A Theological Wasteland

The following editorial was written by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston.
It first appeared in the June 20 edition of The Pilot, Bostonís weekly archdiocesan newspaper.

     One of the great gifts of the Church are those men and women who serve as theologians. Firmly rooted in the faith which illumines their intellectual inquiry, they deepened the Churchís grasp of revealed truth contained in the Churchís authoritative teaching. A Catholic theologian always works out of the Churchís affirmation of faith.

     Then there is the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). This group, unfortunately, has become an association of advocacy for theological dissent. Its most recent meeting gave the world a study of the Churchís teaching on the ordination of women to the priesthood. In a transparent ruse, the study does not concern itself with the substance of the teaching. Rather, it concerns itself with the nature of the authority of that teaching.

     Lest any deviation from the politically correct stance of the CTSA contaminate this "scholarly" work, no member of the task force supported the teaching of the Church as expressed by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

     What a pity that those who have a strangle hold on the CTSA are so turned in on themselves. The academic theological community has become victim to the various politically correct currents of academe. A significant number of those claiming the credential of Catholic theologian have not received a graduate education from Catholic institutions. Often lacking an adequate grasp of Catholic thought, they more easily fall into the prevailing intellectual culture of the secular university. It becomes difficult if not impossible for them to evangelize the culture which has formed and which sustains them.

     This most recent expression of dereliction of responsibility on the part of the CTSA is not surprising. It was predictable.

     How would a group of authentic Catholic theologians address the Churchís teaching on the ordination of women? For starters, the teaching itself would be a given. The difficulties it poses would be acknowledged. An effort would be made to elucidate the teaching.

     It is no secret that polls indicate many U.S. Catholics favor the ordination of women. Why? Because the U.S. Catholic population is subject to the same cultural currents as is the membership of the CTSA. It is no secret that some theologians beat the drums for a minimalist view of papal teaching authority. It is no secret that some administrators and academics view with alarm the notion that the truth illumined by faith should have a privileged place in a Catholic university.

     How many missed opportunities have passed the CTSA by in this and other issues. How pitiable it is to see the rich Catholic theological tradition put under the bushel basket of politically correct bromides. What a wasteland is the professional Catholic theological community as represented by the CTSA. What a contrast to the dynamic and prophetic voice of Pope John Paul.

     While the CTSA was about the business of marketing its soft dissent, the bishops of the United States were confronting the culture of death, challenging public opinion, and speaking the truth in love concerning capital punishment. What were our most helpful resources? Certainly not the CTSA. We drew inspiration from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul IIís encyclical, "The Gospel of Life."