Information about the Society of Catholic Social Scientists

Author: SCSS

This file contains information from various articles about the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

The following letter is from Stephen M. Krason, Esq., Ph.D. and is addressed to those qualified to join the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to invite you to apply for membership in the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS). The SCSS, organized in 1992, is composed of Catholic scholars, professors, teachers, practitioners, and others in political science and political philosophy, sociology, social thought, social work, history, economics, psychology, law, anthropology, and other disciplines whose work touches social or public concerns (we thus do not define the term "social scientist" in the narrow way that is so typical today). The primary aim of the SCSS is to produce objective knowledge about the political, social, and economic orders which can assist the Catholic Church in fulfilling her various apostolic efforts, and which can bring the Church's teaching and the Natural Law to bear on addressing the challenges and problems of modern culture. Secondary but still important functions of the SCSS include: 1) the continual assessment of social science work as it bears on the situation of the Church in America and the world; 2) the development, over time, of assorted publishing outlets such as books, journals, magazines, and newsletters; and 3) the establishment of research centers. To the extent that resources can be found, the SCSS also hopes to do the following: establish "chairs" of social science in both Catholic and non-Catholic universities devoted to the study of the relationship of Catholicism and contemporary culture; institute scholarships to encourage Catholic students to enter social science disciplines, and awards for important contributions to the social sciences which help strengthen the Faith; and disseminate the insights of the social sciences to the secondary school level.

The SCSS holds an annual meeting-conference, usually on the last weekend of October, which gives members the opportunity not only to get together for fellowship and camarderie, but also to present papers, share their scholarly work or activity in their fields, and exchange ideas as a way of helping further the SCSS's above objectives. The SCSS also conducts a biennial research project, which results in a publication or publications. The first project is examining the question of Catholic political activity in the United States. The project entails three major components. The first (normative) part will present the teachings of the Church both on the question of the obligation of Catholics to participate in political and public affairs and on basic principles which should structure political life. The second (empirical) part will analyze how Catholics--whether as citizens, government officials, or Church leaders-- participated in American political life, both in terms of extent of involvement and how the issue stands they have taken compare with official pronouncements of the Church. The final (policy) part will propose various ways by which Catholics can better represent their religious worldview in the public square.

In future projects, the SCSS plans to study, in light of Church teaching, the essentiality of the family and the threats posed to it by the state, welfare policy in the United States, and the contraceptive mentality and its influence on issues of human life generally.

The current national officers of the SCSS are: Dr. Stephen M. Krason, Esq., Franciscan University of Steubenville, President; Dr. Robert P. George, Esq., Princeton University, 1st Vice President; Dr. Alberto M. Piedra, Catholic University of America, 2nd Vice President; Dr. Joseph A. Varacalli, Nassau Community College-SUNY, Executive Secretary; Professor Gerard V. Bradley, Esq., Notre Dame Law School, Treasurer; and Rev. Robert J. Batule, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Chaplain.

At present, local SCSS chapters, which pursue a program decided on by their members consistent with the SCSS's purposes, are being formed. The SCSS's National Advisory Board is made up of the following distinguished Catholic scholars: Rev. Francis J. Ganavan, S.J., Ph.D.; Rev. Msgr; Eugene V. Clark, Ph.D.; Dr. Donald J. D'Elia; Dr. Rupert J. Ederer; Sr. Janet A. Fitzgerald, O.P., Ph.D.; Rev. Msgr. George P. Graham, Ph.D.; Dr. James Hitchcock; Rev. Msgr. George A. Kelly, Ph.D.; Dr. Russell Kirk; Rev. Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap., S.T.D.; Rev. Robert J. Levis, Ph.D.; Mr. James Likoudis; Rev. John H. Miller, C.S.C., S.T.D.; Dr. Timothy T. O'Donnell; Dr. Charles E. Rice, Esq.; Rev. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., J.D., Litt.D., Dr. Paul V. Vitz; and Dr. Frederick Wilhelmsen. Msgr. Kelly and Fr. Miller are Co-Chairmen. Our Bishops Advisory Board is made up of John Cardinal O'Connor (New York) and Bishops Edward M. Egan (Bridgeport), Glennon P. Flavin (Emeritus, Lincoln), Norman McFarland (Orange), John J. Myers (Peoria), and Austin Vaughan (Auxiliary, New York).

