The University of Notre Dame Fremantle is hosting a free public lecture by Dr Jürgen Overhoff entitled “The Catholic Enlightenment in Britain and Ireland and the beginnings of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia.”
The event, on Thursday, October 26 in the Michael Keating room of the Fremantle Hotel building (ND42 – on the corner of High and Cliff Street) will commence at 5pm.
The evening will begin with an introduction by theology lecturer Dr Shaun Blanchard and will be followed by a short Q and A.
After Overhoff’s lecture, Dr Annemarie McLaren, an expert in Australian history in this period, will give a brief response.
Dr Overhoff is the former President of the German Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and currently professor of the history of education at the University of Münster.
Author of a biography of the American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, and co-editor of the volume Catholic Enlightenment in Europe and North America (Wallstein, 2019), Dr Overhoff is an expert on early modern intellectual and religious life.
Speaking to The Record ahead of the lecture, Dr Blanchard explained the term Katholische Aufklärung (Catholic Enlightenment) was coined by German scholars in the early twentieth century, and for many years remained marginal and controversial.
Recent decades, however, have seen widespread scholarly acceptance of the term.
“Enlightenment is increasingly seen as a pluriform process that had religious motivations and actors as well as secular ones,” Dr Blanchard highlighted.
“Consequently, many scholars recognize that Catholics from Spanish America to England to Rome participated in the Enlightenment process in a number of ways,” he said.
Intellectual orientations and values shared by enlightened Catholics included an openness to the new science and philosophy (Locke, Descartes, and Newton), a vision for the holistic reform of society (eg from ‘enlightened despotism’ to republicanism and democracy), and a concern with ‘reasonable’ theology or ‘rational’ devotion which often took shape in efforts to rid the Catholic faith of bigotry and superstition.
“Dr Overhoff’s lecture will place Australian Catholics within this global story, focusing on how Catholics from Brazil to Tuscany to Sydney balanced their loyalty to the church with their citizenship in the state, be that a Catholic nation or empire (Spanish, Portuguese, Habsburg) or as a minority in a Protestant empire (e. g. the Irish, English, and Australians),” Dr Blanchard continued.
Dr Overhoff is travelling to Australia to study the influence of British and Irish “enlightened” Catholics on early Australian Catholicism.
For more information and to RSVP, please email email@example.com by October 20. Light refreshments and drinks will be served.