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CNN Vatican Analyst John Allen Explores Religious Freedom
John L. Allen Jr., senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and senior Vatican analyst for CNN, will give the annual University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 in Jones Hall, 3910 Yoakum. Allen’s lecture will explore, “Religious Freedom: Its Roots in Catholic Thought and its Place in Vatican Diplomacy.”

During the event, the UST Center for Faith and Culture will present the Faithful Citizen Award to Joe Tortorice, President and CEO of Deli Management, Inc., which operates the Jason’s Deli restaurant chain. The “Award to a Faithful Citizen” is conferred upon persons who are led by the Holy Spirit and who manifest the incarnate love of God for this world in their lives and actions as Catholics.

John Allen is the author of six best-selling books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs including, Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith, Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election and All The Pope’s Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. Allen writes frequently on the Church for major national and international publications. He is also a popular speaker on Catholic affairs, both in the United States and abroad.

The London Tablet has called Allen “the most authoritative writer on Vatican affairs in the English language,” and renowned papal biographer George Weigel has called him “the best Anglophone Vatican reporter ever.” Allen’s work is admired across ideological divides. Liberal commentator Fr. Andrew Greeley calls his writing “indispensable,” while the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a conservative, called Allen’s reporting “possibly the best source of information on the Vatican published in the United States.” His weekly Internet column, “All Things Catholic,” is widely read as a source of insight on the global Church.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) marked a sea change in Catholic thought with regard to religious freedom, although the theological roots of the idea go all the way back to Christ and his teaching of “render unto Caesar.” In recent decades religious freedom has emerged as the centerpiece of Vatican diplomacy, which among other things, has bred a new and far more positive understanding of the United States and its role on the global stage. Today, the most creative and passionate Christian reflection on religious freedom is emerging from the Middle East, where Christians are an embattled and shrinking minority and where separation of religion and state amounts to a survival strategy. This lecture will sketch the past, present and future of the Catholic approach to religious liberty, both in theory and in concrete geopolitical situations.

Joe Tortorice has seen Jason’s Deli grow from one sandwich shop to 230 eateries in 28 states. Jason’s Deli has earned food service industry accolades including ‘Best Place to Work’, ‘Best People Practices’, and inclusion in the ‘Top Ten Healthiest Restaurants’. The latest is the Silver Plate Award in Chain Fast Service by the Food Service Manufacturers Association. Parents magazine awarded Jason’s Deli the first-place spot in its Top 10 list of places for families to eat.

Tortorice is known for putting his faith into practice personally and professionally. He is a parishioner at Saint Anthony’s Basilica in Beaumont and a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Through the Jason’s Deli Fishing School, named for the “teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” adage, his company takes hourly workers without a college degree and turns them into managers, a source of fully one-third of his management team.

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza has lived in the service to God for 57 years. Ordained in 1954, Archbishop Fiorenza served as Bishop of San Angelo, Bishop and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and was the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1998-2001. The University of St. Thomas established lecture series to honor his legacy and to recognize his spirit and fortitude for religious dialogue.

The University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture seeks to develop an integrated approach to the American way of life and the values of the Gospel that is responsive to contemporary needs of American Catholics and other faiths. The Center offers a Master of Arts in Faith and Culture degree program in addition to several public lectures and events throughout the year.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available for $2 in the Moran Center Parking Garage at W. Alabama and Graustark. For more information, contact Greg Arbogast at 713-942-5066 or

Shown at top: John Allen and Pope Benedict XVI.

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