The pontificate of Pope Francis will be the focus of an April 12-15 international conference sponsored by The Institute for Catholic Social Thought at Villanova University. The on-campus event, titled, “Francis, a Voice Crying Out in the World: Mercy, Justice, Love, and Care for the Earth,” is being held in commemoration of the pontiff’s recent fifth year anniversary.
Open to the public, the conference will feature nine preeminent keynote speakers including:
- Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras
- Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSSR, Sixth Archbishop of Newark, NJ
- Margaret Archer, President, Pontifical Academy of Social Science
- Massimo Faggioli, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University
- John O’Malley, SJ, University Professor, Georgetown University
- Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ, Hekima University, Nairobi, Kenya
- Anna Rowlands, Durham University, UK
- Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University
- Antonio Spadaro, SJ, Editor, La Civilta Cattolica
All keynote addresses will be held in the Connelly Center Cinema. In addition to the keynote speakers, noted scholars from around the country and the world will speak on Francis’ papacy from a variety of disciplines in breakout sessions.
The Papal Nuncio to The United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will attend the conference as a special guest.
“In commemorating the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate this conference will attempt to explore, discuss and gain a deeper understanding of the issues that have defined the Holy Father’s papacy to this point—including the theological foundations of his thought and its continuity with tradition, especially that of Vatican II,” said Barbara E. Wall, PhD, Vice President for Mission and Ministry. “Pope Francis has managed to not so much change Church teaching as to challenge the Church and the people of God to return to the values of the Gospel—the values of mercy, justice, love and care for God's creation. In addition, this conference will explore how we understand this Pope's radical embrace of a Church for the poor.”
Dr. Wall will open the conference at 7:30 p.m., April 12 in St. Thomas of Villanova Church on Villanova’s campus with a welcome and introduction of His Eminence Cardinal Tobin, who will deliver an address titled, “Flight or Field Hospital: Pope Francis and the Church’s Engagement with the World.”
A broad spectrum of topics regarding Pope Francis’ pontificate will be addressed at the conference—ranging from the Holy Father’s theological views on the environment, the family, immigration and his interpretation of Vatican II, to his leadership style, popular public persona, church reform, and impact on the church of Latin America.
Pope Francis’ interpretation of Vatican II will be one of the foci of the conference, according to Massimo Faggioli, PhD, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova and a keynote speaker at the event.
“Pope Francis’ interpretation of the Second Vatican Council is the most important event in Church history in the last four centuries. Its teachings renewed and reformed Catholicism, making it more aware of modernity and more universal, less Euro-centric,” says Faggioli. “The Argentine Jesuit Bergoglio (Pope Francis) perceives Vatican II as a matter that should not be reinterpreted or restricted, but implemented and expanded. For Francis, Vatican II is essential for a proper recontextualization of the Catholic Church in the world of today, for a recovery of the missionary dimension of the Church.”
The conference will feature two special events. An organ concert in honor of Pope Francis’ fifth anniversary will be held at 8 p.m., April 13 in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, with Dr. Mark Bani, St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia, performing. A banquet will be held beginning at 7 p.m., April 14 at The Inn at Villanova (pre-registration required).
“I hope participation in this event will lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the continuity of Pope Francis' theology and actions as a retrieval of our tradition, especially the work of Vatican II, which called for addressing the importance of understanding the Church as the people of God and integrating our faith life with all that we do to build a world that reflects God's presence through our daily lives and work,” Wall said. “The values and virtues of mercy, justice, love and care for God's creation must be part of everyone's daily life if we are true to the Gospel.”
Complete information on the conference schedule, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, special events, registration and area lodging can be found here.