Revisiting Lonergan's Anthropology
Rome, November 27-30, 2013 - International Conference
CONFERENCE VISION AND MAIN SPEAKERS
As the time of our conference approaches, some of those who are registering for it through our web-site are asking for more information. We do not yet have in hand all the abstracts of the talks to be given, but we can offer come comments about the overall vision of the conference as well as the biographies of our speakers themselves.
Genesis and Vision
When Fr. François-Xavier Dumortier began as Rector of the Gregorian three years ago, he spoke of his admiration for the thought of Bernard Lonergan, who studied and taught at this institution (1933-40, and 1953-65), and stated that he would like to see Lonergan's thought better known at the university. He added that he was convinced of the relevance of Lonergan's thought for the ongoing implementation of Vatican II, whose fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II we celebrate at present. As a first step in promoting a wider appropriation of Lonergan's thought, he suggested that we organize an international conference.
In October of 2012 a committee of ten academics was formed by the Rector to plan for this conference. We settled on a theme: "Revisiting Lonergan's Anthropology," suggesting that the question of anthropology, i.e. of human identity, is an "issue under the issues" in much theological and public policy debate today. The committee suggested that the best means of communicating Lonergan's thought would be to stress that his anthropology translates into a usable method that has wide application. Consequently, our conference takes on a practical tone focusing on individuals from many countries who describe how they employ Lonergan's method in fields that include: interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, Christian dialogue with culture, the dialogue of theology and social science, and the nature of a Catholic university.
Main Talks and Responses
Our conference adopts a participatory method. One expression of this is the choice of a limited number of main speakers with selected "respondents" and time being then given for general discussion. Our key-note speaker is Prof. Fred Lawrence will speak on "Lonergan's Quest for a Hermeneutics of Authenticity" and will offer an overview of Lonergan's anthropology and the method that emerges from it. Prof. Lawrence, who studied under Lonergan at the Gregorian, works in Boston College and, together with his wife Sue, has organized an annual "Lonergan Workshop" for forty years. Prof. Matthew Lamb, of Ave Maria University, Florida was also a student of Lonergan at the Greg. He offers another general overview of Lonergan's thought with the topic, "Lonergan's Gregorian Years: Deepening His Anthropological Foundations." The respondent to Prof. Lamb will be Prof. Rosanna Finamore, of the philosophy faculty of the Gregorian. Prof. Finamore has done more than anyone to promote Lonergan's thought within the Gregorian. Her research interests include Lonergan's Topics in Education, and the relationship of Lonergan to transcendental Thomists.
After these two "anchor" talks, our other speakers take an approach of "Lonergan in application." Fr. Massimo Pampaloni SJ teaches in the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, a sister institute of the Gregorian and also run by Jesuits. He is primarily an expert in Christology and patristics. His talk: "Studying the Early Councils, with Oriental Christians" explores how Lonergan's notion of hermeneutics illuminates our study of the Church Fathers and the early councils. At the same time, he comments on how this approach can find acceptance from Oriental Christians and, consequently, how Lonergan's method is important for ecumenism. His respondent is Prof. Jeremy Wilkens, the director of the Lonergan Research Institute, Toronto, who is an expert on Lonergan's Christology.
Prof. Neil Ormerod, of the Australian Catholic University, will speak on "Lonergan's Contribution to Interreligious Dialogue." He will first trace how the question of interreligious issues was treated by Lonergan and then by his disciple Fred Crowe. He will then explain how Robert Doran has proposed a major development within Lonergan's systematic theology based on a "four point hypothesis" and will explore the significance of this for interreligious dialogue. Prof. Philipp Renczes SJ, teaches Christian anthropology at the Gregorian and is director of the "Cardinal Bea Centre" which is the main means by which the Holy See enters into dialogue with Judaism.
Prof. Michael Paul Gallagher SJ is our former dean of theology and currently teaches fundamental theology at the Gregorian. As his creative title indicates, "Lonergan as Therapy for Confused Cultures," he has a background in English literature and is an effective communicator in contexts of secularization. The respondent to this talk is Prof. Joseph Ogbonnaya, who is from Nigeria and lectures at Marquette University, Wisconsin. He has published on Lonergan and the relationship of culture to sustainable development in Africa.
Our desire to give have a practical tone to our conference led to a decision to give a prominent role to panel discussions. Our first panel addresses the theme: "Understanding the Religious Other," includes Prof. Ivo Coelho SDB, a Salesian priest and Rector of the Ratisbonne Monastery in Jerusalem, will speak of Christian dialogue with Indian philosophy; Prof. Chae Young Kim, himself a Protestant Christian, will speak of the challenge of engaging with the complex reality Korean religion and culture; Prof. Catherine Clifford, a Catholic ecclesiologist from Ottawa, will speak of her work in Protestant-Catholic dialogue.
Our panel discussion "Social Science and the ‘healing of history'" is an effort to address the all-important issue of how social scientists need to be morally and intellectually converted. Prof. Tim Healy SJ, is an Irish Jesuit who lectures at our Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian will describe how, since its founding in the 1970's, the Institute has employed Lonergan's methodology to relate psychology to spirituality and theology. William Sullivan is a medical doctor from Toronto who completed a doctorate on Lonergan's philosophy and is a member of the Pontifical Council for Life. He will speak of how the World Association of Catholic Bioethicists, of which he is the founder, employs a Lonergan methodology. Prof. Paul van Geest, of the University of Tilburg, the Netherlands, is a historian and an expert on the thought of St. Augustine. At present he has an administrative involvement with a project within his university to help social sciences collaborate with each other and to produce value-based public policy proposals for the Dutch government.
Our final panel discussion addresses the question of "Lonergan and the University." Monsignor Richard Liddy (another former student of Lonergan at the Gregorian) has been Vice-President of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, with responsibility for matters of Catholic identity. Prof. Francisco Galàn, from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, has employed Lonergan in presenting courses on pedagogy and university ethos to new professors in his institution. Prof. Anthony Kelly C. Ss. R., is a Redemptorist priest and a member of the International Theological Commission, convened by the Pope. He will speak of how he has employed Lonergan as an administrator in the Australian Catholic University.
On the afternoons of November 29th and 30th, 3.30-5.00 pm, parallel workshops will be held.