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Scholars from St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Institute publish volume on moral conversion

May 23, 2024

Four scholars from the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University have joined in the publication of a new international volume edited by Krijn Pansters and Anton ten Klooster titled “Moral Conversion in Scripture, Self, and Society.”

The volume offers a broad historical, theological and philosophical reflection on the phenomenon of moral conversion by examining life-changing transformations within trajectories of spiritual and moral growth.

The four scholars from the Franciscan Institute are Dr. Luke Togni, the 2023-2024 research fellow of the institute; Dr. Aaron Gies, the associate editor of the journal Franciscan Studies and assistant professor of Theology and Franciscan Studies at SBU; Dr. Krijn Pansters, professor of spirituality at Tilburg University (Netherlands) and general editor of Franciscan Studies; and Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., associate professor of Theology and Franciscan Studies and executive director of the institute.

Togni’s chapter is titled “Moral Expansion: Differentiating and Relating Moral and Spiritual Conversion in Bonaventure’s ‘Sentences Commentary, Breviloquium, and Legenda Maior.’” In his chapter, Togni shows the “beautiful” pattern by which we grow spiritually through the “gradual expansion from resisting temptation and weakness to enjoying God contemplatively in moral action.”

Gies offers an intriguing look at the process of conversion by comparing conversion and aversion of the angels as this was understood by early Franciscans in his chapter, “Divisit lucem a tenebris: Primary Conversion in Early Franciscan Theology.”

Pansters opens the volume with an enlightening and comprehensive analysis of an ethics that is a durable shift from self-centeredness and pursuing self-interests to concern for the common good and creating shared goods. The title of his chapter is “Moral Conversion: From Satisfactions to Values.”

Couturier’s chapter, “From Vicious to Virtuous Institutions: Moral Transformation and Organizational Practice,” looks at how evil today becomes embedded and normalized in systems and structures. It discusses moral transformation that leads from vicious structures to virtuous ones, using principles derived from an analysis of the Franciscan fraternal economy movement.

The 19 papers in this volume demonstrate how the practice of self-awareness and the performance of social attentiveness can lead communities toward the prioritization of shared values.

“This volume on moral conversion brings together the insights of scholars from across Europe and North America,” Fr. David said. “The publication of scholars from the Franciscan Institute in this peer-reviewed volume demonstrates the respect that colleagues have for the high level of research being done at the institute. We are very grateful for this partnership.”

The volume is available from De Gruyter academic publishing at


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).