The Church in the Modern World: Fifty Years Later

November 13, 2015 — November 14, 2015
Keane Auditorium, McGivney Hall

On November 13-14, 2015, the Washington Session of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family will sponsor a conference entitled "The Church in the Modern World: Fifty Years Later" for the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's document Gaudium et spes. The conference concludes the Institute's series of events devoted to the major texts of Vatican II.

Gaudium et spes provides the Church’s most comprehensive official statement regarding her relation to the world. The document carries out its reflection above all in terms of a distinctive anthropology conceived in inner openness to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Indeed, the anthropology of Gaudium et spes is best understood against the background of Chalcedonian Christology, with its affirmation that, in Jesus Christ, God truly assumes (assumpta) but does not absorb (preempta) human nature. As Joseph Ratzinger puts it: “The human nature of all men is one; Christ’s taking to himself the one human nature of man is an event which affects every human being; consequently human nature in every human being is henceforward Christologically characterized” (Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, 160).

The question of the Church’s relation to the world, in this light, takes on a striking new feature. Her task of entering the modern world, of taking on the “joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men and women of our time” and of bearing the “message of salvation intended for all,” consists in a genuine assumption of the world into and through Christ’s Eucharistic love, an assumption that does not absorb but on the contrary presupposes even as it fulfills the world’s own natural-creaturely integrity (GS 1).

The purpose of the conference is to ponder several main issues that arise regarding the Church-world relation so understood, treating first those problems that concern “the dignity of the human person and his individual and social role in the universe” (GS 46); and second, in light of these anthropological considerations, those “urgent problems deeply affecting the human race” (46). Chief among the latter is that identified first by Gaudium et spes: marriage and family (GS 47-52).


To register for the conference online via credit card, please click here. You may also register by mail using the appropriate form available for download at the right.


Friday, November 13
6:30 p.m.

Check-in table opens


Keynote Address

America and the End of Civilization: God and the (Dis)Enchantment of Culture

David L. Schindler

8:30 Reception
Saturday, November 14
8:30 a.m. Continental breakfast available

The Anthropology of Gift

Speakers: Adrian Walker

                 Rev. Antonio López, F.S.C.B.

Moderator: Frederick Bauerschmidt

11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.

Nature and Grace

Speakers: Matthew Levering

                 Nicholas J. Healy

Moderator: Rodney Howsare

12:30- 2:00 Lunch

Discerning the Signs of the Times: Marriage, Family, and the Person

Speakers: David S. Crawford

                 Rev. Paolo Prosperi, F.S.C.B.

Moderator: William Mattison


Human Work and Economy

Speakers: Andrew Abela

                 D.C. Schindler

Moderator: Stephen Hildebrand


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