News and Events


  • The decision on CMDS v. CPSO has been handed down.  See the Euthanasia page. 
  • New signposting has been erected in Ottawa (1 Feb. 2018), in the area around the Morgentaler abortion facility. 

This 'bubble zone' prohibits free speech even in defence of innocent life. It suggests a quite different deployment of the lines from Tennyson that stand behind the Canadian anthem:

And that true North, whereof we lately heard 
A strain to shame us 'keep you to yourselves...'

Summum ius, summa iniura?


The Politicization of Gender: Disfiguring Western Culture

view this 'fascinating and disturbing' COLF presentation by Douglas Farrow

Cardus Symposium on Law and Religious Freedom

read the papers and watch the videos

Gender Mainstreaming and the Gender Identity Movement: political, doctrinal, and pastoral questions

with presentations by Moira McQueen (St Michael's College, University of Toronto, director of the Catholic Institute of Bioethics) and Douglas Farrow (McGill University, holder of the Kennedy Chair in Catholic Studies), followed by general discussion *

Thursday, 2 February 2017, 5:55 PM 

The McGill Newman Centre, 3484 Peel St.

* This event was disrupted by protesters, and then attacked in the pages of the McGill Daily, in good Röhmish fashion.  A brief public statement is available from Professor Farrow on request.  A related lecture will be held on campus so that the critique of Gender Mainstreaming can be properly heard. Apologies to those who were forced to endure the disruption, and particularly to Dr McQueen. (7 Feb.)

The 2016 Claude Ryan Lecture

Is political forgiveness possible?

Professor Nigel Biggar, Oxford
12 January, 6:00 p.m., Newman Centre


A symposium held on 18 November 2015, concluding with a lecture by Professor Rémi Brague on the Foundations of Law

See details here, including videos.

Beatty Lecture by Roger Scruton:

The Experience of the Sacred as Lebenswelt 

and CREOR conference on Thinking the Sacred: Philosophy of Religion, Aesthetics, and Culture 

with a musical performance 

11-13 April 2014

Media Report

Claude Ryan Symposium

13-14 February 2014

The new year marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of this thoughtful and devout Catholic philosopher, journalist, and politician who did so much to influence Quebec during turbulent times. The Newman Institute and McGill University (with whose fledging Catholic Studies program he was associated in his last years) are working together to focus on his intellectual and spiritual contributions.  More details here.

Catholics and the 'neutral' State

The Newman Institute of Catholic Studies presents a public lecture by Professor Douglas Farrow, Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies 

22 January 2014, Newman Centre, 7 pm

following the Academic Mass inaugurating the 60th anniversary of the Newman Centre at 5 pm, with reception at 6:15 pm

Symposium on Freedom of Religion in Education

3-5 October 2013

Education is one of the chief interests of families, of religious communities, and of society and the state; it is both a field of cooperation between private and public bodies and, by nature, a primary cultural and political battleground. It has long been a legal battleground as well, particularly where religious issues arise. From the famous 1940 Minersville case in the USA, for example, to the current Quebec case, Loyola v. Courchesne, the courts have been asked to adjudicate the boundaries between family, religion, and the state. The UDHR (art. 26), the Toledo principles, and various international covenants seek to provide guidance in negotiating these boundaries. The purpose of this PRPP symposium, presented in cooperation with Loyola High School and the McGill Newman Centre, will be to explore the question of religious liberty in both private and public education. 

Further information on the next page...

Birks Lectures 

The Principal of New College Edinburgh, Prof. David Fergusson (FRSE), who has previously delivered Bampton, Gifford and Warfield lectures, delivered the 2013 Birks Lectures October 15-16: fergusson_2013.pdf

The highly distinguished philosopher and historian of law and religion, Professor Rémi Brague, delivered the 2012 Birks lectures at 5:30 pm, Oct. 9 and 10, under the titles 'The Question Atheism Can't Answer' and '"Be" as Command'.

The Politics of the Eucharist

A panel discussion of Ascension Theology at the McGill Newman Centre on 9 February 2012, with Bishop Thomas Dowd and Professor Garth Green and the author. 

2010 Newman Lecture

The (Lost) Idea of the University Newman Lecture [.pdf].  Read the published version in Nova et Vetera 9.4 (2011) at

25 November, 5:30 pm, Moot Court

2009 Birks and Wadsworth Lectures:  Lectures on Faith and Society [.pdf]

13 October: Joan Lockwood O'Donovan Human Dignity & Human Justice: Thinking with Calvin about the image of God

14 October: Oliver O'Donovan Who can show us any good?

15 October: Oliver O'Donovan The Authority of Tradition

Roundtable: Is the rights revolution eroding or enriching religious freedom?

