Image of stain glass windows opening

2nd Ecclesial Gathering 
The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality

March 3 - 4, 2023
Boston College

Conference Program

This gathering is organized by the Boston College's Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture, and Loyola University Chicago's Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage

Last year’s event, with over 30 bishops and cardinals and a similar number of theologians and lay leaders attending, was hosted by the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago and entitled "Pope Francis, Vatican II, and the Way Forward."  

Given the overwhelmingly positive reception of the Chicago event, we followed up with a similar mix of presentations and conversation. The gathering included a select group of bishops, academics, and church leaders to examine synodality as the apotheosis of Pope Francis’ papacy and to explore its history, meaning, and challenges for the contemporary environment. 

Speakers Bios

Headshot of  Maria Clara Bingemer

Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, Ph.D. is a full professor in the department of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, where she also ran the Loyola Faith and Culture Center and was dean of the Center for Theology and Human Sciences at PUC-Rio. Her research has an emphasis on systematic theology, focusing mainly on the following themes: God, otherness, woman, violence, and spirituality. Recently, she has been researching and publishing on the thought of the French philosopher Simone Weil. Nowadays, her studies and research are primarily directed towards the thinking and writing of contemporary mystics and the interface between theology and literature. 

Headshot of  Christopher Coyne

Bishop Christopher Coyne, S.T.D., was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston. After receiving his Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Liturgy from the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselmo, Rome, Bishop Coyne served as Professor of Sacred Liturgy and Homiletics at St. John’s Seminary, Director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of Boston and Principal Spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston. In January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI named Coyne Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis where he also served as apostolic administrator for the archdiocese from late 2011 – 2012. On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis named Bishop Coyne the tenth Bishop of Burlington, Vermont. He has served on numerous national committees including as chair of the Committee on Communication of the USCCB.

Kathleen Cummings headshot

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. is professor of American studies and history at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. She holds a concurrent appointment in the departments of theology and gender studies. Cummings’ publications include, A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American, New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era as well as numerous scholarly articles and book chapters. With Robert Orsi, Cummings co-directed the Cushwa Center's Project, “Gender, Sex, and Power: Toward a History of Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.” She also oversees the Conference on the History of Women Religious and frequently serves as a media commentator on contemporary events in the Church.

Massimo Faggioli headshot

Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D. is professor in the department of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. He is a columnist for the magazines Commonweal and La Croix International. He was founding co-chair of the study group “Vatican II Studies” for the American Academy of Religion. He is a member of the steering committee for the project “Vatican II: Legacy and Mandate” for a multi-volume, intercontinental commentary of Vatican II. His most recent publications include The Liminal Papacy of Pope Francis: Moving Toward Global Catholicity. With Catherine Clifford, he is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Vatican II, and is under contract for the book God’s Bureaucrats: A History of the Roman Curia.

Daniel Flores headshot

Bishop Daniel Flores, S.T.D. has served as the Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville since 2009. He studied at the University of Dallas, and Holy Trinity Seminary, completing a B.A. in Philosophy and a Masters of Divinity. In 1988 he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Corpus Christi. He completed work on a doctoral dissertation in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum in 2000. In 2006, he was appointed and ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Presently, Bishop Flores serves as committee member on several USCCB Committees as well as chair of the Doctrine Committee.

David Gibson headshot

David Gibson, director of Fordham's Center on Religion and Culture, arrived at Fordham University in 2017 after a long career as a religion reporter, author, and filmmaker. He began his journalism career at Vatican Radio in 1986 and after returning to the New York area in 1990 wrote for a variety of newspapers and magazines. He is the author of two books on Catholicism: The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping a New American Catholicism and The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World. 

Jaisy Joseph headshot

Jaisy Joseph, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of systematic/constructive theology at Villanova University. With interests primarily in ecclesiology and theological anthropology, her main areas of research involve understandings of unity and difference in the Catholic church, how these definitions have shifted over the centuries, and how erroneous expressions have wounded the bonds of communion between different peoples. These differences are not only intercultural and ecumenical, but also involve the almost-invisible ancient Eastern Catholic churches that have been present since the first centuries in North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. She is also committed to understanding how globalization and migration have brought all of these differences to the United States in the past fifty years and how these diasporas influence understandings of catholicity for the church of the third millennium.

