April 26, 2011

CUA to Host Conference on 120th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum

Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) will host a two-day conference titled "120th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum: Church, Labor, and the New Things of the Modern World."

This conference - to be held May 2 and 3 in the Great Room of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center - will feature major addresses by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and John Sweeney, former president of the AFL-CIO.

Sweeney and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of the Diocese of Stockton, Calif., and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will provide responses to Cardinal Turkson's remarks.

The landmark papal encyclical Rerum Novarum - meaning "Of New Things" - appeared in May 1891. Written by Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum was the Church's blueprint for its engagement with the moral imperatives posed by the modern world. Through the encyclical the Church's embraced its mission for justice and morality in the economy, in political life, and in society.

The conference traces the legacy of Rerum Novarum through the Church's 20th-century and contemporary policy engagements, with special attention to the Church's work on questions of labor, economy, justice, and government.

This is the last event in a series celebrating the theme of President John Garvey's inaugural year - Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University. Garvey will offer opening remarks at the conference.

The conference also will feature three discussion panels:

  • "Do Rerum Novarum and Catholic Social Teachings Matter Today?"
    ♦ E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and professor at the Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University
    ♦ Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect
  • "Rerum Novarum and Its Impact"
    ♦ Rev. Gerry Fogarty, S.J., William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American Religious History at the University of Virginia
    ♦ Maria Mazzenga, education archivist at the The Catholic University of America
    ♦ Timothy Meagher, University archivist, museum curator, and associate professor of history at The Catholic University of America
  • "Rerum Novarum and Contemporary Public Policy"
    ♦ Rev. Cletus Kiley, director of immigration policy at Unite Here, an organization which represents workers in the hospitality, gaming, food service, and airport industries
    ♦ John Carr, executive director of justice, peace, and human development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
    ♦ Kathy Saile, director of domestic social development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
    ♦ Alexia K. Kelley, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

"The origins of Rerum Novarum and of The Catholic University of America share an intertwined history in the efforts of Pope Leo XII, Cardinal James Gibbons, and Bishop John Joseph Keane, the university's founding president," says Stephen Schneck, director of IPR and associate professor of politics.

"Moreover, throughout the 20th century, the University was a center for Catholic/labor relations. Celebrating the 120th anniversary of Rerum Novarum in conjunction with the inaugural year of the university's 15th president, John Garvey, is thus especially poignant.

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, call the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at 202-319-5999 or visit the institute's website.


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