Father Peter French Ryan, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
He succeeds Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, who announced his resignation in January. Father Weinandy began his work at the USCCB in 2005. Father Ryan’s appointment is effective August 19.
Father Ryan has been director of spiritual formation and professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Gennon Seminary in St. Louis since January 2012. Prior to that he was professor of moral theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, 2001-2011, and assistant professor of theology at Loyola College in Maryland, 1994-2001.
Father Ryan holds a licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome; a master of divinity degree from Regis College, Toronto; a master of arts degree in English and a licentiate in philosophy from Gonzaga University, Spokane; and a bachelor of arts in political science from Loyola College in Maryland.
He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and has served three terms on its executive board. He also was been a senior fellow with The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person, founded in 1998 to renew, deepen, and promote the Western tradition of moral reflection.
Father Ryan has written extensively on ethical and theological issues and been published in scholarly journals, including Theological Studies, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and American Journal of Jurisprudence. He speaks and reads English, Italian, French and German and also reads Latin and Spanish.
The executive director of the doctrine secretariat oversees the work and staff of the secretariat for the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and also assists the bishops’ Subcommittee on Health Care Issues and Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts.
Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB General Secretary, thanked the Jesuits for permitting Father Ryan to join the USCCB staff and highlighted the relevance of his background.
“Father Ryan’s considerable expertise on bioethical issues is vital as contemporary society addresses moral challenges inherent in biotechnology, medical ethics and environmentalism,” Msgr. Jenkins said. “He brings a depth of theological knowledge to these and other areas, including the study and teaching of systematic theology, that are critical to the Church today and to the strategic priorities adopted by the bishops.”
Msgr. Jenkins also applauded the contributions of Father Weinandy.
“Father Weinandy has offered a steady hand in serving the U.S. bishops in their immersion in today’s theological issues,” he said. “He leaves the USCCB knowing he has been a valued contributor to its work. He has earned the sabbatical he now takes as he prepares for further work in academia.”