While President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court is an Episcopalian—and he attends an Episcopal church in Boulder, Colorado—Neil Gorsuch has some significant Catholic connections.
To begin with, he was educated by Jesuits. Growing up, he attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland (“Georgetown Prep,” to those of us who grew up nearby). He went on to study at Columbia, Harvard and Oxford.
It’s at Oxford where John Allen at Crux has dug up an even more intriguing connection:
At Oxford he studied under Australian legal philosopher John Finnis, who converted to Catholicism in 1962, who’s drawn on St. Thomas Aquinas in his work, who later became a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission and whose work there is believed to have influenced St. Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor on the importance of moral absolutes.
For Finnis there are seven basic goods; life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, sociability of friendship, practical reasonableness and religion. Life for Finnis involves all aspects of vitality that enable a person to gain strong willpower. The second aspect of well-being is knowledge and is described as the pure desire to know, simply out of curiosity, as well as a concerning interest and desire for truth. The third aspect, play, is regarded as self-evident as there is no real point of performing such activities, only for pure enjoyment. Aesthetic experience is the fourth aspect and is considered similarly to play however; it does not essentially need an action to occur. The fifth aspect for Finnis is sociability where it is realised through the creation of friendships, that these relationships are fundamental goods. Practical reasonableness is the sixth basic good where it is one’s ability to use their intellect in deciding choices that ultimately shape one’s nature. The final basic good is religion; it encompasses the acknowledgment of a concern for a simplified distinct form of order, where an individual’s sense of responsibility is addressed; it is “all those beliefs that can be called matters of ultimate concern; questions about the point of human existence.”
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