|Fordham University: “The spirituality of unity, a gift for our times”|
|Written by Roberto Catalano|
|Thursday, April 07, 2011|
The spirituality of unity, a gift for our times, was the title of a study day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Focolare in North America. It was organised by a group of academics who are involved in a project at Fordham University.
Fordham University, founded and run by the Jesuits, has two campuses in New York. The main campus is in the Bronx, while the Law School is in Manhattan. A smaller site, it is in the heart of the “Big Apple”, near the Lincoln Centre, the New York Philharmonic, the Ballet School… and only a few blocks from Broadway. It is a part of New York rich in art and culture.
On this campus on the 5th April, a study day was held on The spirituality of unity: a gift for our times. There were contributions from academics in various disciplines: theology, religious studies, ethics. The organisers were a group from various fields of jurisprudence: lawyers, judges, lecturers and professors from this and other universities. The value of their presentations came not so much from their unquestionable academic expertise, but from the values and ideas they shared regarding the dimension of communion in law. Law and communion is the name of their project in fact, and after many years of effort and not a few obstacles, promoting the value of the person and of interpersonal relationships, they had put together this first class symposium. With their colleagues from other universities, they demonstrated how the spirituality of communion can be a point of reference for those working in the legal field.
The group is from many different backgrounds. Law professors Ross Pierce and Ian Weinstein are both Jewish, while Amy Uelman and Greg Louis are Catholics. Other collaborators include Deborah Cantrell, professor of Law at The University of Colorado, who is a Buddhist, and David Shaheed, a judge in the supreme court of Marion County in Indianapolis, who is an African American Muslim.
The day was based around four round table discussions: the spirituality of unity, an economics based on communion rather than self interest, personal fulfilment, and “love of neighbour” in the field of law. The conclusion to the day was delivered by Maria Voce, Focolare president, who answered questions from those present. These were varied and challenging, and covered economics, law, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, moral theology and the role of women in the Catholic Church. Maria Voce gave clear indications regarding the promotion of justice and truth in the legal world, encouraging everyone to bring important and essential values to even the most unlikely areas of human endeavour.
She spoke of how this means finding a place for concepts that can be easily misunderstood, or only partially understood, like the key idea of “fraternity”. This dialogue needs to continue, she said. We have to find a robust methodology for accepting differences and overcoming them. It is important to recognise that our own identity is forged through relationships. She spoke about the present situation of women in the Catholic Church, and, over and above the roles of men and women, the importance of the leadership of love.
Above all Maria Voce encouraged everyone to carry on witnessing to unity in diversity. “I known it is not easy”, she said, “and who knows how many moments of discouragement and disappointment you have experienced, but I thank you because the life of your cell within Fordham University has provided yet another way forward towards universal fraternity.”
In Pictures. Click on an image below to see a larger picture