The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Catholic Think Tank lecture series set to begin

Ryan Sydlik | Tuesday, January 24, 2006

After student government’s long struggle to launch the Catholic Think Tank of America Lecture Series, the program’s first speaker will cement Notre Dame’s reputation as a forum for Catholic thought today.

The series, intended to bring direct discussion to students about religious and spiritual issues and their relation to practical areas of life, will feature prominent Catholics from across the faith’s spectrum – as well as some non-Catholics – discussing aspects of spiritual life.

Honorable William Pryor, Jr., a U.S. Circuit Judge of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, will give the inaugural lecture at 4 p.m. today for the Federalist Society at the Notre Dame Law School. He will speak again to the greater Notre Dame community at 7:30 p.m. in the LaFortune Ballroom.

Pryor’s lecture will focus on the role of religion in the judiciary, which has become a greater issue with the recent nominations of Judges John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

The second speaker in the series is the Most Reverend Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, Mich. He will speak Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium, focusing on Catholicism and war.

The Catholic Think Tank of America originated last year during the campaign of student body president Dave Baron and vice president Lizzi Shappell. While the program has grown slowly, Chief Executive Assistant for Student Government Elizabeth Kozlow said not having speakers on campus until the spring 2006 semester was a small price to pay for the quality product that ensued.

“We wanted this series to be comprised of quality as well as quantity,” Kozlow said. “We had to work with each speaker’s opportunities to come to campus and speak at a suitable time.”

Kozlow said one of the first challenges student government faced was finding those suitable speakers.

“In looking at speakers, we thought of issues that are relevant and timely for the discussion,” Kozlow said. “Judge Pryor and Bishop Gumbleton both possess a unique perspective on separate issues that will significantly add to each discussion.”

Kozlow also said student government hopes the speakers it chose will raise awareness about their respective issues and spark further debate on campus.

While programming is not considered to be the main focus of student government, Kozlow said this project is unique and extremely beneficial to students, as it requires students to relate to scholarly and significant topics outside the classroom.

“Discussing these issues and bringing in important speakers to campus has been extremely rewarding,” she said. “Aspects of spiritual life that unite all of us have shown how important this debate is for students.”