The Mission of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life

“Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom.”

—Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor


The Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life exists to bring faithful Catholic scholarly reflection to bear on the most pressing ethical questions in contemporary culture—questions of marriage and sexuality, war and peace, life and death, as well as economic and social justice.

Through research, writing, and academic conferences, the Veritas Center seeks to combat what Pope Benedict XVI described as “the dictatorship of relativism,” promoting the natural moral law, illuminated by the light of faith, in order to defend both human freedom and dignity in the public square.

The Vision of the Veritas Center

The Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life takes both its name and inspiration from Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”). We believe, with the Catholic Church, that human freedom cannot flourish apart from truth, and that a restoration of truth as the foundation of human affairs is essential to a healthy culture.

Rooted in the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium and guided by the riches of Catholic social teaching, the Veritas Center strives to provide meaningful alternatives to the usual secular analyses of moral and cultural dilemmas.

It also strives to integrate both the methods and wisdom of multiple academic disciplines—from theology and sociology to political science and economics—to more effectively explore, understand, and address social concerns that affect the flourishing of the Church and her people.

Our Work

The Veritas Center uses a four-pronged approach to carrying out its mission.

  • First, it seeks to clarify and disseminate Catholic moral and social teaching by facilitating research, academic writing, and inter-disciplinary partnerships among Franciscan University faculty.To meet this goal, the Veritas Center has created a Faculty Associates Program to enable current Franciscan faculty from the social sciences, the humanities, business, and other areas to become involved in a collaborative way with the center’s work.The center will also launch a Visiting Fellows Program to permit leading Catholic scholars to spend time in residence at Franciscan University, where they can work on scholarly projects in keeping with the center’s goal of the pursuit of truth. Visiting scholars will also participate in the center’s activities and will contribute to student learning by interacting with students through informal gatherings and student attendance at scholarly presentations by visiting scholars.
  • Second, the Veritas Center attempts to engage those outside of the academic community in discussions about the pursuit of truth by encouraging and assisting Franciscan faculty members to publish articles on important social issues in newspapers and periodicals that are accessible to the general public.
  • Third, the center invites other scholars and teachers into the conversation about truth through its annual academic conference.
  • Fourth, the Veritas Center seeks to mentor a rising generation of Catholics, equipping them for effective engagement in the public square.Accordingly, all Franciscan students are invited to participate in many of the activities of the Veritas Center including attending the public lectures and conferences sponsored by the center. Moreover, future plans for the center include an Undergraduate Fellows Forum, which will provide a unique opportunity for a select group of Franciscan undergraduates to pursue, outside of the classroom, academic interests related to ethics in public life.
Dr. Anne Hendershott
Dr. Hendershott

Director, Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life
Professor of Sociology

Before coming to Franciscan University, Dr. Anne Hendershott served as professor of urban studies and the chairman of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program at The King’s College in New York.

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Prior to that she spent 15 years at the University of San Diego as the director of urban studies and chair of the Department of Sociology, as well as a year at Princeton University as the James Madison Fellow for 2005-06.

During her long and distinguished career as a sociologist, she has specialized in the study of the politics of abortion and its relation to religion. Her articles have appeared in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and National Review, and her books include The Politics of Abortion, Moving for Work, and The Reluctant Caregivers.

A native of Waterbury, Connecticut, Dr. Hendershott received her BA and MS degrees from Central Connecticut State University and her PhD in sociology from Kent State University. She is married and the mother of two grown children.

Dr. Stephen Krason
Dr. Stephen Krason

Associate Director, Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life
Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies

Dr. Stephen Krason joined the Franciscan University faculty in 1986, after serving for three years as Eastern Director of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

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In 1992, he co-founded the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and since that time has served as its president and chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as publisher of its scholarly journal, The Catholic Social Science Review.

A prolific author, Krason’s books include The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; Abortion: Politics, Morality, and the Constitution; Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism; Preserving a Good Political Order and a Democratic Republic; and The Public Order and the Sacred Order. He also edited or co-edited numerous books, including Parental Rights: The Contemporary Assault on Traditional Liberties; The Recovery of American Education; and the two-volume Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy.

Krason holds both a JD and PhD in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, as well as an MA in theology from Gannon University. He and his wife, Therese, live in the Steubenville area and have four grown children.

Dr. Benjamin Wiker
Dr. Wiker

Senior Fellow, Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life
Professor of Political Science and Human Life Studies

Over the past two decades, Dr. Benjamin Wiker has taught courses in philosophy, theology, history, the history and philosophy of science, the history of ethics, the Great Books, Latin, and even mathematics …

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at Marquette University, St. Mary’s University (MN), Thomas Aquinas College (CA), as well as Franciscan.

His 11 books include Answering the New Atheism, Ten Books That Screwed Up the World, A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature, Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists, Architects of the Culture of Death, The Mystery of the Periodic Table, and Politicizing the Bible with Scott Hahn.

Wiker holds a BA in political philosophy from Furman University, and an MA in religion and a PhD in theological ethics, both from Vanderbilt University. He lives with his wife, Teresa, and their seven children near Steubenville.

Veritas in Action

Restoring a Nation

The 2022 Veritas Center Conference at Franciscan University brings together leading scholars, elected officials, journalists, and students who recognize that America’s liberal consensus has enriched and empowered a narrow elite…

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