TORONTO ON April 11, 2012 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to announce that its annual gala dinner will take place June 7 at Spirale’s Banquet and Conference Centre in Toronto. The evening will include a keynote address by Professor Robert Ventresca, chair of the Department of History at Kings University College, London, Ontario, and the presentation of the 2012 Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life.
Professor Ventresca will discuss popular representations and perceptions of the Church’s role during the Holocaust and the challenges and opportunities faced in reconciling popular memory with historical knowledge. A graduate of Kings, he received his PhD in History from the University of Toronto in 2000. He teaches courses on the history of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, with a particular focus on Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Stalinism. Current research and teaching interests include church-state relations in 19th and 20th century Europe, the Catholic Church in the modern era, the history of fascism and its legacy in postwar Italy, and the history of Catholic-Jewish relations in modern times.
Professor Ventresca has written a new biography of Pope Pius XII (Harvard University Press, forthcoming).  The book chronicles the long life and eventful pontificate of Pius XII, from his early childhood in late 19th century Italy, to the years of his pontificate which spanned the Second World War and the early Cold War era. Professor Ventresca has also contributed to the television documentary ‘A Hand of Peace’: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust which was produced by The Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.

The winner of the Archbishop Exner Award will be announced in May. Created to honour Archbishop Exner, the League’s chaplain, on the occasion of his retirement in 2004, the award honours outstanding achievement by a layperson in fields including philanthropy, education, advocacy, media and the arts. Last year’s winner was broadcaster Michael Coren, while the previous year’s winner was the Quebec family that initiated the court challenge for the right to exempt their children from that province’s Ethics and Religious Culture course.
CCRL members living in the “M” and “L” postal codes will be mailed invitations and ticket information. Others may request tickets by contacting the League.