18th Conference of the School of Theology - MCE Research Centre

The Heart of Work

The Future of Work and its Meaning:
New Christian Perspectives
500 Years after the Reformation

Rome, October 19-20, 2017

The theme of this Congress is professional work as a human activity within the social context of the West.

Work is a constant in human life. For some it means fulfillment and joy, for all too many drudgery. Millions are anxiously seeking work, and for almost everyone work defines his or her station in life and in society. Workers still form a class in many countries of the world; in others, especially in Western societies, the boundaries between classes are more fluid.

In his speech to the Collège des Bernardins in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI noted that the key to understanding the full human meaning of work may be found within the Christian tradition. Men and women are called to participate in the creative power of God through work by assuming the task of freely perfecting creation while guided by wisdom and love. The Son of God worked for many years in Nazareth. “He sanctified human labor and endowed it with a special significance for our development.” (Pope Francis, Laudato si', 98) Work is a vocation, the place for growth as a human being and as a child of God. Moreover, work is the very matter of sanctification. 

The significance of human work has had various meanings throughout Christian history. Monks have found it in the motto ora et labora. Recent Catholic theology coincides with the XVI century Reformers and their recognition of professional work as a vocation. But also the Catholic tradition considers work a path for Christian sanctification (Gaudium et spes, 34).

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which began in October of 1517, this Conference will examine the Christian idea of professional work according to the Reform and Catholic traditions in order to both advance the understanding of work and to implement that understanding in personal and social life.

Christian thought will be compared with accounts of work in Marxism and the praxis of the Bolshevik Revolution, whose 100th anniversary falls in October of 2017.

Various disciplines and perspectives will be engaged in the Conference. Philosophy, history, sociology and economics will be involved in the examination of work in Western culture and its roots. Theology will be especially involved in the topic of the sanctification of professional work.  

Through the findings of the various scholars at this conference, our aim is to contribute to the formation of a “heart of professional work”: an appreciation of work as an activity that perfects the human being, and contributes to his and her happiness and to the progress of society, so that work might become for the Christian a way to sanctification and the completion of the Church’s mission in the world.

The official languages of the conference are Italian and English.


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