U.Va. to Hold Conference on ‘The Second Vatican Council and Communism’

November 28, 2012

This fall is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. To mark the occasion, the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences will host a symposium. “The Second Vatican Council and Communism,” on Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., in Nau Hall, room 101. The event is free and open to the public.

The formation of the council “transformed the place of Catholicism in the modern world,” said U.Va. conference organizer Piotr H. Kosicki, associate director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

“We felt it important to insure that, amidst the various anniversary conferences happening around the world this year, there would be at least one specifically devoted to the consequences of the Second Vatican Council in the Communist world,” he said. “It was at the council that Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, made his debut as a serious player in the Vatican, and the way we understand the papacy of John Paul II needs to be informed by the experience of the council that Catholic bishops and laymen from behind the Iron Curtain took back with them.

“This conference at U.Va. will help us to pinpoint exactly what we mean when we say that the Catholic Church played a role in bringing down Communist regimes and ending the Cold War.”

The symposium kicks off with a discussion of “The Major Debates at Vatican II” by Melissa Wilde, associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Following, Fr. Gerald Fogarty, S.J., William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity at U.Va., will talk about “Vatican II and the Cold War.”

In the afternoon session, starting at 1 p.m., James Ramon Felak, professor of history at the University of Washington, will talk about “Communist Czechoslovakia and Vatican II.” At 2:15, Árpád von Klimó, associate professor of history at Catholic University of America, will give a presentation on “Communist Hungary and Vatican II.”

To conclude the program, Kosicki, American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellow and lecturer in history at U.Va., will discuss “Communist Poland and Vatican II.”

The event is organized by the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies as part of the U.Va. Polish Lecture Series, which was made possible by the Rosenstiel Foundation and the American Institute of Polish Culture. Co-sponsors include: U.Va. Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures; St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought; Virginia Center for the Study of Religion; U.Va.’s Corcoran Department of History and Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; and the Jewish Studies Program in the Department of Religious Studies.

For information, contact Kosicki at kosicki@virginia.edu.

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Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations