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Spring Meeting 2014

April 25-26, 2014

Catholic Theology in the 21st Century

Tucson Room at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), Berkeley, California


Friday, Apr 25
1:30-2pm - Arrival and Registration
2-5 pm - Paper Session
5-7 pm - Business Meeting, Social Time, Dinner
7-8:30 pm - Public Lecture, Thomas Massaro (JST) & Michael Sweeney (DSPT)

Saturday, Apr 26
9–9:30 am - Continental Breakfast
9:30 am-noon - Paper Session

You may register in advance or at the meeting.

Paper Session - Friday, April 25, 2-5 pm

Thomas Massaro (JST)

"Catholics, Conscience, and Participation in the Public Life: From Vatican II into the Future" (pdf)

Abstract: The Second Vatican Council was a “game-changer” regarding how Roman Catholics understand the workings of conscience and apply the dictates of conscience to issues that involve the public arena. This paper will first situate and review the contribution of the Council, unpacking the content of the key documentsGaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae regarding conscience. Then it will survey the major developments regarding Catholics, conscience and American public life in the half-century since the Council, proposing some directions for future development and the full engagement of Catholics in the public life of our increasingly pluralistic society.

Respondent is David DeCosse (SCU)

Michael Sweeney (DSPT)

"Towards a Secular Theology?" ((pdf)

: Current theological study has been influenced, on the one hand, by the research model for higher education adapted from the German 19th C. universities and, on the other hand, by the Tridentine concern for the preparation of pastors to govern the Church, institutionalized in the seminaries.  Vatican Council II and the subsequent papal magisterium have called for a renewal of the Church’s mission to the secular world.  This call has gone largely unheeded, in that academic theologians have concentrated almost solely upon hermeneutical questions concerning how the Council should be interpreted.  To heed the call of the magisterium will require both a reconceiving of the theological disciplines and the development of a theology of the world to support the formation of lay women and men as lay.

Respondent is Andrew Porter (GTU)

Public Lecture - Friday, 7-8:30 pm

Public Lecture, Thomas Massaro (JST) & Michael Sweeney (DSPT)

Thomas Massaro, Dean of JST, and Michael Sweeney, President of DSPT, will be in conversation about their contexts as well as sharing their thoughts as to the challenges and opportunities of Catholic theology in the 21st century.

Paper Session - Saturday, April 26, 9:30 am-noon

Sally Vance-Trembath (SCU)

"The Church’s Third Millennium: The Age of Great Bishops?" (pdf)

When Karl Rahner was asked to describe the most important task for the Church with regard to the teaching of Vatican II, he said it was making the local Church as important as the universal Church. We are currently in a leadership crisis in the institutional Church. Many well-educated and professionally competent Catholics are in great need of a new kind of bishop. This is not to say we necessarily need new individual men, rather it is to suggest that we need the bishops themselves to reconsider the way they exercise their ministry. I suggest that they look to two sources as they do so; one in the recent past and one more ancient: Vatican II and the Paul the Apostle.

Respondent is Dustyn Kainoa Ragasa (GTU)

Anne Carpenter (St. Mary’s College of California)

"Time Is Symphonic: The Reception of Tradition in 21st Century Theology" (pdf)

The reception of tradition has been a matter of concern in theology since the earliest ages of Christian theological reflection, beginning perhaps most explicitly with Irenaeus in the second century. In the centuries since, theology has continued to consider its own past in the present as a major mode of critical reflection on contemporary questions. In that sense, the topic of this paper is in sympathy with many different eras with many different questions. It seems to me, however, that 21st century theology in particular faces new questions with respect to the reception of tradition, its meaning, and its application in modern problems. This essay seeks to sketch the form of tradition’s reception in the present age of theology, with particular attention to the phenomenological of time, memory, and possibility in modern theology and philosophy. It is in this form of reflection that John Henry Newman’s articulation of the development of dogma receives troubled ambiguity in the face of present problems. After outlining these ambiguities, I respond to them with a theological aesthetic of time. Here the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar serves as a guiding force in the essay, allowing for the possibility to experience many “times” and multiple forms of “remembering” without also sundering the possibility of real and authentic meaning understood continuously through history.

Respondent is Matthew Fisher (Claremont Graduate University)