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Law and Religion

Law is essential for the good ordering of society and for the attainment of social justice and the common good, two key principles of Catholic Social Teaching. The VHI wishes, therefore, to deepen our understanding of the role of law both within the Church (in the form of canon law) and in civil society. In Western societies, legal concepts and principles and their application largely developed out of a Judaeo-Christian culture and, as a result, the Churches related easily to legal systems. In recent years, however, with the advance of secularism and challenges from non-Western sources of law, relations have sometimes been difficult in many areas, particularly with regard to bio-ethical issues, family law and sexual ethics. In other areas, such as intellectual property, there may be challenges to current practices particularly in relations between the developed, the emerging economies and the developing countries.

The VHI’s Law and Religion research group explores these contemporary issues from the perspectives of social justice and the common good. Although its primary framework is Catholic Social Teaching, it collaborates with other Christians and, indeed, with others. Fields of research include, but are not limited to: faith perspectives on the functioning of the global intellectual property regime, such as patenting of life forms, the control of seed supply, and access to medicines; the role of religion and respect for religious beliefs in education, employment and in public life; the nature of marriage; the interface of state law and internal religious regulations such as canon law; religious freedom, tolerance and fundamentalism.

Area Leader: Dr Roman Cholij

Research Projects

  • Genetic Resources Patents and Catholic Social Teaching (Roman Cholij)

Recent Publications

Dr Roman Cholij

  • 2013. Patents on Genetic Resources? A Catholic Perspective for the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Research report commissioned by the Caritas in Veritate Foundation at the UN in Geneva (pdf).

  • 2012. "IP in Christian Law", in Intellectual Property Quarterly, Issue 3, 137-148.


An interdisciplinary research hub inspired by Catholic thought and culture, focussed on contemporary global realities, and dedicated to encounter, dialogue, and transformation