The following comes from an Oct. 23 posting on the Catholic News Agency website.
A spiritual theology professor has said that an internal report acknowledging the Catholic Theological Society of America excludes more-orthodox and conservative thinkers is regrettable, yet an opportunity for change in the group.
The National Catholic Reporter recently published a May 15 report of the Catholic Theological Society of America’s committee on theological diversity, which said, “the self-conception of many members that the CTSA is open to all Catholic theologians is faulty and self-deceptive.”
“As one of our members put it, the CTSA is a group of liberal theologians and ‘this permeates virtually everything … because the CTSA does not aspire to be a partisan group, both attitudes and practices will have to shift if the CTSA is to become the place where all perspectives within Catholic theology in North America are welcome,” the report continued.
Dr. Anthony Lilles, who teaches spiritual theology at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, Colo., commented to CNA Oct. 22 that he is “both saddened and encouraged by the report.”
Lilles lamented the news that “a forum is provided in which Catholic scholars deride the views of their peers” and “cheer derogatory remarks against the Magisterium,” saying that “these observations suggest the CTSA has betrayed the very purpose responsible Catholic theology exists to serve.”
The organization’s report described a variety of exclusionary tactics aimed at more conservative members, including a failure to invite conservative theologians to speak; the use of the term “thinking Catholics” to refer to theological liberals and “people who would take us backwards” to talk about theological conservatives; and cool attitudes towards theological conservatives in the organization.
In addition, the report continues, members of the society will make jokes “and snide remarks about, or disrespectful references to, bishops, the Vatican, the Magisterium, etc.”
“These predictably elicit derisive laughter from a part of the audience.”
Richard Gaillardetz, president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, explained in an Oct. 4 letter to the members of the organization that while the board does not share all of the concerns of the committee’s findings, the report is still “an opportunity for an examination of conscience regarding our treatment of colleagues whose theological and ecclesial commitments differ substantially from our own….”
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