The Institute for Church Life welcomed an array of Church leaders to campus this past weekend for the “Pastoral Issues in Science and Human Dignity” conference. Professor John Cavadini, Director of the Institute for Church Life and consultant member of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, organized and funded the conference, which was co-sponsored by the Institute for Church Life and the USCCB Committee on Doctrine.

The symposium program stated: “The purpose of this symposium is to help bishops and their diocesan educational officials explore some of the fundamental theoretical issues in the relationship between science and religion, and some of the practical issues that flow from the interaction between science and religion.”

Cavadini explained to the Rover, “The conference was not open to the public except by invitation because it was a conference intended mainly for the bishops themselves plus advisors of theirs in education.” Along with hosting the event, Cavadini offered a talk entitled “Pastoral Antidotes to the New Atheism.”

The fifth co-sponsored conference of its type, the February 12-14 gathering included a variety of talks, a presentation in the Digital Visualization Theater (DVT) in the Jordan Hall of Science, daily Morning Prayer and Mass on Thursday celebrated by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The keynote address, offered by his Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet, was entitled “Bridging Science and Faith: Strengthening the Sense of Human Dignity Today.” Cardinal Ouellet is the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and Archbishop emeritus of Québec. His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, recently in Rome with the Notre Dame delegation visiting Pope Francis, offered the conference welcome and introduction.

Further talks included “How American Youth (Mis)Understand Science and Religion” given by Notre Dame’s Sociology professor Christian Smith; “Responding to the False Conflict Between Faith and Science” by Father Robert Spitzer of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith; and “The Explanatory Limits of Modern Science for Public Bioethics” by Professor O. Carter Snead of the Notre Dame Law School.

For more information about Institute for Church Life Programs, visit their website at

Madeline Gillen is a senior living in Welsh Family Hall. Email her at with gift suggestions for her new nephew Damian.