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Massimo Faggioli, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Massimo Faggioli, PhD Massimo Faggioli, PhD

Professor of Theology and Religious Studies | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Villanova University


Massimo Faggioli, PhD, is an expert on the history and administrative inner workings of the Catholic Church and of the papacy.



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Areas of Expertise (7)

Pope Francis American Catholicism Church History Religion Catholicism and World/European Politics Historical Theology and Ecclesiology History of Christianity


Massimo Faggioli, PhD is a leading authority on the history and administrative inner workings of the Catholic Church with specific expertise in the papacy, Vatican II, the Roman Curia, liturgical reform, new Catholic movements and on Catholicism and global politics. Frequently featured in the national and international media, Faggioli can comment on a diversity of theological, religious and Church-related issues ranging from the historical to the contemporary.

Education (2)

University of Turin: PhD

Università di Bologna: MA

Select Accomplishments (4)

2018 Catholic Press Association Award (professional)


Third place for the book "Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century” (Collegeville MN, Liturgical Press, 2017) in the category “Faithful Citizenship / Religious Freedom”

Honorary Degree: Doctor of Theology, honoris causa (professional)


Received an honorary Doctor of Theology degree, honoris causa, from Sacred Heart University, during a Special Academic Convocation.

Jerome Award of The Catholic Library Association (professional)


The Jerome Award, established in 1992, is presented by the Academic Libraries, Archives, and Library Education Section through the Jerome Award Committee. Named after St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church (331-420), patron of librarians, it is awarded in recognition of outstanding contribution and commitment to excellence in scholarship which embody the ideals of the Catholic Library Association.

2015 Excellence in Publishing Book Award (professional)

Association of Catholic Publishers for the book Sorting Out Catholicism: Brief History of the New Ecclesial Movements (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2014), first place ex aequo in the category “General interest”.

Affiliations (13)

  • Contributing Editor, Commonweal Magazine
  • Columnist, La Croix International
  • Huffington Post Columnist
  • American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA)
  • America Catholic Historical Society (ACHS)
  • American Historical Association (AHA)
  • Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA)
  • Associazione Teologica Italiana (ATI)
  • Società Italiana per la storia dell’età moderna (SISEM)
  • Società Italiana per lo studio della storia contemporanea (SISSCO)
  • Rete Ricercatori Archivio Segreto Vaticano (Ricercatori ASV)
  • Staff writer, Il Regno (Italy

Select Media Appearances (8)

A new type of Catholic emerges: the conservative dissenter

Religion News Service  online


So while the John Paul II and Benedict XVI papacies had liberal theologians arguing that popes should govern more collaboratively, traditionalist critics of the current pope “have become reluctant to accept papal teaching (in its contents and forms) only with Francis,” said Villanova University theology professor Massimo Faggioli.

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Forum looks at pope’s first 5 years, ponders his vision for church

Catholic Philly  online


A conference featuring 60 speakers from around the world met April 13-14 at Villanova University to assess the impact of Pope Francis, now five years into his pontificate.

ope Francis’ interpretation of Vatican II “is the most important event in church history in the last four centuries,” said conference co-organizer and Villanova professor Massimo Faggioli, who has written extensively on the pope since his election.

Rather than rolling back Vatican II, the pope believes it is essential to orient the Catholic Church “in the world of today,” and to recover “the missionary dimension of the church,” Faggioli said.

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Lost in Transition: Francis, Benedict XVI, & the Unfinished Conclave

Commonweal  online


By Massimo Faggioli
Communication problems are usually not just communication problems: this is as true at the Vatican as it is anywhere else. The fiasco surrounding Benedict XVI’s letter declining an invitation to write the introduction for a series of volumes on Pope Francis’s theology was more than a PR snafu. It reveals deeper issues in the ongoing transition from the pontificate of Benedict XVI to the pontificate of Francis.

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What Did Pope Francis Know About Sex Abuse In Chile?

