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Leonard Norman Primiano, Ph.D. Chair and Professor of Religious Studies, Co-director of the Honors ProgramCabrini College "Pope Francis represents a breath of fresh air for ordinary believers who have perceived the male Catholic leadership as a rather distant hierarchy. Pope Francis reminds the faithful that a core concern of Jesus was about caring for the marginalized in all of our communities large and small, national and international. "Primiano is a renowned folklorist and religious studies scholar who has published and presented topics including "How to Read Catholic Folk Art," "The Ethnography of a Liar: The Question of Deception in the Performance of Religious Life History," "Artifacts of Belief: Holy Cards in Roman Catholic Culture," and "Kitsch and Religion." He earned a dual doctorate in religious studies and folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a master of theological studies from Harvard University and received a master's in folklore and folklife, and a bachelor's in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2014, he was elected to the Fellows of the American Folklore Society and selected for The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award. He is available to discuss the pope and "That Everyday Religion," Catholic folk art, Catholic material culture including Catholic kitsch, and Catholicism and the media. Contact: Lori Iannella, [email protected]
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Coordinator of the Social Justice Minor Cabrini College "Pope Francis challenges every inhabitant of the earth -- our common home -- to remain open to personal transformation and to work daily for the transformation of the social order, to ensure the inherent human dignity of every person on the planet." Rademacher has presented widely across the United States and has published articles on topics including "To Relate the Eucharist to Real Living: Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day at the Forty-First International Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania" and "Allow me to disappear ... in the fetid slums: Catherine de Hueck, Catholic Action, and the Growing End of Catholic Radicalism." He is associate editor for American Catholic Studies and serves on the Board of Managers for the American Catholic Historical Society and on the Board of Directors for the College Theology Society. He earned master's and doctorate degrees in religion and culture from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is available to discuss Pope Francis and the Common Good, American Catholic studies, relationship between the church and the world, interfaith dialogue, development and diversity of radical Catholic movements in North America, and educating for peace and justice. Contact: Lori Iannella, [email protected]
Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology University of Dayton "Pope Francis has created a new interactive genre of papal teaching -- the papal interview. He talks about God and Jesus and the church in language ordinary people understand. The pope is such a ubiquitous part of the daily news cycle you'd think he was a Kardashian." Portier, president of the College Theology Society, is the author of books on U.S. Catholicism and theology and has contributed nearly 100 articles and reviews in the areas of theology, U.S. Catholic history, and Catholic higher education. His article "Here Come the Evangelical Catholics" was chosen by the College Theology Society for the 2005 Award for Best Journal Article. He frequently comments on aspects of pop culture and religion. Contact: Cilla Shindell, [email protected]
Associate Professor, Religious Studies University of Dayton "The pope's visit to the U.S. is likely to set off some explosions for Catholics. In his encyclical 'Laudato Si', Pope Francis made no secret of disliking the kind of consumerist, dollar-driven lifestyle that comprises much of the way we live here in the West. I think the pope's visit will bring American Catholics more starkly face-to-face with the disparity between our lives and the lives of our Catholic brothers and sisters elsewhere in the globe." Bennett is co-editor of the blog, where she writes on a wide range of issues in contemporary Catholic life, from sexual ethics to consumer culture to the intersection between politics and religion. Bennett maintains academic research in the following areas of Catholic thought: feminism, marriage, singleness, disability, technology use, and generational shifts in practicing the faith. She is currently writing a book called Single Life and the Christian Life under contract with Oxford University Press, and another book on hearing loss and the importance of contemplation. Contact: Cilla Shindell, [email protected]
Assistant Professor, Communications University of Dayton "Pope Francis' first visit to the United States as pontiff will certainly be a media frenzy. Many in the U.S. will try to politicize his message for their own gain, especially given the fact the presidential election cycle is heating up. Those on the left will try to depict the pope as more socially liberal than all his predecessors, while those on the right will look to his staunch opposition of abortion. This pope, however, is the most media-savvy since Pope John Paul II -- perhaps more so -- and will make every effort to stay out of domestic politics while still advocating on behalf of those on the margins of society. At the end of the day, the Pope will be contending with an enormous field of presidential candidates in the fight over how his message will be interpreted." Valenzano's research interests include rhetoric and public communication, political communication, religious communication and culture, and communication education. He has written about Pope John Paul II's death as a final homily and Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey. He teaches a course called "Priests, Preachers and Politics: Religious Communication." Contact: Meagan Pant, [email protected]