M. Cathleen Kaveny headshot

M. Cathleen Kaveny, J.D., Ph.D. is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor of Law and Theology at Boston College. After teaching for many years at the University of Notre Dame, she joined the faculty of Boston College in 2014. She has been a visiting professor at Georgetown, Princeton, and Yale, and has served as the Carey and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Kaveny's interests lie at the intersection of law, morality, and politics in American Life. Her books include Law's Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Life; Prophecy without Contempt: Religious Discourse in the Public Square, and Ethics at the Edges of Law: Christian Moralists and American Legal Thought.

Rafael Luciani headshot

Rafael Luciani, Ph.D., a Venezuelan layman, Rafael Luciani is professor at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas and Extraordinary Professor at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He serves as expert of CELAM and member of the Theological Advisory Team of the Presidency of CLAR. He coordinates the Ibero-American Theology Project. He is a member of the Intercontinental Seminar Group Peter & Paul for the reform of the Catholic Church and is an expert of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Among his most recent publications are Synodality: A new way of proceeding in the Church and Sinodalità e riforma: Una sfida ecclesiale.

Mark Massa headshot

Mark Massa, S.J., Th.D. is director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. He is a church historian who studies Catholicism in the U.S. in the twentieth century. He is the author of seven books, the most recent of which is The Structure of Theological Revolutions: How Humanae Vitae Shaped Debates About Natural Law.

John McGreevy headshot

John McGreevy, Ph.D. has served as the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost since July 2022. He is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and served as the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters from 2008 to 2018. He is an acclaimed historian, with a focus on both American and global religion and politics, and has authored four books that explore the people and the impact of the Catholic Church. McGreevy has received major fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Louisville Institute, and the Erasmus Institute. He served on the 2010 jury for the Pulitzer Prize for History and, since 2018, has been the co-chair of the Commonweal Foundation board.

Michael Murphy headshot

Michael P. Murphy, Ph.D. is director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage. His research interests are in theology and literature, sacramental theology, and the literary/political cultures of Catholicism—but he also thinks and writes about issues in eco-theology, Ignation pedagogy, and social ethics. Murphy's first book, A Theology of Criticism: Balthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination (Oxford), was named a "Distinguished Publication" in 2008 by the American Academy of Religion. His most recent scholarly work is a coedited volume (with Melissa Bradshaw), this need to dance/this need to kneel: Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith (Wipf and Stock, 2019). He is currently at work on a monograph entitled The Humane Realists: Catholic Fiction, Poetry, and Film 1965-2020. 

Hosffman Ospino headshot

Hosffman Ospino, Ph.D. is an associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where he is also chair of the department of religious education and pastoral ministry. He is director of the university's Graduate Programs in Hispanic Ministry. Ospino is the principal investigator for several national studies on Hispanic Catholics. He has authored/edited 15 books and more than 150 essays, academic and general. Ospino serves on the boards of several national organizations, including the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). He is president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and an officer of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA).

Aristotle Papanikolaou headshot

Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D. is professor of theology, the Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and the co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University. He is also senior fellow at the Emory University Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Among his numerous publications, he is the author of Being with God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine-Human Communion; and The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy. He is also co-editor of Orthodox Tradition and Human Sexuality, Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity; Fundamentalism or Tradition: Christianity after Secularism; Christianity, Democracy and the Shadow of Constantine (Winner of 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Award in Theology); Orthodox Constructions of the West, Orthodox Readings of Augustine; and Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars. He enjoys Russian literature, Byzantine and Greek music.

Susan Reynolds headshot

Susan B. Reynolds, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Catholic studies at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, where she teaches courses in U.S. Catholicism, theology, and congregational studies. She is the author of People Get Ready: Ritual, Solidarity, and Lived Ecclesiology in Catholic Roxbury and a contributing writer on religion and public life for Commonweal magazine. She is at work on her second book, an ethnographic study of community stations of the cross, which is supported by a grant from the Louisville Institute. She and her husband, Drew, are the parents of three young daughters.

