As Editor, I would like to help dispel some of these fears so as to encourage younger scholars to offer their work to the wider theological world. Although we seek to uphold our scholarly standards, Theological Studies exists not for the sake of simply maintaining its prestige, but in service to the mission of the church, which is to advance the Gospel in the world. To that end, the founding idea of the journal was to infuse the life of the church with some of the best and most creative theological thinking available. That remains our mission. But the world of Catholic theology has changed since 1940, when TS was founded. Theologians today are overwhelmingly lay women and men representing many social, cultural, and geographic locations. Many are working in areas of vital importance for the life of the church. And so it is important to make clear that we want to hear from more theologians, not least from women.
The editorial review process is designed to help the author receive the best possible reading of the article submitted—one that is open toward the topic and the essay’s methodology, yet also sufficiently critical as to provide constructive feedback. We at TS consider ourselves colleagues in the theological community, and the feedback we provide is intended not only for the author, but also for the long-range vitality of theology itself, for that author will continue to work and interact with other theologians. After an author submits an article, it is given an initial reading in the office by the Editor and/or Associate Editors. We then decide whether to send it out for blind review, usually by three carefully selected reviewers in the field. Some are members of our Board of Editorial Consultants, but some are expert colleagues from around the world. The entire process is double-blind: the authors’ names are removed from the manuscripts when they are reviewed, and the names of reviewers are not revealed. The final decision to publish, or not, is decided by the Editor, and it is most often the result of continuing work with the author to improve the article.
The Editor himself is a colleague in the world of academic theology. I am in conversation with many people about their work or what they might think to be a good article for publication, whether in TS or another venue. I also listen to younger scholars as they unfold ideas for an article and provide collegial feedback on those ideas. I do this in order to help young scholars gain a foothold and a little more confidence as they assemble their thoughts into a cogent article and consider submitting it for publication in a theological journal. There are no guarantees that such articles will be published in TS, but part of our mission is to help cultivate the work of younger theologians. In order to drive this point home, I recently visited the Women’s Seminar in Constructive Theology at the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the joint meeting of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. At both meetings, I explained the editorial process and encouraged submissions of current work. Theological Studies is serious about helping to foster and bring to light the best scholarship coming from various sectors of the theological community.
Unlike the book, the article has the virtue of being able to reach a wide readership in a brief amount of time. We therefore encourage theologians to think actively and creatively about participating in the life of the journal for the advancement of theological conversation in the academy and in the church.
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I am pleased to announce two new members of the Board of Editorial Consultants, Stephen J. Pope, of Boston College, and Cristina L. H. Traina, of Northwestern University. Both bring to the table distinguished credentials in theological ethics, and both of them deal at the intersection of ethics and systematic theology in ways that will prove useful to the journal at a time when some of the greatest vitality in Catholic theology is taking place in the field of theological ethics. Professor Pope’s more recent work focuses on Christian ethics and evolutionary theory. He also has expertise in Thomistic ethics and Catholic social teaching. Professor Traina is well known for her work in feminist ethics, natural law, sexuality, and parenthood and family ethics. She is a former president of the Society of Christian Ethics. They join a distinguished board who will help guide Theological Studies into the future. We also wish to thank Professor Julia A. Fleming, of Creighton University, who has given distinguished service to the Board of Editorial Consultants over many years.
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Finally, I would like to point out a new December feature, “Theological Meditation.” This feature will showcase an essay that brings theology and spirituality into conversation with each other in relation to a matter of pressing importance to the life of faith. This is the season in which we recall the Palestinian Jewish couple who could not find a place for shelter, and that was soon to become a refugee family. It is therefore fitting that this first essay, by Daniel G. Groody, CSC, focuses on the refugee crisis and how attending to it casts fresh light on our understanding of belonging together in the Body of Christ, expressed eloquently in the Eucharist celebrated by Pope Francis Lampedusa.
Paul G. Crowley, SJ