The Catholic University of America

April 20, 2009

CUA, Bishops' Conference and Nuncio to Host Symposium on U.S.-Vatican Relations

Current and former diplomats, academic experts and Catholic Church leaders will explore the evolution of relations between the Vatican and the United States Thursday, May 28, at a daylong symposium marking the silver anniversary of full diplomatic ties between Washington and the Holy See.

Titled "Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience: On the 25th Anniversary of Establishment of Full Diplomatic Relations Between the United States of America and the Holy See," the symposium will be held in Catholic University's Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

It is sponsored by CUA, the papal nuncio to the United States and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will speak on the history of U.S.-Vatican diplomatic relations. Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, will give keynote addresses.

The symposium's morning session will be devoted to the U.S.-Vatican relationship as it has developed since the establishment of full diplomatic relations by President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in 1984. In addition to Glendon, two other former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican - James Nicholson and CUA alumnus Thomas Melady - will share their perspectives, as will Nicholas Burns, a former high-ranking State Department official.

In the afternoon, Princeton University's George will be joined by Francis Campbell, current British ambassador to the Vatican; Marcello Pera, past president and current member of the Senate of the Republic of Italy; and Patrick McKinley Brennan, Villanova University School of Law professor and John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies. They will explore the philosophical consequences of an official relationship between church and state.

Pope Benedict XVI has described the basis of such a relationship as "healthy secularism," i.e., a secularism that recognizes the critical role religious institutions play in a pluralistic democracy as well as the benefits both church and state receive from being in dialogue with one another.

PUBLIC: The symposium is free and open to the public. However, seating is limited and pre-registration is required. Those who do not pre-register by May 21 will not be admitted. To pre-register, call Joy Bullock at 202-319-5100.

MEDIA: To cover the symposium, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.