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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Pope Francis and the American Church

panel discussion

Pope Francis
Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson. License: licenses/by/3.0/us/legalcode

panel discussion

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Boston College
Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir,  Harvard University 
Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Boston College

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Time: 6:30 - 8pm
Location: McGuinn Hall 121

Co-sponsored with the Organization of Latin American Affairs.

Abstract: Upon the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the Chair of Peter in 2013, the Catholic Church received its first Jesuit pope and its first ever pope from the Southern Hemisphere. This year Pope Francis celebrates the fifth anniversary of his election. A distinguished panel will discuss the trajectory of those five years and how Francis has engaged with, connected to, and changed the American Church, as well as what the future holds for his papacy and the American Catholic faithful.


Lisa Sowle Cahill is the J. Donald Monan professor of theology at Boston College. Cahill has taught at Boston College since 1976 and has also been a visiting professor at Georgetown and Yale Universities. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society of Christian Ethics. Her research interests include the history of Christian ethics, New Testament ethics, Catholic social ethics, feminist theology, bioethics, and the ethics of war and peace.

Massimo Faggioli

Massimo Faggioli is professor in the department of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. He writes regularly for Italian and English-speaking journals and magazines on the Church, religion and politics, has a column in La Croix International, and is contributing editor for Commonweal. His most recent book in English is Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century (Liturgical Press 2017).

Rev. J. Bryan Heir

Rev. J. Bryan Hehir is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and American Public Life at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. A Catholic diocesan priest, he is also the Secretary for Health Care and Social Services in the Archdiocese of Boston, and a close advisor to Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Fr. Hehir’s research and writing focus on ethics and foreign policy, and the role of religion in world politics and in American society. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on just war theory, and has a long history of engagement with policymakers in the U.S. government. Hehir holds A.B. and M.Div. degrees from St. John’s Seminary, and a Th.D. from Harvard Divinity School. 

Nancy Pineda-Madrid

Nancy Pineda-Madrid is an associate professor of theology and Latino/a ministry at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Dr. Pineda-Madrid holds a Ph.D. in systematic and philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union and a M.Div. from Seattle University. Her areas of specialization and interest include: systematic and philosophical theology, practical/pastoral theology, U.S. Latino/a theologies, feminist theologies (U.S. and Third World), and United States and North American pragmatism and religious thought

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In the News

An article recently written by the Los Angeles Times highlights Pope Francis' fifth visit to Latin America in January 2018 and his attempt to "recapture the soul of the Roman Catholic church." While the Church has been a traditionally powerful force in the region, it has been at the center of controvery over allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. The Pontiff's anticipated visit was met with protests and reports of church attacks in the Chilean capital of Santiago. On April 26, the Boisi Center will host a panel with four distuingished guests to examine the Pope's first five years in the Vatican.