“[B]etween 1845 and 1961—a span of little more than a century—the number of deaths from hunger and its effects exceeded the total in all of preceding human history. The ratio of deaths to population in the Irish famine (1845–51) and the Chinese famine (1958–61) represent record rates of mortality. The central problem in most modern famines was never an absolute lack of food. At issue was distribution. … [T]he volume of mortality wasn’t simply a case of too many mouths to feed; rather, to one degree or another, economic theories and government bureaucracies were the culprits. This was no mere innocent bureaucratic bungling…. On the contrary, these catastrophes were either used or conceived to bring about the modernization of underlying socioeconomic structures. How did this happen? The short answer is that hunger shook hands with administrative bureaucracy, economic theory, and political ideology.
Theology is exploratory by its nature, bringing the truth of revelation to bear on contemporary culture and considering new ways in which that truth can be conceptualized and expressed. Moreover, the doctrine of the church—what Catholics regard as its sacred tradition—can develop in unanticipated ways over time, and theological reflection has always been a crucial ingredient in that development, as theologians ask the church to consider how changes in Catholic belief, including dramatic ones, might stand in continuity with the age-old faith. If theologians are condemned for not being in conformity with the Catechism, how can they offer judgments about such developments? How, in this important regard, can they do theology at all? Bishops who reduce theology to catechesis, the complaining theologians assert, fail to grasp what theology is.