Church, State, and Virtue in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo (2020)

Religions Feb 2023

Abstract: To curb the spread of COVID-19, houses of worship in the State of New York were legally required to limit attendance at religious ceremonies. Two religious communities—the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Orthodox Jewish organization, Agudath Israel of America—asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. This article provides a theological interpretation of the Court’s decision to grant these communities injunctive relief, thus freeing them from the State’s restrictions on religious attendance. Drawing upon the Catholic tradition, and especially the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the article offers a sustained virtue-based analysis of the Court opinion and of the relationship between church and state more generally.