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Sunday, December 4, 2016
Durham to host conference on contemporary Catholicism
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 A conference in Durham in the new year on contemporary Catholicism, has already attracted worldwide interest, including a keynote address from a senior figure at the Vatican. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will open the conference after attending a University ceremony in Durham Cathedral on 12 January where he will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. The January conference, a research colloquium - Catholic Learning: Explorations in Receptive Ecumenism - is jointly organised by the University's Department of Theology and Religion and Ushaw College. The event, which is being hosted by Fr Terry Drainey, Rector of Ushaw, from 12-17 January, will draw together more than 130 invited senior church figures, theologians and other representatives from Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox and free church traditions. Participants include Archbishop Mario Conti (Glasgow), Bishop Terence Brain (Salford), Prof Eamon Duffy (Cambridge), Bishop Kevin Dunn (Hexham & Newcastle), Bishop Michael Evans (East Anglia), Professor Joseph Famerée (Louvain), Prof David F Ford (Cambridge), Dr Bernd Hilberath (Tübingen), Dr Linda Hogan (Dublin), Dr Fergus Kerr O.P. (Edinburgh & Oxford), Prof Nicholas Lash (Cambridge), Prof Hervé Legrand (Paris), Prof Andrew Louth (Durham), Prof Paul McPartlan (Washington), Bishop Brian Noble (Shrewsbury), Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue (Lancaster), Prof Ladislas Örsy (Washington), Rev James Puglisi (Rome), Thomas J Reese SJ (Santa Clara), Prof Stephen Sykes (Durham), Dr Mary Tanner and Bishop Tom Wright (Durham) The lead organiser, Dr Paul Murray, Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Director of the Catholic Learning and Receptive Ecumenism Research Project at the University, said: "Both the research colloquium and Cardinal Kasper's honorary degree are in recognition of his highly significant contribution to contemporary Catholic theology in general and to ecumenical matters in particular. "The event will be focussed on exploring a creative way forwards in current ecumenical relations and how the long journey that is required can be a time of fruitful growth and mutual learning. The key principle of "Receptive Ecumenism" is that the primary question for each community should be "What can we learn, with integrity, from these others?" Rather than "What must they first learn from us?" For two years now the University's Theology and Religion department, in collaboration with Ushaw College, has been successfully promoting the opportunity to specialise in Catholic Studies within its MA in Theological Research. This is serving to draw students from around the world to Durham to pursue cutting-edge research into pressing issues within contemporary Catholicism. These activities will be given formal shape in the course of the new year with the proposed establishment of the Durham Centre for Advanced Catholic Studies which will work in close relationship with the Catholic Church whilst retaining full academic and institutional independence. Drawing upon the University's long record of excellence in theological and ecumenical research, the aim is to develop an international forum for the critical and constructive exploration of some of the most crucial issues of the day within contemporary Catholicism.
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