Panelists: Oliver O'Donovan, Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, Victor Muniz, Daniel Cere

2009 CREOR Lecture Series: Religion & the Public Sphere

Lori Beaman, Daniel Cere, Douglas Farrow, Preston Manning, Oliver O'Donovan, Margaret Sommerville, Charles Taylor

Listen to the Podcasts: McGill Podcasts

David Novak introduced his new book at McGill on 26 March 2009: In Defense of Religious Liberty.

What is Religion?

6-7 November 2008

An FRS symposium on religion and law, chaired by Daniel Cere, in honour of the Faculty's former dean, Barry Levy. Speakers and panelists included McGill professors Patrick Glenn, Victor Muniz Fraticelli, Arvind Sharma, Shauna Van Praagh, and Katherine Young, and Concordia professors Michel Despland and Lynda Clarke. The controversial definition of religion in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem (2004) provided a focal point.

An International Symposium on Religion and Public Reason

13-15 September 2007

In his controversial Regensburg lecture of 12 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sought to re-frame the interaction of religious traditions on the principle that ‘not to act reasonably is contrary to the nature of God’. He also called on the universities, and on all partners in the dialogue of cultures, to rediscover this principle by engaging ‘the whole breadth of reason’ – appreciating its grandeur and repudiating reductionist approaches to reason. This unabashedly hellenistic emphasis raises important questions about the relation between faith and reason, and about the role of religion in the exercise of public reason. Is religion necessary to sustain reason? Do different religions represent competing claims about reason and rationality as well as about revelation? Does religious diversity mean that public decision-making, even as regards moral or ethical matters or human rights, should seek to bracket the God-question? Or is that not possible without undermining the rational basis for deciding and acting?

Scholars from around the world gathered at McGill on the anniversary of the Regensburg lecture to consider these questions. Debates were held on 'Religion, Rights and the State', 'Reasonable Accommodation', 'Religion, Sex and the City', Regensburg and the Regents [.pdf], and 'Beyond the Clash of Civilizations', with distinguished panelists including Justice David Brown, David Blankenhorn, Philip Buckley, Roderick MacDonald, Margaret Somerville, Katherine Young, and other well-known public intellectuals from inside and outside McGill. John Witte Jr (Emory) delivered a powerful Beatty Memorial Lecture entitled, 'Rights and Religion: Enemies or Allies?' and Nicholas Adams (Edinburgh) a Claude Ryan Memorial Lecture on 'Narrative, Argument and Pluralism'. Douglas Farrow gave the opening address: Questioning the Great Separation [.pdf].

This Newman Centre symposium was co-sponsored by the Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy project (Faculty of Religious Studies), with support from the Faculty of Arts, the Beatty Foundation, and other partners. Professors Douglas Farrow and Daniel Cere were co-chairs. 


David Novak on The Jewish Social Contract

8 May 2006: A special guest lecture in Jewish legal and political thought by the University of Toronto's well-known J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies. 


Facing the Challenge of Cultural & Religious Diversity
Sept 29 – Oct. 1, 2005

A symposium exploring the challenge of educational pluralism in Canada.

  • Mapping the diversity of educational communities in Canada
  • Identifying public policies and educational philosophies that foster or suppress educational pluralism
  • Religious faith and education
  • The voice of parents in education
  • Controversial and divisive moral issues in education

29 September

Marguerite Bourgeoys Lecture: Helen Raham on Educational Pluralism in Canada

Panel: Jewish Perspectives
Eric Caplan ( McGill); Charlie Levy (Association of Jewish Day Schools); Barry Levy (McGill)

30 September

Peter Lauwers
What are the courts saying about religious freedom in education?

Elmer Thiessen
The Liberal Case for Educational Pluralism

Panel: Inter-faith and Non-religious Perspectives
Elizabeth Scanlan (Quebec Association of Independent Schools); Samer Majzoub (Muslim School Association); Patricia Kirkpatrick (Comité des Affaires Religieuses)

1 October

Elmer Thiessen
Liberalism and the Boundaries of Education in Religious Schools

Panel: Catholic Perspectives
Antoinette Taddeo (Villa Maria High School); Spencer Boudreau (McGill); Douglas Farrow (McGill); John Zucchi (McGill)


Helen Raham was the Founding Director of the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education.

Elmer Thiessen is author of Teaching for Commitment (MQUP 1993) and In Defence of Religious Schools and Colleges (MQUP 2001).

Peter Lauwers [now Justice Lauwers] was a constitutional lawyer with Miller Thomson in Toronto.


Congregation of Notre Dame
Faculty of Religious Studies / PRPP
Loyola High School
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Arts (Catholic Studies)
Newman Centre
Centre for Cultural Renewal