Scholar-in-Residence for Faith and Environment, Hanley Sustainability Institute University of Dayton "Pope Francis' encyclical is built on sound science, interweaving an understanding of ecosystems, climate change, pollution realities and the impact of humans on biodiversity with a call to become ecological converts who heed the cry of the poor. Highlighting solutions -- reducing deforestation, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources -- Pope Francis invites scientists, people of faith, elected officials and all humankind to make personal choices and to find public policy solutions. Like Noah, he says, we can play an important role in saving creation by taking action in a time of need." Jablonski, a Marianist sister with a Ph.D. in plant physiological ecology and global climate change, directs the 100-acre Marianist Environmental Education Center and focuses on ecological restoration through research and service-learning, bridging the faith and science communities, spirituality, and environmental justice. Contact: Cilla Shindell, [email protected]
Associate Professor, Religious Studies University of Dayton "Those who are trying to understand Pope Francis might put aside the labels: left and right, liberal and conservative and consider Francis's long formation under the tutelage of the Jesuits. Those teachings proclaim that all in this world is gift from God, that every aspect of life, however joyful or sorrowful, is gift, an opportunity to grow in love of God, and that one's whole life ought to be an ever-growing love of God that manifests itself in the daily actions of everyday living. Imagine yourself in prayer before Christ on the cross, and asking 'What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?' These 'Spiritual Exercises' of the Jesuits are what has shaped Francis in his life and his ministry." Yocum, past-president of the College Theology Society, is a well-known writer and lecturer nationally on U.S. Catholic life and thought. Her research interests include U.S. Catholic history and women in the Church, and the Catholic sex abuse crisis. Contact: Cilla Shindell, [email protected]
Professor of Religious Studies Kenyon College "The visit of Pope Francis comes at a critical juncture for the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, both in terms of the inner dynamics of the Church and its own membership, altered significantly by immigration like that of more than 100 years ago and changing the face of Catholicism in America, and in terms of the debates within the nation over questions of social justice, poverty, sexual issues (beyond what has been called 'pelvic morality'), and issues of war, death, criminal justice. It is a defining moment for Catholicism in America." Rhodes teaches primarily the history of Christianity. His other interests include third-world religious experience, monasticism (East and West) and religion and the arts. He co-authored the books "Faith of Christians" (Fortress Press, 1984) and "Eclipse of Justice: Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism" (Orbis, 1992). He is collaborating on another book, "Justice Beyond Heaven," on social justice movements in Ireland, Germany, and the U.S. His current research and writing projects include a book on popular literary and visual images of the papacy ("The Ultimate Pope"). Beyond generally discussing Pope Francis' visit, Rhodes can also discuss papal and pastoral letters regarding social justice and the economy; religious traditions regarding the Earth and environmental stewardship; the call of monastic traditions in the modern arena; popular culture and the image of popes, priests and nuns in literature, drama and film. Contact: Rose Shilling, [email protected]
Associate Professor of American Studies Director, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism University of Notre Dame "Papal visits to the United States are relatively rare and comparatively recent. For most of our nation's history, even the prospect of a visit from a papal representative, let alone the pope himself, sparked waves of anti-Catholic sentiment and, on occasion, violence. Not too long ago, even the suggestion that a pope would address Congress would have sent shudders down the spines of most American leaders, who feared papal interference in U.S. politics. Still, a visit from this pope -- Francis' first, and quite possibly his only, visit to the U.S. -- is especially significant. We can expect that Pope Francis will challenge Americans to live up to their founding ideals, and become 'a city on a hill' in resolving global crises such as migration and the environment. For understandable reasons, American Catholics have tended in recent decades to interpret the world and their faith through the lenses of U.S. politics and culture. Pope Francis will inspire them to view the world through a more unifying and healing lens, the lens of the gospel." The author of "American Saints," Cummings specializes in U.S. Catholicism and women and religion. Contact: Shannon Chapla, [email protected]
Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity University of Notre Dame "To Francis, America is not only the land of the free, it is also the home of rampant greed and audacious consumption. The visit will be filled with soft words of mercy, but we can also expect firm reminders that as one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful nations, we have a responsibility to care for the poor and the planet. While Francis is enormously popular in the U.S., the content of his message on the environment and poverty has yet to truly infiltrate the hearts and minds of the American public. During his visit, the pope hopes to transition from tweetable meme to effective agent of change. His scheduled visit to a prison, for example, is not only about mercy and love, it also highlights a failing of American society. Americans should expect Francis to deliver an exhortation to care for society's vulnerable, spiced with a touch of condemnation, and presented with lashings of papal charisma and compassion." Moss is an expert on the early Church and Biblical studies. Contact: Shannon Chapla, [email protected]