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Theological Studies and Editorial Independence

NCR has published a report and an editorial on the Jesuit-run journal Theological Studies being pressured to run an essay without peer review. In 2004, Kenneth Himes and James Coriden co-authored an essay in TS calling for the re-evaluation of the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage on grounds of a deep disconnect between the Church's doctrine and its pastoral practice. The new essay, co-authored by Peter F. Ryan and Germain Grisez, forcefully rebuts that call. Nothing new so far--theology is a discipline whose practitioners disagree, sometimes profoundly. Most of us recognize that it is precisely in the engagement with those who disagree with us that our arguments are tested and honed. Theological discourse is a testing ground for ideas, a place where we feel free to launch new ways of thinking about the tradition, trusting our colleagues to help us identify powerful new vehicles of understanding, and to help us see which of the new vehicles are just theological Edsels. Of course, recognizing the integrity and value of positions we do not hold ourselves is also a basic virtue of teaching. Good teachers do not expect ovine obeisance from our students, but thoughtful engagement with ideas. It seems eminently appropriate for differing voices to be heard in TS. What's troubling here is the apparent imposition of an essay without peer review and the consent of the editor. TS editor David Schultenover, S.J., has not confirmed that he was forced to publish this piece, but NCR reports:

After years of mounting pressures, exchanges, and at least one rejected rebuttal submission written by Jesuit Fr. Peter F. Ryan, the Vatican finally mandated that Theological Studies publish -- unedited -- an essay coauthored by Ryan and theologian Germain Grisez titled Indissoluble Marriage: A Reply to Kenneth Himes and James Coriden.

On a good day, peer review helps to insure academic merit, not by imposing ideological criteria, but through the advice of other knowledgeable professionals in the area. It need not imply editorial approval or agreement with the author's thesis, but only that he or she finds the piece worth discussion. Peer review and editorial approval are especially helpful when scholars read outside their own area of expertise, for example when a scripture scholar reads an essay in systematics. I might not agree with the thesis of a particular piece, but it's helpful to know that other scholars in that area feel the ideas are worth a look.And peer review need not shut down diversity of opinion. One of the hallmarks of TS is its willingness to publish back-and-forth from authors in the name of ongoing dialogue, with peer review at each step. Indeed, Grisez' work has graced TS' pages many times, with peer review. One of the unfortunate effects of side-stepping peer review is the risk that doing so may diminish the reception of this work by scholars leery of the process for this essay. So what to do? This essay is published with a superscript that indicates that "except for minor stylistic changes, the article is published as it was received." I'd hope for a more explicit label for pieces that are published without peer review (at least for items normally subject to that process.) That fact may not be apparent to the reader, and is relevant to the reader's--especially the non-specialist reader's--approach to the text.

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I can understand the hierarchy/Vatican insisting that the official teaching be published. But it seem to me that any such article should include the official *reasons* that the Vatican has settled upon that view of the issue, and the journal should tell the readers that it is an unsolicited, un-peer reviewed article. OR the journal should have the right to publish at the same time objections by peers to the article. This latter would amount to a sort of peer review, and the reader would get both sides of the issue.

First paragraph of the NCR article:

In a move some theologians say undermines the credibility of the leading English-language Catholic theological journal, the Vatican has pressured it to publish a scholarly essay on marriage, unedited and without undergoing normal peer review.

That's the only occurrence of the phrase "peer review" in the article. It says that there was pressure to publish the piece without peer review, but it doesn't actually say that it was published without peer review. Did it receive peer review - just not "normal" peer review? Or was it not peer reviewed at all? Are all articles in TS - with this single exception - peer reviewed?I don't know what to make of this. Is it a tiny intramural incident being blown out of proportion or is it something that should sound loud alarms throughout the Church?

So it really comes down to who is the final authority, who is to be the judge of whether something is published or not.The Magisterium having such authority is bad. A crowd of self-appointed "peers" having such authority is good.In short, what is advocated is papacy by "peer committee."

