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‘Justice in the World’ conference to be held virtually this weekend

| Friday, March 26, 2021

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world Synod of Bishops’ social teaching document, the “Justice in the World” conference will be held virtually this weekend. The conference will focus on justice issues addressed by modern Catholic Social Teaching.

The event is an opportunity for members of the Notre Dame community “to hear from some intriguing and brilliant people that can help us think about solutions to the problems that exist in our world,” conference organizer and director of Catholic Social Tradition (CST) at the Center for Social Concerns Bill Purcell said.

In 2011, the conference began as a way to expand the discussion of CST nationally and internationally. Since then, it has been hosted biannually, and this year’s event marks the sixth CST conference.

Each conference is given a theme that highlights a principle of Catholic Social Teaching. For this year’s conference, the Justice in the World theme celebrates the prophetic statement created by the 1971 Synod of Bishops on justice and liberation for the poor and oppressed. 

Attendees of the conference can expect to gain a “deeper familiarity with and appreciation for the relevance of the Church’s social teachings to contemporary social challenges,” director of communications and advancement at the Center for Social Concerns JP Shortall said.

The conference focuses on bringing together students and scholars to examine justice issues proclaimed by the Gospel.

“This mixture of students and experts builds a community of diverse voices,” Purcell said. “The only way we are going to solve these problems is through community.” 

Shortall agreed with Purcell on the importance of community in confronting social justice issues. 

“It gives us the opportunity for focused discussion of questions posed by Catholic social tradition — questions about things like racial and environmental justice that are pressing today,” Shortall said.

The conference is being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in some ways, a virtual conference might be seen as a benefit.

“The advantage about [a virtual conference] is that we can bring in people from all over the world,” Purcell said. “We have really intriguing people speaking from places like Israel, Rome and Mexico.”

Furthermore, Purcell and Shortall highlighted the Justice in the World events held beyond the conference. The Justice in the World Virtual Art Exhibit features art submitted by undergraduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross in response to the conference theme. There is also a Holy Saturday virtual retreat on “The Cry of the Earth [and] the Cry of the Poor” that will be held the week after the conference. 

On the importance of a conference like this, Purcell emphasized the value of hope during such uncertain times.

“Now, more than ever, we need to see goodness and we need to have hope,” said Purcell. “This conference helps us find that hopeful vision so that we can work to achieve Justice in the World.”

This year’s conference will be held on Zoom and is free to the public. For more information and to access links to attend the conference visit socialconcerns.nd.edu/justiceintheworld.

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