University of Rochester

EVENT: Three Newman Lectures Offer National Experts on Catholicism, Celebrate 40 Years of Catholic Community at University

March 16, 2004

The Roman Catholic community at the University of Rochester will mark its 40th anniversary with a series of lectures in March and April on the theme of “The World, Religion, and Faith.” The guest speakers, known widely for their research and commentaries about the place of religion in society and in people’s lives, are historian R. Scott Appleby, theologian Charles E. Curran, and University of Rochester President Emeritus Dennis O’Brien. The programs are free and open to the public.

Appleby, John M. Regan, Jr., Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, will deliver the first lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, in the main sanctuary of the Interfaith Chapel on the River Campus. Appleby’s work examining the roots of religious violence, and the potential for building peace among religions has gained much attention. On another volatile topic of the clerical sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, Appleby spoke before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 about how their aloofness and arrogance played into the crisis.

Appleby’s talk at Rochester is titled “Testifying to Truth in a Wordless World: The American Catholic Dilemma.” William Scott Green, professor of religion, Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Judaic Studies, and Dean of the College, will present a response.

The author of several books, Appleby was co-director of the Fundamentalism Project, an international public policy study conducted by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, from 1988 to 1993. With Martin E. Marty, he co-edited five-volumes on global fundamentalism for the University of Chicago Press, which trace the movements of religious reaction in the 20th century.

Curran, the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University, is a Catholic priest and scholar of moral theology, and has received many professional distinctions. He will speak at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 4, in Hutchison Hall on the River Campus about “Religion and a Global Ethic.”

In the 1980s, Curran was embroiled in a public dispute with Rome over his dissent of the Catholic Church’s positions on abortion, contraception, and other issues. Curran, who was ordained in 1958 in the Rochester Catholic Diocese, was removed from teaching in the theology department at Catholic University of America in Washington. He joined the faculty of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in 1990.

The author of numerous publications and the subject of books and articles, Curran continues to write and teach on Catholic moral theology, and the role of the Catholic Church in society. He also has been president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Society of Christian Ethics, and the American Theological Society.

The final speaker in the John Henry Cardinal Newman Lecture Series will be Dennis O’Brien, educator, writer, and president of the University of Rochester from 1984 to 1994. He will discuss “Catholicism in Higher Education” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, in the main sanctuary of the Interfaith Chapel.

O’Brien is the author of many articles in professional and popular publications on a range of subjects in philosophy, religion, higher education, and modern art. His 2002 book, The Idea of a Catholic University, draws on theology and the history of philosophy to show how religious truth relates to the work of a Catholic university. He has authored several other books, and has chaired review and accreditation efforts at many higher education institutions from the U.S. Naval Academy and the American University in Cairo to Yale and the New Bulgarian University in Sofia.

The lecture series, named for the 19th-century theologian and priest, is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Newman Community and the John Henry Cardinal Newman Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Rochester. The first Newman Club at the University was established in 1929, but did not have a full-time chaplain until 1963 when the Rev. L. John (Jack) Hedges was named to the position.

A question-and-answer period will follow each lecture. For more information, contact (585) 275-8515.