We believe the efforts of this organization can bear much fruit. If you wish to apply for membership, please fill out the enclosed application from and return it along with a current vita (which includes a listing of publications, if any) and the $25 annual dues to: Dr. Stephen M. Krason, President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists, c/o Political Science Program, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio 43952. (Make out checks or money orders to the "Society of Catholic Social Scientists.") Of this annual dues amount, $10 goes toward a one-year subscription for the which has been long distinguished for promoting the Church's social teachings and is serving as the organ of the SCSS. If you would like more information, write, phone, or FAX me at: (614)283-6416; FAX (614)283-6401.

Please also let us know the names of other social scientists who might be interested in the SCSS, and if you would be interested in joining or helping form a local SCSS chapter.

I hope you will consider applying for membership and please keep the SCSS in your prayers. God bless you.


Stephen M. Krason, Esq., Ph.D. SCSS President


The criteria for membership in the Society shall be the following from the Society's By- Laws):

(1) fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in all it teaches including, and especially, her social teachings--always distinguishing between positions asserted in the social encyclicals which are morally obligatory and those which are not and allowing for legitimate differences in views about their application--and teachings on conjugal morality and family life, such as the important encyclical Humanae Vitae; (2) reasonable knowledge of and interest in deepening one's understanding of the Church's social teachings; and (3) support for the purpose of the Society (as stated in Article Two of its Constitution):

The purpose of this organization is to bring Catholic scholars, professors, teachers, practitioners and the others in the social sciences and related disciplines into association to produce objective knowledge and analysis about the political, social, and economic orders which can assist the Catholic Church in fulfilling her various apostolic efforts, and which can bring the Church's social and other teaching and the Natural Law to bear on addressing the challenges and problems of modern culture. The Society seeks to promote scholarly efforts which are oriented to helping rebuild the culture according to the principles of the papal social encyclicals (with justice and charity as foremost considerations), securing protection for the dignity and rights of the Christian family and of all innocent human life (from fertilization until natural death), and furthering respect for the legitimate rights and duties of the human person.

Non-Catholics who are knowledgeable about and support the Church's teachings and the purpose of the Society may become special associate members of the Society (entitled to all the rights and privileges of regular members, except for holding a national office, serving as president or executive head of a local chapter, or sitting on the national Board of Directors), but, if their consciences do not permit, will not be expected to affirm fidelity to the Magisterium.

All applicants, who are not known about by the Membership Committee and are not specifically invited to join the Society, will be required to submit a vita or other personal information in order to demonstrate, by their academic background, publications/writings, activity, or other service, that they meet the above criteria and are of the categories of people eligible to be members of the Society, as specified in the above statements of the Society's purpose from Article Two of its Constitution. They will also be required to provide the names of at least two present members of the Society who can be approached by the Membership Committee as references. If the latter is not possible, the Membership Committee may waive the requirement. The decision of the Membership Committee regarding the acceptance of any application shall be final.

The following article appeared in the "FCS Newsletter" of June 1991.


by Joseph A. Varacalli, Ph.D.

To Restore All Things in Christ

It is, of course, true that sociology and the other social sciences did not exist as professions during the colonial period of American Catholic history. In a real sense, however, our tale of the rise, fall, and possible resurrection of the idea of "Catholic sociology" and Catholic "social sciences" (or, perhaps, less ostentatiously, of "Catholic perspectives" in sociology and the social sciences) starts in this period. This is so because the attempt, in the early-to-mid-twentieth century, to construct distinctive Catholic intellectual approaches and to create professional associations of Catholic scholars was just some of the many consequences of the calculated and reasonable reaction of the Catholic Church in America to overcome its less than auspicious beginning in the American colonies and nation. American Catholics, a small and disparaged minority in an overwhelmingly Protestant country, - lacking priests, parishes, regular communication with Rome and standardization in doctrine and religious practice, - were converting in large numbers to Protestantism or to the lapsed condition of the unchurched. The early answer to Gerald Shaughnessy's classic question, "Has the immigrant kept the faith?" was often a simple "no."

