The Spotlight – a monthly digest from The Institute for Human Ecology.
November 2019
A Message from Our Executive Director

In November, the Church celebrates the dedication of the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. Donated to the early Church by Constantine, the Lateran remains the ecclesiastical seat of the pope and houses many papal tombs.

Famous among them is that of Pope Leo XIII, who is depicted on his tomb neither kneeling nor sitting, but surging from his chair with a foot forward and an arm outstretched to the world. In The Irony of Modern Catholic History, George Weigel describes this pope’s bold vision of the Church as “a global moral authority with intellectual heft and important things to say.”

Pope Leo XIII gave us The Catholic University of America, the cardinalate of Saint John Henry Newman, and Rerum Novarum (1891), a foundational document of Catholic social teaching.

In this encyclical, he elucidates a key pillar of Catholic social teaching: the preferential option for the poor. The poor, he says, have “a claim to special consideration.” While the head of a society is responsible for the well-being of all, all members of a society share the responsibility “to promote to the utmost the interests of the poor” who “have no resources of their own to fall back upon.” 

The Church has set aside the month of November to pray for the souls in Purgatory, which affords us the opportunity to reflect anew on this preference for the poor and our responsibility to them. Like those experiencing physical poverty, the souls in Purgatory cannot meet their own needs.

We have many resources — prayers and the Mass — that our departed brethren lack. We ought to respond generously when they call to us, as Newman describes in his poem The Dream of Gerontius, “Pray for me, my friends, who have not strength / to pray.” 

Pope Leo XIII considered prayer for the deceased a “duty of charity” (Quod Anniversarius, 1888). As members of the City of God, let us pray this November with special consideration for those who have gone before us, grateful for the plentiful resources God has given us to “promote to the utmost the interests of the poor.”

– Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D.
   Executive Director
   The Institute for Human Ecology
To a Young Aspiring Theologian –
Don’t Neglect Faith
By Chad C. Pecknold, Ph.D., IHE Fellow and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America

The young aspiring theologian who embarks on the academic study of theology encounters today a bewildering field of study. They may set out to understand their faith better, and perhaps one day come to teach it. But soon they may discover that theology is also about things other than God. They may soon come to see that theological claims are not simply true or false, but must be constantly reassessed in the light of some new theory about human experience, such as sexuality, gender, race, class, politics, climate, or simply “the future.” At the professional conferences, the young theologian is bound to hear papers which awkwardly “problematize”’ theological topics according to whatever is culturally ascendent. This is usually not done in order to bring a ray of God’s brightness into the darkest places of our cultural minds, but quite the opposite. The aspiring young theologian may thus become habituated to a discipline that trains them to talk far more about ourselves than about God. Like Narcissus, such a person can pursue the discipline of theology only to discover that they have not found God, but an image of themselves reflected in a cultural mirror.

Read more here.
Recommended Reading
The Irony of Modern Catholic History
by George Weigel

A richly rendered, deeply learned, and powerfully argued account of two centuries of profound change in the Church and the world, The Irony of Modern Catholic History reveals how Catholicism offers twenty-first century essential truths for our survival and flourishing.

To read more and purchase your copy, click here.
IHE Abroad
Last summer, IHE Managing Director Stephen Higgins attended the Migration Studies Summer Academy, which was sponsored by The Catholic University of America and Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. The Academy brought participants to Germany to study migration in light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Human Rights Program
Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2020
The M.A. degree, developed by the IHE and Fellow William Saunders J.D., is designed for graduate students from the United States, as well as abroad, with diverse academic interests and backgrounds, who wish to study human rights from a distinctively Catholic perspective. Its interdisciplinary curriculum draws upon existing courses in several schools at The Catholic University of America.

An information session will be held on Wednesday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m.

Read more and RSVP here.
M.A. Students Meet with
Robert P. George

Last month, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the M.A. in Human Rights Advisory Council, was awarded the John Paul II New Evangelization Award by the Catholic Information Center.

Before the ceremony, Professor George sat down with the M.A. students and Program Director William Saunders to discuss friendship, civil discourse, and their work in the human rights field.

Read more here.
Program Director William Saunders Addresses Human Rights in China with Chen Guangcheng
Last month, the IHE held its second Annual Lecture on Human Rights. This year's speaker was Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist and Chinese dissident known internationally as “the barefoot lawyer.” His lecture, “Thirty Years after Tiananmen Square: Human Rights in China Today,” was followed by a conversation with William Saunders, J.D., Director of the Program in Human Rights.

Read more here.
Abortion Comes to the Supreme Court: High Court Will Review Case on Louisiana Law
William Saunders, J.D., Director of the Program in Human Rights, comments on the Supreme Court's October 4 decision to review a Louisiana abortion case. “Two and a half years ago, the court decided Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that decision, the high court struck down a Texas law that, among other things, required abortionists to have admitting privileges in a local hospital. The two cases seem more or less identical. What has changed? Why would the court consider the issue again?”

Read more here.
The Truth about Intelligence
Dr. Nicholas Dujmovic, Director of Intelligence Studies at Catholic University and frequent presenter at IHE events, is featured in a recent article about the Intelligence Studies program. “It’s a way to give back,” Dujmovic says. “I tell people up front that this program has a vocational edge to it. I’m not a recruiter, but I know what it takes to get into the CIA, so I can help.”

Read more here.
The Myth of Technocratic Infallibility
IHE Fellow Andrew Yuengert shares his insights on the “Myth of Technocratic Infallibility” in this article published in Public Discourse.

Read more here.
On the Supreme Court's Horizon: Presidential Power
In a recent article, Emmett McGroarty, IHE Director of Research and Planning, discusses Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Supreme Court case with significant implications regarding the powers of the presidency. It concerns the power of the president to remove the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Read more here.
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