June 2016 Editorial

Issue 77.2 June 2016 Articles

One year ago, Pope Francis published his landmark encyclical letter, Laudato Si’: On
Care for Our Common Home. Rarely before has an encyclical been so widely anticipated
or generated so much commentary beyond theological circles, or managed to
accomplish so much in one document: a symphonic synthesis of theology, the natural
and social sciences, philosophy, Catholic social teaching, and the poetry of prayer. In
the realm of theology alone, the encyclical addresses, explicitly or implicitly, theologies
of creation, incarnation, redemption, and eschatology, as well as ecclesiology
and ethics, and presumes and advances church teaching on the interpretation of
Scripture, the preferential option for the poor, and the conversion to which the gospel
calls us. It calls upon the resources of political science, economics, and social and
cultural anthropology to advance its arguments. And, of course, the encyclical directly
addresses the fact of human-induced climate change and the ethical as well as theological
implications for our time of this momentous development. It played a significant
role in the relative success of COP20, the recent Paris Climate Summit. For these
and other reasons, one of the authors in this special issue describes Laudato Si’—
without exaggeration in my opinion—as “the most important encyclical ever written
in the history of the Catholic Church.”

The year since its publication has also given theologians time to digest the encyclical
and to reflect on its message, as well as how that message is constructed. The present
issue of Theological Studies, then, reflects some of that deeper and critical
thinking about Laudato Si’ that has been taking place among theologians around the
world. We do not have room to publish all the voices that have been raised around it,
and have had to cull from a broad selection. A topic of this importance cannot be
exhausted even in one special issue, and the challenges generated by climate change
will be with us for some time to come—indeed, sadly, for generations.

We open the issue with a broad overview of the encyclical by Reinhard Cardinal
Marx, who notes that underlying the encyclical’s message is an understanding of progress
that stands as a challenge to modern economic and political models that are
based on growth and expansion, and that permeating this understanding is a call to
redress the gross disparities between rich and poor that exacerbate the climate crisis
we currently face. Everything, then, is connected, and it is an “integral understanding”
of reality that this encyclical urges. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of this issue is that
most of the essays demonstrate how, in theology today, “everything is connected.”
Contemporary systematic theologians are engaging in a synthetic theological
enterprise, one that draws per necessitatem on findings in other disciplines: not only
biblical scholarship and philosophy, but political theory, economics, social theory, the
natural sciences, technology, engineering, and, in this case, climate science. All of
these disciplines, and others, play integral roles in the articles in this issue.
* * *
The Editorial Board plays an important role in the fulfillment of the mission of
Theological Studies. In addition to serving as peer reviewers, members also advise the
Editor about the direction of the journal, and represent the journal through their own participation
in the theological life of the church and the academy. With this issue we welcome
several new members to the Editorial Board: Agnes Brazal, St. Vincent’s School of
Theology, Manila; Francine Cardman, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry;
Catherine Cornille, Boston College; Roberto Goizueta, Boston College; Werner Jeanrond,
University of Oxford; Colleen Mary Mallon, OP, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis;
Bryan Massingale, Marquette University, Milwaukee; Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator,
SJ, Hekima College, Nairobi; Peter Phan, Georgetown University; Nancy Pineda-Madrid,
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; Stephen R. Schloesser, SJ, Loyola
University Chicago. These new members join Julia A. Fleming, Creighton University,
Omaha; Richard Lennan, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry; Leo J.
O’Donovan, SJ, Jesuit Refugee Service; Neil Ormerod, Australian Catholic University;
John E. Thiel, Fairfield University, Connecticut; and Andrea Vicini, SJ, Boston College.
At the same time we thank the following board members for their diligent service over the
past few years: Pauline Allen, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne; Robert Doran,
SJ, Marquette; Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, University of Notre Dame; Elizabeth A.
Johnson, CSJ, Fordham University; Robert R. Schrieter, CPPS, Catholic Theological
Union; and Thomas W. Worcester, SJ, College of the Holy Cross. Finally, we also welcome
Thomas J. Massaro, SJ, of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University,
as a new Associate Editor. He replaces Thomas Hughson, SJ, of Marquette University,
who has ably served in that position over the past several years.

Crucially assisting our editorial consultants are scores of generous reviewers from
the theological community. Assisting our editorial consultants are expert reviewers
from the theological community. Our authors invariably express gratitude to our
reviewers for the careful work they undertake in evaluating the manuscripts sent to
them. Theological Studies could not publish without the professional and personal
generosity of so many theologians world-wide. The Editor joins our authors in offering
his profound thanks to all who serve in this vital capacity for the sake of the theological
life of the church.
* * *
A final word: As we go to press, we note the untimely deaths of US theologians
Virgilio Elizondo and former editorial consultant Maureen Tilley, both of whom left
significant legacies. A review essay on Elizondo’s contributions will appear early next
year. Additionally, Pope Francis has issued the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia,
aspects of which will keep theologians busy for some time to come.

Paul G. Crowley, SJ