John Courtney Murray and the vindication of the American proposition
This work offers an explanation of how John Courtney Murray's theory of church/state relations metamorphosed from being theologically suspect to becoming official Catholic doctrine in just ten years. The basic thesis is that the world events of the last century had awakened leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to the value of popular sovereignty as a means of protecting human freedom. The abuses of totalitarian and anti-religious governments overshadowed the Church's fear of democracy instilled by the excesses of the French Revolution 150 years earlier. In contrast to this, the Catholic Church in the United States had flourished spectacularly in an environment of church/state separation. As a result, the Second Vatican Council accepted the American concept of religious belief as a matter of individual conscience. Murray used his theological expertise to articulate this American ideal in terms understood by the Catholic Church.