This conference explored a "theology of retrieval," reflecting upon traditions and strategies which seek to provide a bridge between the ancient tradition and the contemporary intellectual landscape. Offered in partnership with the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University; the Pappas Patristic Institute at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University; the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas; and the Theology Department at the University of St. Thomas.
"Integral Ecology in Action" explored the theme of Integral Ecology in light of Laudato Si; in cooperation with The Chapelstone Foundation.
In anticipation of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si, the Institute for Theological Research partnered with the Center for Catholic Studies, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to bring together an impressive array of theologians and scholars from around the world and from a variety of disciplines to discuss the implications of the highly anticipated encyclical on ecology and climate change. Conference proceedings focused on presentations from a diverse group of climate scientists, business leaders, and philosophers covering topics from policy, academia, economics, and science. With a focus of interdisciplinary thinking, the conversation broadened to address the immediate realities surrounding the release of the encyclical and the long-term conversations on care for creation that are yet to come.
What does it mean to till and keep God's Earth? How has the call to be faithful stewards developed over the history of Christian theology and how is humanity's care for creation understood in various traditions and by various academic disciplines? The Evolving Theology of Creation conference examined these and other questions pertaining to the Christian call to till and keep God's earth. Panelists addressed questions through their interaction with sacred scripture, historical theology, and literature. Essays exploring a sustained, theological reflection upon the ways in which the Church has considered the meaning and value of creation will be published in Spring 2016 titled On Earth as it is in Heaven: Cultivating a Contemporary Theology of Creation, Eerdman's publishing.
Faith, Food & the Environment: The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader
In cooperation with Catholic Rural Life and Minnesota Farmers Union, the Institute for Theological Research co-sponsored an ecumenical conference hosting over 70 leaders from across the country and representatives from France, Italy, Uganda, and the Philippines. Together, participants explored the landscape of modern agriculture, the connection between religious traditions and contemporary agricultural issues, and the guiding principles and wisdom of various faith traditions regarding the stewardship of creation and social justice. The developments that emerged from the symposium contributed to the publication of Vocation of the Agricultural Leader, a comprehensive set of practical resources intended to help agricultural leaders around the world navigate their vocation in these trying and changing times.
This three-day seminar gathered scholars from across the country to discuss the significance of "nature" in the arena of metaphysics, ethics, anthropology, and ecology with a special emphasis given to the normative role it plays in such discourses. Dr. Steven Long facilitated discussions based in the powerful words of Pope Benedict XVI, "We have to make evident once more what is meant by the world's having been created 'in wisdom' . . . only then can conscience and norm enter again into proper relationship. For then it will become clear that conscience is a 'con-sciens', a 'knowing along with' creation and , through creation, with God the Creator." Publication of the presentations is forthcoming through Eerdman's publishing.
Scholar-in-Residence Monsignor John A. Radano collaborated on this conference related to the centenary of the 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference, celebrated in 2010. The conference examined questions of what have we achieved, where are we now, and where are we going since the World Mission Conference. Essays from the conference can be found in Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism: Exploring the Achievements of International Dialogue, edited by Monsignor Radano, published by Eerdmans in 2012.
Approximately 50 participants from philosophy, theology, law and the social sciences gathered to reflect on issues of environmental concern, with a special focus on the intellectual tradition inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas. Essays from the conference may be found in Nova et Vetera, English Edition, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2012): 61-278.
A conference honoring the legacy of John Paul II and his contribution to a deeper understanding of the Church's teaching on human sexuality and marriage. Marking the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, events included panel discussions and public lectures by Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Michael Waldstein, and Dr. Peter Colosi. Conference proceedings included reflections by scholars who presented on both the philosophical and theological works of now St. John Paul II.
A week of "Remembering Paul VI: the Gifts of Life and Joy" included multiple lectures from scholars around the world. "Rejoice in the Lord: Paul VI's Gaudete in Domino and the Quest for Happiness" was presented by Michael S. Sherwin, O.P., from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland; "Paul VI and Evangelization" presented by Most Reverend Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of the Diocese of Terni, Italy, and President of the Committee for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Italian Bishops' Conference; and finally Dr. Janet Smith, the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, presenting "Paul VI's Humanae Vitae: A Prophetic Document" with comments provided by Monsignor James Mulligan of the Diocese of Allentown.
These seminars were designed to foster habitus, or habits which sought to form committed Catholic intellectuals in community - with each other and with the wider Church of which they serve as teachers, scholars, and apprentices of the tradition. We were blessed with the company of the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., and Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P. Essays from these gatherings were compiled in the volume Reason and the Rule of Faith: Conversations in the Tradition with John Paul II, edited by Dr. Christopher Thompson and Dr. Steven Long, published by University Press of America in 2011.