At 11 a.m. on March 21, the dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law lectured on “Christianity and the Law” in Egan 113 to educate students on the need for Christian lawyers in a secular world.
Robert Vischer’s lecture focused on key commitments for Christians approaching legal studies.
The first commitment is a belief in natural law, “that some moral truths apply always and everywhere … that we can know through the exercise of reason,” Vischer said.
Second is a commitment to human dignity, which raises many ethical questions as to what degree the law should extend to defend that “intrinsic value of the human being,” he explained.
Vischer illustrated the commitments using Supreme Court cases, such as the history of decisions that led to the legalization of abortion. He invited the audience to discuss and point out flaws in the logic of certain cases, similar to the way he would lead a law school class.
“It’s thinking like a lawyer in ways that also show why what we do at St. Thomas … can’t just be a self-contained box of law. You also have to engage in moral, critical reasoning and bring insights from other fields,” he said.
Other commitments include solidarity, to “love without exception,” and subsidiarity, or society depending on relationships, not simply individuals and their government, said Vischer.
The fifth commitment is a reminder that humanity is fallen, so Christian lawyers must be charitable in their work. Vischer said, “Nothing is going to be perfect in our world, given the fall, (but that) doesn’t mean that we are relieved of working for a tolerable justice.”
Vischer ended by encouraging students interested in law to “be not afraid.” He said that as students engage the culture, having “a ‘be not afraid’ mindset (will) affect the vulnerability and the humility and the relationships with which we engage these very difficult
Junior Adam Basinger said for him, the lecture “re-emphasized the need to stand out in the world and evangelize in the secular vocation of the attorney. … Having been at the United Nations and standing up in the room and saying hey, this is wrong … this doesn’t reflect the dignity of the human person, I’ve just seen the need for us to have moral and authentic and radical Catholic attorneys.”