Program in Catholic Political Thought

At a time characterized by extreme polarization, alienation, and gridlock we need the wisdom of the Catholic tradition about political life more than ever. Where can we find it? 

There are very few academic institutions where a student interested in a career as a scholar and teacher can acquire a deep understanding and firm grounding in the Catholic tradition of political thought. So what better place to start such a program than at the national university of the Catholic Church, The Catholic University of America? We have pontifical faculties of theology and philosophy and a department of politics. Between these three faculties and their members, we are creating a place where students can acquire the tradition, scholars can extend and apply it, and the general public can look for it.

The centrality of conscience, the common good, subsidiarity, human dignity, human rights, and limited government: these are central values of the Western political tradition and were decisively shaped by the Catholic faith. The Program in Catholic Political Thought at CUA’s Institute for Human Ecology aims to make these ideas available to students in their original sources and with the aid of scholars committed to the truth.

Interdisciplinary Work, Academic Excellence

The Program draws on resources across the University to provide doctoral students with the means to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the tradition of Catholic political thought by:

Program Leadership


The Disintegrating Conscience and the Decline of Modernity

On 30 January 2024, Steven D. Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, discussed his new book, The Disintegrating Conscience and the Decline of Modernity, with Kevin C. Walsh, Knights of Columbus Professor of Law and the Catholic Tradition at The Catholic University of America.

Second Annual Lecture on Catholic Political Thought

On 25 January 2024, Dr. Gregory M. Reichberg delivered the second annual Lecture on Catholic Political Thought: “Thomism Goes to War.”

Dr. Andrew Latham, Dr. Valerie Morkevičius, and Dr. Daniel Philpott responded to Dr. Reichberg’s lecture.

The Common Good and the Modern Nation State

On 15 November 2023, Father Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P. and Dr. V. Bradley Lewis discussed the ancient idea of the common good as the purpose and standard of political life, within the context of Catholic Social Teaching and the modern state.

Soldiers of God in a Secular World

On 13 January 2023, the Program hosted a book panel on Soldiers of God in a Secular World: Catholic Theology and Twentieth Century French Politics (Harvard Press, 2021) by Sarah Shortall. 

Dr. Russell Hittinger and Dr. Peter Casarella joined Dr. Shortall for the discussion.


First Annual Lecture on Catholic Political Thought

On 6 October 2022, Dr. Russell Hittinger, Ph.D. delivered the inaugural lecture in the Catholic Political Thought series. His lecture was entitled “How to Inherit a Kingdom: Reflections on the Situation of Catholic Political Thought.”

John Courtney Murray Dinners

Hosted by the IHE’s Program on Catholic Political Thought, the John Courtney Murray Dinners take their inspiration from a Washington institution inaugurated by the late Michael Novak. Bringing together a community of scholars in the Washington, D.C. area, these dinners are an occasion for conversation about the deepest challenges that face us in life, society, and politics — drawing on the wide engagement with modernity exemplified by John Courtney Murray, S.J.

Past Speakers

Catholic Political Thought Scholars