A journal of academic theology

Volume 83 Number 2

From the Editor’s Desk – June 2022

As this issue goes to press, the world watches in heart-wrenching dismay the violence being inflicted upon the people of Ukraine, staggering violations of human dignity reported in disturbing textual detail and hauntingly graphic images. Over fifty years after Paul VI’s 1965 exhortation to the United Nations, “No more war, war never again,” Pope Francis

A Blemished Offering: Economy, Eucharist, and the Limits of Epiphanic Conversion

This article critiques Enrique Dussel’s use of the conversion of Bartolomé de Las Casas to ground his argument for a clear correspondence between Christian economic and eucharistic participation. Portraying justice as the result of an epiphanic conversion, Dussel implies a sudden and enduring ethical purity that undermines the justice he wants to call forth. I argue that a closer reading of the life of Las Casas offers a more truthful way to account for eucharistic practice under the pervasive structures of late capitalism.

The Chimera of a “Deinstitutionalized Church”: Social Structure Analysis as a Path to Institutional Church Reform

Anger over long-standing systemic dysfunction in the Roman Catholic Church has led to a disenchantment with the church’s institutional reality. However, for those committed to church reform, a more productive way forward lies with ecclesiology’s constructive engagement with sociology. This article defends the legitimacy of a critical appropriation of sociology in ecclesiology, then proposes the critical realist school of social analysis as particularly well suited to assisting ecclesiology in the development of a concrete program for institutional reform.

Human Trafficking, Coercion, and Moral Agency in Agricultural Labor

The isolation and perceived interchangeability of agricultural laborers places them at risk for trafficking, and coercion often plays a significant role in keeping them at work under unjust circumstances. However, the concept of coercion is narrowly conceived in the public response to trafficking. Coercion is in fact culture-, race-, and gender-specific, and laborers often fall into intersectional forms of exploitation that deeply impinge upon their agency. This article probes the dimensions of agricultural exploitation and more specifically coercion. In so doing, it draws upon conceptions of labor justice and structural sin to reframe the understanding of moral agency implicit within the anti-trafficking conversation.

Data Ethics, AI, and Accompaniment: The Dangers of Depersonalization in Catholic Health Care

Health-care systems use AI-driven data analytics to target high-cost patients for early interventions. Many ethicists see these programs as enacting a preferential option for the poor. Ethnographic studies, however, find that their data analytic framework emphasizes efficiency, cost containment, and constant evaluation of patients. Ongoing evaluation and surveillance can undermine other goals of Catholic health care like personal encounter and accompaniment. While targeted care programs can be implemented well, the use of AI in data analytics to serve the poor creates dangers of depersonalization.

Reaching Up to the Mind of Lonergan: The Contribution of Robert M. Doran, SJ (1939–2021)

Robert M. Doran, who died in early 2021, made prolific and important contributions to Lonergan studies, especially arguing for some creative innovations and practical applications. Notably, he integrated a psychological component into Lonergan’s notion of conversion. Moreover, his vision for Catholic theology was global, and he sought creatively to engage the tradition with the complex contemporary situation. Doran’s intellectual developments can be divided into four areas: (1) the early work up to his tome Theology and the Dialectics of History, (2) the turn to systematic theology, (3) the implementation of a systematics, and (4) hermeneutic innovations of Lonergan’s thought. The first three are chronological, but this article will also highlight key innovations of Lonergan’s thought from Doran’s intellectual development along the way.