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The Open Question of Church Polity: Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II

Wed, Dec 4 at 5:15pm
Social Sciences, Room 122
1126 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Russell HittingerLumen Christi Institute

John O'Malley, SJGeorgetown University

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Free and open to the public. Cosponsored by the Theology and Ethics Workshop at the Divinity School and the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus.

Sexual and financial scandals are prompting Catholics to ask hard and painful questions about church government.  Who is in charge?  How is responsibility and accountability for governance distributed in the Church?  By no means is this the first time that the Catholic Church has reckoned with the letter and the spirit of its own governance. Drawing from his latest book, When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II (Harvard, 2019), Fr. John O’Malley, S.J. will retrace how the three modern ecumenical councils grappled with church reform and highlight resources in that tradition that may help us today. A response from Russell Hittinger will follow, leading to open discussion. 


Russell Hittinger is Senior Fellow at the Lumen Christi Institute, visiting fellow in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies and Law at the University of Tulsa. He is also Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Hittinger is the author of many books, including A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory, The First Grace: Rediscovering Natural Law in a Post-Christian Age, Thomas Aquinas and the Rule of Law, and most recently Paper Wars: Catholic Social Doctrine and the Modern State (forthcoming).


John W. O’Malley, S.J. is University Professor of Theology at Georgetown University. He received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1965. He has received many academic honors, including twenty honorary degrees, eight best-book prizes, and in 2016 the Centennial Medal from the Graduate School of Harvard University, “the school’s highest honor.”  From 1979 until 2006, John O’Malley was Distinguished Professor of Church History at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and since then has been at Georgetown University.  In 1995, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science and in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society. His best-known book is The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press, 1993, now in twelve languages. His most recent books with Harvard Press are: What Happened at Vatican II, 2008; Trent: What Happened at the Council, 2013; Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, 2018; and When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, 2019.