A journal of academic theology

Volume 80 Number 3

From the Editor’s Desk – September 2019

By now readers are quite familiar with the clerical sexual abuse crisis that is still unfolding. The precipitating matter is the sexual abuse of minors by priests, but it is impossible to abstract this issue from a plethora of others which have been mentioned many times: clerical culture, episcopal cover-ups, lack of reporting mechanisms, the

Sex, Race, and Culture: Constructing Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century

Pre-Vatican II theological anthropology focused attention on the exercise of human
freedom as embodied in time and oriented to community. Post-Vatican II theology has
deepened this trajectory by reflecting on the specific conditions and experiences of
human embodiment, as well as the cultural and historical contexts that ground efforts
to realize the ideal of persons-in-community. This article explores the contributions
of theological anthropologies that take seriously gender, race, history, and culture
in theology, and argues for further contemporary, enculturated, and embodied
reflections on sin and grace.

Rhetoric and Reality: Augustine and Pope Francis on Preaching Christ and the Poor

In an age when rhetoric about alleviating conditions of poverty is rightly suspect, this
study offers a reassessment of the power of non-modern, christological rhetoric through
parallel examples of the preaching of Augustine and Pope Francis. Demonstrating how
both practice a version of prosopopeia, this study shows how Augustine’s “exchange”
and Francis’s “encounter” function as performative Christologies by which rhetoric
is meant to effect reality concerning the poor. The study suggests revision of
binary formulations of the relation of rhetoric to reality and proposes a non-binary,
incarnational method.

The Possibilities of Grace amid Persistent Depression

Chronic and recurring depression presents challenges to theologians working on the
doctrine of grace. First, its frequent misrepresentation inhibits accurate perceptions
of God’s loving presence in this context. Second, like all suffering, it threatens the
affirmation of divine benevolence upon which the doctrine is predicated. Third, the
moral complexities of depression obfuscate grace’s healing effects. To meet these
challenges and clarify the contextual work of grace, the author draws on depression
narratives to identify the effects of grace as gratuitous, elevating, and healing
expansions of possibility that many sufferers experience as depression persists.

The Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis as a Theological Crisis: Emerging Issues

The sexual abuse crisis has long-term consequences: not only on the victims and
survivors of abuse, but also on the theological standing and balance of the Catholic
Church throughout the world. Theological rethinking in light of the abuse crisis is
necessary: not only from the lens of those who have suffered, but also from the
lens of the changes caused by this global crisis in the history of the whole Catholic
community. The article examines the consequences of the abuse crisis on different
theological disciplines, with particular attention to the history of the Catholic Church,
liturgy, ecclesiology of reform, and church–state relationships.

Beyond Scandal and Shame? Ecclesiology and the Longing for a Transformed Church

The need for reform of the Catholic Church’s structures features prominently in
discussion of the clerical sexual abuse scandal. Less common has been reflection
on the challenge that the crisis presents to ecclesiology, to considering the church
theologically. This article addresses that challenge. It engages three tasks—facing the
church’s brokenness; understanding the church in terms of grace and human freedom;
and facilitating the participation of all the church’s members—that are necessary for
an ecclesiology able to be both realistic and hopeful in the current circumstances.

Anger, Forgiveness, and Restorative Justice in Light of Clerical Sexual Abuse and Its Cover-up

Catholic tradition provides resources for understanding morally legitimate anger as
ordered to the good of survivors and their wider communities, a way of conceiving
of forgiveness as a caritas-inspired decision to willing what is authentically good for
an offender, including just retributive measures, and support for employing practices
of restorative justice as a means of addressing clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up.

Feminist Theology and the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis

The clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is complex. While first and
foremost a terrible violation of victims, it is not only about sex or abuse. It concerns
unchecked, divinely sanctioned patriarchal power and its devastating consequences.
The author reviews the theological issues at stake, including patriarchy, sexuality
and sexual ethics, and sin. She argues that addressing the roots of the crisis calls
for taking seriously the contributions of feminist theologians to the thinking of the
church, especially about establishing relationships of mutuality and equality between
clergy and laity

Eucharistic Sacrifice as Anti-Violent Pedagogy

The Council of Trent teaches that the sacrifice of the Mass is identical to the sacrifice
of Calvary, but with the crucial difference that the Mass is unbloody (nonviolent).
By considering the Last Supper traditions and the theologies of Augustine, Thomas
Aquinas, and Bernard Lonergan, this article constructs an understanding of sacrifice
as a transformative pedagogy. The sacrifice of the Mass allows us to reconfigure even
terrible acts of violence within a nonviolent framework without denying their reality.
This provides a crucial theological resource for responding to the scandal of clergy

Towards a Theology of Childhood: Children’s Agency and the Reign of God

This article contributes to a theology of childhood in the context of recent research
in the social sciences on children’s lives and the nature of childhood. The clergy sexual
abuse crisis heightens the need for such a theology. First, the author offers an account
of children’s social agency, with particular attention to cognition and sociality, arguing
that an interpretative approach affords the best account. Second, the argument takes
a christological turn, examining Jesus’s welcoming of children and the statement “it
is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14), to consider what
can be learnt about Jesus’s appreciation of children’s agency.

Scroll to Top