Peter J. Casarella, Ph.D., a newly appointed professor of theology at Duke Divinity School, was one of the contributors to a book that received a 2020 Excellence in Publishing Award from the Association of Catholic Publishers in May.
The book, Discovering Pope Francis: The Roots of Jorge Mario Bergoglio's Thinking, received a third place award in the theology category from the association, which presented awards to publishers and authors of the best Catholic content in 14 categories. Published by Liturgical Press in October 2019, the book was edited by Brian Y. Lee and Thomas L. Knoebel, and contains a foreword by Pope Francis.
Acknowledging the dangerous tendency to reduce theological positions to political ones that has always fueled divisions in the church and also plagues debates surrounding Pope Francis's teaching today, the collection of essays was born of a landmark international symposium designed to promote theological understanding by contextualizing the thought of Pope Francis─from his understanding of history to his theology of mission─conversations rarely heard in the U.S. Catholic Church.
The essay contributors determine that Pope Francis’s teaching authority is the result of a profound and distinctive, yet deeply Catholic, intellectual engagement with the theological and ecclesial traditions of the church. The contributors show not only the pope's rootedness in a broad Catholic and Christian tradition but focus on how his Latin American intellectual and social context adds unanticipated riches, even for Christians in the United States.
In his essay, "Pope Francis, Theology of the People, and the Church in the United States," Casarella examines the positive impact of Pope Francis's visit to the United States with regard to Latinos and Latinas, and looks in particular at the pope's address to the U.S. Congress and its implications for the U.S. Catholic Church and the U.S. polity in general. In that address, Casarella lifts up the examples of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton as four religious visionaries in our own culture who can teach us to learn how to unite a people.
The Association of Catholic Publishers is an organization of Catholic publishers, along with those who provide services and work with for them. It provides opportunities for members to further the Catholic publishing industry, promote Catholic publishing and reading, and engage those they interact with, including retailers, pastoral leaders, individual customers, and staff.
Casarella, whose research focuses on systematic theology, world religions, and the world church, will be joining the Duke Divinity faculty in July and was most recently an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.