John Courtney Murray (1904-1967), Jesuit theologian, was born in New York City, and entered the New York province of the Society of Jesus in 1920. After completing courses in classical and philosophical studies at Boston College he taught Latin and English literature at the Ateneo de Manila, Philippines. He returned to the United States for theological studies at Woodstock College, Maryland, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1933, then pursued further studies at the Gregorian University (Rome). In 1937 he completed a doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) with a specialization in the doctrines of grace and the Trinity. Returning to Woodstock, he taught Catholic trinitarian theology and, in 1941, assumed editorship of the Jesuit journal, Theological Studies.
His European experience brought him to study the doctrine on the relationship between Church and State, and his contributions on the issue were widely published in the United States as well as in Europe. His positions brought him to be censored, in 1955.
He was invited as a Peritus at the Second Vatican Council in 1963 and he worked with Pietro Pavan to the Declaration on Religious Freedom.
The research project on Courtney Murray aims at framing the American background in which he grew up and was educated, studying the history of the American Catholic Church in the 20th century, its relations with the American government and its positions toward the particular American constitutional asset.