The series of Provincial and Plenary Councils held in Baltimore from 1829 to 1884 provided the organizational blueprint and the stimulus for the American Catholic Church to start building what the contemporary sociologist, Peter L. Berger, would later call its "plausibility structure." By this he meant the system of interlocking social institutions (i.e., parishes, families, seminaries, schools, hospitals, newspapers, publishing houses, bookstores, professional associations, ethnic associations, charitable organizations, etc.) that assists the Church in socializing its members. The social science argument behind the concept of a plausibility structure is that any belief system requires a structural base that reaffirms, through constant social interaction and exposure, its "realness" to the individual. During the pre-Reformation period of Christendom in Europe, one can say that the total society constituted a plausibility structure for Catholicism as most social institutions reinforced the presence of God and God's Church to the individual through his/her daily biographical existence. Historically, the Church found herself, in a fundamentally different situation in the United States marked variously by either a Protestant or secular hegemony and / or a radical religious pluralism. In-any event, the lack of a common Catholic culture in the United States necessitates that the Church continually build and maintain a plausibility structure. The American Catholic plausibility structure started to take shape after World War I and hit full stride in the 1940's and 1950's only to be severely weakened by both external and internal forces in the post-Vatican II period.

A significant part of this attempt entailed the construction of a Catholic educational network from the elementary to the graduate level. The Church's alternative higher education system (Salvaterra 1988, Varacalli 1989) mirrored secular developments in bureaucratization and professionalization but provided a distinctive and decisive twist through the effort to ground all study through the unifying force of neo-Thomism and Neo-Scholasticism with its God-centered teleological focus. Simply put, the Catholic intellectual attempt, in the felicitous phrase of Pope Pius X, was "to restore all things in Christ" (Salvaterra, 1988:201).

Associated with the development of an alternate Catholic educational fortress was the creation of distinctive Catholic social science perspectives and the establishment of separate Catholic scholarly organizations founded on specific premises: that Catholics 1) bring distinctive philosophical presuppositions and metaphysical starting points into their intellectual approaches but 2) should appropriate anything of worth in secular intellectual approaches for the benefit of the faith. As Jeffrey Burns has noted, American Catholic social science initially developed around the turn-of-the-century through the pioneering efforts of the sociologist William Kerby, the economist John A. Ryan, the psychologist Thomas Verner Moore and the anthropologist John M. Cooper (1988:10). Mention should also be made of the vital role played by the historian Peter Guilday in attempting to counter secular misconceptions and faulty interpretations concerning the history of the Church (Salvaterra, 1988:237). David Salvaterra reports that the American Catholic Historical Association was founded in 1919, the Catholic Anthropological Conference and the American Catholic Philosophical Association in 1926, the Catholic Biblical Association of America in 1936, the American Catholic Sociological Society in 1938, the Canon Law Society of America in 1939, the Catholic Economic Association in 1941, the Catholic Theological Society in 1946, the American Catholic Psychological Association in 1947, and the Albertus Magnus Guild, an organization for Catholics in science, in 1953 (1988:7980).

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and referring once again to the conceptual corpus of Peter L. Berger, many of the various Catholic professional associations fell victim either to a "secularization from without," i.e., dissolved as specifically "Catholic" organizations, or a "secularization from within," i.e., internally transformed into shells of their once authentically Catholic selves while still formally keeping the Catholic label. Predictably enough, these secularizing developments - at least according to the subsequent progressivist or Americanist leadership wings of these organizations - were legitimated by Vatican II. The requirements of "ecumenism," "academic freedom," "critical thinking," and "individual conscience" were used to make the case that distinctive Catholic academic perspectives and separate (but, again, not isolated) Catholic professional associations were provincial at best or contradictory at worst. The latent and unintended function of the Council was to permit many Catholic intellectuals to find a comfortable home within the frame of reference of the outer secular professional societies. The sociological truism of the classical American sociologist, W. I. Thomas, to the effect that "what is defined as real is real in its consequences" can easily be applied to the case of the (as compared to the ) impact of Vatican II. Vatican II actually affirmed the need for Catholics to engage in public dialogue about what their religion had to offer both to the world-at-large and to the various intellectual disciplines. Many influential post-Vatican II Catholic intellectuals rather than dialoguing with their secular counterparts capitulated to their mindset instead. Vatican II was hardly a declaration that distinctive Catholic intellectual approaches and professional associations were obsolescent. In truth it was a call for an open-minded but evangelistic thrust into the temporal sphere of academia.

