What is the role of religion in society? And how can Catholic scholars draw upon the wisdom of the Church to make sense of today’s economic, cultural, and moral challenges?
Those were the questions at the heart of the Civitas Dei Summer Fellowship, a week-long seminar held July 15 through 20. Sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Human Ecology (IHE) and the Thomistic Institute, the program introduced young scholars to foundational themes in the natural law tradition. Speakers during the week included Joseph Capizzi, professor of moral theology and executive director of IHE; Father Dominic Legge, director of the Thomistic Institute; Adrian Vermeule, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School; and Robert Royal, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing.
The seminar, open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates from top universities around the world, included lectures and discussions on the political and moral theories of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and modern constitutional jurisprudence, as well as outings to D.C. landmarks including the Supreme Court and the National Portrait Gallery.
Capizzi said the seminar was intended to “introduce the beauty and the depth of the Catholic intellectual tradition to a group of young scholars who we hope will invigorate our universities.”
Throughout the week, the conference included many discussions on religious liberty, the nature of political communities and pluralism, and how the writings of Augustine and Aquinas remain relevant in today’s society.
Capizzi said he hoped that the seminar provided attendees with a sense of community, introducing them to like-minded people “who care about the Church, who care about the faith, and who care about the good of American society.”
“We want them to know that they are not alone in doing their work and that there are resources available to them through the members of this community as well as here at the institute and Catholic University,” Capizzi said. “We hope that they will become outstanding scholars, some of whom may end up teaching here at Catholic.”