CARCT board members, Bishop Ronald Fabbro and King’s principal David Sylvester, middle, pose with Marion during the reception. Photo courtesy of Jane Antoniak, King's University College

King’s opens new centre for Catholic research

By  Chanelle Robinson, Youth Speak News
  • May 15, 2015

LONDON, Ont. - King’s University College has created a new research centre for Catholic thought.

The Philosophy and Religious Studies department at King’s recently inaugurated the Centre for Advanced Research in Catholic Thought (CARCT) to celebrate the vibrant relationship between studies in theology and the critical components of philosophy.

The theological centre aims to parallel the Centre for Advanced Research in European Philosophy, already housed within the Philosophy and Religious Studies department.

The centre seeks to promote Catholic theology by responding to pressing issues in society “through lectures, study days, conferences and seminars,” and “provides a forum for dialogue among scholars from Canada and abroad.”

“As well as harnessing the energies and expertise of the local theological community at King’s and other institutions in London and Ontario... the Centre aims to make a real contribution to the life of the Church in Canada. I think this is important,” said Mark Yenson, a religious studies professor and co-director of CARCT.

The centre will cultivate a high-level theological community on campus, and support the constructive, academic study of Catholic theology at King’s. There is an implicit openness and Catholicity about the centre as well. By providing opportunities for students to engage with eminent scholars, CARCT hopes to sustain a dialogue between philosophy, theology and the concerns of the contemporary world.  

“The centre is about doing work that is going to nurture the intellectual life of (scholars and theologians) at King’s which will then nurture the life of the students and the broader community,” said Carolyn Chau, professor of religious studies and member of the CARCT board.

“There is a hunger for conversation,” said CARCT student representative Daniela Dabrowski, a third-year religious studies student. Dabrowski also said CARCT provides a “positive environment” for deliberation.

CARCT’s inaugural theological conference on March 27-29 celebrated the work of Jean-Luc Marion, an esteemed Catholic philosopher of the Académie Française. Over the course of three days, scholars from around the world gathered to grapple with and deliberate Marion’s thought in a lively way.

Marion’s work is technical and theologically rich. Though the subject matter of CARCT might be necessarily challenging and specialized, the department is taking precautions to make the material as accessible to the greater community as possible.

Through CARCT, theological discourses will expand other academic fields and engage the wider community as a whole.

“We can be proud that our Catholic tradition has always claimed that reason and faith go together. And the Catholic tradition is characterized by this continual dialogue between reason and faith,” said Julius Kei Kato, co-director of CARCT.

Students and scholars who wish to attend future CARCT conferences can look forward to these potential themes:

“Christian mission within a secular society is one…Interreligious dialogue is another. Retrieving and advancing themes in Christology would be another major area,” said Yenson.

(Robinson, 21, is a fourth-year Catholic Studies for Teachers student at King’s University College in London, Ont.)

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