Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Interesting Conference at Notre Dame

Here's the announcement for this Fall's conference sponsored by the Notre Dame Center on Ethics and Culture:



Joy in the Truth: The Catholic University in the New Millennium is a conference whose mission is shaped by Pope John Paul II’s words from the opening of his 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae:  "Without in any way neglecting the acquisition of useful knowledge, a Catholic University is distinguished by its free search for the whole truth about nature, man, and God. The present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished (no. 4).

Philip Gleason, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Notre Dame and author of the seminal Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century, will inaugurate the conference with a keynote address on Thursday evening, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.  The conference will conclude with a festive banquet on Saturday evening, October 1, featuring remarks by the recently inaugurated President of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C.  The conference, running from September 29 ­ October 1, will bring together scholars representing all the main academic fields to discuss a broad range of issues relating to the way in which the Catholic University can best respond to the Church's call for a renewal of Catholic institutions of higher learning. The conference will also be enriched by the experience and wisdom of participants from other kinds of Christian institutions, and from secular institutions as well.

Our invited speakers are—

Bishop John D’Arcy (Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend)
Rev. Matthew Lamb (Ave Maria College)
Robert Sloan (President Emeritus, Baylor University)
John Finnis (Notre Dame/Oxford)
John Cavadini (Notre Dame)
Ralph McInerny (Notre Dame)
Helen Alvaré (The Catholic University of America)
David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University)
Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J. (President, Loyola University, New Orleans)
Don Briel (University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota)
Rev. Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C. (Notre Dame)
Don Schmeltekopf (Baylor University)
H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. (Rice University)
Michael Beaty (Baylor University)

Among the themes to be discussed by both the invited speakers and by those who submitted proposals are —

-       Academic freedom
-       The Catholic University and ecclesiastical governance
-       The distinct approaches to higher education found within various Catholic intellectual traditions
-       The distinction between Protestant and Catholic approaches to higher education
-       The enduring influence of seminal figures such as Augustine,
Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Ignatius Loyola, John Paul II, Newman, Maritain, and Edith Stein
-       The Catholic character of particular disciplines such as law, philosophy,
theology, and the arts
-       The connection between Catholic social teaching and Catholic higher education
-       New curricular initiatives
-       The “shadow curriculum” that haunts Catholic universities
-       The value of Great Books programs to Catholic higher education
-       What Christian universities can learn from Nietzsche

There will also be panels devoted to—
-       What Catholic universities can learn from non-Catholic ones
-       Transforming university administration into ministry
-       Duquesne’s doctoral program in Rhetoric as a model for Catholic
education for service
-       St. Louis University’s Micah House as a model for integrating faith, curriculum and social justice
-       Luigi Giussani and the risk of education
-       Love of knowledge as an intellectual virtue

We expect several hundred people to come to Notre Dame this fall to attend Joy in the Truth.  The total number of presentations will once again top the 100 mark.


Inspired by Pope John Paul II’s insistent call to activate a great campaign in
support of a new Culture of Life, the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture launched in the Jubilee Year of 2000 what would turn out to be our annual fall conference and the flagship of our conference program. By promoting a “Culture of Life,” the Center takes as its mission the practical embodiment of the ethical and cultural vision expressed in Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Letters, Veritatis Splendor, Centesimus Annus, Evangelium Vitae, and Fides et Ratio. At the core of this moral vision is a passionate commitment to the inherent worth of every human life from conception to natural death, the compatibility of faith and reason, and the connection between truth and genuine human freedom.

Sponsored by a generous grant from the Maas Family Excellence Fund, the
Center’s fall conference began as a triennial conference series dedicated to the proposition that the ideals expressed by the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II are the best antidote to our current cultural maladies. The series started, accordingly, with a conference entitled A Culture of Death (2000), which was devoted to the diagnosis of the precise nature of our current cultural maladies. It was followed by A Culture of Life (2001), which reflected more positively on the elements of a genuine renewal of culture. In a conference entitled From Death to Life: Agendas for Reform (2002), the triennial series concluded with more intense deliberation on the practical means of building a new Culture of Life.

Due to the huge success of this triennial series, the Center committed to
making the fall conference an annual event. So, once again with the generous
sponsorship of the Maas Family Excellence Fund, the conference series continued with Formation and Renewal (2003), where attention was given to the sources of moral, intellectual and spiritual formation available to a culture marked by a loss of meaning and direction. The 2004 conference, Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture, considered the role played by the arts in helping make manifest the full truth of the human person.

Throughout these first five conferences the Center has been very proud to
sponsor major addresses by a host of prominent contemporary thinkers,
including: Francis Cardinal George, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Noonan, Sr. Helen Prejean, George Weigel, Ralph McInerny, Marvin O’Connell, Michael Baxter, Helen Alvaré, Ralph Wood, Tristram H. Engelhardt, Stanley Hauerwas, Margaret Monahan Hogan, David Lyle Jeffrey, Thomas Hibbs, Joseph Bottum, Thomas Gordon Smith, Jorge Garcia, Laura Garcia, Barbara Nicolosi, Gregory Wolfe and Gerry Bradley.

This is not even to mention the scores of scholars from across the academic
spectrum and also outside of academia who deliver contributed papers to the conference each year—a number that now regularly tops the 100 mark! In
accepting proposals the Center takes special care to include graduate and
undergraduate students, and we are especially proud that each fall one or two high school students deliver their first professional paper at the conference.

But beyond providing a venue for academic discussion of the highest
caliber, the Center’s annual fall conference has also aimed to be a place where those sharing a broadly similar outlook on ethical and cultural issues can gather in a friendly atmosphere in order to build a genuine community of scholars. Such community is fostered not only by the formal discussions, but also by the shared meals and other opportunities between sessions to form personal and professional relationships.

Additional Information

The cost of the conference includes a continental breakfast and a served lunch and dinner.  All conference sessions and meals will be held at Notre Dame’s McKenna Hall.  For more information on “Joy in the Truth: The Catholic University in the New Millennium,” please visit our web site at


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