A Case in Point: The American Catholic Sociological Society

There were many reasons for the attempt in the United States, between 1938 and 1970, to construct a Catholic sociology and to maintain a professional organization of Catholic sociologists. The idea of a Catholic sociology first developed "negatively," ie., in reaction to the pervasive non-Catholic elements influencing the discipline (whether of Comteian, Spencerian, positivistic, behavioristic, socialistic, communistic, other secular, or liberal Protestant origin) (Williams, 1950). The idea also developed "positively" in response to the developing tradition of social Catholicism. Initiated in a scholarly way with the "just war" writings of St. Augustine and by the natural law perspective of St. Thomas, Catholic social thought grew to a corpus in modern times with the publication of (1891) and (1931) (Williams, 1950). Contributing historical factors also included the virulent anti-Catholic attitudes that pervaded the sociological profession and the intellectual moral demands for reconstructing the social order in light of the Great Depression. The crystallizing Catholic plausibility structure, with its neo-scholastic base, was now in place and a Catholic attempt to interpret social facts within a Thomistic framework was possible. What was needed was a charismatic individual to set off the necessary organizational spark. He appeared in the figure of a Chicago priest, Ralph Gallagher.

The effort to construct a Catholic sociology lasted little less than three decades and the perceived need for a specifically Catholic organization of sociologists only a little longer. The American Catholic Sociological Society was founded in 1938 and its journal, the two years later. In 1963, the name was changed to and the organization's name to in 1970.

Why this transformation occurred is a complex question whose answer is multi-faceted (Varacalli, 1989a). The lack of moral and financial support to social science efforts by the institutional Church facilitated secularization. Church leaders felt secure that truth could be satisfactorily approached through the traditional deductive disciplines of philosophy and theology. In short, sociology was suspect because of its non-Catholic founders and non-Catholic biases assumed, incorrectly, to be intrinsic to the discipline. Dialectically related to this was (and is) the Catholic Church's relatively weak tradition in sociology (Baum, 1989;721). Catholic thinkers who could or did systematically counter and respond to secular and Protestant sociologists were few. Paul Hanly Furfey was an exception in this regard. The relative sparseness of Catholic giants in sociology was compounded by the incomplete training of the rank and file who often equated the social content of moral theology with the sociological discipline. As Peter Kivisto (1989:358) has noted, most early Catholic sociologists were not either theorists or empiricists but specialists in other areas with a strong bent to social reform. Add to this the typically heavy teaching and administrative workload assigned to sociologist in Catholic colleges - many of whom were also active parochial ministers - which left little time for deeper study and pure research in the field. Some commentators have charged that the typical Catholic stress on character development precluded a scholarly concern for the "what is" (as compared to the "what should be"). Another view was that Catholic sociology was doomed because Catholic censorship prohibited a necessary and frank exchange with non-Catholic ideas, authors, and methods.

Despite these admitted handicaps, the elements of what could have been developed into a fully articulated Catholic sociology did emerge. In the 1950's, John J. Kane's dream that the American Catholic Sociological Society could become a vital and necessary bridge between the outer sociological profession and the world of Catholicism was still alive (1953). The energy of individual Catholic sociologists kept Kane's vision viable, at least until a "new generation" of his peers abandoned the bridge to seculars. The killing blow to the Kane idea came, ironically, when Church leadership decided to send their best and brightest to prestigious but secular institutions of higher education like Harvard University and the University of Chicago. Priests and religious sent there to learn the "latest" in sociology were to come back to Catholic environs sharing the fruits of their secular training and newly acquired insights with the Catholic faithful. (It would be interesting to find out how many never came back as clergy or as members of "the People of God.") By the 1960's, secularized sociologists who were Catholic had accepted the false notion that narrowly empirical and highly mathematical versions of sociology were "true" sociology, whereas the "Catholic sociology" of Paul Hanly Furfey (1942), concerned with the "deep knowledge of God's purpose in human society," was not. In the words of Jeffrey Bums (1988:104), the "new generation" was "chomping at the bit" to win acceptance from the secular professionals. However, the "price" of acceptance was assent to the positivistic claim that values - including religious values - had no constructive role to play in aspect of the sociological enterprise, including the development of sociological theory (Varacalli, 1987, 1988, 1990) Here I reject the claim made by Gregory Baum (1989:722) that Talcott Parsons, the premier mainstream American sociologist of the 1950's, provided an intellectually defensible "detente" between religion and sociology, one which enabled Catholics "to join the dominant sociology without compromising their religious convictions." At best, Parsons' work provided a convenient rationalization for ignoring the possible Catholic interface with sociology. The transformation of into was simply another indicator of the increased strength of the "Americanist" interpreters of things Catholic.

