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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

How Would You Reform the Catholic Church?

panel discussion

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How Would You Reform the Catholic Church?
Panel Discussion

Richard Gaillardetz, Boston College
Natalia Imperatori-Lee, Manhattan College
Bishop Mark O’Connell, Archdiocese of Boston
Phyllis Zagano, Hofstra University
Mark Massa, S.J., Boston College (Moderator) 

Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Time: 5:30 - 7pm
Location: Devlin 101

RSVP requested - please click here to register.


Abstract: An exciting panel composed of a Catholic bishop, a Latinx theologian, one of the foremost ecclesiologists in America, and one of the most respected scholars studying the question of women deacons will address the current situation in the Catholic Church, a moment that has been described as "the biggest crisis facing Catholicism since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century."


headshot of Richard Gaillardetz

Richard Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and is currently the chair of the theology department. He has published numerous articles and authored or edited fourteen books. Most recently, he published a newly revised and expanded edition of his popular book, By What Authority? Foundations for Understanding Authority in the Church (Liturgical Press, 2018). He is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Vatican II which will be published by Cambridge University Press in the spring of 2020. In 2000, he received the Sophia Award from the Washington Theological Union for theological excellence in service of ministry and in 2018 he received the Yves Congar Award for theological excellence from Barry University. Gaillardetz served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2013-14. 

headshot of Natalia Imperatori-Lee

Natalia Imperatori-Lee is a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY, where she also coordinates the Catholic Studies program. She is the author of Cuéntame: Narrative in the Ecclesial Present (Orbis Books, 2018). Her work focuses on the intersection of Latinx theologies, feminist theologies, and Catholic ecclesiology. She has published in Theological Studies and The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. A native of Miami, Florida, Imperatori-Lee has served on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the US. She recently presented at a series of seminars on the implementation of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia. At Manhattan College, Imperatori-Lee teaches courses on contemporary Catholicism, including Vatican II, as well as courses like Sexuality and the Sacred and Women in Western Religion. She is currently working on a book about women in the Catholic Church.

Imperatori-Lee speaks regularly at parishes, universities, and in other venues about feminism, faith, and the Latinx communities in the United States. Her writing has appeared in Commonweal and America magazines, and has appeared as a guest expert on Pope Francis on CNN and MSNBC. She lives in the Bronx with her spouse and two sons.

headshot of Mark O'Connell

Bishop Mark O'Connell is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston. He was born in Toronto, Canada of American parents and the family moved to Boston in 1976 when his father, Thomas O’Connell, became the University Librarian of Boston College. Bishop Mark graduated from Boston College in 1986 and from Saint John Seminary in 1990 when he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese. In 1997 Bishop O’Connell began studies in Rome and obtained a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical College of the Holy Cross in 2002. Since obtaining his degree, he has worked in various canonical positions within the Archdiocese of Boston, including serving as the Judicial Vicar and Professor of Canon Law. He currently serves as the Regional Bishop for the North Region of the Archdiocese of Boston which includes sixty parishes and is himself a pastor of Saint Theresa Parish in North Reading.

headshot of Phyllis Zagano

Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women's issues in the church. Her award-winning books include Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church (First Place, 2001 Catholic Press Association and 2002 College Theology Society), Women & Catholicism: Gender, Communion, and Authority (Second Place, 2012 Catholic Press Association) and Women Deacons? Essays with Answers (First Place, 2017 Catholic Press Association). Her writing is widely translated — her best-selling On Prayer: A Letter for My Godchild is published in Indonesian, Spanish and Italian as well as English — and she edited the Liturgical Press’ "Spirituality in History" series. She is a member of the Papal Commission for the study of the diaconate of women. Winner of two Fulbright awards, her biographical listings include Marquis Who’s Who. Her professional papers are held by the Women in Leadership Archives, Loyola University, Chicago. She holds a research appointment at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

headshot of Mark Massa

Mark Massa, S.J. (moderator) is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, where he is also a professor of theology. Massa received his Ph.D. in American religion from Harvard University, and is the author of seven books; his most recent, The Structure of Theological Revolutions: Catholic Debates About Natural Law, from Oxford University Press, 2018. His monograph published in 1999, Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team, received the Alpha Sigma Nu Award for Best Work in Theology for 1999-2000. His ongoing area of research is American Catholic faith and culture of the past century.

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From October 6-28, a synod of bishops, primarily from the Amazon region, will take place in Rome. There are a few key points to be discussed at this meeting, namely the possibility of ordaining married men, the relationship between the Catholic Church and indigenous cultures, and the protection of the environment. While the possibility of married men in the priesthood is garnering much attention, the other two topics are also of extreme importance as the Catholic Church has a history of partaking in the mistreatment of indigenous cultures. Additionally, Pope Francis has recently made increasing efforts to draw attention to the severity of the environmental crisis. The “How Would You Reform the Catholic Church?” panel will provide a platform for all to consider what they hope the church will say and do to address these issues.