DePaul Symposium to Examine Shifting World of Catholicism

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–April 11, 2013.  As the global community gets to know its first pope from the Americas, DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology will hold a symposium examining various aspects of a rapidly shifting Catholic Church and its relations with other faith communities around the world.

The symposium, which runs April 14 to 19, includes a variety of seminars and celebrations, all free and open to the public. It features top religious scholars and leaders from around the world, including a top Vatican correspondent, a nun leading the crusade against America’s death penalty and a retired bishop who helped bring peace to a war-ravaged region of South Sudan.

“We are excited about the robust group of leading religious and thought leaders we have assembled to discuss the state of the global Catholic world as it prepares for the leadership of Pope Francis,” said Peter Casarella, professor of Catholic Studies and center director.

Among the highlights of the symposium:

The Borders of Baptism, April 14, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The opening plenary session will feature two internationally renowned speakers addressing the issue of Christianity and how it intersects with nationalist states. Bishop Paride Taban of South Sudan, recipient of the 2013 U.N. Peace Prize, will discuss how his Holy Trinity Peace Village in South Sudan can serve as a model for interfaith reconciliation and dialogue. Also, Stanley Hauerwas, once hailed by Time magazine as America’s most influential theologian, will address the problem of Christianity and nationalism in the United States.

Religious Liberty and Political Tension: A View from the Vatican, April 15, 5 to 7 p.m.

As the Vatican correspondent for both CNN and National Catholic Reporter, John Allen has recently covered the historic conclave and papal election. He will offer a real-life “view from the Vatican.” Time magazine recently called him “the man who picked the pope.”

WWJD on Facebook?, April 18, 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Authors Jana Bennett and Brent Laytham will examine how the faithful can effectively use the Internet to connect to communities of faith and how priests, cardinals, and even the pope, have leveraged social media to better connect with their cyber-flocks.

“I Was in Prison and You Visited Me:” Spirituality and Social Justice, April 19, 5 to 7 p.m.

Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., the “Dead Man Walking” author and leading anti-death penalty crusader, will share observations about how her faith has driven her work and reflect on the current state of the effort to end capital punishment in the United States.

Most of the symposium’s activity will take place at the DePaul Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago. A complete schedule is available at

Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology was founded at DePaul University in 2008 to produce research that will serve the church and the academic world. To fulfill this mission, it has paid special attention to the World Church that has emerged since the Second Vatican Council and its growth in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. While its focus has been on the present global communion of faith, it also attends to historical, theological and cultural questions that will contribute to a fuller understanding of Catholicism and the dialogue of cultures today.