In the post-Vatican II period, almost overnight, the American Catholic hierarchy's historic suspicion of, or at least its indifference to, secular sociology reversed itself. In light of the selective misinterpretation of the Council by "reformers," the cultural and social chaos of the 1960's and 1970's; and the acquiescence of leading bishops to "Americanist" tendencies, it is not surprising that secular sociologists, situated in Catholic college departments and Church bureaucracies, became popular conduits of non-Catholic ideas within the Catholic body. In spite of its growing popularity, secular sociological research has often-times been partisan along progressive lines, thus betraying its variously associated claims representing "professionalism," "value- neutrality," and "objectivity."

The situation of sociology vis-a-vis the Catholic Church in the United States is further complicated by the relatively recent emergence of a convoluted form of Catholic sociology, i.e., the synthesis of Marxism and Christianity entitled the "theology of liberation" (Varacalli, 1989b). On the one hand, legitimate Church authority has made it clear through the publication of certain important statements that much of what today passes as liberation theology includes not only false theological concepts but also a deficient mode of integrating Catholic theology and the social sciences. These statements include, foremost, both the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith's "Instruction on Certain Aspects of the 'Theology of Liberation'" (1984) and "Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation" (1986) as well as the Congregation for Catholic Education's "Guidelines for the Study and Teaching of the Church's Social Doctrine in the Formation of Priests" (1989). Despite such authoritative statements and despite the fact that it produces a Catholic sociology that is both religiously heterodox and sociologically unscientific, liberation theology remains an influential force in the Church. Writing in the middle of the last decade, Gregory Baum (1986), for instance, has explicitly argued the case that the acceptable sociological paradigm for the Christian sociologist is that of Marxism. The resurrection of the idea of Catholic sociology in the United States is, thus, off to a disastrous start.

While a "theology of liberation" sociology may be starting to edge its way into some mainstream Catholic college departments of sociology, it is more likely to be gaining wider acceptance in departments of theology and religious studies. From the orthodox Catholic perspective, then, the contemporary situation of sociology vis-a-vis the faith is desperately bad. Today the forms of sociology empirically available to the faithful are either secularistic or more openly biased along theology of liberation lines.

What Is To Be Done?

A first step in renewing the battle to restore sociology and the social sciences in Christ might be in the forming of a Society of Catholic Social Scientists. Since the defining goal of this proposed scholarly organization is to produce objective knowledge in the service of the Catholic Church and not, conversely, to promote any specific school of thought, there ought to be much room for honest disagreement about the nature and extent of the linkage between Catholicism and social science in general or any specific social science discipline in particular. Again, as always, St. Augustine's phrase should be operative: "in necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity." All S.C.S.S. members, because they are involved in some way with the integration of profession with the Catholic faith as defined by magisterial authority, should be required to take the recently promulgated Oath of Catholic allegiance.


Baum, Gregory. 1986. "Three Theses on Contextual Theology," (Volume 24, Number 4)

Baum, Gregory. 1989. "Sociology and Salvation: Do We Need A Catholic Sociology?" (Volume 50, Number 4)

Burns, Jeffrey M. 1988. 1930-1962: (New York and London: Garland Publishing)

Furfey, Paul Hanly. 1942. "The Lesson of Plato's Republic," (Volume 3, Number 2)

Kane, John J. 1953. "Are Catholic Sociologists a Minority Group?," (Volume 14, Number 1)

Kivisto, Peter. 1989. "The Brief Career of Catholic Sociology," (Volume 50, Number 4, Special Issue)

Salvaterra, David L. 1988. (New York and London: Garland Publishing)

Varacalli, Joseph A. 1987. "The Resurrection of 'Catholic Sociologies': Toward a Catholic Center," (Volume 78, Numbers 5-6)

Varacalli, Joseph A. 1988. "Book Review of Jeffrey M. Burns' 1930 1962: (1988)," (Volume LXXXIX, Numbers 11-12)

Varacalli, Joseph A. 1989. "Book Review of David L. Salvaterra's (1988)," (Volume 50, Number 4, Special Issue)

Varacalli, Joseph A. 1989a. "Toward the History and Promise of Roman Catholic Sociologies" (Unpublished paper)

Varacalli, Joseph A. 1989b. "Recovering the Sacred: A 'Catholic Sociological' Critique of Gustavo Gutierrez' " (Unpublished paper)

Varacalli Joseph A. 1990. "Catholic Sociology in America: A Comment on the Fiftieth Anniversary Issue of (Volume 4, Number 2)

Williams, Melvin J. 1950. (New York: The Ronald Press)

The following article appeared in the June 1994 issue of "Catalyst," Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights


the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights & the Society of Catholic Social Scientists

by Dr. Joseph A. Varacalli

Former V.P. Dan Quayle calls it the "cultural elite." Theologian Richard Neuhaus refers to it as a modern day form of "gnosticism." Sociologist Peter Berger terms it the "new class." Adapting Berger's phrase to the radical left wing of the Catholic Church, I coined the phrase, the "new Catholic knowledge class." To many average Americans, who form the basis of a contemporary "populist" revolt, there is in our society a powerful group of heavy-handed and arrogant snobs.

