Judge Hardiman Discusses Faith, Law and Culture at Red Mass

FAIRFIELD—U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the 3rd Circuit Thomas Hardiman said he is much more concerned about the cultural crisis in the country than any danger to the constitution based on current divisions and polarization.

Speaking to more than 100 legal professionals and others at the annual Red Mass breakfast following Mass in the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University, Judge Hardiman said that Catholics are becoming “counter-cultural” because the popular movie and media culture is increasingly “debased and lacking in decency.”

In his talk in the university’s new Dogwood Room, the judge discussed the Catholic concept of vocation as an alternative to the current culture that promotes the wrong values. He said that “vocation with a small ‘v’,” invites people to a life of faith and service by asking, “What is God calling us to do?”

Reflecting on the lives of the great Catholic boxer and heavyweight champion Gene Tunney and Saint Mother Teresa, he said they “were not who other people expected them to be, but listened to an inner voice.”

He described Tunney as a gentle, learned and refined man in a brutal profession and Mother Teresa as a teacher who heard “a call within a call to serve all those who were unloved and a burden to everyone.”

Defining his vocation as a husband, father and judge, he said, “We should pray for and accept our own vocations which come in different forms and different times in our lives.”

“The Catholic vocation is accessible not only to heroic figures” but also to those who work quietly in faith to improve the lives of others, said the Judge who lives outside of Pittsburgh with his wife and three children.

The Judge who is a 1987 graduate of the University of Notre Dame (and a classmate of Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport) described his own faith as “routine” until he entered Notre Dame, the first Catholic school he attended.

“I found myself wanting to go to Mass every Sunday he said,” adding that the university strengthened his faith by offering a culture of prayer that constantly reinforced the difference between right and wrong.

When asked about the role of contemporary Catholic colleges in promoting Catholic teaching, he said it was important that “the universities don’t cede the playing field to the dominant culture.”

Judge Hardiman urged people to look inward into their own families, neighborhoods churches and communities in order to change society.

In a relaxed and wide-ranging question and answer session that followed his talk, Judge Hardiman, who was reportedly on the short list for Supreme Court Justice, said that regardless of what one thinks about Justice Brett Cavanaugh, the recent confirmation process became a “debacle.”

“What we do is not about politics. It’s about the law and the constitution,” said the Judge who said the hearing process must remain fair and appropriate.

The audience applauded when he responded to a question about politicians who have criticized Catholic judges, “That is bigotry,” he said. “People of any faith are not willing to sacrifice their beliefs for their profession.”

Photos by Amy Mortensen

During the breakfast the St. Thomas More Award was presented posthumously to the late Fairfield Probate Judge Honorable Daniel F. Caruso, who passed away suddenly at the age of 60 in February.

“He was a kind, gentle and fair man who was deeply faithful to the Church, his family and friends,” said Anne McCrory, Chief Legal and Real Estate Officer of the Diocese. Probate Staff Attorney Kate Neary Maxham accepted the award on behalf of his family.

The morning began with Mass in the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University. Msgr. Thomas V. Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Bridgeport, served as homilist and concelebrated with Fr. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J. of Fairfield University and Msgr. Laurence R, Bronkiewicz, S.T. D., pastor of St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield.

In his homily, Msgr. Powers said that faith is not about willpower or controlling your own life, “but to be willing to let go of anything that prevents us from conversion from self-reliance to discipleship… We all cling to the past, but we must let go of it and leave it trustingly in God’s hands.”

The Red Mass, which prays for legal professionals, the courts, and for justice, is sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport and the St. Thomas More Society of Fairfield County, a gathering of legal professionals who volunteer their time to serve the community.