Center for Ethics and Culture fall conference to explore religious freedom


The crucifix in Moreau Seminary chapel

The University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture will host a debate on Dignitatis Humanae and Church doctrine in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom. The event is part of the center’s 16th annual fall conference Nov. 19-21, titled “For Freedom Set Free,” and the 2015-16 Notre Dame Forum.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include French philosopher and Ratzinger Prize winner Remi Brague, and Alasdair MacIntyre, senior fellow of the Center for Ethics and Culture.

This year’s de Nicola Family Colloquy will take up the question, “Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty: Revision, Reform, or Continuity?” Thomas Pink, professor of philosophy at King’s College London, and Rev. Martin Rhonheimer, professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, will discuss the proper interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae and whether the document represents a change in Church policy, practice or doctrine. The event, which is open to the public, will take place at 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 20) in the McKenna Hall Auditorium at the University of Notre Dame.

“We are honored to be joined by such eminent scholars for this important conversation,” said O. Carter Snead, center director and professor of law at the Notre Dame Law School. “The de Nicola Family Colloquy is one of the signature events of the center’s annual fall conference, where leading scholars from around the world — both Catholic and those from other faith traditions — come together to grapple with vexed and pressing questions of ethics, culture and public policy today.”

Other presentations during the fall conference will engage questions of religious freedom, including a panel discussion on the freedom of religious institutions with Rev. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., Dominican House of Studies; Michael Moreland, Villanova Law School; and Richard Garnett, Notre Dame Law School. Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., Custos of the Holy Land, will talk on the state of religious freedom in the Middle East; and the schedule includes panels on the theory and jurisprudence of religious liberty in America today. Rev. Julián Carrón, president of the worldwide Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation, will deliver the closing keynote address. A full conference schedule is available at the Center for Ethics and Culture’s website. All lectures are free and open to the public, and are located in McKenna Hall.

This year’s fall conference is part of the 2015-16 Notre Dame Forum, “Faith, Freedom and the Modern World: 50 Years After Vatican II,” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the publication of pivotal documents of the Second Vatican Council that have particular significance today. Established in 2005 by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the Notre Dame Forum has featured major talks by leading authorities on complex issues related to immigration, sustainability, global health, the global marketplace, K-12 education and the role of faith in a pluralistic society.

Contact: Ryan Madison, CEC associate director,; Laura Nash, CEC event planning program manager,