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Catholic Law’s Director of the Center for Law and the Human Person, Elizabeth R. Kirk, Delivers 2022 Mirror of Justice Lecture

On the evening of November 16, Elizabeth R. Kirk, Director of the Center for Law & the Human Person, Research Associate, and Lecturer at Catholic Law, delivered the 2022 Mirror of Justice Lecture entitled, “Reflecting Our Lady: Radical Hospitality to the Child.” The audience was welcomed to the Walter A. Slowinski Courtroom with opening remarks from Emily Johnson (2D), President of the Saint John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers. Johnson introduced Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, to give the opening prayer. Dean Stephen C. Payne followed with his own welcome and acknowledgement of the work Kirk has achieved while at the law school.

Following the Dean, Johnson outlined Kirk’s career and her considerable experience in matters pertaining to the family in law and policy. She then welcomed Elizabeth Kirk to the podium. Kirk thanked the Dean and the Guild for the honor of speaking and began her address on theme of radical hospitality to the child.

Kirk opened her lecture by describing the inspiration for her work, drawn from Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex corde ecclesiae: “together with my students, my task in studying law is to search for truth and, as their teacher, to transmit it to them as best I can. The fruit of this search for truth and its transmission is right action and service of humanity. Therefore, our scholarly pursuits are never purely academic.” She then described the purpose of the Center for Law and the Human Person: “The phrase “the Human Person” communicates that the Center’s mission is to explore law, the foundations of law, what justice requires, what is the common good, etc. in relation to “Christian anthropology,” i.e., what we believe to be true about the human person, his or her nature, his or her end, his or her good.” Kirk noted that the original title proposed for the center was “Center for Hospitality to the Human Person” and she reflected on how the biblical mandate to practice “radical hospitality” is based in part on Christian anthropology. She noted, “Pope St. John Paul II described this orientation to the “other” – this radical hospitality – as the “law of the gift.” Notice that he called it the “law” of the gift, i.e., this is not merely a ethical practice or aspiration, but a law, i.e., a truth, about the human person.” Kirk said that Mary, for whom the Mirror of Justice Lecture is named, demonstrated this orientation to others throughout her life and said that “Reflecting her, we too “are [as Pope John Paul II said] at our best, we are most fully alive and human, when we give away freely and sacrificially our very selves in love for another.”

Kirk’s lecture was divided into four parts. First, citing social science data, she described the contemporary crisis of the “orphans of the living,” i.e., the children languishing in foster care and the child at risk of abortion. Next, she reflected on the phenomenon of adoption as an expression of the “law of the gift,” drawing on the Catholic intellectual tradition. Third, she described barriers to adoption in the contexts of foster care, women facing unexpected pregnancies, and families welcoming children into their homes. Finally, she discussed the role that law ought to play in promoting adoption, highlighting some of her relevant legal work.

Kirk closed with, “Every one of us is made from love and for love, and so as an expression of gratitude we have a duty to practice radical hospitality and to welcome the stranger. It is my hope that more people will see adoption as a way of practicing radical hospitality to the modern “orphan” – the child at risk of abortion and the child languishing in the foster care system.”

The Saint John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers’ officers, Emily Johnson (2D), President; Alejandra Linz (2D), Vice President of Events; Jessica Alhanouch (2D), Vice President of Service; Taylor Abshire (2D), Social Media Chair; and AJ Abate (2D), Treasurer; then presented Kirk with her award.

Founded in 1989 by the Saint John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers, a student organization of Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, the Mirror of Justice Scholars Award recognizes law school faculty members whose commitment to the teaching of the law and whose scholarship advances our insights towards achieving justice through law in contemporary society. The award and lecture are founded on the consciousness of the demands of justice that arise from our professional responsibility as students of law. The Mirror of Justice Award and Lecture are dedicated to the ideals of charity and wisdom that are summed up in the title of the Guild’s Patroness: Mary, Mother of Justice. You can view a recording of the lecture below.

Carter Snead

Carter Snead is the Charles E. Rice Professor of Law and the Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame Law School. Professor Snead is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics with extensive research that explores issues relating to neuroethics, enhancement, human embryo research, assisted reproduction, abortion, and end-of-life decision-making. Professor Snead received his J.D. from Georgetown University and his B.A. degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

Lucia Silecchia

Lucia Silecchia is the Associate Dean of Faculty Research and a Professor of Law who has taught at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law since 1991. Professor Silecchia has written extensively in the areas of environmental law and ethics, elder law, Catholic social thought, legal education, law and literature, and legal writing. In December, 2016, she began service as an Expert to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, assisting on matters related to the elderly, people with disabilities and ecology. Professor Silecchia received her J.D. from Yale Law School. And her B.A. degree from Queens College (C.U.N.Y.).

Luis Perez

Luis J. Perez is a Partner at McDermott, Will & Emery in its Miami office and focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance matters, including international transactions, for clients operating throughout the United States and Latin America. Mr. Perez is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is also a senior editor for the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Social Impact Review. He received his J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and his B.A. degree from Rollins College.

Michael Moreland

Michael Moreland is University Professor of Law and Religion and director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law where he has taught numerous courses including Torts, Evidence, Bioethics and the Law, Advanced Torts, Constitutional Law II, Justice and Rights, and seminars in Law and Religion. As a renowned scholar in these fields, Professor Moreland has published articles in leading legal, public policy, and medical journals, and his chapters on law, ethics and religion have been featured in numerous books, including titles published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. Professor Moreland received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, his M.A. and Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College, and his B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.

