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Beyond Apologies: Children, Mothers, Religious Liberty, and the Mission of the Catholic Church
accepted for publication, Cumberland Law Review (2023)
  • David M. Smolin
This article addresses, from religious liberty and theological perspectives, two sets of serious errors in the treatment of mothers and children, in which the Catholic Church (and other churches) participated.  These serious errors have created credibility gaps regarding the Church’s mission and societal role in assisting vulnerable children and families. 
               Hence, much of this article is a theological examination of what went wrong in regard to two now prominent wrongs:  the residential schools for indigenous children in Canada, the United States, and Australia, and the treatment of single mothers and their children in Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.   The theological journey is necessary to the religious liberty claims for internal reasons---fidelity to the faith---and for external reasons---credibility to society so that society can see and understand that the church has and is learning from its own mistakes.  
               The theological examination of these wrongs is framed by a discussion of the 9-0 victory of Catholic Social Services (CSS) in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case.   This religious liberty victory upon examination is based on the Supreme Court’s  very positive view of the work of CSS in the foster care system.  Religious liberty in the context of cooperative work between the government and religious agencies ultimately does require that the work of the Church is viewed as fulfilling secular goals of government.   
  • Religious Liberty,
  • Fulton v. City of Philadelphia,
  • theology,
  • adoption,
  • foster care,
  • residential schools for indigenous children,
  • baby-scoop era,
  • single mothers,
  • inculturation,
  • Catholic Church
Publication Date
Fall September, 2023
Publisher Statement
Volume 53, Cumberland Law Review
Citation Information
David Smolin, Beyond Apologies: Children, Mothers, Religious Liberty, and the Mission of the Catholic Church, 53 Cumberland Law Review 101 (2023).