The development of interpretive method in the tradition of American Catholic church-state theory

Rebecca Blanche Kasper, Marquette University

Abstract

In this dissertation I argue that in the tradition of American Catholic church-state theory there was a development of interpretive method which made possible the demonstration of the compatibility of Catholic tradition and American political philosophy. American Catholics were influenced and compelled by their historical context to interpret the problem of church and state in a manner different from their European contemporaries. This context was the fact of religious pluralism which was dominated by Protestantism, and by 1791, the constitutional proscription of religious establishment and the guarantee of religious liberty. It was in service to this new interpretive horizon that American Catholics developed and applied, with increasing sophistication, certain canons of understanding whereby American political philosophy and Catholic principles of faith were interpreted according to the assumption that they were not only compatible, but mutually revealing as to God's will for the world. As a result, the methods of the American Catholics were largely synthetic because as they sought to understand how these two spheres of meaning related positively, they wove together what they perceived to be the essential insights of American democracy and Catholicism. In the process, their very identification of what was essential was guided by the methodological tools; philosophical, theological and pastoral, which they employed. In this thesis I employ a historical-critical method to analyze the thought of eleven American Catholic theorists, from John Carroll (1735-1815) to John Courtney Murray, S.J. (1904-1967).

Recommended Citation

Rebecca Blanche Kasper, "The development of interpretive method in the tradition of American Catholic church-state theory" (January 1, 1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9411521.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9411521

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