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Recent activity among the American Catholic bishops in the social and political arena shows in some cases at least a tendency towards the “heresy” of integrism as defined by Karl Rahner, namely, the inclination to see the ethical teaching of the Church as a blueprint or template for secular society. This article surveys some examples of this tendency. It argues for a vision of the secular world as independent and grace-filled. The constructive proposal towards which this article moves, which is an effort to place the Church's ethical outlook on the secular world in the space between integrism and esotericism, is worked out in dialogue with Rahner, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Professor James Davison Hunter.
To resolve the impasse between various competing apocalypticisms, I suggest the writings of Julian of Norwich exemplify an eschatology that incorporates features of what Catherine Keller calls counter-apocalyptic while avoiding the risks of deconstructionist theology. Julian faced an impasse as she struggled to reconcile the traditional apocalyptic claim of the church that some human beings were damned with her own revelatory experience that “all would be well.” According to the long text of the Revelation of Divine Love, in facing this crisis Julian did not abandon the belief in divine omnipotence. Like Keller's position, Julian's apophatic counter-apocalyptices chews understandings of Christiane eschatology as the simple disclosure of divine power and justice. Instead, Julian's counter-apocalyptic is founded upon the vulnerability of Christ's body. Julian's vision of Christ's kenotic love transcends the impasse between eschatological determinism and Keller's process theology, and his love establishes a stronger foundation for a truly liberating eschatology.
Once the need to reform Catholic ethics became manifest with the Second Vatican Council, revision and adaptation of moral theology, the science that had served since the Council of Trent as official Catholic ethics, was often presented as the theological path to renewal. Scrutiny of philosophical, ethical, and theological presuppositions, however, discloses that the foundations of moral theology differ radically from those on which contemporary theological ethics must be based and that, accordingly, the way to true reform is not revision and adaptation of moral theology but the replacement of this self-contained science through construction of a fundamentally different kind of ethics, theological relational ethics as an essential, integral part of a reconstituted holistic theology.
This paper explores the debate on the public voice of religion from two perspectives: contemporary critical theory and the Catholic social tradition. Using the recent conversation between Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on religion and secularization as a point of entry, I argue that critical theory offers a framework of rationality that promotes dialogue between religious and secular individuals while the Catholic social tradition's principle of subsidiarity provides a practical model for how this dialogue can occur.
This article engages the on-going debate over the interpretation of Vatican II's documents. It argues that a careful examination of this dispute reveals that it is not primarily concerned with the existence of “rupture” or “continuity” in the council's texts, but instead is driven by fundamental questions regarding the nature of reception and the character of ecclesial authority. The article outlines the distinctive notions of reception operative in the debate over Vatican II and the way in which such views shape their proponents' hermeneutics of interpretation. To that end, it illumines a determinative link between larger paradigms of ecclesiological structure and related approaches to reception. The final section explores Vatican II's own documents for the ways that they address the authentic nature of reception and the character of legitimate authority. Ultimately, this study argues that Vatican II's affirmation of a dynamic notion of reception points a way forward for its own interpretation and, more broadly, for advancing the Church's overall self-understanding.
This paper selects three aspects of consumerism (individualism, the chronically reinvented self, and viewing nearly everything as a product or commodity) and assesses how they pose a challenge to liturgical worship, which is properly grounded in a Christian indentity that is fundamentally communal. When consumerism takes the form of shopping for a parish, it threatens to undermine this communal identity. At the same time, parish-shopping may well be an expression of a sincere search for a vital Christian community. This paper thus neither condemns nor condones parish shopping but stresses rather that there is work to be done to build up the sense of community in Roman Catholic parishes. Liturgical worship is an essential element in that process, but liturgy by itself cannot build or sustain community.
As the global community becomes increasingly attuned to the disastrous consequences of our long-standing environmental prodigality, Christians and Christian theologians are cultivating theological and ethical responses to the ecological crisis with the goal of fostering life-giving understandings of creation and ecophilic lifestyles. While many theologians and ethicists have heeded this call to read the signs of the environmental times, Schillebeeckx's creation theology remains an underutilized resource for developing an ethical response to this contemporary crisis. This article seeks to offer Schillebeeckx's theology of creation as fertile soil for nurturing an ecological ethic. This article highlights Schillebeeckx's growing ecological concerns, illustrates the connection between Schillebeeckx's theology of creation and his ecological consciousness, and transposes Schillebeeckx's emerging ecological themes into the register of environmental ethics. This ecological ethics emphasizes co-creativity with God in creation, ecological asceticism, following Christ's creational praxis, and actualizing the present practice of the coming kingdom of God.
Theologians are called upon to carry out many responsibilities, including calls from church and academic leaders to “stimulate the internal development” of other academic disciplines and to help students arrive at an “organic vision of reality.” How might theologians do so without infringing academic freedom and autonomy, or resorting to a heteronomous dominance of other disciplines? To answer these questions I propose a theologically-grounded definition of academic freedom, then show the implications of that definition for how theology might stimulate disciplines to look beyond their limited domains. This theological definition is founded in the desire of the mind for God—a dynamic eros for God that moves the mind from knowledge within any particular discipline toward completeness of understanding within an ultimate horizons. Fostering this movement from finite disciplines to theological understanding is the service theologians must render.