Rev. Wilson D. Miscamble, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, will deliver Fairfield University's 2nd annual Thomas More Lecture


"Catholics and Politics in the Sixties and Today: Lessons from JFK, RFK and Eugene McCarthy"

Rev. Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, will explore the political lessons learned from the religious convictions of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy when he delivers Fairfield University's 2nd annual Thomas More Lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. on the Fairfield campus. Fr. Miscamble, who is currently on sabbatical at Yale University, will deliver a talk, entitled "Catholics and Politics in the Sixties and Today: Lessons from JFK, RFK, and Eugene McCarthy," to deepen appreciation of what ways and to what extent Catholicism influenced American politics in the 1960s and how it might influence American politics today.

"I am going to take these three leading Catholic politicians of the 1960s and explore how their religious convictions influenced their approach to politics," Fr. Miscamble said. "After these case studies, I will try to draw some conclusions regarding Catholics and political engagement in our own time."

Presented by the University's Center for Faith and Public Life, the lecture is co-sponsored by the Golden Stags, a group of Fairfield alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago from the University. Tickets are complimentary, but reservations must be made by calling (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415. The lecture will take place in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business dining room. A Golden Stags-sponsored reception at 6:30 p.m. will take place in the dining room. The public is invited.

Fr. Miscamble foresees the talk provoking engaging discussion from all those interested in aspects of faith, especially Catholicism and public life. "Knowledgeable Americans appreciate that, as the historian Walter Russell Mead observes, 'Religion has always been a major force in U.S. politics, policy, identity and culture.' "

Fr. "Bill" Miscamble joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 1988. His primary research interests are American foreign policy since World War II and the role of Catholics in 20th century U.S. foreign relations.

His next research project will examine the attempts of American Catholics to influence their nation's foreign policy formulation and implementation. Fr. Miscamble noted, "It will survey the interaction of Catholics and foreign policy from America's clear emergence as a world power at the turn of the 20th century through to recent times and the 'war' on terrorism and the war in Iraq. In addition it will examine what impact Catholic involvement on foreign policy issues has had on the Catholic Church itself."

The Australian native was the chair of Notre Dame's history department from 1993 to 1998. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Queensland. He received a doctoral degree in history from Notre Dame. He has served as rector and Superior of Moreau Seminary, the principal formation site for the Congregation of Holy Cross in North America. 

Fr. Miscamble is the author of "From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War" (Cambridge University Press, 2006);  "George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy: 1947-1950" (Princeton University Press, 1992), the recipient of the Harry S. Truman Book Award; and "Keeping the Faith, Making a Difference" (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2000).

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on September 5, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 43

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