'Church in the 21st Century' Debuts Sept. 18

'Church in the 21st Century' Debuts Sept. 18

By Jack Dunn
Director of Public Affairs

With an opening event set for Sept. 18, Boston College this month officially launches its "The Church in the 21st Century" initiative, a two-year academic program that will explore the issues arising from the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and provide a forum for the Catholic community to assist in the Church's renewal.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in either Robsham Theater or Conte Forum and features Newsweek Religion Editor Kenneth L. Woodward as keynoter.

The kick-off for The Church in the 21st Century initiative will begin with an introduction by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, who will review the goals and the focal issues of the program. The three issues are: the relationships of lay men and women, priests and bishops and how to enhance them; sexuality in the Catholic tradition and contemporary culture; and how to hand on the faith to the next generation.

Woodward's keynote address, "From Crisis to Renewal: The Task Ahead," will offer reflections on how to best help the Church move from crisis to renewal over the next several years.

Following the keynote address, a panel consisting of Monan Professor of Theology Lisa Sowle Cahill, Prof. Roberto S. Goizueta (Theology) and University Trustee John M. Connors Jr. '63, chairman and CEO of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc., will offer their reactions.

"The sexual abuse crisis has prompted Catholics to look more deeply at the issues facing their Church at the start of the 21st century: the roles of laity and clergy; Catholic sexual ideas and ethics; and the education and formation of the next generation of Catholics," said Fr. Leahy.

"Boston College will provide intellectual resources for the reflection and expression of ideas to help Catholics concerned about the Church move from the current clerical abuse crisis to renewal. In facing these issues openly and honestly, we can begin to restore the trust of many Catholics who were angered or confused by the shocking revelations of the past eight months."

Admission to the event is free, but pre-registration is required and can be done via e-mail at church21@bc.edu. Additional information on The Church in the 21st Century initiative is available on-line at www.bc.edu/church21. A tentative schedule of events will be distributed at the Sept. 18 kick-off.

After announcing the initiative in May, Fr. Leahy appointed an advisory committee, consisting of faculty, administrators, alumni and students, to provide direction for the project and determine the corresponding program offerings. Co-chaired by Special Assistant to the President Robert Newton and Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry Director Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM, the committee met throughout the summer to prepare for the Sept. 18 kickoff and subsequent programs, which will include a public lecture series, courses, workshops, panels, seminars and the publication of scholarly papers.

"Fr. Leahy's announcement was greeted with enthusiasm from inside and outside Boston College, and I have been impressed with the ideas and comments we have received," said Newton. "The announcement also raised serious expectations and we will be working hard over the next two years to meet those expectations.

"The calendar of related events that we are developing will use not only BC resources but also bring prominent scholars and commentators on Catholicism to campus. Our goal is to provide a rich set of experiences for the BC community, for the Boston community, and through technology, for the national and international Catholic communities. The program has given Boston College an opportunity to use its intellectual resources both to meet an immediate need in the Catholic community and fulfill our commitment to be a Catholic university in service to the Church and wider society."

In addition, the Alumni Association will offer live simulcasts at alumni receptions in Fairfield County, Ct., Washington, DC, Charlotte, NC, and Chicago. Video, audio and text versions of the Sept. 18 event will be posted the following day on the BC Web site.


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