The Catholic University of America

May 30, 2012

Catholic Social Thought Institute to Explore Religious Freedom

Experts from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), The Catholic University of America, and other Catholic schools will explore the issue of religious freedom during the fifth annual Summer Institute of Catholic Social Thought to be held June 4 through 8 at CUA.

“As part of the Catholic Church’s call to its people to reflect on religious freedom, the first three days of the 2012 summer institute will focus on this timely issue,” says Rev. Paul Sullins, institute director and associate professor of sociology at Catholic University.

The bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer, education, and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21 to July 4. They outlined their concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad, in the document, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” issued last month by the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

On June 4, 5, and 6, institute speakers will address topics including global religious freedom; and life, contraception, and religious freedom. John Garvey, president of Catholic University and an expert in constitutional law, religious liberty, and the First Amendment, will address the freedom of the Catholic university.

Presented by Catholic University and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS), the institute is also supported by the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

On June 7 and 8, institute speakers will address how entrepreneurs can conduct business to promote human dignity and the common good. The focus on those days draws from a 2011 document titled "Vocation of a Business Leader," by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The document lays out a vision for the business world that “is devoted to more than just profit,” says Father Sullins.

Speakers on the last two days will include Brian Engelland, interim chair and professor of marketing in Catholic University’s Department of Business and Economics. The department offers a one-year Master of Science in Business Analysis (MSBA) Program, which is founded on a belief in commerce as service to society and a respect for all members of society.

The first day of the institute will also include an overview of the Church’s teachings on society and education, including the important documents Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and Caritas in Veritate.

“The topics for the 2012 institute illustrate the diversity of Catholic social thought,” says Father Sullins. “Being Catholic is not just one thing; it’s many things.”

The program is targeted toward college faculty and graduate students who are seeking to further their formation in Catholic identity.

“The overall aim of the institute is to provide them with strategies and encouragement for living out their Catholic faith in the academy,” says Father Sullins. “We seek to develop an intellectual framework for teaching, action, and research in the respective fields of scholarship that asks questions and advances ideas formed from a faithful Catholic perspective,” he adds.

Institute speakers include:
•  Patrick J. Deneen, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair in Hellenic Studies and director of the Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, Department of Government, Georgetown University
•  Richard Doerflinger, associate director of prolife activities, USCCB
•  Brian Engelland, interim chair and professor of marketing, Department of Business and Economics, Catholic University
•  John Garvey, president, Catholic University
•  Stephen Hilbert, foreign policy adviser, Africa and global development, Office of International Justice and Peace, USCCB
•  Stephen Krason, president of SCSS and professor of political science and legal studies, Franciscan University of Steubenville
•  F. K. Marsh, associate professor of management, Richard J. Bolte Sr. School of Business, Mount St. Mary’s University
•  Paul Marshall, senior fellow, Center for Religious Freedom, The Hudson Institute, and author of “Religious Freedom in the World” (2008) and “Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide” (2011)
•  Rev. James Schall, S.J., author of “Roman Catholic Political Philosophy” (2006) and professor, Department of Government, Georgetown University
•  Christopher Shannon, professor, Department of History, Christendom College
•  Rev. Paul Sullins, editor of “Catholic Social Thought: American Reflections on the Compendium” (2008) and associate professor, Department of Sociology, Catholic University
•  Monsignor Stuart Swetland, executive director, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and vice president for Catholic identity, Mount St. Mary's University

Past programs have featured such notable Catholic academics as Michael Novak, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and Paul Vitz. Prior participants describe the institute as “life-changing,” “ground-breaking,” and “a beautiful exposition of the fundamental principles of Catholic social doctrine.”

Father Sullins notes, “We have gathered together some of the best mentors in the country — outstanding Catholic scholars and experts in the Church’s social teachings — to share their experience, wisdom, and even struggles in the task of integrating faith and learning in their teaching and research.
“Throughout the week we encourage participants to engage and challenge everything presented, and to move from abstract theory to concrete application in their own settings, so as to make the Church’s wisdom their own. Our ultimate hope is that the institute will help to shape a new generation of Catholic scholars in the academy.”

Faculty members and graduate students can attend as individuals or they can be sponsored by their academic institutions. For more information, call 202-319-5445.The program brochure and application are also available at the Society’s website (


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