Earlier this year, Notre Dame Law School committed to supporting a consortium of Catholic law faculties and scholars in Central and Eastern Europe.
Last week, the Law School and the University of Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies sponsored the inaugural conference of the Consortium of Catholic Law Schools at John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin, Poland.
Deans, jurists, and scholars discussed what distinguishes Catholic law schools in teaching, research, and formation. The gathering — held in the room where Rev. Karol Wojtyla taught ethics from 1954 to 1978 before he became Pope John Paul II — was a moment of solidarity and encouragement across borders.
Notre Dame Law Professor Jeff Pojanowski was the lead organizer for this first gathering of the consortium, which includes scholars from Ukrainian Catholic University, Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Hungary, and Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University in Georgia, as well as Francisco de Vitoria University in Spain. The group plans to meet annually for scholarly exchange and discussions about the promise, challenges, and best practices for developing excellent and distinctively Catholic legal education in the region.
“It is a time of great challenge and opportunity for Catholic legal education and scholarship. This is as true in Central and Eastern Europe as it is in the United States, even though there are important differences in particular contexts,” Pojanowski said.
“The discussions among the participants, both during the panel sessions and informally, were rich, engaging, and encouraging,” he added. “Notre Dame Law School wants to be a part of, and facilitate, conversations among Catholic scholars about their distinctive mission, wherever in the world that may be. This gathering provided important opportunities for intellectual fellowship and for building relationships among institutions and scholars in a region that has played such an important role in the life of the Church.”
Of those at the conference, Dean Andrzej Herbet of the Law Faculty at John Paul II Catholic University said, “We will try to answer the questions: What distinguishes us as Catholic law schools? What are our common challenges, and how can we address them together?”
Notre Dame Law School was represented at the conference by Professor Pojanowski as well as G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law; Nicole Stelle Garnett, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and associate dean for external engagement; Monica Caro, program director for international and graduate programs; and J.S.D. candidate Ewa Rejman, a 2023 graduate of the LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law.
Two other attendees from the European universities also had previous Notre Dame connections.
Svitlana Khyliuk, head of the Department of Theory of Law and Human Rights at Ukrainian Catholic University, was a visiting scholar with the Nanovic Institute for the fall 2021 semester. Tamás Ádány, head of the Department of International Law at Pázmány Péter Catholic University, was a Fulbright visiting professor at Notre Dame Law School for the spring 2022 semester.
Dean Cole said it was important to hold a conference that brought together the Catholic law schools of Central and Eastern Europe at a critical moment in the history of the world.
“We have a war in Ukraine, we have tensions in Asia. We have difficulty all around the world, and right now the world is crying out for leadership,” Cole said. “That leadership is being provided by Catholic lawyers and Catholic law schools.”
Embedded below is a video that John Paul II Catholic University produced at the conference.