For people who publish in scholarly journals: how would you feel about one of your articles being published in this way? Would you be happy you've been published or would this undermine you professionally? (Should Father Ryan be saying "Thanks, but don't do me any favors?")

Perhaps the article should have been published with the notice: "We publish the following essay by request (behest? command?) of Vatican authorities. It has not been peer-reviewed.") It would be interesting to know who these unnamed authorities were. Did the order come from "the Vatican" (that vague entity) or from the Jesuit curia, or from both? In any case, they ought to be made to take responsibility for their actions.I know of one case in which TS published an article without peer-review, because I wrote it at the request of the TS editors. I suspect that the many articles on religious freedom published in TS by John Courtney Murray were not peer-reviewed. Murray himself was the editor.

Irene BaldwinI prefer to publish peer reviewed articles for the simple reason that they are taken more seriously by my colleagues. It is simply the standard in academia. For example, in a tenure or promotion process articles in popular journals or non-peer reviewed journals do not count for much. I have nothing against writing popular articles, and I have done that, but for the academy it is still the case that peer reviewed articles are valued more.I think this is a very serious matter. This journal is published for professional theologians who are able to discern whether the author's position is at variance with the dogmatic teaching of the Church. It seems to me that there was very little need to publish a rebuttal to the article in question in order to clarify what is the official teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Such a heavy handed approach does not bode well for Catholic theology. This kind of Vatican interference is, in my opinion, chilling. I am sorry that the reputation of TS has suffered because of this intervention. I have heard that the demand came from CDF. Whether that was direct or through the Jesuit curia seems immaterial. I doubt that the curia would have interfered with TS without pressure from CDF.

I am grateful that this story was published, and somewhat surprised that none of the comments so far seem to find such an intervention problematic. I am also glad that Fr. K could fill us in on the fact that other submissions to TS are published without peer review. Given the fact that peer review seems to be dispensible, perhaps we have two separate issues here. First, the agency responsible for imposing the article. It makes a great difference whether the editors themselves are so persuaded that something needs to be published that they skip an ordinary step, or whether an outside agency comes in and uses its majesty to overrule the editors (sorry, Bender, but the Vatican is not empowered to micro-manage everything in the Church, despite your absolutist-dictatorial vision of things). Second, the extent of the objections to the scholarship used in support of the thesis (which I assume is the same in both the Ryan article that was rejected, and the co-written Grisez-Ryan article that was imposed). Why was Ryan's submission turned down? Was it poor scholarship? If whoever imposed the article that was printed in the end was determined to side-step peer review are we to assume that it too is poor scholarship? If the scholarship was sound and yet the article was turned down anyway, this leaves us with another uncomfortable question. Are the editors and peer reviewers of TS ideologues and thus incapable of fairly assessing the fitness of articles for publication? Anything can happen, I suppose, but from seeing previous clashes over ideas I would suspect that this conflict is not due to ideologues at the helm of TS but rather is part you-name-it of the Vatican's war on modernity. If this is the case, then the ideologue's shoe is on the other foot.In either instance, and even if the editors are in the wrong in their assessment of a particular article, they are not children and should not be treated as such. Having a magisterium for the Church does not substitute for peer review of theological journals. Unless we want TS to run nothing but extracts from the Catechism, we have to stand up for their right and duty to do their job without interference.

Sorry, my comment above did not take into account Alan Mitchell's comment, which appeared while I was still writing mine. Yes, other commenters do find this move problematic!

RitaI find the intervention very problematic as I had noted in the post above yours.It should also be noted that Ryan worked for Ratzinger at CDF. Perhaps his connections there may have helped him get his article eventually published in TS, but it certainly is not the ordinary way one would go about that. If I were he, I would be humiliated that this matter has been made public. His own credibility as a scholar is damaged.

