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Network of Catholic institutes of thought at elite universities launched


Thomas Barrat | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/22/22

“The Catholic intellectual tradition has a tremendous amount that it can, and should, offer as a gift to leading, private, secular universities.”

The Chicago-based Lumen Christi Institute, an organization dedicated to spreading the Catholic intellectual tradition, will establish a national network of independent institutes of Catholic thought. The program, “In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Nationwide,” comes thanks to a generous $3,648,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The grant

The grant will support the development of six such institutes at high profile universities in the United States. This three-year plan, the first of its kind, will provide members with resources to grow their institutes, as well as to develop programming and on-campus activities. On its website, Lumen Christi lists the six universities that will launch the program: 

  • Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago
  • Nova Forum at the University of Southern California
  • Collegium Institute at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Saint Anselm Institute at the University of Virginia
  • COLLIS at Cornell University
  • Harvard Catholic Forum at Harvard University

The network

Lumen Christi explains that these institutes already exist, but there is no organization or association between them. Along with financial assistance, the new network will allow for communication and collaboration among institutes. They note that up until now “their impact, while meaningful, has yet to reach their full potential.”

OSV reports that while the institutes operate independently from their prospective schools, they serve their secular university’s students, faculty, and staff. Programming will create dialogues between various disciplines and the Catholic intellectual tradition

Catholic thought

One example of topics of discussion by In Lumen institutes is the relationship between science and religion. Stephen Barr, president of the Society of Catholic Scientists, told OSV: 

“Many people think that they have to choose between the Catholic faith and science. This is due to myths and confusions that far too often have been allowed to go unanswered.” Barr added, “Fortunately, this is beginning to change, as Catholic scientists, scholars and a variety of new Catholic organizations, like Lumen Christi and others, have risen to the challenge” of addressing the gap, he said.

Furthermore, the institutes will inform and educate on the tradition of Catholic thought, which Lumen Christi boasts is “the longest intellectual tradition of any institution in the contemporary world.”

In Lumine

David Albertson, founding director of the Nova Forum and associate professor of religion at the University of Southern California, told OSV: 

“The Catholic intellectual tradition has a tremendous amount that it can, and should, offer as a gift to leading, private, secular universities,” he said. “As today’s universities struggle to connect teaching and research, ethics and the marketplace, culture and the common good, Catholic intellectuals bring new resources, perspectives and energy to their schools.”

The goal of the new network is to create a consortium that is greater than the sum of its parts.In Lumine is expected to create bonds of collaboration that are expected to endure long after the three-year duration of the grant. Lumen Christi has stated that after the first year, the consortium will open up to new members at schools across the United States. 

Learn more about this exciting new grant at OSV.

Visit Lumen Christi to learn how the organization is promoting the Catholic intellectual tradition.

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