Lumen Summer 2023

Murphy Institute

Ryan Institute

The Integration of Law and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

A Bridge Between Faith and Business



In 2009, I was at a reception in the Vatican. One of the people present, a former director of a large European oil company and a practicing Catholic eager to serve the Church, approached me and said, “Monsignor, please never again a social encyclical!” I was surprised and asked why he did not want the popes to write on economic and social matters. He answered that the social encyclicals were utopian and incomprehensible for people working in business. I realized that a bridge was needed between the social teaching of the Church and the world of business that goes both ways: Christian values for business but knowledge on economics and business for the Church too. This is what the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought does. It builds a bridge between faith and business in society, helping entrepreneurs and managers work for the common good. The Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas is the logical and willing partner in this endeavor. Drs. Robert Kennedy and Michael Naughton established the Center for Christian Social Thought and Management at St. Thomas in 1992. With nearly 50% of St. Thomas students matriculating in business at that time, it was important to examine the larger

question of faith and work. In 1996, the Center was renamed the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought and became a part of the Center for Catholic Studies. Monsignor John A. Ryan was one of the great pioneers in Catholic social thought in the early 20th century and a St. Thomas and seminary graduate. Since its founding, the Ryan Institute has built a network of institutions and individual scholars who wish to integrate Catholic social thought in their research and curricula. We contribute to this growing international academic community through our research, faculty and curriculum development, seminars, conferences and publications. One of our publications, The Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection (2018), came out in cooperation with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Now in its fifth edition in English and translated into more than 12 languages, this document has inspired business schools and scholars worldwide. Together with the same Vatican Dicastery, the Ryan Institute maintains one of the largest international databases of institutes working in and implementing Catholic social teaching. 

The Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy was founded as a collaboration between the Center for Catholic Studies and School of Law in 2003. From its beginning, the Murphy Institute has sought to carry forward the project of reappropriating the

received financial aid through the Murphy Scholars program while working closely with the institute to support its activity and utilize its resources to conduct their own extracurricular projects. 

Monsignor Terrence J. Murphy

elements of the Catholic intellectual tradition that are relevant to law and public policy, and to apply the results of this project to legal education and issues in the Church and society. The namesake of the institute is Monsignor Terrence J. Murphy , 13th president of the University of St. Thomas. The integration of law and the Catholic intellectual tradition was the vision of Murphy, who was especially convinced of the importance of a Catholic law school in the Twin Cities. Over the past 10 years, the Murphy Institute has sponsored nearly 100 public lectures, seminars, and conferences as well as multiple publications. Additionally, over 30 graduate student fellows have

HOT TOPICS: COOL TALK In 2011, the Murphy Institute began the popular debate-style conversations known as Hot Topics: Cool Talk, a unique series that explores Catholic positions and other perspectives on provocative issues of law and politics. Over the past 12 years, experts from opposing sides have come together to present their arguments for or against a specific question. On contemporary and contentious topics – including abortion, Confederate monuments, physician-assisted suicide, qualified immunity, and legalizing recreational marijuana – Hot Topics models civil discourse with opposing viewpoints.



 The Center’s third institute, the Joseph and Edith Habiger Institute for Catholic Leadership, is established to help students

 The Leadership Interns Program begins. This two-year commitment offers juniors and seniors

 The annual student-led Talent Show provides a wide variety of entertainment for the entire campus community

exceptional leadership

develop the fortitude and character required to live as faithful professionals, ethical leaders, and joyful Catholics in a complex world.

opportunities and a Christ-centered formation.

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St. Thomas Lumen Summer 2023 Page 17

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