In light of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent announcement regarding his resignation, experts at Drexel University are available to assist the news media in reporting the story. They can discuss questions about the influence of the papacy, Benedict’s legacy, what this means for the troubled Catholic Church and what the future holds for Catholicism.
- Dr. Jonathan Seitz is an expert in early modern European religion. He is the director of Undergraduate Studies and an associate teaching professor in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences Department of History and Politics.
“The most important part of the story is that this pope is creating a modern precedent for how a resignation can happen,” said Seitz. “Centuries ago, people whose health declined generally didn't linger, but nowadays of course medical technology can keep one going for a long time. So the issue of an incapacitated pope living for years – or decades – is really a new problem for the Church. And the most ‘recent’ precedent, which was six to seven centuries ago, was a unique case and really couldn't serve as guidance.”
Seitz’s research interests include early modern Europeans, witchcraft and inquisition in early modern Venice and, most recently, magic and witchcraft in early America. His most recent book, Witchcraft and Inquisition in Early Modern Venice, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. He received his doctorate in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
- Dr. Douglas Porpora, a sociology professor in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Culture and Communication, studies religion.
“A central question is whether the new pope will continue in the direction of Benedict and John Paul II in rolling back Vatican II and re-establishing a more entrenched, conservative church,” said Porpora. “Liberal American nuns are currently being disciplined for neglecting more conservative issues like birth control and opposition to gay marriage in favor of peace and justice issues. Will such trends continue with new pope? It’s likely, since the College of Cardinals has already been stacked in a conservative direction."
In addition to religion, Porpora’s research interests include war, genocide, torture and human rights; macro-moral reasoning in public sphere debate; contemporary social theory; and moral and political communication. He has published widely on social theory. Porpora has a doctorate in sociology from Temple University.
For a full question-and-answer session with Porpora, visit DrexelNOW.