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Catholic studies leader shines light on discords within the Church

Loyola press release - January 14, 2013

The Catholic Church is often viewed by its parishioners as a source of peace and solidarity. However, for centuries there have been pulls and tugs among different groups within the Church, sometimes creative and productive, but at other times hostile and destructive. The Rev. James L. Heft, S.M., president of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, explores the sometimes difficult relationships, both in the past and the present, among three crucial sources for the life of the Church in his talk, “The Church, Bishops and Theologians: A Dynamic Tension.”

Heft’s presentation will be held at Loyola University New Orleans Wednesday, Jan. 16 in the Danna Student Center’s St. Charles Room at 7 p.m. This special event is part of Loyola’s Presidential Centennial Guest Series and is free and open to the public. For those who cannot attend the event in person, they can watch it live online at www.loyno.edu/speakers at 7 p.m. CST.

In addition to being the founder and president of the IACS, Heft also holds the Alton Brooks Professorship of Religion at USC. He was ordained in 1973 with the Society of Mary (Marianists) and received a doctorate degree in historical theology in 1977 from the University of Toronto.

For 29 years, Heft worked at the University of Dayton, serving first as chair of the theology department, then as provost and finally as chancellor. He left Dayton in 2006 to found the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies and continues to be active in the Catholic education community, serving as a board member and chair of the American Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. In 2011, he was honored with the Theodore Hesburgh Award for long and distinguished service to Catholic Higher Education.

Heft has written and edited 11 books and written more than 170 articles and book chapters. His most recent books are, "Catholic High Schools: Facing the New Realities" (Oxford, 2011), and another he edited with John O’Malley, S.J., "After Vatican II: Trajectories and Hermeneutics" (Eerdmans, 2012). He is currently working on a book on the mission of Catholic colleges and universities.