Through the years, Catholic lawyers have had many opportunities and invitations to reflect on their profession as a vocation due to the guidance that can be found in Sacred Scripture, the examples of saints who were themselves members of the legal profession, the teachings of church leaders, and the insights of religious writers on the vocation of the lawyer, to name but a few.
More recently, Pope Francis has also offered guidance as to what a life in the law might mean and what might characterize the vocation to practice law today. This guidance is not to be found in a single speech or writing that he has directed toward lawyers. Rather, examining comments that Pope Francis has made through the years in different contexts to diverse audiences reveals his vision of the lawyer’s vocation—a complex vocation of service and responsibility.
To understand what Pope Francis may think of the lawyer’s vocation, it is important to begin by understanding his view of law itself. Only then is it possible to understand the guidance he offers to those whose professional life is devoted to law. Thus, this paper begins with an exploration of Pope Francis and the law itself—its benefits, its risks, its dangers, and its potential for good. After considering this broad context, it will be possible to explore more specifically what he has to say about the vocation of the lawyer, its promise, and its challenges.
Lucia A. Silecchia, Pope Francis and the Vocation of the Lawyer: Reflections on Service and Responsibility, 54 J. CATH. LEGAL STUD. 23 (2015).