Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New General Counsel for U.S. Bishops is a Fellow UVA Law Alum

From the June 8-14 issue of National Catholic Register:
ANTHONY R. PICARELLO JR. will be on hand for the U.S. bishops meeting in Orlando June 14.

As general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he directs a 10-person legal staff that advises the bishops, state Catholic conferences and diocesan attorneys nationwide. His job calls for someone who relishes a challenge, knows how to defend religious freedom, and loves the Church.

It’s a good fit for Picarello, 38, who was formerly vice president and general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a secular public interest law firm that handles religious freedom cases for people of all faiths.

Picarello is a graduate of Harvard University, earned a master’s degree at University of Chicago Divinity School and a law degree from the University of Virginia. In 2007, he was named to The American Lawyer’s list of the top 50 litigators under age 45. A Brooklyn native, Picarello lives in Arlington, Va., with his wife, Martha. He recently spoke with Register correspondent Gail Besse.

Do you have any suggestions on how to motivate Catholics to speak up against the growing hostility to religion in our culture?

Catholics need to stay plugged into political affairs. The bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document that came out recently is helpful. The whole business of formation of conscience is key; I’m so glad that they focused on that.

The Catholic vision of life is a comprehensive one; that’s why politics can’t be excluded from it, but also why politics can’t be the whole thing. Public life is just one piece of the puzzle. Catholic tradition is not the most activist out there, but it’s also not the most withdrawn.

The bishops and the Pope have offered a good deal of guidance that’s relatively unappreciated. I think the more people are engaged — reading the Pope’s new encyclical, for example — the better they’ll be equipped to deal with the realm of the political, which really is the realm of the laity.

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(emphasis added)

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