Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-zwmfq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-02T23:19:27.581Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Engaging Magisterial Activism Today

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2013

Richard R. Gaillardetz
Boston College


Image of the first page of this content. For PDF version, please use the ‘Save PDF’ preceeding this image.'
Editorial Essay
Copyright © The College Theology Society 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 The following historical survey draws on material previously published in my introduction to When the Magisterium Intervenes: The Magisterium and Theologians in Today's Church, ed. Gaillardetz, Richard R. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012), vii–xviiGoogle Scholar.

2 Aquinas, Thomas, Quaestiones Quodlibetales, ed. Spiazzi, Raimundo (Turin: Marietti, 1956), III, q.4, a. 1Google Scholar. Yves Congar contributed two classic studies of the history of the term “magisterium”: “A Semantic History of the Term ‘Magisterium’” and “A Brief History of the Forms of the Magisterium and its Relations with Scholars.” Both are anthologized in Readings in Moral Theology, No. 3: The Magisterium and Morality, eds. Curran, Charles E. and McCormick, Richard A. (New York: Paulist, 1982), 297–313, 314–31Google Scholar.

3 Schatz, Klaus, Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. Otto, John A. and Maloney, Linda M. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996), 167–68Google Scholar.

4 Texts of these and of the other encyclicals, other official Vatican documents, and the documents of the Second Vatican Council can be found on the Vatican's website ( under either the papal author, the curial office issuing the document, or in the Vatican website's resource library (

5 For a helpful survey of the manuals on this question, see Komonchak, Joseph, “Ordinary Papal Magisterium and Religious Assent,” in The Magisterium and Morality, 67–90, at 7078Google Scholar.

6 Schemata Constitutionum et Decretorum de quibus disceptabitur in Concilii sessionibus: Series Secunda, Vol. II, De Ecclesia et de B. Maria Virgine (Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1962), 48–9Google Scholar.

7 Komonchak, , “Ordinary Papal Magisterium,” 69Google Scholar.

8 Wicks, Jared, “Vatican II on Revelation—From Behind the Scenes,” Theological Studies 71 (2010): 637–50, at 650CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Wicks, Jared, Doing Theology (New York: Paulist, 2009), 222–23Google Scholar.

10 See, for example, the bold vision of papal primacy in ecumenical context set forth in his encyclical Ut unum sint (1995).

11 See the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde ecclesiae (1990), §29.

12 Hinze, Bradford, “A Decade of Disciplining Theologians,” in When the Magisterium Intervenes, 339Google Scholar (this essay is a revision of an earlier version that appeared in Horizons 37 [Spring 2010]: 92126CrossRefGoogle Scholar).

13 Hinze, Bradford E., “Ecclesial Impasse: What Can We Learn from Our Laments?Theological Studies 72 (2011): 470–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 See the public statement (February 10, 2012) by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB),

15 Quoted from “Bishops are Picking a Fight This Election Year,”

16 “Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the United States of America on their ‘ad limina’ visit” (January 19, 2012),

17 Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 2007)Google Scholar.

18 Lyon, David, Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000), 34Google Scholar.

19 Miller, Vincent J., Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York: Continuum, 2004)Google Scholar; idem, “When Mediating Structures Change: The Magisterium, the Media and the Culture Wars,” in When the Magisterium Intervenes, 154–74.

20 See the statement by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments regarding principles for liturgical translation, Liturgiam Authenticam, 40: “Great caution is to be taken to avoid a wording or style that the Catholic faithful would confuse with the manner of speech of non-Catholic ecclesial communities or of other religions….” ( This principle is clearly in evidence in the recent English translation of the Roman Missal.

21 Segundo, Juan Luis, The Liberation of Dogma: Faith, Revelation and Dogmatic Teaching Authority, trans. Berryman, Philip (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1992), 108Google Scholar.

22 Miller, , “When Mediating Structures Change,” 164–65Google Scholar.

23 Newman, John Henry, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 6th ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 47Google Scholar.

24 See Godzieba, Anthony J., “Quaestio Disputata: The Magisterium in an Age of Digital Reproduction,” When the Magisterium Intervenes, 140–53Google Scholar.

