Recent events held by the Las Casas Institute, Oxford

Recent events held by the Las Casas Institute, Oxford

The Las Casas Institute based at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, promotes critical reflection on questions of human dignity in the light of Catholic social teaching and theology.

Under the direction of Timothy Radcliffe OP, the Institute has been developing a fuller programme, including these two recent events.

The first was on the timely subject of Christianity in the Middle East:

Christianity in the Contemporary Middle East – the Life and Death of a Tradition?

This one-day conference took place at the Mathematical Institute in Oxford on Saturday 1 November 2014. Around 65 delegates attended the event.

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, Director of the Las Casas Institute of Blackfriars Hall opened the conference and gave a short welcome address. 

He was followed by Anthony O’Mahony, Reader in the History of Christianity, Heythrop College, University of London, who gave an introduction and overview of Christianity in the Middle East.

There were then four main speakers, who each considered a different theme, followed by a short Q&A after each address: 

  • Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University: The Experience of Christians in Turkey: A Cautionary Case and Comparative Lessons for the Middle East;
  • Professor Herman Teule, University of Louvain and Director of the Institute for Eastern Christianity: Christianity in Iraq: present situation and future challenge;
  • Dr Mariz Tadros, University of Sussex: Coptic Christianity in Egypt today: reconfiguring power, religion and politics;
  • Dr Hratch Tchilingirian, Armenian Studies, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford: Armenian Christianity in the Middle East: modern history and contemporary challenges.

“We believe” – but who or what are “we”?

This year’s Las Casas Lecture was delivered by Professor Margaret Archer, the President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (see main picture above, with Timothy Radcliffe OP, Director of the Las Casas Institute). The intriguing title was followed by a sophisticated analysis of what it means to say “we”; a word uttered countless times every day, but with little thought as to whether two “I”s make a “we” or if it’s more than that. 

Professor Archer took us through the positions of various leading philosophers, including John Searle, before claiming that what makes us more than a just a collection of individuals is shared concern for the common good.

Why is this important in the context of the Las Casas Institute, a project of the English Dominicans, intended to promote human dignity in the light of Catholic Social Teaching? How we think about “we” will affect how we understand what binds us together at the deepest level. “We” are constituted by our relationships with each other and only flourish together. This helps avoid a utilitarian understanding of morality, which calculates the total individual benefits of any action rather than seeking our common happiness.

You can be notified of future Las Casas events by emailing 

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