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Neoconservative interpreters of the social ethics of Pope John Paul II have made the claim that John Paul shifted the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching in the direction of an embrace of “democratic capitalism” and other neoconservative ideals. This article challenges those claims. Major differences between the social ethics of Pope John Paul II and those of neoconservatives such as Michael Novak, George Weigel, and Richard John Neuhaus are highlighted. These differences include contrasting assessments of current forms of capitalism and of economic globalization, as well as differing views concerning economic democracy, economic rights, consumerism, the significance of structural injustice as a cause of poverty, the proper economic role of the state, the value of the United Nations, the importance of lifestyle simplification, and the urgency of ecological issues. An understanding of these major differences is essential in enabling Catholic Social Teaching to play a truly prophetic and constructive role in responding to current global crises.
Vatican II's announcement of the Catholic Church's acceptance of religious freedom in its Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) ought to have ushered in a period of ecumenical agreement on the topic of religious disestablishment. Instead, forty years after this most controversial document was promulgated, we find that public, academic, and even ecclesial discussions of the role of religion in public life are confused and in fact deeply contentious. The problem, however, is not that Dignitatis Humanae was incoherent or naïve in its understanding of religious freedom, but that we have failed to grasp its nuanced and coherent manner of reconciling a robust religious freedom with a profound view of the political significance of religious beliefs. Careful attention to this Declaration provides a solid foundation for continuing political theology and a public presence of religion without infringing the important value of religious “disestablishment.”
In the light of what appears to be a growing consensus that historicist and postmodern thought undermines the credibility of appeals to women's experience as a source of theological and moral knowledge, I assess whether these criticisms do indeed discredit appeals to experience as a legitimate source of knowledge and norm for feminist theology. While such critiques pose insightful challenges to assumptions underlying the appeal to experience, I argue that they do not definitively discredit the appeal to experience itself. Drawing on trauma theory and the work of Margaret Farley and Martha Nussbaum, I seek to show how women's experiences can be defended as a credible source of knowledge and a norm for feminist theology.
This article examines the life and work of Bernard Häring, C.SS.R., especially his valuable contributions to the Second Vatican Council and his dedication to the council's vision of renewal. It begins with an overview of Häring's preconciliar religious and theological formation in his family, seminary and university, during World War II, and during his teaching in Rome. The next section deals with Häring's work at the council, especially his efforts on the original Theological Commission to resist the rigidity of the first drafts, and his contributions to Lumen Gentium (“The Constitution on the Church”), Unitatis Redintegratio (“The Decree on Ecumenism”), Dignitatis Humana (“The Declaration on Religious Freedom”), Gaudium et Spes (“The Constitution on the Church and the Modern World”), and Optatam Totius (“Decree on Priestly Formation”). The final section considers Häring's mission to spread the council's message of renewal to the world, his conflicts with the forces attempting to repress the progressive agenda, and his courageous visioning of what a renewed church might look like in the future.
This essay discusses the use of Dorothy L. Sayers' essay “Why Work?” (1942) in a Freshman Seminar that inaugurates a four-year structured core curriculum in a Catholic liberal arts university. After a synopsis of Sayers' argument, it enumerates some contributions that her essay can make to a Catholic liberal arts education in (1) directing students' attention to the goods intrinsic to work, (2) situating work in a theological perspective, (3) introducing the idea that the worker's relationship to God is internal to the work, and (4) addressing work in terms of vocation. It concludes by considering some difficulties encountered in teaching Sayers' essay.
I dedicate this essay to a ten year old Afghan boy, Mohammed Noor. He was having his Sunday dinner when an American bomb struck. He lost both eyes and both hands. Who, with this child in mind, would dare sing “God bless America,” the hymn that would make God a co-conspirator with American war-makers? The sightless eyes of this child should haunt us to the end of our days and sear on our souls the absolute need to not just pray for peace, but to do something to make it happen.