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

From the Editor’s Desk – June 2023

One of the concerns that has been raised by both boards of the journal (the Board of Directors and the Board of Editorial Consultants) is that of gender parity (or lack thereof) in the articles it publishes—a problem that is troublingly evident in this issue: only one of the authors is a woman, while the other seven are men. The gender breakdown found in the previous year’s issues is only slightly better: June 2022 had one out of five articles written by women; September, one out of five; December, two out of five; and March 2023, two out of eight—generating an overall percentage of 28 percent women and 72 percent men. (My hope is that the September issue will actually lean in favor of women contributors.) One strategy for addressing the imbalance has been for the editorial team to work with authors on submissions that are promising but not ready for publication, helping them identify possible avenues for improving and revising the essays. Of course, I hope we do as much for all essays with promise, not just for certain subgroups.

Toward a Spirituality of Politics

This article revisits Francis’s vision of politics as one of the highest forms of charity. It argues that Francis’s concept of “political charity” goes beyond a mere repetition of classical church social teaching on politics to ground a spirituality for Christian politicians. He does this mainly in two ways: the first is by inscribing the main Christian virtue of love at the heart of political practice; the second is by portraying both politics and economics as Christian vocations to be embraced as noble paths to holiness. Finally, I introduce an African perspective into the discussion for context and illustration.

Pope Francis, Culture of Encounter, the Common Good, and Dharma: Public Theological Conversations Today

Pope Francis is able to communicate common values across borders of religion, regions, and sociopolitical systems. Catholic social teaching on the common good, particularly as articulated and promoted by him as part of a culture of encounter, conveys a relevant message for our times. Approaching the pope’s initiative from a South Asian context, I argue that an engagement with dharma, a religioethical vision, can be part of this culture of encounter, especially in public theological conversations about the common good. Specifically, the themes of the common good, like integral ecology and care for the vulnerable, as earnestly promoted by Pope Francis, can converse with dharma for mutual enrichment, even while the basic teachings on human dignity, freedom, and inalienable rights can usefully enrich the latter.

Latin American Social Integration as a Methodological Lens for Francis’s Teaching

Over the past ten years of Francis’s pontificate, a transversal axis cutting across all his writings is his appreciation for the importance of social integration in Latin America. For the pope, humanity must gradually move toward greater and better forms of encounter, integration, and inclusion—that is, toward the “Great Homeland.” His experiences in South America have led him to a contextually situated conviction about the importance of concrete encounter and inclusion that has transferred to his universal teaching and, in this sense, forged his pontifical teaching from the margins. Turning to a specific corpus of papal texts written for Latin American people, we will analyze the methodological assumptions of this whole program of integration thought for the global community.

Umwelt-Theory, Self-Transcendence, and Openness-to-God: Attending Theologically to Human Animality

Christian theological anthropology has been critiqued for its habit of sharply distinguishing the human from the nonhuman and for thereby depreciating human animality in one form or another. Within the context of modern theological anthropology, the result of this habit has often been a vision of the human according to which the less animal we are, the more self-transcendent and God-open we are. In light of recent theological and interdisciplinary interest in the Umwelt-theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944), I indicate how Uexküll’s influential account of animal Umwelten can be a resource for theologians seeking to articulate human self-transcendence and God-openness in a manner that avoids the depreciation—whether explicit or implicit—of our animality.

Theologically Shoring Up the Law of the Sea

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis highlights the oceans as integral to our threatened common home and stresses the need for more effective ocean governance. Theologians can help to meet that need. By turning their attention to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its further development, and by practicing “ocean empathy,” they can join ocean scientists, NGOs, international lawyers, and others in caring for the oceans by shoring up the law of the sea.

Privation, Teleology, and the Metaphysics of Evil

Drawing inspiration from Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, and Thomas Aquinas, and in support of the definition of evil as the privation of being or goodness, this article proposes a complementary definition of evil. It argues that evil can be defined as the non-advancement of being, appetite, or natural inclination toward its proper perfection or completion. First, it explains what this definition entails, elaborates on its implications, and defends its plausibility. Second, it discusses typical objections to the privation account and shows how defining evil relative to appetite can help overcome them.


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 as it allows us to serve scholars who might otherwise not have ready access to the journal.  It contains articles and book reviews from 1940 up to the last five years.

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 Georgetown University.  Her areas of research include ecclesiology, feminist and liberationist theologies, Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy, and racism and sexism in the Catholic Church. Eugene R. Schlesinger (PhD, Marquette University) is lecturer at Santa Clara University where he specializes in twentieth-century Catholic thought with a particular focus on developments in liturgical and sacramental theology and their impact on the Christian church. He has contributed several articles to the journal.  His latest book Salvation in Henri de Lubac: Divine Grace, Human Nature, and the Mystery of the Cross will be published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2023.

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