Dr. Phan’s presentation discussed the challenges and opportunities of being a religious person today and the necessity of interreligious dialogue for the faithfulness of one's spiritual life. What are the theological issues posed by being interreligious? Is there the possibility of "multi-religious belonging"? What will "religion" look like if this being interreligious is taken seriously? How is religious identity to be formed? What is the point of "mission" and conversion?
Peter C. Phan, a native of Vietnam, emigrated as a refugee to the U.S.A. in 1975. He obtained three doctorates, the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Universitas Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, and the Doctor Philosophy and the Doctor of Divinity from the University of London. He was also awarded the honorary Doctor of Theology from Chicago Theological Union. He began his teaching career in philosophy at the age of eighteen at Don Bosco College, Hong Kong. In the United States, he has taught at the University of Dallas, Texas; at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, where he held the Warren-Blanding Chair of Religion and Culture; at Union Theological Seminary, N.Y.; at Elms College, Chicopee, MA; at St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, and at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where he is currently holding the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought. He is also on the faculty of the East Asian Pastoral Institute, Manila and Liverpool Hope University, England. He is the first non-Anglo to be elected President of Catholic Theological Society of America.
His publications range far and wide in theology. They deal with the theology of icon in Orthodox theology (Culture and Eschatology: The Iconographical Vision of Paul Evdokimov); patristic theology (Social Thought; Grace and the Human Condition); eschatology (Eternity in Time: A Study of Rahner’s Eschatology; Death and Eternal Life); the history of mission in Asia (Mission and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes and Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam) and liberation, inculturation, and interreligious dialogue (Christianity with an Asian Face; In Our Own Tongues; Being Religious Interreligiously). In addition, he has edited some 20 volumes (e.g., Christianity and the Wider Ecumenism; Church and Theology; Journeys at the Margins; The Asian Synod; The Gift of the Church; Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy). His many writings have been translated into Italian, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese. He is general editor of a multi-volume series entitled Theology in Global Perspective for Orbis Books and a multi-volume series entitled Ethnic American Pastoral Spirituality for Paulist Press. His writings have received many awards from learned societies.