Melissa Hernandez, Contributing Writer
Philosophy professor Dr. Robert Wood is spearheading the Catholic Social Thought Series, which was founded last spring. The series applies the teachings of the church from papal encyclicals to social and economic issues affecting the world. During each lecture, one faculty member presents a papal encyclical; the lecture is followed by a question-and-answer sessions and responses by two other faculty members according to their disciplines of study. There will be four lectures each semester, with the first two of the fall semester having already been completed. Last spring, the lectures were open to faculty only. This year, however, the lectures are open to students as well.
“I thought students had a lot to learn from encyclicals,” Wood said. “It’s unfortunate how many students don’t know what the church has to say about the political world.”
Wood reaches out to faculty from the theology, English, history, economics, politics and philosophy departments, as well as to faculty members from the School of Business and the School of Ministry, to give presentations about the encyclicals as they relate to their respective fields of study.
“[The presenters] naturally come at a different way to target fundamental issues,” Wood said. “The idea is to get different disciplines to address these things and stimulate discussion on campus.”
The first lecture of the series, given by Fr. James Lehrberger, O. Cist, was held on Sept. 3. The session dealt with the encyclical Gaudium et Spes.
Economics professor Dr. Aida Ramos presented the encyclical Populorum Progressio, written by Pope Paul VI, to a small group of students and faculty in Gorman Lecture Center last Monday. She spoke about the great impact that the encyclical had on policy and on the institutions that governed economic change in the world when it was issued in 1967. During that time, there was a major emphasis on the advancement of technology and the policies limiting population growth. Pope Paul VI addresses both the development of policies that had been put into place around the world and the consequences of these policies. He offers a new way forward through authentic human development, stressing solidarity among peoples. “[Populorum Progressio] offers a hopeful way forward while still being critical of the false dichotomy presented in the economic theory and policy world at the time,” Ramos said. “I like best that it presents a measured, rational, positive role for aid, trade and development assistance from the standpoint of solidarity, brotherhood and charity rather than of oppressors versus oppressed.”
The next lecture will be given on Monday, Oct. 29 by Dr. Thomas Jodziewicz. He will present Evangelii Nuntiandi. The final lecture for the fall semester will be on Monday, Nov. 26 with Dr. Richard Peregoy, who will present Laborem Exercens. Wood hopes to finish with Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals and the key documents of Vatican II, covering such topics as religious freedom, humanism and biblical study.
“The purpose [of the series],” Ramos said, “is to make more people aware of the social teachings of the Church – which you would be surprised how many people, Catholics included, do not know enough about.”