However named, the underlying reality is the same: there exists a category of secular and progressivist intellectuals, bureaucrats, and social activists who dominate both America's public square and the infrastructure of America's mainstream religious denominations. Moreover, this group carries both a worldview and vested ideological interests (in terms of the sociological, trilogy of status, power, and wealth) which are furthered by bashing the Judaic-Christian heritage and excluding the latter from any meaningful participation within the American political system and cultural life of the society.

Given its potential with both a 2,000 year tradition and impressive moral, intellectual, and organizational resources (especially when inspired by such a visionary leader like John Paul II), it becomes clear why the secularist assault is concentrated against the Catholic Church. In short, all roads lead to either Rome or secularism. It is Rome that constitutes the last great obstacle to the modernist onslaught; destroy (or capture) Rome and the game is over. Given this, it is not hard to understand why the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights was founded by Father Virgil Blum, S.J. in 1973 and so recently re-energized by William Donohue. If these men and their organization didn't exist, they would have had to be invented.

The defense of the religious and civil rights of Catholics and other orthodox religionists requires, however, more than just the participation of lawyers, politicians, and an organized and educated laity. This is so because much of the philosophical and intellectual underpinnings of the attack on the Judaic-Christian heritage comes from a contemporary social science that 1) for better or worse, is a social fact of life that, subtly or not, influences all aspects of American life and 2) is dependent almost solely on secular assumptions, concepts, and theories about the nature and destiny of, and relationship between, the individual and society.

Consider the following examples. School administrators take-for-granted a Freudian- like assumption of human sexuality and conclude that condom distribution is both a strategic and moral imperative. Many psychologists portray supernaturally based religion as both an illusion and opiate while seeing their own discipline as an alleged enlightened substitute for it. Many in the marriage counseling profession talk of courtship and marriage exclusively in contractual and emotional terms consisting merely of social, economic, and psychological exchanges. In many sociology classes, the traditional nuclear family is depicted as an abusive prison for, at least, women and children. Many anthropologists seen to be unable to condemn such practices as human sacrifice, homosexuality, and children being born out of wedlock, thus promoting, either unconsciously or not, the philosophy of moral relativism. Many political scientists, forged in the Marxist inspired and anti-American and anti-Western civilization era of the 1960s-1970s, routinely and uncritically consider all American military intervention as a form of economically self-serving imperialism. Afro-American courses tend to assume, that all Caucasians are racists; the reality of black racism is never broached. Similarly, much feminist scholarship simply defines men as sexist and ignores the injustice done to men in employment through the use of quotas. While racism, sexism, homophobia, and ageism are unquestionably seen as real "social problems," the deleterious effects of abortion, euthanasia, divorce, day-care centers and, last but not least, religious bigotry are either not addressed or not addressed squarely. Intellectual discourse within the social science departments of America's colleges and universities-Catholic institutions definitely included-thus take place within the narrow parameters of "politically correct" thought.

Such thought and behavior, again, is anything but absent within important sectors of the Catholic clergy; witness the effects of a "therapeutic mentality" on conceptions of sin and in the implementation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To top things off, even many Bishops, when trying to form and implement positions on social issues. and pastoral policy, rely heavily on secular social science with, predictably, unsatisfactory results. Put crudely, a secular social science attacks the Church from both without and within.

One recent response to the present unhappy state of affairs regarding secular social science and the Catholic faith is the formation, in 1992, of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. The purpose of the S.C.S.S. is basically twofold: 1) to incorporate, where appropriate, Catholic philosophical/theological assumptions, issues, concepts, and modes of interpretation into the social sciences and 2) to bring Catholic social doctrine into the American public square from which social policy is forged. Minimally, at least, the restoration of the "social sciences in Christ" would guarantee the Church a voice in both the intellectual and political marketplace.

