Catholic theologians stand up to the Vatican
Over the last 50 years, the practice of thinking theologically in the Roman Catholic Church has slowly shifted from a practical craft developed by clerics to train the next generation of clerics to a wider field of study that includes lay academics and employs perspectives from across the scholarly spectrum.
As Catholic theology has branched out, bishops — who have the ultimate teaching authority in the church — have struggled to curb theological thinking they consider a potential source of confusion for the lay faithful. As a result, in recent years the bishops have criticized the work of a number of prestigious American theologians.
And in St. Louis last weekend (June 7-10), the theologians were girding for a fight.
Members of the Catholic Theological Society of America spoke in protest against the Vatican’s recent denunciation of Sister Margaret Farley’s 2006 book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Social Ethics” in which the bishops found “grave problems.”
We must “learn to say ‘stop’ to those who abuse authority only to preserve it,” the Rev. William O’Neill, of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, told the assembled scholars. [more]