WORCESTER -- The College of the Holy Cross will host a conference on "Francis the Pilgrim: From Personal Devotion to Papal Diplomacy," April 11-12 featuring Pope Francis biographer Austen Ivereigh and Father Thomas J. Reese, S.J., senior analyst at Religion News Service, as keynote speakers. All conference sessions will be held in Rehm Library, Smith Hall, and are free and open to the public.
Organized by assistant chaplain and McFarland Center Fellow Father Michael Rogers, S.J., the conference will explore Pope Francis' own devotional life, as demonstrated through his travels, as a starting point to interpret his papacy in its goals, objectives and outcomes.
"The conference will invite journalists and theologians to share their perspectives on Francis and to analyze the images and symbols he surrounds himself with to consider their meaning to his faith and to his agenda as a world leader," Father Rogers said. "It also will use his example to explore popular piety in the places he visits."
Ivereigh, author of the biography "The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope," will open the conference with a keynote address titled "God Made the First Move: Mercy in the Life and Papacy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio" at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 11. Ivereigh is a London-based Roman Catholic journalist and former deputy editor of The Tablet who regularly contributes to America magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, The Tablet, The Spectator, Crux and others. He is co-founder of Catholic Voices, a communications project now in 20 countries. He holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University.
At 7:30 p.m., April 11, Father Reese will speak on "Francis, the Pilgrim Diplomat." Father Reese is a Jesuit priest and former editor-in-chief of the Jesuit magazine America. As a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, he wrote the trilogy on the organization and politics of the church: "Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church" (1989), "A Flock of Shepherds: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops" (1992), and "Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church" (1996). In 2014, President Obama appointed him to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley.
Discussions on Thursday will center on Pope Francis' recent travels, including his pilgrimage to Fatima and controversial visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, while a panel will consider his missed opportunities. Elise Harris, senior correspondent covering the Vatican for Catholic News Service/ EWTN News, will give a talk at 9 a.m. titled "Francis in Fatima: Church Governance as Rooted in Pastoral Concern." Ines San Martin, who covers the Vatican for Crux, will present "Francis and Persecuted Minorities: The Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh" at 10:30. Holy Cross professors will offer responses to each of the talks and will join Harris and San Martin for a panel discussion at 11:45 a.m. to wrap up the conference.
The complete conference schedule is online at holycross.edu/francisthepilgrim.
"Francis the Pilgrim: From Personal Devotion to Papal Diplomacy" is sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross. Learn more at holycross.edu/mcfarlandcenter.