The Vocation of a Theologian: The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

May 7, 2023
Back to Events

Russell HittingerUniversity of Tulsa

Tracey RowlandUniversity of Notre Dame (Australia)

Fr. Thomas Esposito, O.Cist.University of Dallas

Copresented with The Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, First Things, and The Portsmouth Institute for Faith and Culture.

This online-only event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. For more information, please contact

From his role as a key peritus at the Second Vatican Council, a professor in Germany, to his tenure as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger was a part of almost every Catholic theological conversation in the latter half of the 20th century. As pope, he brought his lifetime of learning to bear on his preaching, encyclicals, and continued publishing.

This webinar takes a look at Pope Benedict’s theological vocation and offers perspectives on his enduring legacy and witness.

Russell Hittinger was the incumbent of the William K. Warren Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, where he was also a Research Professor in the School of Law. Since May 2019 he is the Emeritus Professor of Religion.  

In 2019, he became the Senior Fellow at the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago, where he is a Visiting Scholar in the John U. Neff Committee on Social Thought, and Visiting Professor in the Law School at the University of Chicago.

From 2020 through 2022 he was a Visiting Professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Graduate Theological Union, University of California, Berkeley), where he had served as Dean of the College of Fellows since 2014.

In January 2020 he gave the Aquinas Lecture at Blackfriars, Oxford. He will receive the Aquinas Medal from the American Catholic Philosophical Association in November 2023.

Since 2001, he is a member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, to which he was elected a full member (ordinarius) in 2004, and appointed to the consilium or governing board from 2006-2018. On Sept. 8, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Professor Hittinger as an ordinarius in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, in which he finished his ten-year term in 2019.

In 2005, he was named an Alonzo MacDonald Senior Fellow for Christian Jurisprudence in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law. He remains an Affiliated Scholar.

He has taught at Fordham University and at the Catholic University of America, and has taught as a Visiting Professor at Princeton University, New York University, Providence College, and Charles University in Prague. During the academic term 2014-15, he was a Visiting Ordinary Professor in the School of Business and Economics at the Catholic University of America.

On 25 May 2013, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He gave the 81st annual commencement address. He was elected Dean of the College of Fellows at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley) in 2014.

In 2003, to mark the centenary of the death of Pope Leo XIII, Professor Hittinger gave a lecture to the Ministry of Culture of the Italian Government. In 2004 he gave a talk titled “Secularity and the Anthropological Problem,” as the Inaugural Claude Ryan Lecture in Catholic Social Thought, at McGill University in Montreal. In December 2006, he addressed the President, Prime Minister, and Speakers of the Polish Parliament in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. His keynote address culminated a week-long celebration of human rights and the Polish constitution.

In 2000, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, where he is on the Board of Advisors. For the academic year 2007-08, he was the Robert J. Randall Distinguished Visiting Professor in Christian Culture at Providence College.

His books and articles have appeared through the University of Notre Dame Press, Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, Fordham University Press, the Review of Metaphysics, the Journal of Law and Religion, the Review of Politics, and several law journals (both American and European). He has work forthcoming with Catholic University of America press.