An Account of CTEWC’s Papal Meeting – Father James Keenan
We just came back from a week in Rome with Planning Committee Members of CTEWC. They were Kristin Heyer, Toni Ross and I from BC; Linda Hogan from Dublin, Antonio Autiero from Berlin, Roman Globokar from Slovenia and Emilce Cuda from Buenos Aires (4 of our board could not come, Agnes Brazal, Elias Omondi Opongo, Shaji George Kochuthara and Andrea Vicini).
Because we are hosting our third International Conference of CTEWC in 2018 in Sarajevo, we decided to build bridges with many Roman/Vatican institutions. We had lengthy meetings with the leaders of three universities (Gregorian, Alfonsianum, and Urbanium), the Cardinal Prefects of 6 Congregations, Father General Arturo Sosa of the Society of Jesus, and finally, on St. Patrick’s, with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis met with us for 50 minutes and the discussion was singularly on the work of CTEWC in collaboration with others. We had the good fortune to be the only ones meeting with him (the people greeting us left). Below are a few pictures. It was a blessed week.
We also visited many other leaders of the church to talk about CTEWC and our forthcoming International Conference in Sarajevo in July 2018.
Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, at the Congregation for Catholic Education
Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, ofm, of the Congregation for Religious Life
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, of Propagation of the Faith
Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, of the Congregation for the Laity, Family, Life
Cardinal Peter Turkson, of the Dicastery of the Service of Integral Human Development
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, of the Pontifical Council of Culture
Each Cardinal graciously engaged for roughly an hour each. We placed the resources of CTEWC at their service. They introduced us to their staffs as well. Photos of our planning committee with each leader can be found in the photo gallery below. We also met for some time with the General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa SJ.
Finally, we gave lectures at three Pontifical Universities, the Urbanianum (where we were hosted by Vicenzo Viva), the Gregorianum (where we were hosted by Miguel Yanez), and the Alfonsianum (where we were hosted by Andrzej Wodka).
An Account of CTEWC’s Papal Meeting – Professor Kristin Heyer
At the end of our week of formal meetings in Rome, the CTEWC planning committee made our way to the private papal library in the Apostolic Palace: past Swiss guards, up marble staircases surrounded by intricate frescoes, and keenly aware of others who had awaited such audiences throughout history. Yet from the outset, our meeting with Pope Francis was marked by warm welcome, unexpected jokes about whiskey dispensations for St. Patrick’s Day, and shared poignant memories. When Jim Keenan explained to Pope Francis that several of our planning committee members could not be present (Agnes Brazal, Shaji George Kochuthara, Elias Omondi Opongo and Andrea Vicini) he offered Lúcás Chan’s memorial card, noting his role on the planning committee and recent death. Several of us were moved to tears at this point, reflecting on Lúcás’ presence and absence, and Pope Francis’ response that this was “a beautiful gesture” set a personal, intimate tone for the remainder of the private audience. Hence whereas I thought the meeting would be brief and somewhat pro forma, it was dynamic and interactive-and lasted nearly an hour with only a translator present. Throughout our extended time together, Pope Francis remained very animated, interjecting between each person’s presentation with questions, candid commentary, and interest in and appreciation for our work.
Our members presented each of the books from our Orbis series to Pope Francis as an occasion to communicate our priorities and efforts: the origins and impact of the scholarship program for African women , for example, or the book series’ mode of pairing of coeditors from different geographical contexts and enlisting contributors from every region to shape robustly international contributions to the field of Catholic theological ethics. In discussing our regional conferences, we emphasized our method of prioritizing personal encounter to the exchange of ideas in order to foster harmony in diversity. We underscored our attempts to serve and empower those isolated or on various peripheries of the field by reprinting books in our series at lower costs and connecting one another via our website and The First .
We also shared with the pope ways in which we have engaged our membership to disseminate and promote the reception of Amoris Laetitia across various contexts, and how our own Just Sustainability volume anticipated some of the key themes and approaches of his subsequent Laudato Si’. When we spoke of CTEWC’s endeavors, whether indicating our attentiveness to context or our desire to build bridges, Pope Francis frequently made theological connections to the work of salvation history or the inner workings of the Trinity, for example-which indicated the value he perceived in the work and hopes we conveyed. His comments throughout the morning struck me as reflective of his deep commitments, insight, and receptivity.
I found the meeting confirming of CTEWC’s projects and trajectory, particularly as we look ahead to our 2018 conference in Sarajevo. On a broader vocational level, given various challenges facing our ongoing work for the church, academy and wider world, I was particularly moved when he concluded our time together by saying “thank you for your work, and thank you for your courage.”
Here are some pictures from the CTEWC Planning Committee’s meeting with Pope Francis
Father James Keenan with Pope Francis
Linda Hogan with Pope Francis
Antonio Autiero with Pope Francis
Kristin Heyer with Pope Francis
Emilce Cuda with Pope Francis
Roman Globokar with Pope Francis