History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment.

Plus, 20 years ago, the Dallas Diocese of the Catholic Church settles a lawsuit with sexual-abuse victims.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, 790 years ago today, the death of a man who contributed to the idea of individual rights.  Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today we begin on July 9th, 1228, with the death of English Archbishop Stephen Langton at age 77 or 78. He argued that God did not intend for kings to rule the world, though he called for obedience and submission to earthly powers in most circumstances.

In 1207, Pope Innocent the 3rd appointed Langton Archbishop of Canterbury, but King John refused to receive him. After failed negotiations, the pope censured the king and the entire nation of England. At the same time, the king faced problems at home with his barons, who were threatening civil war. John finally acquiesced, acknowledging the pope and Langton’s appointment. The archbishop became instrumental in avoiding war—getting the king to sign the Magna Carta and welcoming John back into the church, but the peace didn’t last long.

ROBSON: Now once Magna Carta was sealed, John managed to ingratiate himself with the pope who declared Magna Carta null and void and pronounced a sentence of excommunication on the barons…

That’s historian John Robson in a 2015 documentary on the Magna Carta. Langton refused to carry out the pope’s sentence against the barons, and was suspended for standing against the church.

ROBSON: He stood up against the pope for the barons. Always for truth and honor, even at great personal risk. That’s why I say, here lie the bones of a true hero to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude.

After the death of both King John and Pope Innocent, Langton served as archbishop for 10 more years under Henry the 3rd and is celebrated for his role in the story of liberty.

Next, July 12th, 1868, 150 years ago this week…

LOVE: Amendment 14. Section 1…

The ratification of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution—guaranteeing citizenship to African-Americans and due process of law for all persons.

In 2015, Representative Mia Love from the state of Utah, read the amendment from the floor of the House. Audio courtesy of C-SPAN:

LOVE: …nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

During his confirmation hearing in 2017, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch described Section 1 of the 14th Amendment as one of the most important parts of the U.S. Constitution:

GORSUCH: I think equal protection under the law’s guarantee, the 14th Amendment, is maybe the most radical guarantee in all of the Constitution, and maybe in all of human history, it’s a, it’s a fantastic thing.

But since the 14th Amendment’s ratification in 1868, its first section has become one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution—with mixed results. Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 reversed racial segregation in schools. But the court also used the 14th Amendment in Roe v. Wade and the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, making same-sex marriage the law of the land.

And finally, 20 years ago, July 10th, 1998. The Diocese of Dallas agrees to pay $23.4 million to nine former altar boys, who claim they were sexually abused by a Texas priest, 53-year-old Rudolph Kos:

JUDGE: Your punishment is set at life confinement in Texas corrections and a fine of $10,000…

The courts convicted Kos on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and the Vatican stripped him of his priesthood. The victims and their families accused the Dallas Diocese of trying to cover up the allegations against Kos, and putting children at risk for almost a year after the allegations surfaced.

NICHOLS: It will never go away…

Nathan Nichols was one of the victims:

NICHOLS: …the only thing that can is seeing that the diocese is changed and knowing that I’ve done something that will help, not only the Dallas Diocese, but also the diocese in the nation and the world…

Similar sex scandals have haunted the Catholic church in the years since, but significant change has been slow to come to the global church.

AUDIO: Newscast open regarding Chile sex scandal

A recent scandal in Chile once again brought the issue to the forefront. Pope Francis, speaking at a Philadelphia seminary, said: “God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable.”

That’s the WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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