25 See Lonergan, Bernard, “The Transition from a Classicist Worldview to Historical Mindedness” and “The Dehellenization of Dogma,” in A Second Collection: Papers, ed. Ryan, William F.J. and Tyrrell, Bernard J. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 1–9, 11–2Google Scholar.

26 “The Toledo Talk,” in Bridging the Sacred and the Secular: Selected Writings of John Courtney Murray, ed. Hooper, J. Leon (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1994), 334–41Google Scholar. Notes from this lecture can also be accessed from the Woodstock Theological Center Library on-line (

27 Lash, Nicholas, “Authors, Authority, and Authorization” in Authority in the Roman Catholic Church: Theory and Practice, ed. Hoose, Bernard (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishers, 2002), 65Google Scholar.

28 Farley, Margaret, “Ethics, Ecclesiology and the Grace of Self-Doubt,” in A Call to Fidelity: On the Moral Theology of Charles E. Curran, edited by Walter, James J., O'Connell, Timothy E. and Shannon, Thomas A. (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002), 5576Google Scholar.

29 Mansi, Joannes, Sacrorum conciliorumnova, et amplissima collectio, (Paris: H. Welter, 19011927), 52, 1213DGoogle Scholar. An English translation of Gasser's relatio can be found in The Gift of Infallibility: The Official Relatio on Infallibility of Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser at Vatican Council I, trans. O'Connor, James T. (2nd updated edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008)Google Scholar.

30 Granfield, Patrick, The Limits of the Papacy (New York: Crossroad, 1987)Google Scholar.

31 Congar, Yves, Vrai et fausse réforme dans l'Église, rev. ed. (Paris: Cerf, 1968), 164Google Scholar; True and False Reform in the Church, trans. Philibert, Paul (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011), 154Google Scholar.

32 Taylor, Charles, “Magisterial Authority,” in The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity, edited by Lacey, Michael and Oakley, Francis (New York: Oxford, 2011), 259–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

33 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Challenge of Peace (Washington, DC: USCC, 1983, para. 10)Google Scholar; National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All (Washington, DC: USCC, 1986, para. 135)Google Scholar.

34 International Theological Commission, “Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria,”

35 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Notification on the works of FatherJon Sobrino, SJ: Jesucristo liberador. Lectura histórico-teológica de Jesús de Nazaret (Madrid, 1991)Google Scholar and La fe en Jesucristo. Ensayo desde las víctimas (San Salvador, 1999)” (October 13, 2006), Scholar.

36 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Notification on the book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism (Orbis Books: Maryknoll, New York 1997)Google Scholar by Father Jacques Dupuis, S.J.” (January 24, 2001),

37 Ibid., preface.

38 Cf. the complete dossier in When the Magisterium Intervenes, 183–275.

39 A typical example can be found in Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 4th ed., trans. Lynch, Patrick, ed. Bastible, James (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1960), 910Google Scholar. See also Salaverri, JosephSacrae theologiae summa, vol. 1, 781–96Google Scholar. For an in-depth treatment of the role of theological notes and censures see Cartechini, Sixtus, De valore notarum theologicarum et de criteriis ad eas dignoscendas (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1951)Google Scholar.

40 See Ernst, Harold, “The Theological Notes and the Interpretation of Doctrine,” Theological Studies 63 (2002): 813–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

41 Dulles, Avery, The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System (New York: Crossroad, 1995), 43Google Scholar.

42 Responsum ad dubium, Origins 25 (November 30, 1995): 401Google Scholar.

43 Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph and Bertone, Archbishop Tarcisio, “Commentary on Profession of Faith's Concluding Paragraphs,” Origins 28 (July 16, 1998): 116–19Google Scholar.

44 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Note on the Minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick” (February 11, 2005), “This doctrine is definitive tenenda. Neither deacons nor lay persons may exercise the said ministry, and any action in this regard constitutes a simulation of the Sacrament.”

45 O'Meara, Thomas F., “Divine Grace and Human Nature as Sources for the Universal Magisterium of Bishops,” Theological Studies 64 (2003): 683706, at 688–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

47 See McCormick, Richard A., Notes on Moral Theology: 1965 through 1980 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1981), 261–6Google Scholar.