Robert Spaeth

Robert L. Spaeth came to Saint John’s University, Minnesota, as a visiting professor in Liberal Studies and director of Freshman Colloquium in 1977. He was appointed dean in 1979 and held that post for nine years. He resigned in 1988 to return to teaching. He died in 1994.

recent articles

The Bishop as Lobbyist: No Excommunications, Please

When it comes to politics, the modern American Catholic bishop has the soul of a lobbyist. Lobbyists are not born but made. A bishop will move from spiritual teacher to political manipulator when attracted by the lure of political influence—an age-old American temptation. Naturally, bishops will hate to be compared to agents of the American … Read more

Curran, Dissent, & Rome: A Symposium

Whatever you may have heard, or thought, please be assured that there are no similarities between the case of Charles Curran and the case of Galileo Galilei. Whatever similarities there are, are superficial, not significant. The Galileo case occurred ‘way back, in the pre-Vatican II church. Someone may rashly claim a resemblance between Galileo’s meeting … Read more

Priests and Sisters Should Avoid Political Office

It is interesting, perhaps instructive, to imagine a world in which priests and members of religious orders aspiring to political office would experience only the problems of other Catholic politicians. In this world—fantastic to some, desirable to others—the Code of Canon Law would place no obstacles in the path of those priests, brothers and sisters … Read more

Relying on Government

Confidence in government emerges as a powerful theme in “Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy,” the new draft pastoral letter of the American Catholic bishops. The letter’s remarkable endorsement of government solutions to economic problems provides the bishops’ arguments with both philosophical coherence and political applications of their moral concerns about poverty and unemployment. … Read more

Perspectives: The Bishop Malone Statement

“But she is not really a Catholic” — words recently written about Geraldine Ferraro by Ben Omann. What do they mean? Ben Omann is a partisan politician, not a theologian. As an obscure representative in the Minnesota legislature, he is hardly competent or authorized to decide on the validity of anyone’s religion. And since Congresswoman … Read more

A Dangerous Game: The Catholic Clergy Enter Political Life

The American clergy saw that they would have to give up religious influence if they wanted to acquire political power, and they preferred to lose the support of authority rather than to share its vicissitudes. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, and with them their loyal followers, … Read more

The Twilight of Socialism

Without evidence or documentation, predicting the content of the next pastoral letter of the American Catholic bishops, on capitalism and the United States economy, is no more instructive than a parlor game. Yet there does exist one document that may contain some clues about the eventual outcome of the bishops’ study of economics. It is … Read more

The Pursuit of a Just Social Order

Book Review of  Policy Statements of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1966-80, by J. Brian Benestad (Available only from Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C., 1982, 206 pages). During the past fifteen years or so, the Catholic bishops of the United States, for reasons best known to themselves, have been writing a political platform. Except for its … Read more

Theological Politics

WHEN CLERGYYMEN and other professional religious people move into the vigorous debates of American politics — as, in fact, they are doing more and more — they bring with them the concepts and terminology of theology. To the religious-minded this transference might appear unobjectionable, but I contend that religious concepts are likely to do more harm than good to our political … Read more

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