Fifty years later, the Second Vatican Council continues to provoke debate among Roman Catholics. Some insist it led to the crisis of faith that still haunts the Church in the 21st century; others believe it liberated Roman Catholicism from medieval traditions that no longer served a purpose.
Now, three of the leading theologians who were part of that historic council will gather to discuss its meaning five decades later at a discussion at Sacred Heart University on October 10.
Continuing its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Sacred Heart University will bestow three leading theologians and luminaries with honorary degrees for their affiliation with the watershed moment for the Church.
On Wednesday, October 10, at 7 p.m., Father Ladislas Orsy, Nicholas Lash and Gregory Baum will participate in a panel discussion and reflection in University Commons. On Thursday, October 11, at 2 p.m., Orsy, Lash and Baum will be honored during Convocation in the University’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
The celebration will culminate with a special concert performance of Mass of the New Light by composer Peter-Anthony Togni, also in the Chapel, to commemorate the Council’s 50th anniversary, on Saturday, October 13 at 7 p.m.
“Sacred Heart University was a product of the Second Vatican Council – it was inspired by the Council’s boldness of vision, its theological insights and its rediscovery of the charism or gift of the laity,” said Dr. Michael Higgins, vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart. “The Council continues to provide the ever-unfolding energy for renewal and expansive thinking that is at the very heart of the mission and self-understanding of Sacred Heart University. Our conception, gestation and future as a Catholic institution of higher learning are tied to the nurturing genius of the Council.”
Sacred Heart University, grounded in the mission of the Catholic intellectual tradition, was founded in 1963 – just a year after the opening of the Second Vatican Council – and was the first Roman Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States to be led and staffed by lay people. With its direct historical affiliation with the Council, Sacred Heart has dedicated the year of the Council’s 50th anniversary to honoring its remarkable work and how it radically reshaped the Church.
A renowned layer and theologian, Hungarian-born Father Ladislas Orsy entered the Society of Jesus in Budapest, and was ordained in 1951 in Belgium. A professor for decades, he has taught canon law at the Catholic University of America, the Gregorian University in Rome, Fordham University, the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and is currently a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He is the author of nine books and legions of articles on topics in theology and canon law.
A foundational thinker and eminent theologian, Nicholas Lash is a visionary from Great Britain who was a priest before pursuing a career in academia. He was elected to the Norris-Hulse Chair of Divinity in 1978, becoming the first Catholic to occupy a chair of theology at either Cambridge or Oxford since the Reformation. Lash, now an Emeritus Fellow of Clare Hall at Cambridge, is the author of scores of publications and is a regular contributor to the international Catholic weekly newspaper, The Tablet.
German-born Gregory Baum attended the Second Vatican Council as a theological expert at the Ecumenical Secretariat, the commission that oversaw three concilar documents – On Religious Liberty, On Ecumenism and On the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions. Baum received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from McMaster University, a master’s in mathematics from Ohio State University and a doctorate in theology from the University of Fribourg. He has been a professor of theology and sociology at University of Saint Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and then served as professor of theological ethics at McGill University’s Faculty of Religious Studies. Currently, Baum is associated with the Jesuit Centre justice et foi in Montreal.