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Quick Hits: On Annulment tribunals, the Ahmari-French debate, and [censored]

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 10, 2019

• Leila Miller, who has made some important contributions to understanding the disastrous effects of divorce, has now turned her attention to diocesan marriage tribunals, and the unmistakable problems associated with routine declarations of annulment. She has posted a revealing interview with a veteran tribunal judge, who (speaking anonymously) acknowledges the problems—not so much with the process as with the people who conduct it:

... why are there so many canon lawyers judging most marriages to be null? Hard to say simply. In my experience, it’s cowardice; a misplaced sense of charity (i.e., it’s more charitable to let John Doe get back to the sacraments than not); arrogance.


• If you follow conservative political affairs, you’re probably attuned to the debate between Sohrab Ahmari and David French, triggered by Ahmari’s refusal to tolerate the “Drag Queen Story Hour” movement in public libraries. In Public Discourse, Ryan Anderson argues both Ahmari (who pushes for clear moral standards of public decency) and French (who defends the right for everyone to speak in the public forum) have valid arguments, which need not be deemed contradictory. Conservatives, he writes, can recognize the function of government in promoting moral behavior (as Ahmari wishes), without forgetting the danger of government intrusion into the realm of private conscience (as French fears):

The task for any sound constitutionalism is to structure government power so as to make it as likely as humanly possible that it promotes the common good, and to limit government so as to make it as unlikely as humanly possible that it will undermine that good.


• Finally, for those interested in philosophical questions, my old friend Fran Maier, writing for First Things, examines some recent commentary by “progressive” Catholics, using the analytical framework supplied by the noted Princeton philosophy professor, Harry G. Frankfurt, the author of... And here I pause, because the title of Frankfurt’s work contains an eight-letter word which, under our current editorial guidelines, cannot appear on this site. It’s a two-word title. The first word is On—that’s simple enough. And the second word identifies something that you might find in a pasture, or (according to Frankfurt) in a political campaign, or (according to Maier) essays in certain Catholic journals.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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