Two Tulsa men were part of an elite group meeting at the Vatican last week
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, May 12, 2012
5/12/12 at 5:19 AM
Two Tulsa men, a Catholic and a Protestant, were among an elite group of leaders who met last week at the Vatican to prepare a report on social issues that will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.
Russell Hittinger, philosophy professor at the University of Tulsa, was coordinator of the event, called the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and the Rev. Ed Gungor, co-pastor of Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, went along to assist him by writing a daily report on the discussions of the group.
Among the 30 or so participants were the founder of Wikipedia, a former president of Peru, a Nobel Prize winner and the president of the European Central Bank.
Hittinger, a well-known academic in Catholic circles, was appointed by two popes to serve on this academy and another pontifical academy.
"Its purpose is to do research and organize information on social issues, demography, law, political science," Hittinger said, to have discussions with experts on what is going on in the world and to present that information to the pope.
The theme was "The Global Quest for Tranquillitas Ordinis" (peace).
The group met in the Vatican and stayed in the same building where Cardinals are sequestered during the selection of a new pope.
Hittinger said that 50 years ago, the primary global fear was nuclear war. Now it is economic disruption.
"The question of economic order came up every day," he said.
"The younger generation fears the economic market. No one seems to have any control over it.
"One of the main threats to peace in our time is not bombs and missiles, but people acting irrationally in the grip of (economic) fear. We spent a lot of time talking about this," he said.
A second major topic was the global revolution in communications, he said.
"What does it mean that a teenager in Indonesia can interact with a teenager in Canada?"
National borders that used to produce a certain stability are being erased, he said.
"What are the spiritual, economic and political implications of the communications revolution?
"This is of great interest to the Catholic Church, which crosses national and language lines. It really does affect the church," he said.
Gungor, a former student of Hittinger's at TU, said participants dealt with human rights, women's rights, the disparity between the rich and the poor and many other issues. They also discussed the growing economic strength of China and concerns that as China grows stronger, it might seek more power and control in the world.
He said it was a grueling four days.
Original Print Headline: Seeking answers
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
University of Tulsa philosophy professor Russell Hittinger (left) talks with Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences last week at the Vatican.
Tulsa pastor Ed Gungor was a recorder at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences last week at the Vatican.