Anne Thompson headshot

Anne Thompson is an award winning correspondent for NBC News. In 25 years, she has covered everything from school shootings to presidential campaigns, but today focuses her attention on the environment and the Catholic Church. Based in New York, she began her career with the network at its Chicago bureau. Prior to that she worked for WDIV-TV in Detroit, KSDK-TV in St. Louis, and WNDU-TV in South Bend, Indiana. Thompson is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and currently serves on its Board of Trustees. Raised and educated in Europe, she graduated from the International School of Brussels. Before that she attended grammar school at the Academy of the Assumption in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.

Robin Darling Young headshot

Robin Darling Young, Ph.D. is associate professor of Church history/history of Christianity at The Catholic University of America. She has previously held faculty positions at the University of Notre Dame (2002-2013), Catholic University, and Wesley Theological Seminary, and has been visiting associate professor at the University of Virginia and in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, with a membership in the Common Room of Wolfson College, Oxford. Darling Young specializes in the history and literature of early Christianity in the east, with a focus on Armenian, Greek, and Syriac texts. Her most recent publication is Evagrius Ponticus, Letters: Armenian Translation (with Hovsep Karapetyan); she is the lead editor/translator of the Gnostic Trilogy (Syriac and Greek) of Evagrius Ponticus, and of a new English translation of Origen’s Contra Celsum/Defense of Christianity. She has been a member of the International Theological Commission since 2022, and has served on official bilateral dialogues in the United States (Eastern Orthodox-Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic) and as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine.

Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference. Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter, March 7, 2023.

Boston College conference didn't just discuss synodality. Bishops and theologians modeled it. Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, March 8, 2023.

The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality. Phil Gloudemans, BC News, Boston College Office of University Communications, March 14, 2023.

The Synod is not an event. It's a new way of being church. Maurice Timothy Reidy, America Magazine, March 16, 2023.

From Cardinal Seán's Blog, The Pilot. March 17, 2023.

Bishops and Theologians Meet at Boston College for Ecclesial Summit on Solidarity. Thomas Pauloz, The Torch, March 23, 2023. 

Sometimes a Video is Worth a Thousand Theological Words. Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, May 20, 2023.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley

Cardinal Seán O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Metropolitan Archbishop of Boston, leads conference participants in prayer during mass held at Boston College's St. Mary's Chapel on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Cardinal Tobin

Cardinal Joseph Tobin speaks during the Q&A portion of the ecclesial gathering.

Hosffman Ospino

Boston College faculty member Hosffman Ospino gives his keynote address during the ecclesial gathering on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Susan B. Reynolds

Susan B. Reynolds gives her response during the ecclesial gathering on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Photo of Reynolds, Murphy and Ospino

Susan B. Reynolds, Michael Murphy, and Hosffman Ospino have a conversation after Ospino's keynote address and Reynolds' response.

Michael Lee

Fordham University professor of theology and director of the Francis & Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies,
Michael Lee is one of the participants who attended The Way Forward ecclesial gathering at Boston College on March 3 - 4, 2023.

Bishop Mark O'Connell Tobin

Bishop Mark O'Connell speaks during the Q&A portion of the ecclesial gathering.

Sr. Mary Haddad, Therese Lysaught, and James Williams

Sr. Mary Haddad, RMS, president & chief executive officer at The Catholic Health Association of the United States;
M. Therese Lysaught, professor at the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Care Leadership and the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago;
and Dr. H. James Williams, CPA, CMA, JD, LLM, president of Mount St. Joseph University, attended The Way Forward ecclesial gathering at Boston College March 3 - 4, 2023.

M Kathleen Caveny

 Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny, the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor of Law and Theology at Boston College, participates on a panel during The Way Forward ecclesial gathering.

Jaisy Joseph

Jaisy Joseph, assistant professor of systematic-constructive theology at Villanova University, who gave a response following Rafael Luciani's keynote address, engages in dialogue with other attendees.

Massimo Faggioli

Villanova University Professor Massimo Faggioli participates on a panel during The Way Forward ecclesial gathering.

Kathleen Cummings

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, professor of American studies and history at the University of Notre Dame
and the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, participates on a panel during The Way Forward ecclesial gathering.

Bishop Daniel Flores

Bishop Daniel Flores gives his keynote address during the ecclesial gathering on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Bishops Coerver and Archbishop Etienne

Bishop Robert Coerver and Archbishop Paul Etienne engageing in dialogue during The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality ecclesial gathering at Boston College.

Credit for photos: Lee Pellegrini