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On Tuesday, 4 December 2018 (12:00-17:00 CET), Acton Institute will hold an afternoon conference in Rome on Freedom, Virtue & the Good Society: The Dominican Contribution at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). All are welcome to attend this event, which is free and includes lunch.

Join the conversation: #GreatDominicans




In the development of civil society, the emergence of modern economies, the establishment of limits on government power, and an understanding of the centrality of the human person, prominent Dominicans such as St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Tomas de Mercado have left a profound mark.

Their wisdom is still needed today as modern societies assume the validity of relativism, reject natural law, detach liberty from truth, and look to the state for solutions that are better found in civil society. Questions such as “What is freedom for?” and “How should we live together?” too often go unanswered. We need the insights of the great Dominican scholars of the past to help us navigate and overcome contemporary challenges.

This year’s conference follows our November 29, 2017 event, Globalization, Justice, and the Economy: The Jesuit Contribution, at the Pontifical Gregorian University which was attended by approximately 400 people and deemed an extraordinary success by the university’s faculty, students and staff. This event, which can be watched online, inspired Acton to organize this and, we hope, other such meetings in Rome.

Conference Speakers

Sr. Catherine Joseph Droste, OP
Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum)

Professor and Vice-Dean of Theology

Sister Catherine Joseph Droste, OP is a Dominican Sister of the Congregation of St. Cecilia, Nashville, Tennessee. She is a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome and also serves as vice-dean of the theology faculty and director of collaboration. Sister’s theological degrees (STB, STL & STD in dogmatic theology) are from the Angelicum.

Her other degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in history from Christendom College, a Masters in history from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Masters in Educational Administration from Marymount University in Washington, D.C. As a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, she has taught and served as administrator in many of the Congregation’s schools. In the areas of research and teaching her interests include Catherine of Siena, ecclesiology with a particular emphasis on the role of religious and women in the Church, and the life of virtue.

Dr. Samuel Gregg
Dr. Samuel Gregg
Acton Institute

Director of Research

Dr. Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in moral philosophy and political economy from the University of Oxford. He is the author of several books, including Economic Thinking for the Theologically Minded (2001), On Ordered Liberty (2003), his prize-winning The Commercial Society (2007), The Modern Papacy (2009), Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy (2010), Becoming Europe (2012), and For God and Profit (2016).

He publishes in journals such as Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy; Markets and Morality; Communio; Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines; Economic Affairs; Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy; Oxford Analytica; and the Journal of Scottish Philosophy. He is a regular writer of opinion-pieces published in America and Europe. In 2001, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society in 2004. In 2008, he was elected a member of the Royal Economic Society. He is also a Fellow of the Center for Law and Religion at Emory University. He also sits on the academic advisory boards of Campion College, Sydney; the La Fundación Burke, Madrid; the Institute of Economic Affairs, London; and the Instituto Fe y Libertad, Guatemala City; as well as the editorial boards of Markets and Morality and Revista Valores en la Sociedad Industrial.

Rev. Prof. Martin Rhonheimer
Austrian Institute of Economics and Social Philosophy; Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

President; Professor of Ethics & Political Philosophy

Rev. Professor Martin Rhonheimer (born 1950 in Zurich, Switzerland) studied philosophy, history, political science and theology in Zurich and Rome. He joined Opus Dei in 1974 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He has published on a wide range of topics, especially concerning the philosophy of moral action, virtue, natural law, Aquinas, Aristotle, and the ethics of sexuality and bioethics, as well as the political philosophy and the history of classical liberalism.

Currently, his work focuses on questions of economics and social philosophy, the study of the Austrian School of Economics and its political, social and ethical implications, as well as the development and actual state of Christian social teaching. He also critically engages with the idea and reality of the welfare state as well as related political-philosophical and ethical questions, in particular questions of social justice. Rev. Rhonheimer is a professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome (presently on leave) and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is president and co-founder, as well as managing director, of the Austrian Institute of Economics and Social Philosophy. He resides in Vienna.

Prof. Jay W. Richards, Ph.D.
Catholic University of America; Third Order of Saint Dominic

Assistant Research Professor, School of Business & Economics

Jay W. Richards is an assistant research professor in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and executive editor of The Stream. Richards has a Ph.D., with honors, in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also has a Master of Divinity, a Master of Theology, and a Bachelor of Arts with majors in political science and religion.

He is author of many books including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible(2012), co-authored with James Robison. He is also the author of Money, Greed, and God (2009), winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; and co-author of The Privileged Planet (2004) with astonomer Guillermo Gonzalez. His most recent book, co-authored with Jonathan Witt, is The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that J.R.R. Tolkien Got and the West Forgot (2014). Richards’ articles and essays have been published in The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Washington Post, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, The Huffington Post, and a wide variety of other publications. His topics range from culture, economics, and public policy to natural science, technology, and the environment. He lives with his family in the Washington DC Metro area.

Conference Host

Istituto Acton

Conference Co-Sponsor

Austrian Institute

Event Details

Start Date


Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum)
Largo Angelicum, 1
00184 Rome RM

Length of Event

12:00-13:45 CET  Registration & Lunch (advance registration required)

14:00-17:00 CET  Conference Program (broadcast live online)

This conference - including the lunch - is free. Advance registration is required for lunch and encouraged for the entire program.

Because this is a free program, travel assistance or scholarships are not provided.

Download Full Draft Schedule - Map to Angelicum

Language & Broadcast

Simultaneous interpretation in English and Italian will be provided.

This conference will be broadcast live online in English.

Join the conversation: #GreatDominicans

Download the Poster: English - Italiano