In the face of political and social change, and demands for racial, gender and economic justice, religious traditions struggle to respond while maintaining identity. As an example, the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s brought the Roman Catholic Church to a deeper engagement with modern academic scholarship such as historical critical methods of interpreting texts, environmental and evolutionary sciences’ relation to the Church, and the fundamental importance of modern philosophical and political thought to the institution’s self-understanding. Reforms that followed the Council--which convened in the midst of global cultural upheaval and radical change--continue to ignite discord and intense division among Roman Catholic teaching authorities, and church communities. This course takes up several of these debates, including abortion and sexuality, divorce and marriage, racism and colonialism, the role of women in church leadership, evolution and the environment, and the nature of human rights. Controversies and debates will be considered in the context of their historical, political and cultural development and context. Readings will include council documents, theological texts, treatises and encyclicals, as well as texts relevant to the academic study of religion, including social theory, modern philosophical texts, and scientific articles.
Faculty: Francis Fiorenza, Courtney Lamberth
Semester: Full Spring Term
Time: Tues, Thurs, 10:30 - 11:40 a.m. ET