March 1, 2011

CUA Has History of Noteworthy Academic Conferences

Speakers at "Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience" (from left) Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Thomas P. Melady, R. James Nicholson, R. Nicholas Burns and Mary Ann Glendon.

Over two days in April, The Catholic University of America will host a major academic symposium drawing prominent scholars from around the United States and the world to explore the impact of virtue on intellect, a topic not widely addressed in contemporary society.

The event, "Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University," will not be the first time that Catholic University has gathered well-known experts and large audiences for thought provoking discussions of noteworthy topics. In the past three years alone, CUA has hosted four significant conferences on natural law, the Year of St. Paul, the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Vatican, and the Year for Priests.

The events garnered media coverage and showcased Catholic University's role in the higher education community, especially among Catholic colleges and universities, as a leader in academic inquiry and scholarship.

"With the Intellect and Virtue symposium, Catholic University once again hosts the kind of event that sparks learning as well as a thoughtful exchange of ideas," says University President John Garvey.

"We expect the symposium to be a wonderful event for the CUA community and for those who will join us as speakers and audience members," Garvey notes. "Catholic universities, with their religious and moral underpinnings, are especially well suited as environments to promote the intentional interplay of virtue and the intellect."

The April symposium - part of a series of events this semester in celebration of Garvey's inauguration as CUA's 15th president, will examine the ways in which virtue shapes how people learn and what they learn.

At a four-day conference in March 2008, CUA's Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture hosted lectures and panel discussions that focused on the human capacity for knowledge of universal moral principles across faiths and traditions - a concept that Roman Catholics think of under the rubric of natural law. The conference, "A Common Morality for the Global Age: In Gratitude for What We Are Given," was held at the Columbus School of Law.

Then Most. Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, leads morning prayers at the symposium "Ministerial Priesthood in the Third Millennium: 'Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.' "

Held just three weeks prior to Pope Benedict XVI's April 2008 visit to campus, the symposium featured 23 main speakers representing a "who's who" list of some of the world's leading thinkers in theology, philosophy, law, and political science. Approximately half of the speakers were Catholic, but the symposium also featured lecturers who spanned world religions, including the Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Taoist faiths.

In March 2009, Catholic University's School of Theology and Religious Studies hosted a daylong symposium in honor of the Church's Year of St. Paul that drew an audience of more than 200 to the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

Three CUA faculty members and an emeritus professor at Union Theological Seminary presented talks on topics that ranged from the anthropological theme of crucifixion in Paul's letters to the notion of God in Paul's redemptive story.

Two months later, the morning after the White House announced the nomination of Miguel Diaz as the ninth U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, a crowd of more than 200 gathered at Catholic University for a symposium marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of U.S./Vatican relations by President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Co-sponsored by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Catholic University, "Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience," drew an audience that included scholars and theologians as well as six university presidents, three ambassadors, two Catholic cardinals, and a number of other high-ranking Church officials.

The timeliness of the conference also drew significant attention from the media. The event was covered by numerous outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, Time Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Catholic Standard, Catholic News Service and EWTN-TV.

In October 2009, approximately 300 priests, seminarians, and students of theology gathered at CUA to celebrate the priesthood at a symposium believed to be the only academic pastoral event organized in the United States to mark the Year for Priests. Declared by Pope Benedict XVI, the special year ran from June 2009 to June 2010.

Titled "Ministerial Priesthood in the Third Millennium: 'Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests,' " the symposium was co-sponsored by CUA's School of Theology and Religious Studies and Theological College, CUA's national seminary. The symposium coincided with Theological College's annual "Alumni Days" celebration that year.

For the upcoming April 11-12 symposium, the topics will include: Virtue and Intellect at Catholic Universities Today, Virtue and the Intellectual Life, Virtue and Faith Life, and Virtue and Campus Life.

The symposium will be open to the public. There is no registration fee; however, seating is limited. Attendees must pre-register by April 1 at


The Catholic University of America combines the resources of a major research university with the comfortable feel of a liberal arts college. It is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church, with the added distinction that all undergraduates combine a base curriculum in the liberal arts with more in-depth courses from their major fields of study. The student body of Catholic University is almost evenly divided between undergraduate and graduate students, totaling approximately 6,900. Private and coeducational, CUA has 12 schools. The following eight schools award undergraduate degrees: architecture and planning, arts and sciences, engineering, music, nursing, philosophy, professional studies, and social work. All 12 schools grant graduate degrees. CUA's location in Northeast Washington, D.C., and a Metrorail Red Line stop contiguous to campus offer CUA students at-your-doorstep access to professional and social opportunities unique to the nation's capital.


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