The Open Question of Church Polity and Governance: Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II

Dec 4, 2019
Social Sciences, Room 122
1126 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Russell HittingerLumen Christi Institute

John O'Malley, SJGeorgetown University

Jennifer Newsome MartinUniversity of Notre Dame

Free and open to the public. Cosponsored by the Theology and Ethics Workshop at the Divinity School and the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus.

Sexual and financial scandals are prompting Catholics to ask hard and painful questions about church government.  Who is in charge?  How is responsibility and accountability for governance distributed in the Church?  By no means is this the first time that the Catholic Church has reckoned with the letter and the spirit of its own governance. Drawing from his latest book, When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II (Harvard, 2019), Fr. John O’Malley, S.J. retraces how the three modern ecumenical councils grappled with church reform and highlight resources in that tradition that may help us today. A response from Russell Hittinger follows, leading to open discussion moderated by Jennifer Newsome Martin (University of Notre Dame). 

Russell Hittinger is Senior Fellow at the Lumen Christi Institute, visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies and Law at the University of Tulsa. He is also Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Hittinger is the author of many books, including A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory, The First Grace: Rediscovering Natural Law in a Post-Christian Age, Thomas Aquinas and the Rule of Law, and most recently Paper Wars: Catholic Social Doctrine and the Modern State (forthcoming).

John W. O’Malley, S.J. is University Professor Emeritus of Theology at Georgetown University. A member of the Midwest Jesuit Province, he received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1965. He has received many academic honors, including twenty honorary degrees, eight best-book prizes, and in 2016 the Centennial Medal from the Graduate School of Harvard University, “the school’s highest honor.”  From 1979 until 2006, John O’Malley was Distinguished Professor of Church History at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and since then has been at Georgetown University.  In 1995, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science and in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society. His best-known book is The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press, 1993, now in twelve languages. His most recent books with Harvard Press are: What Happened at Vatican II, 2008; Trent: What Happened at the Council, 2013; Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, 2018; and When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, 2019.

Jennifer Newsome Martin is Associate Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she also received a PhD in 2012. She is a systematic theologian with areas of research interest in 19th and 20th century Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox thought, trinitarian theology, theological aesthetics, religion and literature, French feminism, ressourcement theology, and the nature of religious tradition. Her first book, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Critical Appropriation of Russian Religious Thought (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015),  was one of 10 winners internationally of the 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise (formerly the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise). She is also the co-editor of An Apocalypse of Love:  Essays in Honor of Cyril O’ Regan (Herder & Herder, 2018). Other work has appeared in Modern Theology, Communio: International Catholic Review, and in a number of edited volumes and collections of essays.