More to the point of this essay, it would also help immeasurably the complimentary- albeit more "defensive"-goals of the Catholic League. Put another way, the best defense is often a good offense; the evangelistic thrust of the S.C.S.S. into the academy, the government, and, indeed, the Church herself should, theoretically, result in a lessening of the bigotry against and ignorance of, the Catholic faith that the Catholic League routinely must confront.

The S.C.S.S.--now with over 200 professional members in social science and social science related disciplines--is off to a good start. One national conference has been held and two more are in the works. Many scholarly papers have been published in the S.C.S.S. organ, the and others are in press. The Society's first two major intellectual projects on, respectively, Catholics and Politics" and "Catholics in Defense of the Traditional Family," are nearing completion. Many standing committees and regional chapters are buzzing with activity. The S.C.S.S. has a Bishop's Board which includes, most prominently, Cardinal John O'Connor. Our Advisory Board is replete with the names of outstanding Catholic scholars and includes three Catholic college presidents. Officers of the Society include Stephen Krason of Franciscan University, Robert George of Princeton University, Alberto Piedra of Catholic University, and Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame. A young dynamic priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Reverend Robert Batule, serves as Society Chaplain.

The goals of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and that of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists are distinct yet complimentary. May both continue to work to defend and promote an authentic Catholic presence in the United States and may they cooperate with each other as the situation dictates. Indeed, such organizational cooperation may represent, in this case, a marriage made in heaven.

The following article was taken from the July/August 1993 issue of "Lay Witness"


by Joseph A. Varacalli

The Society of Catholic Social Scientists is an idea whose time has come. Its time had come not only because the social sciences are presently almost completely dependent on secular assumptions, concepts, and theories; as well as because its widespread influence in government, the helping professions, education, the mass media, and the Christian denominations themselves has been, at best, irrelevant, at worst, disastrous. Its time had come also because sufficient numbers of orthodox Catholic intellectuals today understand two things: 1) the social sciences are a social fact of life and 2) the decision made by many, in the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council, to abandon the idea of specifically Catholic intellectual approaches was, to understate the case, a very bad one.

Inaugural Meeting

Thirty-two individuals were present at the inaugural meeting of the S.C.S.S. which was held at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel on September 27, 1992 immediately following the conclusion of the annual convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. The S.C.S.S., which is fully committed to the teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by Magisterial teaching, is composed of Catholic scholars, professors, teachers, and others in the social sciences or social science related disciplines whose intellectual activity is tied to public and social issues. The primary aim of the group is to produce objective knowledge about the social order which can assist the Catholic Church in fulfilling her various apostolic efforts and which can bring the Church's teaching to bear on addressing the problems of modern society.

To date, John Cardinal O'Connor, Bishop Myers of Peoria, Bishop Edward Egan of Bridgeport, and retired Bishop Glennon Flavin of Lincoln have agreed to join the Bishop's Board of the Society. Monsignor George A. Kelly of St. John's University and Fr. John H. Miller, C.S.C., S.T.D., Editor of have agreed to co-chair a prestigious list of Advisory Board members: Fr. Francis Canavan, S.J.; Monsignor Eugene V. Clark; Dr. Donald J. E'lia; Monsignor George P. Graham; Dr. James Hitchcock; Dr. Russell Kirk; Fr. Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap.; Fr. Robert J. Levis; James Likoudis; Dr. Timothy T. O'Donnell; Dr. Charles E. Rice; Fr. Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.; Dr. Joseph Scottino; Dr. Paul Vitz; and Dr. Fredrick Wilhelmsen. At the meeting, a national slate of officers was elected: Stephen Krason of Franciscan University of Steubenville as President; Robert George of Princeton University as First V.P.; Alberto Piedra of Catholic University as Second V.P.; Gerard Bradley of the University of Notre Dame as Treasurer; and Joseph A. Varacalli of Nassau Community College S.U.N.Y. as Executive Secretary. Father Robert Batule of the Diocese of Rockville Centre is the Society's Chaplain.

The mission of the S.C.S.S. should not be seen in narrowly scholarly terms. The Society has taken upon itself the task of helping to rebuild the institutional infrastructure of Catholic higher education and sees itself also as a vehicle of evangelization. Among many other secondary goals, the Society has set for itself the tasks of founding publishing outlets, creating research institutes, establishing "chairs" of social science in both Catholic and non-Catholic universities, and instituting scholarships to encourage students to enter into the study of the social sciences from a Catholic perspective. Appropriate committees are in formation.

