The leading center for scholarly reflection within the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition
In Memoriam: Madame Birthe Lejeune (1928–2020)
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture mourns the death of Madame Birthe Lejeune, who died of complications of cancer on May 6, 2020. Madame Lejeune was preceded in death by her husband, Professor Jérôme Lejeune, who in 1958 assisted by Marthe Gautier discovered the genetic cause of Down syndrome. The professor spent the rest of his life in search of a cure for the anomaly, as well as defending the dignity and rights of all persons with genetic intellectual disabilities. Following the professor's death, in 1996 the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation was established to carry on the professor’s commitment to research, care, and advocacy on behalf of persons with genetic intellectual disabilities throughout the world.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture awarded the 2017 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation at a Mass and banquet on April 29, 2017, attended by more than 400 guests, including persons with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders and their families. Upon receiving the medal on behalf of the Foundation, the diminutive Madame Lejeune addressed her remarks to the guests with Down syndrome, telling them, "You are my husband's beloved 'little ones.' Thank you for being you!"
May Madame Birthe Lejeune, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Notre Dame has cancelled all large on-campus events through at least May 11, 2020. In light of that decision, and out of an abundance of caution, we at the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture have made the difficult decision to postpone the presentation of the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to Vicki Thorn until Spring 2021.
We will share more information and details about the rescheduled celebration in Fall 2020.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture mourns the death of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, who died of complications of cancer on January 12, 2020. Scruton was one of the foremost contemporary writers on aesthetics and political philosophy, penning works on philosophy, art, music, politics, literature, culture, conservativism, and religion; he also wrote novels, two operas, and a television series entitled Why Beauty Matters.
A noted expert on wine, Scruton's 2009 book I Drink, Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine argued that wine, consumed in the right frame of mind, is good for the soul, concluding that, "By thinking with wine, you can learn not only to drink in thoughts but to think in draughts." He presented further reflections on the themes of wine, philosophy, and aesthetics at the dCEC's 2016 Fall Conference on beauty in a talk entitled, "Tasting, Relishing, and the Meaning of Wine."
May Sir Roger Scruton, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.
In 2019, the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture celebrated its twentieth year of sharing the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition both on campus and in the public square. It was truly a banner year, beginning with the announcement on January 8 that Tony and Christie de Nicola had made a transformative gift of $10 million to endow the dCEC's work forming and mentoring students, engaging in interdisciplinary programming and research, and promoting a culture of life worldwide through teaching, exchange, and service.
In a speech Friday October 11 at the Notre Dame Law School, U.S. Attorney General William Barr decried the ascendancy of secularism and vowed to do all he can to assure continued religious freedom for Americans. (Watch video of the talk here.)
During the 20th century, the free society of the United States faced off against totalitarianism, standing up and defeating fascism and communism, Barr said. In the 21st century, Americans face the question of whether citizens in a free society can maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions, he said.
“Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as sort of otherworldly superstition imposed by killjoy clergy,” he said. “But, in fact, Judeo-Christian standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.”
Barr spoke in the law school’s McCartan Courtroom to law students and faculty, students associated with Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, which co-hosted the event with the Law School, and other invited guests.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame will present the 2020 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to Vicki Thorn, founder of the post-abortion healing ministry Project Rachel and executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, at a Mass and banquet on April 25.
“Vicki Thorn has dedicated her life to caring for women and men who have been wounded by abortion,” said O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. “Her work is a living witness to the unconditional love and mercy that lies at the heart of the Culture of Life. We are pleased to honor her with the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal.”
In the Queen's Birthday Honours announced on June 10, 2019, John M. Finnis, a Permanent Senior Distinguished Research Fellow of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, was appointed as a Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia. The honor was granted with the citation, "For eminent service to the law, and to education, to legal theory and philosophical enquiry, and as a leading jurist, academic and author."
The Birthday Honours, granted within the British Commonwealth nearly annually since 1860, mark the reigning monarch's official birthday by appointing various citizens into national orders as a reward for good works or meritorious service. The Order of Australia was established in 1975, and Companion is the highest division actively awarded.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame cohosted a pair of colloquia in Paris on May 27–29, 2019, at the Law School of the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité and the Centre d’études du Saulchoir. The conferences are part of an ongoing research collaboration on politics and Christianity, under the theme of “The Two Cities,” sponsored by the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité, and the Centre d’études du Saulchoir.
“We are grateful for our many partners in Europe who have helped us in our efforts to expand the global reach and impact of the de Nicola Center over the past few years,” said dCEC director Carter Snead. “This initiative in France, like our longstanding collaboration with colleagues in Rome, Florence, and Milan, provides a unique forum for genuinely interdisciplinary scholarly dialogue and exchange for the world’s leading thinkers in the Catholic tradition, as well as from many other perspectives and backgrounds.”
The University of Notre Dame de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture presented the 2019 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to the Women’s Care Center, the largest network of pregnancy resource centers in the United States, at a Mass and dinner attended by more than 600 guests and friends on April 27, 2019.
The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, named for St. John Paul II's 1995 encyclical on life issues, is the nation’s most important lifetime achievement award for heroes of the pro-life movement, honoring individuals whose efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of human life by steadfastly affirming and defending its sanctity from its earliest stages.
“The Women’s Care Center has built a model of service rooted in John Paul the Great’s vision of radical hospitality, welcoming women precisely in their moment of greatest vulnerability and deepest need,” said O. Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. “Theirs is a ministry of love, based not on the proposition of an argument but on an encounter with the unique and unrepeatable individual before them.”
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All of our work at the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is aimed at one goal: to share the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition through teaching, research, and dialogue, at the highest level and across a range of disciplines. In so doing, we enrich Notre Dame’s distinctive intellectual ecology—and we bring the university’s voice into the academic and public conversations concerning the most vital and complex matters of ethics, literature, art, music, social sciences, philosophy, theology, history, political theory, applied and theoretical science, public policy, and law. For more information on how to support the work of the de Nicola Center, visit our support page.
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