Theologians from 20 Universities to Gather Here March 12-14 for Conference on Vatican II’s 'Gaudium et Spes'

A national conference on “The Church in the Modern World: Teaching and Understanding ‘Gaudium et Spes’ After 50 Years” will be held Thursday through Saturday, March 12-14, at the University of St. Thomas.

“Gaudium et Spes” (Latin for “joy and hope”), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, was issued in December 1965 at the end of the Second Vatican Council. The document, the last of four constitutions to come out of the council, is the most important conciliar document of Catholic social teaching in the areas of family, economics, poverty, social justice, culture, science and technology.

Theologians and historians from more than 20 U.S. colleges and universities have registered for the conference. They will discuss the state of the Catholic Church in the 21st century, the continuing impact of “Gaudium et Spes,” and how well universities are meeting the document’s call to educate students for “the good of the community and of the whole society.”

Dr. Massimo Faggioli

Dr. Massimo Faggioli

“‘Gaudium et Spes’ was one of the most important documents to come out of the Second Vatican Council and today … 50 years later … it is more relevant than ever,” said University of St. Thomas theologian Dr. Massimo Faggioli, who will be one of the conference’s four keynote speakers. “The document is mentioned often by Pope Francis. Not only is ‘Gaudium et Spes’ an important key to understanding the pope, it is key to understanding what direction the Catholic Church will head in years to come.

“Dialogue with the world outside the church was a central reason for which Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council,” Faggioli said. “Pope Francis has now renewed that call by urging the church away from preoccupation with itself and by modeling dialogue with all peoples of faith, as well as those who espouse no faith.”

This will be the St. Thomas Theology Department’s second national conference dealing with the Second Vatican Council. Theologians also gathered at St. Thomas three years ago for “Vatican II: Teaching and Understanding the Council After 50 Years.”

While registration is required to attend much of this year’s conference, the four keynote lectures are free and open to the public. They are:

  • “'Gaudium et Spes' 50 Years After: Its Meaning for a Learning Church” by Massimo Faggioli, assistant professor of theology at St. Thomas. The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center.
  • “Joy and Hope: Catholic Social Teaching After the Second Vatican Council” by Cathleen Kaveny, the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor of Law and Theology at Boston College, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, in the Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center.
  • “Hope and Anguish: A Grass-Roots Look at the Catholic 1960s” by Leslie Woodcock Tentler, professor of history emerita at The Catholic University of America, at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 14, in the Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center.
  • “Return of the Golden Calf: Economy, Idolatry, and Secularization Since Gaudium et Spes” by William Cavanaugh, professor of Catholic studies at DePaul University, at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, March 14, in the Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center.

Also open to all is a Mass that will be celebrated by Father Larry Snyder, the new vice president for mission at St. Thomas, at 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 13, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

For more details and registration information, visit the Theology Department’s website.