The 2015 Notre Dame Forum will begin with a conference on March 22, Joy and Hope: The 50th Anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. The “Joy and Hope” conference will convene a group of leading international scholars to explore the central themes of Gaudium et Spes, which is widely regarded as the most authoritative summary of Catholic social teaching.
The conference opens with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, archbishop of Durban, South Africa, on Sunday and continues through Tuesday (March 24). Speakers include Cardinal Napier; Miroslav Volf, Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology and founding director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Yale University; and Alexia Kelley, president and CEO of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities in Washington, D.C.
“Every other year the Center for Social Concerns organizes this increasingly important conference on Catholic social tradition,” said Rev. Paul Kollman, C.S.C., Leo and Arlene Hawk Director of the Center for Social Concerns. “This year we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, which embraced human solidarity and invited the Church to think seriously about social problems.” This year’s conference will explore some of the central issues of Gaudium et Spes including dignity, solidarity, justice, culture and war.
Written near the end of Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes marked a new effort on the part of the Church to reach out to the cultures and people where it finds itself. Its now famous opening line exclaims that, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ.” According to Cardinal Napier, Gaudium et Spes led to a “slow but profound and far-reaching paradigm shift in Church leadership, which led to the Church courageously presenting its ideal self as a Church striving to become and be ‘Community Serving Humanity.’”
The “Joy and Hope” conference is sponsored by Center for Social Concerns, Catholic Social Tradition minor, Center for Civil and Human Rights, Center for the Study of Religion and Society, College of Arts and Letters: Henkels Lecture Series/Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Cushwa Center for American Catholicism, Department of Theology, Institute for Church Life, Institute for Latino Studies, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Catholic Relief Services and the National Center for Laity.