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Top Scholars Gather for International Symposium on John Paul II's Theology of the Body

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January 30, 2007 - 12:00 PST


What is the true meaning of human sexuality and spousal love? How does the human body reveal the inner life of the Trinity? Why is the flesh instrumental in men's salvation? What do masculinity and femininity teach us about ourselves and about God?

From May 18-20, 2007, scholars, writers, and catechists from around the world will gather in Gaming, Austria, the home of Franciscan University's Study Abroad Program, to explore those questions and many more. The symposium, Man and Woman He Created Them: John Paul II's Theology of the Body, features internationally renowned speakers such as Dr. Michael Waldstein, Dr. Joseph Seifert, Sister Mary Timothy Prokes, FSM, and Christopher West. The symposium aims to deepen the Church's understanding of the Polish pope's teachings about the dignity of the body and the meaning of human love, as well as give American and European Catholics the tools they need to spread these powerful teachings in their home countries.

Described by papal biographer George Weigel, as "a theological time-bomb, set to go off with dramatic consequences," John Paul II's Theology of the Body began as a series of talks on interpersonal communion delivered during his Wednesday papal audiences from 1979 through 1984.

Later collected and published in one volume, Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, those teachings are slowly transforming the way Catholics understand the body, sexuality, and the human person. Wherever truly understood, they are also proving the most effective antidote to biological materialism--the rampant belief in post-modern culture that the body is nothing more than a material object to be used and abused for our own pleasure.

But, according to Dr. Peter J. Colosi, who teaches philosophy for Franciscan University in Gaming and is organizing the upcoming symposium, although these teachings have already affected the lives of tens of thousands of Catholics, their total potential impact has yet to be seen.

"John Paul's lectures were not a simple catechesis," he explains. "They were densely packed theological and philosophical discourses that demand serious scholarly examination."

Colosi says a growing body of theologians and philosophers are dedicating themselves to that examination, and the fruits of their work are being disseminated to Catholics in America by popular writers and speakers. But that process has been slowed, partly by errors in the original English translation of the pope's lectures and partly by the lack of regular discourse between the scholars and the popularizers.

The first problem, Colosi says, is well on its way to being resolved thanks to a new critical translation by Dr. Michael Waldstein, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. The upcoming symposium seeks to address the second problem by bringing the popular writers and speakers together with nearly a dozen top international scholars. Presentations by both types of experts will allow scholars and popularizers to learn from one another's knowledge and experience, as well as find ways they can make their different types of work more complementary.

"This unique combination of participants--distinguished scholars and popular writers and speakers, teachers and students, Americans and Europeans--sets this symposium apart from any other conference on the Theology of the Body that has ever taken place," Colosi says. "It also creates the potential for the symposium to have deep, wide, and long-lasting consequences."

Colosi hopes that bringing people to a deeper understanding of the pope's teachings through the new translation will lead to a more accurate presentation of those teachings to American Catholics. He also hopes European Catholics will learn from their American counterparts how to more effectively spread Catholic teaching on the dignity of the human body and the human person.

Co-hosted by Franciscan University, the International Theological Institute, the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute, and the Theology of the Body Institute, the symposium will take place in Gaming, Austria, at the Kartause Maria Thron, a beautifully restored fourteenth-century Carthusian monastery. Home to Franciscan University's study abroad program during the school year, the Kartause also serves as a first-class hotel and conference center during the summer months. The village of Gaming is nestled in the foothills of the Austrian Alps within an easy drive of Vienna, Salzburg, and other historic sites.

For those who register before March 15, the cost of attending is 95 Euros (approximately $120), plus the cost of travel, lodging, and meals. The cost will be 115 Euros after March 15. Special discounts are available for students.

To register or for more information, visit, or e-mail Dr. Colosi at


Franciscan University of Steubenville
Tom Sofio - Assistant Public Relations Specialist, 740 283-6450


Theology of the Body


Catholic Schools & Religious Education

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