24 May 2022, The Tablet

‘Festival of Theology’ to mark Loyola Institute anniversary

Dr Cornelius Casey, the institute's retiring director, delivered a lecture on the theology of hope as a practical exercise.

‘Festival of Theology’ to mark Loyola Institute anniversary

Parliament Square, Trinity College Dublin, where the Loyola Institute was established in 2012 for scholarly research in Catholic theology.
Robert Linsdell/Flickr | Creative Commons

How people can be practically hopeful in the face of climate change was one of the issues addressed by Dr Cornelius Casey in a lecture to mark the tenth of the Loyola Institute at Trinity College Dublin.

In his lecture, titled “Theology in a Conversation About Hope”, Dr Casey discussed Charles Péguy’s theology of the theological virtue of hope in the poem, “The Portal of the Mystery of Hope”.

The lecture was part of “A Festival of Theology” which brought together international scholars to discuss the role of theology in the life of a university and how the academic study of theology differs from other academic approaches to the study of religion.

The two-day conference was sponsored by the Loyola Institute Trust to mark the retirement of Dr Casey as Founding Director of the Loyola Institute, which was established in 2012 to engage in critical reflection and scholarly research in theology in the Catholic tradition. It is financially supported by eight religious congregations in Ireland.

In his address, Dr Casey highlighted how in Péguy’s poem, hope is incarnated as the “little girl Hope”, walking between her two better known sisters, faith and charity.

Never fully grown, Hope is a source of newness, and a source that can never be extinguished, he said.

He highlighted that hope has a performative side: “Hope is something we do, as well as something that we desire”.

Speaking as Chair of the Loyola Trust, Fr Tom Layden SJ noted that the lecture was a conversation about hope and that in the early days of the Loyola Institute there were many conversations about the hopes for the institute and “how we could make theology available in a way that would give rise to thought, reflection and conversation”.

Fr Layden said the challenge was to make hope performative in the reality of climate change. “How can we be practically hopeful in that context, using all the resources that are available to us – the resources of creativity, of imagination, of seeing how things can be different.”

He paid tribute to Dr Casey as “a great servant of the [Loyola] project” and for his “great courage, creativity and imagination”.

Among the other speakers at the conference, Professor Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University provided an analysis of the state and role of academic theology vis-à-vis the neoliberal capitalist university.

“What is being made in universities is humanity. The university’s task should be to produce well rounded human beings willing and able to help others and serve societies,” Professor Sharon Rider of Uppsala University in Sweden said in her address.

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