Abbot Klassen's presentation, "In the Beginning: Re-Imagining Creation and the Fall," will rethink the doctrine of original sin in light of the evolutionary account of creation. Since the time of Saint Augustine, Catholic teaching on the consequences of original sin has been firmly grounded in the biblical account of the fall in Genesis chapter 3 and Saint Paul's Christological account in Romans chapter 5. What happens to our understanding and appreciation of these primal Christian texts if we take the evolutionary account of creation seriously? This unique presentation will attempt to lay down the parameters of a new theological and spiritual synthesis.
After earning a doctorate in bio-organic chemistry from Catholic University of America, Abbot Klassen taught organic chemistry and other courses at St. John's University from 1983 to 2000, after which he was elected abbot of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. He leads a community of 150 Benedictine monks who sponsor and work at St. John's University, St. John's Preparatory School, and Liturgical Press, as well as parishes, hospital and retirement centers, mostly in Minnesota and in a monastic community in Fujimi, Japan. He made first profession as a monk in 1972 and was ordained a priest in 1977.
Mount Mercy University's annual Aquinas Lecture was established in 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy who taught in the Mount Mercy Philosophy-Theology Division. For more than 50 years, the Aquinas Lecture has brought philosophers and theologians to campus to speak on topics such as violence, order, love, justice, and the Church in contemporary society. The lecture is named after Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), an Italian priest who many view as Catholicism's greatest theologian and philosopher.