“Anti-Christian hostility growing” says leading bishop, as experts gather to debate controversial Vatican II document
Leading experts from the fields of philosophy, theology, law, and history will gather just outside of Rome this month in an attempt to settle the debate over the Second Vatican Council’s most controversial document.
Over three days, a series of presentations and panel debates will focus on Dignitatis Humanae, the hotly contested Vatican II document on religious liberty and the relation between Church and State.
The colloquium will be officially opened by Cardinal Raymond Burke, and has received strong episcopal backing from Bishop Athanasius Schneider.
Speaking about the event, Bishop Schneider said, “A theological colloquium on the topic of religious liberty is very necessary,” adding, “We’re currently witnessing a situation of a widespread doctrinal confusion inside the Church from one side and the growth of an almost global anti-Christian hostility in politics and in the media from the other.”
Co-organsier of the colloquium, priest and author Rev Thomas Crean OP, emphasised that this would be a balanced academic event with a variety of viewpoints. “The aim is to understand the whole gamut of the Church’s teaching on Church and State. There are different theories about how Catholics should reconcile the claims of religious truth and freedom. This conference hopes to synthezise whatever is true in all these views. It’s both an important question for the Church herself and also vital for her relations to society,”
Professor John Milbank of the University of Nottingham, has also given his backing to the event.
He is interested in how the Christian insistence on the freedom of religious assent should be distinguished from the dominant view of modern secular society, that religion is a merely private matter.
“In a world newly threatened on the one hand by religious bigotry and on the other by atheist intolerance of public religion, this crucial colloquium will consider this pressing question,” he explained.
Crean thinks the colloquium also has a special relationship to the Vatican’s family synod, which closes just days before. “Across the world, the Church is coming under intense pressure to renounce her claim to be, in the words of St John XXIII, ‘Mother and Teacher of all nations.’ This is especially true in matters relating to marriage and the family. All the more need for Catholics to understand the political dimension of their faith correctly.”
Speakers include Professor Thomas Pink from King’s College London; barrister and president of Una Voce, Mr James Bogle; Italian historian and President of the Lepanto Foundation, Professor Roberto De Mattei; the Canadian theologian Dr John Lamont; the American historian Dr John Rao; the Australian theologian Professor Brian Harrison; Fr Dominique de Saint-Laumer, the superior of the Society of St Vincent Ferrer and Dom Basile Valuet, a monk from the monastery of Le Barroux in France. December 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae.
Rev Thomas Crean OP and a selection of speakers will be available for comment and interview.