To introduce so dear a friend and so esteemed a colleague, I repair for help to five distinguished, tone-setting keynoters. Each of these keynoters touches themes that reflect the life and the theological mission of Charles E. Curran.
My first keynoter is Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. In his Presidential Address to the Catholic Theological Society of America he said that Vatican II “implicitly taught the legitimacy and even the value of dissent.” The council, said Dulles, conceded “that the ordinary magisterium of the Roman Pontiff had fallen into error, and had unjustly harmed the careers of loyal and able theologians.” He mentioned John Courtney Murray, Teilhard de Chardin, Henri de Lubac, and Yves Congar. He could surely add the name of Charles E. Curran. Dulles said that certain teachings of the hierarchy “seem to evade in a calculated way the findings of modern scholarship. They are drawn up without broad consultation with the theological community. Instead, a few carefully selected theologians are asked to defend a pre-established position….” Dulles aligned himself with those theologians who do not limit the term “magisterium” to the hierarchy. He spoke of “two magisteria—that of the pastors and that of the theologians.” These two magisteria are “complementary and mutually corrective.” The theological magisterium may critique the hierarchical magisterium.