Institute for Church Life to host Seed of the Church conference

Author: Jenny Monahan

Institute for Church Life

The Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame will host the upcoming Seed of the Church conference from Nov. 4-6. The event, to be held at McKenna Hall, is open to the public. Registration is now under way and is required for all participants. Conference registration is free.

Keynote speakers include Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States; and John L. Allen Jr., senior correspondent at the National Catholic Reporter and senior Vatican analyst at CNN. The conference will bring together bishops and lay experts from around the world — including Egypt, China, India and Pakistan — testifying to the landscape of Christian persecution in their respective contexts.

The gathering intends to raise consciousness inside and outside the Church regarding the widespread persecution of Christians around the world and to explore how the Church has responded and might respond vigorously and faithfully in the future.

A central objective of this conference is to rectify the lack of acknowledgment of this persecution by the secular media and Western academia and to communicate to the world the extent and character of the persecution. Yet the purpose of the conference goes beyond raising awareness. It is also to explore how the Church can respond to the persecution of Christian believers prayerfully and liturgically, out of the depths of the Church’s spiritual theology. In the most profound sense, what does it mean to be in solidarity with brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer violence for their faith? The conference will explore several dimensions of this question, including:

  • Where exactly are the persecuted Christians? How many are there?
  • What are the circumstances surrounding persecution in specific countries and regions, including China, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Middle East and the countries involved in the Arab Spring?
  • What kind of responses to persecutions ought Christians to urge upon governments?
  • How can we form partnerships with those of other faiths to secure religious freedom for all faiths?
  • What are the most effective and faithful responses on the part of the Church?

The conference will also explore a theology of martyrdom for the world today, framed in terms of Eucharistic remembering and of the “ecumenism of the martyrs” urged on the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The event is being organized by John C. Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life, and Daniel Philpott, associate professor of political science and peace studies.

A complete list of speakers as well as registration information is available at

Contact: Jenny Monahan, assistant director, Institute for Church Life,