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Von Hügel Institute

for Critical Catholic Inquiry

The VHI is currently exploring different visions of one of its key markers, ‘catholicity’, and contemporary constrictions in its embodiment of that capacious characteristic. One key area of constriction, both historically and now, is the Church’s understanding of gender as well as the equality and representation of different genders throughout the Church. How are Catholics to think best about gender for the twenty-first century? What constructive proposals can be made to improve the situation strategically? Where are the best resources, both within and without the tradition, to help?

Mary McAleese is a Former President of Ireland, an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge, and a Patron of the VHI and Margaret Beaufort Institute since 2012. She is currently Professor of Children, Law and Religion at the University of Glasgow. Professor McAleese was Reid Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin and later Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies and Pro Vice Chancellor at Queen's University Belfast, where she is now Professor Emerita. Her area of research is children's rights in canon law and she is the author of Reconciled Being: Love in Chaos (1997), Building Bridges (2011), and Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law (2014).

Gemma Simmonds CJ is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus, an  Honorary Fellow of Durham University and past President of the Catholic Theological Association, UK. A Senior Lecturer at Heythrop College, University of London, she is now Director of the Religious Life Institute at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge. Dr Simmonds holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Cambridge and spent 26 years as a volunteer chaplain in Holloway Prison. She is the author of ‘Mary Ward: a Hidden Life in Painting’ in Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Kate Bugyis (eds.), Women Leaders and Intellectuals of the Medieval World (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) and is a frequent media commentator on the BBC.

This event is part of the 2019 #CatholicitySeries

Free entrance, no booking required. Canapés and drinks will follow.

Wednesday, 12 June, 2019 - 16:00 to 18:00
Event location: 
Garden Room, St Edmund's College



A unique institute of advanced studies inspired by Catholic thought and culture, focussed on contemporary global realities, and dedicated to encounter, dialogue, and transformation