Fancisco Ayala speaks in the Benson Center Williman Room on the SCU campus.  Register now.