Additionally, local chapters have been formed in both New York and Steubenville and others in St. Louis and the Washington, D.C. area are established. The first national project to be undertaken by the group will be a book-length monograph on the "Political Participation of Catholics in the United States." Future projects include an analysis of how a pervasive "therapeutic culture" is adversely affecting both Church and society and a study of the need for basic reform in America's welfare system. Yearly dues of $25.00 include a subscription to the which will serve, for now at least, as the official publication of the Society. Dr. Krason's presidential address, "What the Catholic Finds Wrong with Secular Social Science," has been published in the January-February 1993 issue of The first national conference of the Society, "Applying the Social Doctrine of the Church," took place on March 26-28, 1993 at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The New York Metropolitan Chapter headed by Donald Doyle, a political scientist at Molloy College, sponsored another conference, "Catholic Contributions to a 'Multi-Cultural' Society," which was held at Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY, on April 21, 1993.

All Over Again?

The "Yogism"-as in Yogi Berra-in the subtitle is a personally appropriate one. Naturally enough, I was (but not too successfully) to pay close attention to the opening remarks of Father Miller at the inaugural meeting. After all, Fr. Miller, Stephen Krason, and I had worked very hard "behind the scenes" for the prior nine months lining up many distinguished Catholic scholars in the attempt to lay the foundation for this scholarly organization. (As of January 1, 1993, the S.C.S.S. membership total easily exceeded one hundred.)

Yet despite the important goings-on at the meeting, I felt my mind periodically wandering. It was wandering to my mental reconstruction of a similar meeting held by 31 individuals in Chicago in 1938. In the decidedly anti-Catholic atmosphere of the nation and especially in the academy and spurred on by the publication of (1931), that meeting launched the American Catholic Sociological Society; In the A C.S.S.'s first presidential address, Father Ralph Gallager, in arguing that Catholicism and sociology can and should be integrated, stated that "there is such a thing as a Catholic sociology, for sociology is not, in the full sense of the word, an exact science. The method of investigation, the assembling of data, the conclusions drawn depend frequently upon the thought and philosophy of the investigator." He added, very importantly, that "certainly we can learn much from those whose approach is different from ours. They have much to contribute in the field of method and research. We have no intention of becoming advocates of intellectual isolation.... But you know that we can only go so far."

In between moments of focusing on Father Miller's remarks and the opening presidential address of Stephen Krason, questions based on comparisons between the two groups kept recurring. Would the S.C.S.S. get off the ground as did, at least for a while, the A.C.S.S? Would the S.C.S.S. be able to survive the inevitable internal divisions that were at least one contributing cause to the collapse of the A.C.S.S?

Divisions at the opening session of the S.C.S.S. were evident regarding at least three- issues. Would Catholic social science bury its empirical side becoming little more than applied theology and philosophy? Would it become unnecessarily isolationist or, conversely, needlessly accommodationist? Would an acceptance of the natural law serve as the common glue that integrates Catholicism and the social sciences or, conversely, is it necessary to additionally incorporate elements of Sacred Scripture and Church tradition? I was consoled at this point by the intervention of Stephen Krason who stated firmly that he would not allow non-essential differences to undermine the Society from moving forward; growing, and securing its presence in both Church and society; one must distinguish between basic principles on the one hand, and prudential applications and legitimate areas of dispute, on the other. There are, after all, valid as well as unacceptable forms of pluralism; the key was the acceptance of Magisterial teaching.

Probably the two greatest reasons for the fall of the old A.C.S.S. was 1) the indifference afforded to it by a Church hierarchy and Catholic intellectual establishment who felt secure that all truth could be satisfactorily mediated through the deductive disciplines of theology and philosophy and 2) the desire of Catholic scholars to "make it" in the academy by conforming to whatever it (often capriciously) defined as normative. I think that many Church leaders have learned their lesson: the Church must absorb and thoroughly convert whatever is good in society, selective elements of the social sciences included. I also think that it is dawning on many scholars who are Catholic that there is a great deal of moral and intellectual rot to be found in the academy; it's time for them to come back home bringing with them anything of worth. The past is past; Christ and His Church are now under severe attack by, among other forces, a hostile secular social science. Catholic social scientists must once again ride together to the sound of the guns.

Those interested in coming along for the ride should contact Dr. Stephen Krason, President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists, Department of Political Science, Egan Hall, Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, 43952. Phone #614-283-6416.

Dr. Joseph A. Varacalli is associate professor of sociology at Nassau community College-S.U.N.Y. He is the Co-founder and Executive Secretary of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and also is a member of the Board of Directors of The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.