Notre Dame to host conference on Christian care for the poor

Author: Michael O. Garvey

"Caritas" window in the Basilica

Theologians and other scholars will gather for a conference at the University of Notre Dame on Nov. 14 (Thursday) and Nov. 15 (Friday) to explore the origins and implications of care for the poor in Christian life, thought and teaching.

The conference, “Blessed Are the Merciful: Charity as Sacramental Action,” sponsored by the Institute for Church Life (ICL) and the Center for Social Concerns, was organized by John C. Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the ICL, and Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology. Its theme is drawn from Anderson’s recently published book, “Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition” (Yale University Press, 2013).

“A certain responsibility for the poor and suffering is a fundamental obligation of any civil society,” Anderson said. “But we want to consider what motivated the church to become such a distinctive and prominent actor in meeting it. Of course the church wants to create a social order that is more just and equitable, but we want to consider the theological conviction that in assisting the poor, one encounters God, and to recover the deep sacramental sense that charity once held in the pre-modern church.

“We had begun to organize the conference before the election of Pope Francis,” Anderson said, “but he has suggested that this sacramental sense seems to have diminished in modernity, and we want to propose ways that the church might reclaim it for our own time.”

Carlos Eire, T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, will give the conference keynote lecture, “Charity and the Catholic Reformation,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Eck Center auditorium.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required and available online here.

Contact: Valerie McCance, 574-631-9195,