The Author Replies

I can address only a few of Stephen Pope’s welcome questions. First, I agree that undergraduate teaching is a prime opportunity for theology to contribute to the life of the church and society. But has that opportunity really been taken advantage of? I am not as confident as Pope is that it has. What do we make of the irony, as Nicholas Lash notes in The Tablet (April 15), that the best-educated laity in the history of the church is largely theologically illiterate—Catholic higher-education graduates included?

Second, I do not have "doubts about the value of academic freedom"; I value it deeply and, in particular, fear what may happen (and has happened) in the United States to sexual ethicists and ecclesiologists (see Paul Saunders, Commonweal, April 21). I do doubt that there is a single model of academic freedom, one that sees all episcopal involvement as an inherent violation of institutional autonomy.

Third, Pope makes no mention of either the bishops or my comments about them, and so overlooks that I hold the bishops—as heads of their local churches—accountable for fostering the conditions necessary for vital Christian communities and theology. I say nowhere that theology departments are responsible for...

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About the Author

Christopher Ruddy is associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America.