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The Evolution of the Papacy: Modernity, Media, and Mission, October 16-17th, 2015
October 16, 20158:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The papacy of John XXIII and the convening of the Second Vatican Council are rightly seen as watersheds in the history of the Catholic Church--but in many ways it is the broad fifty-seven years since the beginning of John’s papacy that have seen profound changes in the institution of the papacy, as the popes have self-consciously engaged the modern world. Communication with Catholics and others–and thus also the self-representation and image of the papacy—has been transformed by the ways popes have used and been used by the electronic media. Frequent travel across the globe has changed the ways popes make contact with multiple communities and the ways their presence becomes a media event. The diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds of the popes have also conditioned their engagement with modernity, producing a papacy that is more manifestly global in its origins and in its reach. Popes’ responses to and silences before crises of the modern world have shaped public perception of the papacy and with it, popes’ influence. Popes have canonized saints at an unprecedented rate and across an unprecedented global reach, and they have themselves been canonized with frequency not known in centuries; these canonizations have highlighted the changing role of the papacy as an institution, the expectations placed on popes, and the new varieties of sanctity the modern world endorses. This conference will deal with these changes and challenges to the papacy over the last fifty-seven years. It will feature prominent scholars of the papacy from four continents. It will address ways in which an evolving papacy relates to the issues of a global Church, modern society with its nearly instantaneous electronic media, an informed and often independent-minded laity, and a world of increasingly fascinated but frequently puzzled onlookers.

July 29, 2014