In 1982 DePaul University announced the establishment of its Center for Church/State Studies. Situated in the College of Law, the Center has an executive board of eighteen distinguished legal scholars and practicing attorneys from a wide variety of religious traditions.
Early in 1983, well before the presidential campaign began to develop largely around the issue of religion and politics, the Center's executive board had decided to look carefully at the issue by sponsoring a symposium on the role of the religious leader in the development of public policy. While there was a great deal of political rhetoric on the pages of the nation's daily newspapers and weekly news magazines, very little reflective and responsible research on the proper relationship of religion and politics was available for public consumption. The American Bar Association offered its annual meeting as an appropriate setting for the symposium, which was held on August 4, 1984.
The Center invited Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, to present the major paper, “The Role of the Religious Leader in the Development of Public Policy.” Cardinal Bernardin, had chaired the American Catholic Bishops' Committee that prepared the landmark document on nuclear war, “The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response.” His work in that role provided him a particularly appropriate perspective from which to address the more theoretical question at issue in our symposium, namely, the proper involvement of religious leaders in the national public policy discussion.