Milan: major conference on Newman opens

Today, a key conference on John Henry Newman opens at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the English theologian's entrance into the College of Cardinals in 1879. John Henry Newman oggi: logos e dialogo (John Henry Newman today: logos and dialogue) will focus on how Newman relates faith to reason, and his relevance to contemporary debate.

Among those due to speak are Jeremy Morris, of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, on 'Newman, the Common Tradition and the Unity of the Church' and Ian Ker, of the University of Oxford, on 'Newman, Modernity and Conscience'. Other speakers include Dermot Fenlon, of the University of Birmingham (and also of the Birmingham Oratory), on 'Newman and the Conscience of the State', and also Michael Paul Gallagher, of the Gregorian University, Rome.

A number of Italian scholars will be presenting important papers: Fortunato Morrone, from the Theological Institute of Calabria, will speak on the 'friendship' between faith and reason in Newman, and Michele Marchetto, of the International School of Professional Formation at Venice will consider 'The Philosophy of Newman and the Challenges of Relativism'. Among others presenting papers will be Inos Biffi, the well-known Milan-based scholar.

According to its organisers, the University's Centre for the Study of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and the International Centre of Newman Friends, the Conference aims to highlight the "necessity of a faith which both engages with reason and is lived with integrity, so promoting an open and fruitful dialogue between people of all backgrounds and creeds."

"Reason, when used with seriousness, and with that broad scope which is proper to it, expands our capacity to transmit and welcome the truth, as Benedict XVI has consistently taught."

The conference will be opened this afternoon, Thursday 26th March, by Lorenzo Ornaghi, the Rector of the University, and will conclude tomorrow evening, with a Mass celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Archbishop of Milan.

Father Paul Chavasse, Postulator of the Cause for Newman's Beatification, said: "I am delighted to support this conference, which has as its theme the relationship between faith and reason."

"In reflecting on these two great realities we encounter the Logos, the Wisdom of God who 'creates all things and keeps them in existence' and who became incarnate 'so that he might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God' (Lumen Gentium 3-4). These two paths, faith and reason, are together the ground of dialogue between Christians and the adherents of other religions or none.

"In this context, what John Paul II called Newman's 'remarkable synthesis of faith and reason' (Letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, 22 January 2001) is surely of special and enduring value. I have every confidence that this conference will assist in deepening our understanding of Newman's distinctive contribution to what Benedict XVI has called 'that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today' (Regensburg Address, September 12, 2006)."

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