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Justice Scalia talks about his Catholic faith, distaste for racy media

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 11:40 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia says his method of interpreting the Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve.

Jessica Hill, File, Associated Press

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Supreme Court justices don’t give a lot of lengthy media interviews. But when they do open up, they can say some very interesting things — and that’s what happened when Antonin Scalia held court with New York magazine’s Jennifer Senior.

“There are so many reasons to read New York magazine’s interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, including the fact that it may be the most entertaining question-and-answer session with a Washington figure published this year,” the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin wrote.

New York magazine is a politically liberal publication, and Scalia espouses judicial philosophies that generally resonate with conservatives. However, those differing viewpoints actually played a part in making the Q&A a lively give-and-take: Both Scalia and Senior welcomed the opportunity to explore their differences of opinion without becoming contentious or demeaning.

The CNN Belief Blog’s Daniel Burke opined, “New York magazine has published a fascinating new interview with Scalia in which the outspoken jurist tackled a number of topics."

A couple of Scalia’s memorable pronouncements pertained to his Catholic faith and distaste for explicit media.

Contextualizing Pope Francis’ influence on the Catholic Church: “He’s just saying, ‘Don’t spend all our time talking about that stuff. Talk about Jesus Christ and evangelize.’ I think there’s no indication whatever that he’s changing doctrinally.

“I spent my junior year in Switzerland. On the way back home, I spent some time in England, and I remember going to Hyde Park Corner. And there was a Roman Catholic priest in his collar, standing on a soapbox, preaching the Catholic faith and being heckled by a group. And I thought, My goodness. I thought that was admirable. I have often bemoaned the fact that the Catholic Church has sort of lost that evangelistic spirit. And if this pope brings it back, all the better.”

Explaining how society has “coarsened” during his lifetime: “One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can’t go to a movie — or watch a television show for that matter — without hearing the constant use of the F-word — including, you know, ladies using it. People that I know don’t talk like that! But if you portray it a lot, the society’s going to become that way. It’s very sad.

“And you can’t have a movie or a television show without a nude sex scene, very often having no relation to the plot. I don’t mind it when it is essential to the plot, as it sometimes is. But, my goodness! The society that watches that becomes a coarse society.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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