As a Catholic university, the University of Notre Dame has a particular interest and expertise in matters of religious faith, faith-based actors, and the interaction between religion and state. Taking this foundational strength and applying it to the Nanovic Institute’s primary area of focus, Europe, raises several important questions:

  • What can we learn about Europe by looking at its faith traditions?
  • What is the role of faith in Europe today (for example, in regions where secularism or irreligion predominate, in fragile democracies, in areas where religion and national/political identity are linked, etc.)?
  • How do religious traditions and institutions continue to shape Europe?

This short list is only the beginning of the potential areas for research within this fruitful subject. The history, practice, and policies surrounding religion in Europe are so vast that such questions will always be worth pursuing. In this area, the Nanovic Institute has a significant history of inquiry through interactions with theologians, historians, members of the Vatican, partners from Catholic University Partnership institutions, and many others.

The Catholic Universities Partnership

One particular area of emphasis for the Nanovic Institute is enriching the connection between Catholic universities in Europe and Notre Dame. The Catholic Universities Partnership (CUP) serves as the venue for much of this work. This partnership allows member institutions from across Europe to share knowledge, offer solidarity and support, and participate in collaborative research.

Several research projects have been completed or are underway in collaboration with CUP partner universities.

The Trauma of Communism

The Trauma of Communism book cover.
Read the book by clicking the image above.

Collaborating with the Catholic University Partnership, Clemens Sedmak, director of the Nanovic Institute, and A. James McAdams, William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs and former director of the Nanovic Institute, edited a collection of accounts of the years of Communist governments in Europe called The Trauma of Communism (Ukrainian Catholic University Press, 2021).

In this volume, contributors from across eastern, central, and southern Europe and the United States share memories of the period of communist rule in the region and its impact today. The significance of the book became even more urgent because of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine beginning in February 2022.

Reflecting on the collection, Volodymyr Turchynovskyy, dean of the social sciences faculty and director of the International Institute for Ethics and Contemporary Issues at Ukrainian Catholic University and former Nanovic visiting scholar, commented,

“The past remains incomplete unless it is being completed through and in the present. The past has a creative social, moral, and spiritual energy that cherishes and serves the present day as it unfolds itself toward the future. I believe this is one of the many significant observations and revelations of The Trauma of Communism.”

An upcoming publication project from the partnership is also underway exploring the dynamics of faith and freedom during the fall of communism.

Ongoing research and projects

Several research projects are currently in process, including a major publication. Many of our projects incorporate collaboration with scholars and leaders in the institutions that make up the Catholic University Partnership (CUP).

  • Faith, Freedom, and the Fall of Communism project – this upcoming publication compiles the memories and insights of religious leaders in many of the formerly Soviet nations in Europe.
  • Resilience & Recovery project – Reflections from CUP members.

The Keeley Vatican Lecture Series

One enduring way that the Nanovic Institute connects with religion in Europe is through the Keeley Vatican lecture series, which has been bringing dignitaries and officials from the Holy See to Notre Dame every year since 2004. In the past, these speakers have included:

  • Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti (2022)
  • Rev. Dr. Hans Zollner, S.J. (2022)
  • Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums (2021)
  • Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher (2018)

These lectures are an opportunity to enrich Notre Dame’s connection with the Catholic Church’s official center, which also plays a key role in the religious landscape of Europe.

Discover more about the Keeley Vatican lecture series

Make your contribution

Are you a student, researcher, professor, or religious leader who wishes to contribute to the field of faith and religion in Europe? The Nanovic Institute is here to partner with you to make that happen.

Below is a link to a survey that should take less than five minutes to complete. It invites you to share your interests and how you might join the Nanovic Institute in our mission in this and other research priorities.

Fill out form

Student and Faculty Projects

More Faith and Religion in Europe Projects