2014 Paul Wattson Lecture at USF


The 34th annual Paul Wattson Christian Unity Lecture will be held at the University of San Francisco on Monday, February 24, 2014. William R. Burrows, research professor of Missiology in the World Christianity Program at the New York Theological Seminary and Managing Editor Emeritus, Orbis Books, will deliver a public lecture, “Rethinking the Ecumenical and Interfaith Path: Should We Accentuate What Unites or What Distinguishes?,” at 7:30pm in USF's McLaren Conference Center, Room 252.  

Dr. Burrows's lecture will explore the question, “Can we better understand what is really important to the other by learning the ways we differ?” This is what both David Tracy, the Catholic theologian, and Mathias Zahniser, the lifelong student of Islam, consider in search for deeper and more honest interfaith and ecumenical relations.

The editor of Jacques Dupuis Faces the Inquisition (2012) and Redemption and Dialogue: Reading Redemptoris Missio and Dialogue and Proclamation (1993), Dr. Burrows is the author of New Ministries: the Global Context (1980). He has written numerous articles and lectured on questions of Christian mission and interreligious dialogue. He is a past member of the executive committee of the International Association for Mission Studies and past president of the American Society of Missiology. His lifelong scholarly interest has centered on the adaptation of Christianity in non-Western environments and on Christian relations with persons of other faith traditions, particularly on how the Christian mission should be understood and carried out in an ecumenical age.  His “Faith Meets Faith” book series he began with Dr. Paul Knitter and edited at Orbis has been internationally acclaimed as one of the most important on this topic.

Dr. Burrows said he chose this lecture topic to create a dialogue open to mutual love and a union of the heart. “The reason Christians, Jews, and Muslims talk past each other is because dialoguers and scholars tend to try to accentuate what each holds in common, rather than the particular things that make them what they are,” said Burrows.  “In this lecture, I will use insights about ecumenical and interfaith conversations that allow each party to cherish and affirm their particular practice, instead of using a traditional ‘find the lowest common denominator’ approach.”

The Paul Wattson Christian Unity Lectures honor the memory of the Reverend Paul James Francis Wattson, S.A. (1863-1940), founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and pioneer for the cause of Christian Unity.  These annual lectures feature national and international leaders in the fields of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue who speak on current topics of interest.  Initiated in 1974 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, the series was expanded in 1980 to the University of San Francisco; then, in 1995 to the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax; and in 1996 to the Toronto School of Theology in Toronto.  In 1998, it was added to the ministry of the Friars at their Centro Pro Unione in Rome honoring not only Father Paul, but also Mother Lurana White, S.A., founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement.

The University of San Francisco is a Catholic institute of higher education founded by the Jesuits in 1855. The Friars have chosen to share sponsorship of this prestigious annual lecture program with USF because of their innovative and ecumenical reputation.

The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are a Roman Catholic order of brothers and priests founded in 1898 by Fr. Paul Wattson, SA at Graymoor in Garrison.  Since that time, the Friars have worked for reconciliation and healing through “at-one-ment” — the unity of men and women with God and with one another —  so that the prayer of Jesus “that they all may be one” might be fulfilled.  Through their mission and ministries they serve people of every race, religion, and walk of life. Their social ministries help the poor, the needy, and the homeless; people living with HIV; frail and elderly in hospitals and hospices; those in prison; and people seeking recovery from alcoholism and chemical addictions.  Their ecumenical work makes them leaders of the international movement to heal the divisions within Christianity and among all faiths.  Through their prayers and pastoral ministries, they bring spiritual renewal, unity, harmony, and reconciliation throughout the world and carry the Gospel message to three continents. For more information about the Friars, visit atonementfriars.org.

For more information about the Paul Wattson Lecture at the University of San Francisco, contact Anne-Marie Devine (415) 422-2697 or email abdevine@usfca.edu.