Villanova University to Honor Feminist Theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson with the Coveted Civitas Dei Medal

Elizabeth A. JohnsonSubmitted Image

VILLANOVA, PA — In recognition of her exceptional contributions to Catholic intellectual tradition, Villanova University is set to award the illustrious Civitas Dei Medal to Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, Ph.D. A distinguished professor emerita of Theology at Fordham University, Johnson has made significant strides in feminist theology and ecological ethics.

The prestigious Civitas Dei Medal honors Catholics who have exemplified the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness. Johnson will receive the medal during a presentation on Thursday, February 22, where she will deliver the lecture, “Ask the Beasts, Ask the Galaxies.”

Johnson’s journey in academia began when she earned her doctoral degree at the Catholic University of America. She spent a decade teaching there before moving to Fordham University, where she contributed to both graduate and undergraduate programs. Her leadership extends beyond academia; she has served as the president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society.

Her dedication to teaching and her influence in theology have not gone unnoticed. In addition to receiving Fordham University’s Teaching Award in 1998 and the Professor of the Year Award in 2011, Johnson has been honored with 15 honorary doctorates, one of which was from Villanova University in 2005.

Beyond her academic achievements, Johnson has been a pillar in the church community. She has served as a theologian and consultant on numerous Catholic education boards and committees, including the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Women in Church and Society.

Johnson’s research focuses on systematic theology, ecological ethics tied to creation, and the ongoing dialogue between science and religion. Her work is framed within the context of feminist theology, highlighting the connection to the human dignity of women.

Johnson’s written work has also received acclaim. She is the author of “She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse” (1992), which won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in Theology of God” (2007), among others. Her most recent book, “Come, Have Breakfast: Meditations on God and the Earth” (2024), is set to be released on February 21.

The Civitas Dei Medal, named after St. Augustine’s seminal work “City of God,” symbolizes the intellectual engagement between the Church and the world that Augustine championed. Johnson’s award underscores her pivotal role in continuing this dialogue, making her a fitting recipient of the Civitas Dei Medal. Her contributions have not only enriched Catholic intellectual tradition but have also fostered a deeper understanding of the intersection between theology, feminism, and ecological ethics.

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