ND Law to hold second annual Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome, Italy

Author: Kevin Allen


The world’s leading defenders of religious freedom will gather in Rome from July 20-22 for the second annual Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit, hosted by the Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative.

The summit’s theme is Dignitatis humanae — the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom that spelled out the Catholic Church’s support for the protection of religious liberty and set the ground rules for how the Church would relate to secular states.

The inaugural Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in 2021 was held on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. This year’s summit in Rome underscores the Religious Liberty Initiative’s global reach.

“Religious liberty is a fundamental human right, and the protection of religious liberty is a global issue,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School.

“Everyone around the world has the God-given right to live their lives as their beliefs require — proudly and without fear,” Cole said. “The Religious Liberty Initiative at Notre Dame Law School has the potential to change the world by promoting and defending freedom of conscience for people and institutions around the world.”


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Established by Dean Cole in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for people of all faiths through scholarship, events, and the Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.

The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.

The summit will stimulate conversations between scholars, advocates, and religious leaders about the future of religious liberty in the United States and around the world.

Although in-person attendance at the summit is by invitation only, the schedule will include several panel discussions and speeches that will be recorded and available for the public to view on Notre Dame Law School’s YouTube channel.

The 2022 Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty will be presented to Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law, emerita, at Harvard Law School and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Glendon is being honored for groundbreaking legal scholarship as well as her distinguished service to the United States and the Catholic Church — all of which have had a global impact by affirming religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

Steven Smith, professor of law and co-executive director of the Institute for Law & Religion at the University of San Diego School of Law, will receive the Religious Liberty Initiative’s 2022 Award for Scholarship.

Another highlight of the summit will be the keynote discussion on July 22 between two of the world’s foremost philosophers and public intellectuals — Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary and Robert P. George of Princeton University.

The following events will be recorded at the Religious Liberty Summit and posted on the Law School’s YouTube channel for the public to view.

Wednesday, July 20

Panel Discussion: Protecting Religious Minorities

  • Nury Turkel
    Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
  • Farahnaz Ispahani
    The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief
    Former Member, Parliament of Pakistan
  • Dr. Rodrigo Vitorino Souza Alves
    Professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights, Federal University of Uberlandia
    Lead Researcher, Brazilian Center for Studies in Law and Religion
  • Samah Norquist (moderator)
    Public Policy Fellow, The Wilson Center
    Former Chief Advisor for International Religious Freedom to the Administrator, USAID

Panel Discussion: Bioethics

  • Laura Palazzani
    Professor of Philosophy of Law, LUMSA University of Rome
  • Lorenza Violini
    Professor of Constitutional Law
    University of Milan
  • Andrea Simoncini
    Professor of Constitutional Law
    University of Florence
  • Stefan McDaniel (moderator)
    Visiting Assistant Professor of Law
    Notre Dame Law School

Lunch Keynote

  • President Dallin H. Oaks
    First Counselor in the First Presidency
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thursday, July 21

Panel: Interreligious Dialogue

  • Imam Dr. Nader Akkad
    Grand Mosque of Rome
    Co-President, International Marian Muslim Christian Commission
  • His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos OBE
    Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London
    Papal Legate to the United Kingdom
  • Grandmother Mona Polacca
    International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
  • Fr. John Paul Kimes (moderator)
    Associate Professor of the Practice
    Notre Dame Law School

Panel: Education

  • Ana María Celis Brunet
    Professor of Law
    Director, Center for Law and Religion
    Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
  • Augusta Muthigani
    National Executive Secretary
    Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Very Rev. Fr. Friedrich Bechina, F.S.O.
    Undersecretary, Congregation for Catholic Education
  • Brett Scharffs
    Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law
    Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies
    Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School
  • Nicole Stelle Garnett (moderator)
    John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law
    Notre Dame Law School

Lunch Keynote

  • Dr. Barbara Jatta
    Director, Vatican Museums

Panel: Press

  • Eric Rassbach
    Vice President and Senior Counsel
    Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • John L. Allen Jr.
    Editor, Crux
  • Fr. James Martin, SJ
    Editor-at-Large, America Magazine
  • Kelsey Dallas
    Religion reporter and editor, Deseret News
  • Richard Garnett (moderator)
    Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corp. Professor of Law
    Notre Dame Law School

Presentation of 2022 Religious Liberty Award for Scholarship

  • Steven Smith
    Professor of Law and Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Law & Religion
    University of San Diego School of Law

Presentation of 2022 Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty

  • Mary Ann Glendon
    Learned Hand Professor of Law, emerita, Harvard Law School
    Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

Friday, July 22

Lunch Keynote Discussion

  • Robert George
    McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
    Professor of Politics
    Director, James Madison Program
    Princeton University
  • Cornel West
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Philosophy & Christian Practice
    Union Theological Seminary
  • G. Marcus Cole (moderator)
    Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law
    Notre Dame Law School

Learn more about Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative at law.nd.edu/RLI.

Originally published by Kevin Allen at law.nd.edu on July 11, 2022.