RitaYou beat me to it. Thanks

All peer review means is that a proposed paper does or does not meet sufficient standards of academic rigor and academic merit. Unfortunately, in practice, it is often used by petty academic rent-a-cops to reward "rightthink" and discourage unfashionable views. I suspect that's what happened here.Regardless, being compelled to publish something is not incompatible with peer-review. What TS should have done was either note, "While this article is being published at the Vatican's behest, we attest that it meets the standards of academic merit and rigor our board normally requires for publication." Or, "While we are publishing this article at the Vatican's behest, the editorial board remains concerned that it does not meet the usual standards for academic merit and rigor usually required by this journal for publication."Failing to do either smacks of passive-aggressiveness and childishness and does more to undermine the integrity of TS than anything the Vatican could do to it.G

If I knew that Germaine Grisez had a vigorous rebuttal to an important article I would be more than eager to read it as soon as possible and in the same journal. I would suspect that a delay of years could be explained if a) the Grisez article was embarrassingly bad or, far more likely, b) the editors were excessively pedantic.

There are a number of issues in play here;1)Rita and Alan anre correct on the issues of schol;arship and how and what gets published in a major professional(in this case theological) journal.2) The issue of doctrine/magisterium and the role of the theologian has been discussed here before.Saying the magisterium says something as determenative here leads us back to3)the problem of the command/control church. CDF m.o. lovers will poo poo the event but it's in keeping with trying to shut down ciriticism/examination of just trying to do business by the status quo.4)This is quite relevant today about the topic of marriage.Those of you who saw Ray Suarez's PBS report Monday night on the changing face of marriage in the US noted that therei s major shift away from the power of the institution and away fromauthoritarian ideas, especially that love is the essence of marriage(perhaps not affected by gender considerations), that procreatiopn (not the the love and care for children, but"every act must be open to") is not the main goal, and, importantly, that marriage itself has been a changing dynamic entity and will continue to be.Given, for example, deep dissatisfaction in progresive circles with the traditional view, serious analysis in major writings would seem to be a necessity,Imposition from above(sans peer review) weakens the credibility of what's presented and reinforces the view that (as in the attack on Sr. Johnson) thin scholarship supporting a more traditionalist(if that) from some perspective is preferable.Very sad.

Let's not idolize peer review. The process can be prejudiced/slap-dashed/mean-spirited/etc. depending on which peers are chosen to review an article Some academics claim their dissenting views are never heard because their views are rejected out of hand in the peer review process, not in the market-place of ideas that is meant to guarantee competent criticism. The Joseph Epstein article I recently recommended about the current state of the Humanities is a good indication that incompetent peer review can even be endemic in a discipline, as the Sokal caper showed some years ago.See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affairThe fact is that there is no perfect process which can guarantee the truth of a proposition. (And there is a proposition that itself is making an unprovable claim.) Unfortunately, the Vatican does claim such a process (though it is unclear just what it involves. That, ISTM, is why so many people pay little if any attention to what the Vatican says..

Ryan and Grisez have issued a statement which confirms that "higher authority had to mandate publication of the unexpurgated version of our article."According to the statement, he article was sent to peer review but two of the three reviewers chosen by the journal recommended that certain parts be deleted. See the statement at http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/922/theologians_respond_to_ncrep...

The Ryan/Grisez statement does not tell the full history of the matter. It fails to mention that Ryan submitted a rebuttal of the Himes/Coriden piece authored only by him, which was rejected by the reviewers. It is only then that the second article co-authored by Ryan and Grisez was submitted. It was accepted on the condition that it be shortened, something that is not uncommon for a journal to ask of an author of an unusually long piece.

After Tom Reese was fired by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, a lot of people wondered whether the CDF would begin to exert editorial pressure on Theological Studies. Now we know. According to the NCR story, as noted by Alan Mitchell, Ryan alone submitted a response to the Himes-Corriden piece. Only after Ryan's article was rejected did Grisez get involved. Ryan's and Grisez's statement doesn't explain how that process unfolded. Did Ryan complain to the CDF? Did the CDF ask Grisez to coauthor with Ryan another response to the Himes-Corriden essay, knowing his prestige would make it tough to assail the piece as falling short TS's academic standards? If so, clever move. After all, if you're reading a piece by Grisez, you know you're not reading an untested scholar. The question of peer review is therefore less interesting than the one of editorial control. That one can't be dodged. If TS has another set of editors in Rome, they ought to put them on the masthead.

