Catholic University Law Review


Religion and religious voices have long had a role to play in shaping community norms and values and public policy; this role continues in contemporary America. Yet, legitimate questions arise about the extent of this role and its place in a pluralist and democratic state. These questions are particularly pronounced when religion is perceived as partisan, a situation that seems apparent in contemporary America. Hoping to combat this perception, this paper explores the relationship between Catholic Social Teaching and Vulnerability Theory, aiming to show how religious values can inform legal theory across the political spectrum. This paper surveys both Catholic Social Teaching and Vulnerability Theory and then uses the principle of subsidiarity to explore the parallels, overlaps, and distinctions between these approaches. Such an exploration can help recognize how religious traditions can be in dialogue with legal theories across the political spectrum, without becoming tied to one particularly partisan or narrow approach. Religion and religious voices can thus be resources to aid in the building of truly just states, regardless of the ideological and political commitments of state actors.