Since he was elected and appointed the Bishop of Rome five years ago, Pope Francis has surprised Catholics. With his humility and outspokenness in support of the poor and marginalized in society, he was dubbed the “People’s Pope,” and seems to favor a re-focused Church.

Global scholars and Church leaders will come together Oct. 8-11 at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Franklin to discuss the leader of the worldwide Church in the international symposium “Discovering Pope Francis: Theological, Philosophical, Cultural and Spiritual Perspectives.” The symposium will feature presentations and panel discussions on the pastoral theology of Francis, his European and Latin American roots, and his papacy today.

“While the Pope tends to downplay the sophistication of his thought, a growing number of theologians are coming to realize that his papacy not only calls for a profound pastoral conversion of the Church, but also brings with it exciting and rich intellectual resources that can help bring new theological clarity to the relationship between doctrine and practice in everyday life,” said Dr. Brian Yong Lee, an assistant professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart and the co-chairman of the Discovering Pope Francis symposium organizing committee.

The symposium will start Oct. 8 with a prayer service, dinner and a presentation by Austin Ivereigh, a British writer, journalist and commentator who wrote “The Great Reformer,” a biography of the Pope.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, will focus on Francis’ intellectual roots. The papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the representative of the pope to the United States, will start the day with a discussion about the thought of Pope Francis, while the rest of the day will focus on the influence of several theologians and priests on Francis’ papacy, including Luigi Giussani, Gaston Fessard, Hans Urs Von Balthasar and St. John Paul II.

Speakers that day include: Bishop Robert Barron, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Massimo Borghesi, a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Perugia and an author of a biography of Pope Francis; and Rodrigo Guerra Lopez, a professor of philosophy at the Panamerican University and the author of “Catholics and Politicians: An Identity in Tension,” for which then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio wrote the foreword.

Pope Francis’ ecclesiological vision will be the focus of the third day of the symposium. Speakers and panels will discuss the effect of globalization on his papacy, his theology of the people and the influence of Henri de Lubac, a French Jesuit priest considered to be one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century.

Speakers that day will include: Susan Wood, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Theology at Marquette University who specializes in the theology of Henri de Lubac; Rocco Buttiglione, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a professor of political science at St. Pius V University in Rome and the author of “Friendly Answers to Critics of Amoris Laetitia;” and Guzmán Carriquiry, the vice president of the Pontifical Commission of Latin American and author of “A Commitment to Latin America,” for which then-Archbishop Bergoglio wrote the introduction.

The last day of the symposium will feature Peter Casarella, an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and a specialist in Latino theology, discussing the Pope, his theology of the People and the Church in the United States. A panel discussion with several speakers will then take place, followed by a lunch.

Mass will be celebrated three times throughout the symposium, on Oct. 9 by Cardinal Blase Cupich, on Oct. 10 by Archbishop Jerome Listecki at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee and on the closing day of the event by Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

Registration will be open May 15 for members of both the Church and the general public. Registration costs $175 before July 1, and $195 after. Visit for more information.

Lee said Sacred Heart is honored to host this event and supports the fostering of theological dialogue.

“We see this as central to our mission here at Sacred Heart, and we hope that the symposium can contribute to raising the level of Catholic theological discourse beyond polemics and chart new paths towards unity in Christ,” he said.