USF’s Schneider among American scholars invited to Rome conference

Oct. 17, 2013 FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Dr. Thomas Schneider, a political science professor at the University of Saint Francis, was among a small number of American scholars attending the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace celebration of the 50th anniversary of the letter “Pacem in Terris,” written by Pope John XXIII on the occasion of the Cuban missile crisis.

The purpose of the three-day conference in Rome was to re-examine the teaching of “Pacem in Terris” in light of the world situation 50 years later. A part of the conference focused on the role of pontifical and Catholic universities in preparing new generations of Catholics for participation in political life, Schneider said.

“We don't often think of politics in this way, but a number of speakers made the point that participating in public life is a form of charity—working for the common good. Pope Francis said as much in a talk to students in July. This was an important takeaway for me, because political scientists often avoid speaking about the common good,” he said.

“The concept is even regarded with suspicion by many of them. They think in terms of individuals pursuing goods of their own, rather than citizens reasoning about a common good. The church's teaching, made known in large part through its universities, is a useful corrective to this distorted view of politics.”

Participants were awed by the presence of Pope Francis. “We had the great privilege of a papal audience. Though I could not understand the words of Pope Francis (he spoke in Italian), it was deeply moving to hear his voice,” Schneider said.

The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. The university’s College of Adult Learning designs focused curriculum for working adults by offering online and accelerated programs, through its Virtual, Fort Wayne and Crown Point campuses. More than 2,400 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence.

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