Succesful joint conference on "Catholicism in the Modern World"

The ITI and the Napa Institute co-hosted conference in Trumau and Vienna

In the last week of April the ITI hosted the Napa Institute’s European conference. The four day conference dealt with the theme of Catholicism in Our Modern World and consisted of talks, faith formation, and cultural excursions. Speakers included our Grand Chancellor, Cardinal Schönborn, alumna Dr Gudrun Kugler, and the American public intellectual George Weigel. The many talks highlighted challenges to the faith and ways in which these challenges are and can be met. The talks and cultural trips emphasised the foundational and nourishing nature of the faith on Western culture. In the keynote speech, His Eminence, Cardinal Schönborn, spoke of the beautiful resource we have at our disposal in the Catechism. Knowledge of the Church’s teaching is an essential part of a well formed faith. His Eminence argued that the Catechism is not a text of theological opinion or speculative enquiry but is the Church’s considered teaching. He spoke about the context of the Catechism, and his own role alongside that of the then Cardinal Ratzinger in its production.  He noted that knowledge of the tenants and teachings of the faith is, however, not the first step towards faith. This can only come from the personal encounter of God which engenders an attitude of faith. Once this attitude is present we have the duty to become informed – and it is the Cathechism which puts us on the right footing, clarifying the foundations. George Weigel followed the Cardinal and argued that ‘the Church must rediscover itself as a missionary enterprise’ and prompted us that our baptism is a commission. Fr Federico Colautti, an Argentinian priest and professor at the ITI, unpacked Pope Francis’ thought, seeing in it four core principles: the priorities of time over space, of unity over conflict, of reality over ideas, and the principle of the whole being greater than its parts. A beautiful Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic rite was celebrated by Bishop Boris Gudziak in the newly renovated byzantine Chapel of the ITI. Gudrun Kugler and Paul Coleman emphasised how the Christian grounding to our culture, society, and law is under attack in the political and legal spheres whilst Manuel Baghdi and Kent Hill spoke on how the influx and influences of non-Christian thought and culture poses its own challenges. Our President, Dr Christiaan Alting von Geusau, addressed the conference on the question ‘Human Rights: Principles or Preferences?’ He unpacked the, often obscured, meaning of ‘equality’ and showed that rights based on preferences lead to barbarism and the support not of the weak but of the politically strong who are able to impose their own grammar of preference and thus self-serving laws. He spoke of ‘human rights’ as acting for the common good and being ‘conducive to the dignity of the individual human being’. The conference participants went on cultural excursions to the abbeys of Heilgenkreuz and Melk. They also had tours of the Schönbrunn Palace, and both the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Albertina. They were able to join the whole ITI community for the Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Bishop Borys Gudziak.