Pope Francis meets Georgetown faculty and students in international conference on religious freedom

On Dec. 14, six Georgetown students, professors and staff members had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis. They were attending an international conference on religious freedom organized and sponsored by Georgetown’s Religious Freedom Project, part of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

The conference, entitled “Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives” and held from Dec. 13-14 in Rome, explored Christianity’s contributions to freedom, particularly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, despite persecution and opposition. Dozens of scholars around the world, including those from Georgetown, also presented the findings of a two-year study on the subject.

The six Georgetown representatives who attended the private audience were Kevin Sullivan (SFS’ 14), Nick Fedyk (SFS’ 14), RFP director Tom Farr, RFP associate director Timothy Shah, Kyle Vander Meulen, and A.J. Nolte.

“He literally exudes humility and kindness in his very being,” Sullivan said. “He walks very intently, takes the time to make eye contact and smile at everyone in the room, and chuckles even though I don’t think he understood some of our jokes.”

During the audience, the Pope learned more about the RFP and the purpose of its conference. “He told all of us, ‘Go on!’,” Shah said. “This gentle exhortation was a profoundly moving affirmation and inspiration for our work, at a time when far too many people around the world are denied religious freedom.”

After the meeting, the Berkley Center tweeted a photo (shown above) of Pope Francis standing in front of a group of faculty and students and holding up a Georgetown scarf.

“His gesture and good humor with the Georgetown scarf I provided for the picture connected our history and mission of the university to that of the representative of the Church,” Sullivan said.

William Peter Blatty (COL ’50), Georgetown alumnus and author of The Exorcistrecently submitted a Canon Law petition that has reached the Vatican. While the papacy has yet to release an official response to the petition, surely this conference and meeting with Pope Francis reaffirms our Catholic identity…right?

Editor’s Note: Vox has edited the post to include more details of the Pope’s audience with the Georgetown representatives.

Photo: Georgetown University

5 Comments on “Pope Francis meets Georgetown faculty and students in international conference on religious freedom

  1. Can Vox please stop omitting the fact that Manuel Miranda is the founder and head of the Stewards? Lots of interests never mentioned when discussing Blatty’s chagrins

  2. I don’t understand the “news hook” of making this whole post about the Blatty petition–which would have been timely more than 2 months ago when the latest development happened (source: http://www.gupetition.org/), but Vox curiously ran no posts about it–rather than writing about the actual meeting between the Pope and Georgetown staff/students, which is in and of itself really freaking cool. Why no reporting on when, where, how, or why this encounter happened? Maybe some quotes? Context? Anything?

    On a different note: “Former alumnus”? Was Miranda’s degree rescinded?

  3. The article is ignorant and foolish. First, Blatty’s petition has never cited blasphemy, yet one suspects the writer of this article so avers because with vaunted Georgetown education he hasn’t the vaguest notion of the meaning of the word “blasphemy.” Secondly, the photo was taken on the occasion of a Rome Georgetown sponsored conference relating to the growing worldwide persecution of Christianity, and Georgetown’s participation in such being a very good thing,
    even the signers of Blatty’s petition would be proud of Georgetown’s activity in that field. Meantime, here’s the foolish part: obviously the Pope is standing there with these noble purposed group, one of whom puts this banner — scarf? — into his hands for a photo in a moment of good feeling. Who knows whether Francis is even aware of the Petition, but even if he were the photo has zero significance regarding it. Get a grip, children!

  4. This (updated version) is a fantastic post. Super informative, and tells a pretty exciting story.

  5. I think the joke that the Pope especially did not get was the scandal he gives by this sign of personal approval for Georgetown’s many scandals. Baylor University’s president Ken Starr, just to the Pope’s right, gets the joke and chuckles when the Pope is made to hold a Georgetown scarf/banner.

    His Holiness is now becoming a question of prudential judgment.

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