Arts, Faith and Humanities

The Church in a Global, Pluralistic World

Written by Mike Thee

February 11, 2014

view of campus chapel, reflecting pool, and Union Green on a sunny fall morning

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Noted scholar José Casanova is on his way to SU to give a talk as part of the Catholic Heritage Lecture Series. Casanova, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, will discuss "The Church in a Global Pluralistic World: Challenges and Opportunities" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Pigott Auditorium. Complimentary tickets can be reserved at Catholic Heritage Lectures. 

"Dr. Casanova is an internationally renowned sociologist of religion and I would say one of the most important Catholic intellectuals of our time," said Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture (ICTC). "His work on globalization and secularism is fascinating." 

This year, the third in the lecture series, visiting scholars will explore Catholicism's engagement with other religions, tracing its development of interreligious dialogue from Vatican II to today. The theme is "Catholicism in a Religiously Plural World,"

In its first year, the series put science and religion in dialogue. In year two, the lecture examined religion in secular America. The third year was devoted to studying the Second Vatican Council 50 years after it began. 


headshot of José CasanovaCasanova, left, visits campus amid an extraordinarily busy time for the ICTC. "We're a month into winter quarter and we've already had a reading group for Pat Kelly's book and a well-received presentation on American Catholicism by (ICTC visiting scholar) Mel Piehl," said Punsalan-Manlimos. "This month is just as packed with reading groups, Casanova's lecture as well as sponsored meetings." 

The following week ICTC will host Heru Prakosa, S.J. who will speak about his experience of Muslim-Christian dialogue (Wednesday, Feb. 19, 5:30 p.m., Rolfe Community Room). Father Prakosa was recently appointed advisor for dialogue and relations with Islam by Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus. Prakosa comes to us from Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. Fr. Heru is the first of three Jesuits from Asia who will be coming to campus to share their experiences of interreligious dialogue in countries where Christianity is a minority religion. Citing a connection between the ICTC's upcoming speakers, Punsalan-Manlimos says, "It's worth noting that in Casanova's writings, he notes that largest and fasting growing Muslim group in the U.S. come from South Asia." 

The Institute also announced just last week recipients of this year's Faculty Research Grants (Bonnie Buchanan, Albers; Rob Deltete, philosophy; and Sean McDowell, English) and Summer Course Development Summer Stipends (Tracey Pepper, history; and Michael Silver, Education). 

For more information about the ICTC and its upcoming events, visit

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