NPR's "On Point"  radio


Did Pope Francis know about clergy sex abuse in Chile and cover it up? We'll hear the evidence from his own commission.
Massimo Faggioli, historian and theologian at Villanova University.

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In Chile, pope met by protests, threats, burned churches

The Associated Press  online


As he does during every papal visit, Pope Francis produced plenty of surprises in Chile: He married a couple during a flight, stopped his motorcade to help a fallen police officer and wept with victims of sex abuse by priests …
“These violent acts may be a first in the history of the ‘traveling papacy,’” said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia. “It is striking also because Latin America is supposed to be friendly territory for Francis” — the first pope from the region.

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U.S. Catholic Leaders Signal Resistance to Pope’s Agenda

Wall Street Journal  online


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops chose a conservative archbishop for a key post Tuesday, signaling resistance to Pope Francis’s vision for the church among the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S.

“It is clear since 2013 that a majority of them sees the message of Francis’ pontificate, esp. on life and marriage, as not adequate for the Catholic Church in the USA,” Massimo Faggioli, a theologian at Villanova, said on Twitter after the vote Tuesday.

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A Vatican Shot Across the Bow for Hard-Line U.S. Catholics

The New York Times  online


Massimo Faggioli, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University and a contributor to liberal Catholic journals, said the Civiltà Cattolica article would “be remembered in church history as one of the most important to understand the Vatican of Francis and the United States and American Catholicism”...

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Trump Meets the Pope: From Trading Barbs to Seeking Common Ground

US News & World Report  online


Several days after Pope Francis was elected four years ago, he was criticised by Donald Trump for returning to the Church-run residence he was staying at in Rome to pay his bill in person.

first meeting comes after Trump sparred with the pope on issues such as migration, climate change and Islam.

"I think it will be a moment of truth. The differences are real and they have not been invented by the media, as some Trump supporters have claimed," said Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University

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Research Grants (2)

Faculty Development Center

University of St. Thomas 

Research on the history of the Roman Curia.

Faculty Development Center

University of St. Thomas 

Articles on the reform of the Roman Curia.

Select Academic Articles (5)

Evangelii Gaudium as an Act of Reception of Vatican II Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism: Evangelii Gaudium and the Papal Agenda

Massimo Faggioli


Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism is the first and most in-depth study of the most important teaching document from Pope Francis to date: Evangelii Gaudium. It explores the key components of his vision and agenda for the church - ecclesiological, social and dialogical - drawing together a range of globally and disciplinary diverse voices from leading experts in the field. Contributions explore Francis' distinctive style of papacy as well as the substance of his ecclesial revolution and reforms. Chapters engage with the most pressing challenges for the church in today's world and Francis' debt to key influences from John XXIII and Vatican II to Liberation Theology. The global context and contributions to the dialogue of this papacy are assessed and discussed in-depth.

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The Liturgical Reform and the “Political” Message of Vatican II in the Age of a Privatized and Libertarian culture Worship

Massimo Faggioli


The 1928 Presidential Campaign: Toward a Transatlantic and Institutional Approach to Catholic Histories American Catholic Studies

Massimo Faggioli

Vol. 126 n. 2 : 1-21

The New Elites of Italian Catholicism: 1968 and the New Catholic Movements The Catholic Historical Review


After the Second Vatican Council, new movements arose within the Catholic Church. In Italy this phenomenon crossed paths with the movement called 1968 and spawned a new elite not only in the Catholic Church but also in Italian Catholicism. These movements reacted to and participated in 1968 in Italy in different ways, marking the development of a deeply rooted diversity within Italian Catholicism. These Catholic movements represented an initial step in the ongoing replacement of old clerical elites in Catholic Europe.

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Vatican II: The History and the Narratives Theological Studies


The author discusses the relationship between historical studies and the hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council. He seeks to develop a critical understanding of the two-sided debate about how to understand and assess the event of the council by showing how one side argues not on the basis of historical understanding of the council but on the basis of “narratives,” which are constructs governed more by ideologies than by historical research and analysis.

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