Veryl Miles

Veryl Victoria Miles teaches Consumer Bankruptcy and Commercial Law courses at the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where she was previously Dean from 2005-2012. Much of her extensive scholarship has been devoted to the subject of consumer bankruptcy law as well as a range of issues regarding legal education and admission to the bar. Professor Miles is a graduate of Wells College in Aurora, New York, and received her J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P.

Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., is University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry at The Catholic University of America. He previously taught moral theology of the Dominican House of Studies and served as Prior of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.. Father Aquinas’s scholarship focuses on Thomas Aquinas and the common good. He entered the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in 2005, and after several years of pastoral work, received his doctorate at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland).

David Crawford

David S. Crawford is Dean and Associate Professor of Moral Theology and Family Law at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America. Dr. Crawford’s research has focused on natural law, gender identity, homosexuality, and the anthropological implications of modern civil law. He has an S.T.D., S.T.L., and M.T.S. from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, a J.D. from University of Michigan Law School, an M.A. in writing from the University of Iowa, and B.A. from the University of Iowa.

Gerard V. Bradley

Gerard V. Bradley is professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches Legal Ethics and Constitutional Law. He serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Jurisprudence, which he formerly co-edited. Professor Bradley’s scholarly work focuses on the intersection of religious liberty, Catholic social teaching, and American law. He has written many books including Unquiet Americans: U.S. Catholics and America’s Common Good (St. Augustine’s Press, 2019). He received his B.A. and J.D. from Cornell University.

Erika Bachiochi

Erika Bachiochi is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute. Her scholarship focuses on feminist legal theory, Catholic social teaching, and Equal Protection jurisprudence. Ms. Bachiochi’s most recent book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, published by University of Notre Dame Press in 2021, was a finalist for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Conservative Book of the Year Award. She has edited two other books, and her writings have appeared in publications such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. Ms. Bachiochi has a J.D. from Boston University School of Law, an M.A. from Boston College, and a B.A. from Middlebury College.

Helen Alvaré

Helen M. Alvaré is the Robert A. Levy Endowed Chair in Law and Liberty at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, where she teaches Family Law, Property Law, and Law and Religion. Her research focuses on marriage, parenting, non-marital households, and freedom of religion. She has published several books including Religious Freedom After the Sexual Revolution: A Catholic Guide with Catholic University of America Press in 2022, and Putting Children’s Interests First in American Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility with Cambridge University Press in 2017. In addition to her scholarship, Professor Alvaré is a member of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life and a board member of Catholic Relief Services. She holds a J.D. from Cornell University School of Law, an M.A. in Systematic Theology from Catholic University of America, and a B.S. from Villanova University.

William Rooney

William H. Rooney is the Lumen Legis Fellow of the Center for Law and the Human Person and a Lecturer at the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America. His primary areas of scholarship and teaching are law in the Catholic intellectual tradition and antitrust law. Mr. Rooney aspires to contribute to the Center in collaboration with students, scholars, and practitioners and through his experience in philosophy, law, and economics. He is especially interested in studying the human person as the imago Dei who receives the light of all law from God, the Eternal Light, Creator, and Lawgiver. Mr. Rooney has been a lifelong student of the Catholic intellectual tradition and its intersection with law and economics. He has an M.A. in Philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, a J.D. from Yale Law School, a Diploma in Law from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Rooney is a former partner of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and former co-head of Willkie’s Antitrust Practice Group and practiced antitrust law for over 30 years. Mr. Rooney is a Trustee of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project and has collaborated with the Collegium and the Portsmouth Institutes.

Louis Brown

Louis Brown is the Center’s Associate Director. Brown received a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law. After law school, he first worked as a private practice attorney for a firm where he practiced labor law and commercial litigation. He later served as associate director of social concerns for a state Catholic conference. While at the conference, among other efforts, he advocated for life-affirming health care policy, co-led a legislative coalition in favor of housing non-discrimination legislation, advocated for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and sought to protect the social safety net for the poor. Brown went on to become a Congressman’s legislative counsel and his liaison to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. He also served as the Congressman’s primary health care staffer. 

Marc DeGirolami

Marc O. DeGirolami is the inaugural St. John Henry Newman Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Law and the Human Person. His publications include The Tragedy of Religious Freedom (Harvard University Press) and articles in the Yale Law JournalNotre Dame Law ReviewWashington University Law ReviewConstitutional Commentary, Legal Theory, and the Boston College Law Review, among others. Before joining the Columbus School of Law in 2024, he was the Cary Fields Professor of Law and the Co-Director of the Mattone Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School. He has also been a Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Department of Politics, as well as a Visiting Professor at Notre Dame Law School and The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. His professional experience includes service as an Assistant District Attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Kirk

Elizabeth Kirk is the Center’s Co-Director and Assistant Professor of Law at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. She joined the Columbus School of Law after serving as the Director and Kowalski Chair of Catholic Thought at the Institute for Faith and Culture at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas. From 2005 to 2010, she served as the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, an interdisciplinary center inspired by the teachings of St. Pope John Paul II and dedicated to bringing the Catholic moral, intellectual and cultural tradition to bear upon the formation of students. From 2012 to 2016, Kirk served as a resident fellow in cultural and legal studies at the Stein Center for Social Research at Ave Maria University.