Given the growing religious voice in public affairs and an anonymous $2-million donation, Fairfield University launched Monday its Center for Faith and Public Life Monday.
The center will offer the public a place to discuss and research the issue of faith and politics, and hear politicians and leaders talk about the role of faith in their life. It will also address local social issues, offer classes, disseminate information to media and conduct polls.
Fr. Richard Ryscavage, SJ, a former director of the Jesuit Refugee Service and sociology professor, was named the center’s director.
In his keynote address, Fr. Ryscavage said there's been a "major re-emergence of religion in public affairs" and the nation could be entering a "post-secular era," reported the Stamford Times.
"It is not a matter of creating theocracy in this country but rather creating a sophisticated understanding that religion has much to offer society," he was quoted as saying.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Celestino Migliore and a Bush administration official were among the 200 people attending the event, reported the newspaper.
The cardinal reportedly said the issue of whether a person with a strong faith can responsibly carry out public policy has been debated since the Old Testament.
He said the center would meet a Jesuit goal of serving the common good by exploring the issue fearlessly, honestly and lovingly.
White House official, Richard Boucher, deputy director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, read a statement from President George W. Bush, in which he said the creation of the center is "timely" and would contribute positively to society.