Beyond the Impasse?

Leaving and Coming Home
New Wineskins for Catholic Sexual Ethics
Edited by David Cloutier
Cascade Books, $31, 282 pp.

“Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old,” the prophet Isaiah proclaims (43:18–19). “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Since 2002, a group calling itself “New Wine, New Wineskins” has convened yearly symposia at Notre Dame, gathering “early career” Catholic theologians for papers and conversation on a chosen theological topic. These symposia have led to the publication of two books: one in 2005 on “key issues in Catholic moral theology,” and now the second in 2010 on Catholic sexual ethics. The new book’s blurbs, collected from various established theologians, give a good sense of the group’s self-conception. In Leaving and Coming Home, a back-cover blurb tells us, “we see emerging theological voices effectively move beyond the impasse of a previous generation.” According to another blurb, the book “is a breath of fresh air in Catholic moral thinking about sexuality.”

The “previous generation” consists of those theologians who lived through, among other events, the Second Vatican Council (1961–65), the promulgation of Humanae vitae (1968), and the dismissal of Charles Curran from the Catholic University of America (1986)—three events cited by Dana Dillon, a theologian at Providence College and the group’s current director, as having “particularly shaped those theologians’ sense of the church and their own role and their own risks as theologians within it.” (See her...

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About the Author

Bernard G. Prusak is associate professor of philosophy and director of the McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.