JP Shortall | March 21, 2019
The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns will hold its biennial Catholic social tradition conference on March 21-23 at McKenna Hall. This year’s conference, “Option for the Poor: Engaging the Social Tradition,” will bring together 68 international scholars and practitioners of Catholic social tradition to examine various social challenges related to poverty.
The option for the poor and vulnerable has long been central to Catholic social tradition, holding that societies ought to be measured by the standard of how their most vulnerable members are faring and that all members of society have a special obligation to the poor and vulnerable.
“Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., wrote in 1979 that ‘we teach human dignity best by serving it where it is most likely to be disregarded, in the poor and abandoned,’” said Rev. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Director of the Center for Social Concerns. “The Center’s pedagogy depends on that kind of insight, and this year’s conference promises to extend and develop it in new and fruitful directions.”
Past Catholic social tradition conferences have focused on important writings within the documentary tradition: Populorum Progressio in 2017, Gaudium et Spes in 2015, Pacem in Terris in 2013, and Rerum Novarum in 2011. By focusing on the option for the poor, this year’s conference will explore a principle central to many of the major writings in the documentary tradition, as well as the Gospel.
“This series of biennial conferences first began in 2011 as a way to assemble scholars and practitioners who wanted to address social issues through the social teachings of the Church,” said Bill Purcell, senior associate director of Catholic social tradition and practice at the Center for Social Concerns and conference organizer.
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