Lo Schiavo Bequest Hosts British Scholar

By Mary McInerney, Office of Development Communications Posted Mon, 10/13/2014 - 14:40

British Jesuit Frank Turner is interested in how Catholic social teachings engage or fail to engage the secular world, something Pope Francis also is keenly aware of.

“The pope has inspired this renewal of interest in social issues worldwide, and for some people outside of Catholic life it is difficult to follow,” says Fr. Turner, who this year joins the Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought at USF.

Fr. Turner is the 2014 Anna and Joseph Lo Schiavo Chair in Catholic Social Thought, a joint appointment by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Lane Center in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The chair was established with a bequest gift by Lina and Josephine Lo Schiavo, the late sisters of Father John Lo Schiavo, former USF president and chancellor, in memory of their parents to promote Jesuit ideals and Catholic thought at USF. Since 2005, there have been five Lo Schiavo endowed chairs.  

Fr. Turner focuses on integrating the political dimensions of the search for social justice with the exploration of Christian faith through philosophy and theology. As the Lo Schiavo chair, Fr. Turner taught a course entitled “Catholic Social Teaching in Dialog” to explore themes such as the role of government, economies in social context, and international development.

He also has broad experience in European and international justice issues, most recently as Secretary for European Affairs for the Jesuit European Social Centre in Brussels. After USF, he will head to Oxford University in Britain to continue his research.

Michael Duffy, director of the Lane Center, says Turner’s experience with the European Union will benefit students in the classroom.

“It is the global vision from the Jesuit lens,” Duffy says. “We don’t talk about Europe much here. We focus much more on the Pacific Rim. I think it will be good for our students.”

Born in northwest England, Fr. Turner was ordained in the early 1980s and worked in Liverpool at the Center for Faith and Justice. There, and later in Manchester, he lived in some of the poorest housing in Britain, and the experience had a deep impact on him.

Like the Pope, Fr. Turner sees how the “culture of prosperity” has caused many to ignore the plight of the poor. He is concerned that this has become a major issue in today’s San Francisco, and that perspective will likely inform his research here.

In 2012, Fr. Turner served as the Lane Center’s Summer Scholar-in-Residence, delivering a three-part lecture series on ethics and public discourse.  As the Lo Schiavo chair, he said he’s hoping to work with the International Studies department in the College of Arts and Sciences, and he is looking forward to sharing with students a global focus on Catholicism.

“They will learn,” he says, “how Catholics can find our place better in the world.” 

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