A journal of academic theology

Welcome to Theological Studies

Founded and sponsored by the Society of Jesus, Theological Studies is a Catholic scholarly journal that serves the Church and its mission by promoting a deeper understanding of the Christian faith through the publication of research in the theological disciplines and through reviews of noteworthy books. The journal has been in continuous publication since 1940.

About This Website

In keeping with the Society of Jesus’s commitments to serve the global Church, the journal is pleased to provide this site as a resource for scholars who do not have ready access to our journal. It contains articles and book reviews from 1940 up to the last five years, which can be accessed here free of charge. Articles or reviews published in the last five years are available by subscription, or a per article charge, at SAGE Journals. Article submissions by authors must be made via SAGE, where you will also find the latest formatting and style guides. For your convenience, they are also available on this website.

In the Current Issue

Is There an End to the Theatrical Play? Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Understanding of the Beatific Vision in Relation to the Theo-Drama

Hans Urs von Balthasar’s teaching on the beatific vision has been drawing scholarly attention. By building upon the works of Thomas Dalzell, Aidan Nichols, and Anne Carpenter, I advance the discussion by demonstrating that the dramatic and artistic-poetic grounding of Balthasar’s theo-drama shapes the way he understands the beatific vision. In his later work, Balthasar transposes the Catholic understanding of the beatific vision according to the art form and logic of drama. Specifically, using the notions of the visio immediata Dei and the visio mortis, he transposes the meaning of the beatific vision such that the divine essence is understood as a union of love in conversation with the Thomistic perspective of an immediate knowledge of God.

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Re-enchanting the World: Pope Francis’s Critique of the “Technocratic Paradigm” in Laudato Si’ and Laudate Deum

The first part of this article offers a systemic comparison of Pope Francis’s “integral ecology” with the “technocratic paradigm.” The second part is devoted to an internal critique of the paradigm: (i) the primacy accorded instrumental causality in a “disenchanted world,” (ii) the technical reduction of prudence, and (iii) the consequent fragmentation of ethical systems. The critique supports key aspects of Francis’s ecological ethics: the option for the poor, intergenerational responsibility, and recognition of the intrinsic value of nonhuman nature. The third part shows how such an internal critique underwrites the uses of religious rhetoric in public reasoning: the re-enchantment of the world.

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The People Who Do All Things Together: Living Base Ecclesial Communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This article analyzes the pastoral practice and ecclesiological vision of living base ecclesial communities (CEVBs) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through a case study in the Diocese of Tshumbe. Contextualizing this within the broader history of Global South base communities, the author argues that CEVBs exemplify Vatican II’s people of God ecclesiology and Africa’s image of the church as the family of God. They also embody Pope Francis’s calls for a more synodal and dialogical church that empowers laity, provides opportunities for women’s leadership, and integrates faith and social concern.

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Eighty Years after Mystici Corporis Christi: Rereading Mystical Body Theology in the Early Twentieth Century

Contemporary interpreters of the mystical body movement in the early twentieth century often refer to works therein as mystical body “ecclesiologies” and tend to identify distinctions among them according to the author’s language or nationality. In this article, I argue that the differences among mystical body theologies in that era are better understood according to theological locus—of “mystical body” as either an ecclesiological or a christological-soteriological concept. This framework best explains the paradoxical evaluations of the mystical body movement more broadly, and the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi in particular, as simultaneously too vague and too juridical.

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Pastor Aeternus, Robert Bellarmine, and the Possibility of a Heretical Pope

In a recent article, Emmet O’Regan has argued that the First Vatican Council not only defined dogmatically that the papal Magisterium is infallible under certain conditions but also “definitively excluded the possibility of a heretical pope” by elevating St. Robert Bellarmine’s “fourth proposition” to the “dignity of a dogma.” This article argues that when Pastor Aeternus is read in light of the official Relatio, it is clear that the council was not intending to exclude the possibility of a heretical pope, that is, the opinion of Albert Pighius. Instead, Gasser makes it clear that the council was intending to define what Bellarmine called the “most common and certain opinion,” which is “whether the pope is able to be a heretic or not, he is not able in any way to define a heretical proposition that must be believed by the whole Church.” O’Regan has misidentified which view of Bellarmine the council intended to define.

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Is Bellarmine’s “Fourth Proposition” Identical with the “Extreme View” of Albert Pighius?

Christian Washburn has questioned my claim that the idea of a publicly heretical pope was formally excluded in Pastor Aeternus, by equating Bellarmine’s “fourth proposition” with the extreme Ultramontanist school of Albert Pighius. Washburn argues that Gasser had merely indicated that Bellarmine’s “fourth opinion” would be raised to dogmatic status, rather than the “fourth proposition.” I attempt to address this critique by demonstrating how Bellarmine’s own school of thought within the “fourth opinion” was markedly different from that of Pighius.

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Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Pope Francis’s Election

The March and June issues of Theological Studies will include articles that commemorate the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election.

Revised 2023 Journal Guide for Authors

Beginning next year, 2023, Horizons and Theological Studies will follow the same journal style in dealing with matters related to citation, punctuation, spelling, and so forth. In collaboration, the ...

Website Redesign

The journal’s new website was redesigned by Keybridge Web of Washington, DC in September of 2022.  The website is important to the Society of Jesus ...

Announcing New Associate Editors

The journal announces two new associate editors as part of its editorial team.  Annie Selak (PhD, Boston College) is the Associate Director of the Women’s Center at ...
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