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm not a professional academic. If I write an article and wish to submit it for peer review, who chooses the peers? Does the publisher/editorial board select the peers? If I submit my piece to five different journals, does that mean that five different panels of peers would review the same piece?What I don't understand about this whole scenario is, why wasn't the Ryan/Grisez article peer-reviewed? Did the Vatican forbid peer review? Professor Mitchell, I see your note that the piece was accepted on the condition that it be shortened. That condition wouldn't be imposed by the peers, but by the editors of TS, right?

There has to be a consensus with reference to the gospel in the church. The leaders can be the spokesman for that consensus. What the consensus should be about is the Question. As I see it the agreement should be about loving one's neighbor as shown in the didactic teaching of Jesus in the Good Samaritan narrative. Second should be about the danger of riches. Cfr. Dives and Lazarus. Third the mandate to love one's enemies. It is a mandate. Fourth, the mandate to forgive, beyond 70x7 or unlimited. Fifth, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Another mandate. ETC.Not whether Mary is conceived without sin or assumed into heaven, whether there are three persons in God, whether the pope is infallible (he's not). ETC.See the difference between the church of the Good News and the church of dogma.

Jim Pauweis,Each academic journal has an editorial board. The members of this board are the peer reviewers. In some instances a journal may ask someone not on the board to be a peer reviewer. The editor of the journal selects which of the members of the editorial board will review the submitted manuscript, and it is usually done on the basis of expertise. So there may be three members of the editorial board who are experts in moral theology. When a manuscript in moral theology is submitted the editor will select perhaps two of those three experts to review it on the basis of who is best able to evaluate whichever sub-dicipline of moral theology is covered in the manuscript. If no one on the editorial board is competent to review the manuscript, the editor will seek competent scholars outside the board to act as reviewer. If one reviewer recommends publication, but the other does not the manuscript is usually sent to a third reviewer, who would not know the evaluations of the earlier reviewers. In most instances the author's name and any references that might disclose his or her identity are removed. Contrary to Gergory Popcack's simplistic view of peer review it is generally done in a very professional manner and, in my experience, is something taken quite seriously by members of the editorial board. It is not accepted policy to submit a manuscript to more than one journal at a time. If the article is rejected by a given journal then the author is free to submit it to another journal.Originally, it was suggested that the Ryan/Grisez article was not peer reviewed. Apparently it was and the reviewer(s) suggested it be shortened. They refused to shorten it, and that is when CDF muscled the editor to publish it as is. The suggestion to shorten the article was recommended by the peer reviewer(s) and the editor complied with it. The editor is free to follow the recommendation of the reviewer(s) or not. In most cases, an editor would follow those recommendations.

Jim, the editors choose the peers. In my field, three fellow academics, chosen by the editor because they are experts on the topic discussed, typically review the submission and send a report to the editor who then makes a decision and communicates reviews and decision to the authors. There can be several rounds, particularly when the decision is "possible accept after major revision to address the following criticisms". From the viewpoint of academia, this is a very serious matter. It does not happen in my field, where topics are not so loaded, but it reminds me of climate change publications. I seem to recall that some climate change deniers published dubious articles under suspicious circumstances (external pressure, in the gentle form of lavish money), and that the climatologist science community reacted by shunning the journal, where they now no longer submit papers and whose papers they now no longer cite in their own work. I can't remember the details, sorry.If this happened in my field, I would go after the culprit. Who exerted pressure? Then I would require that the person responsible for this corruption of power resign from their post. If unsuccessful, I would shun the journal.

Why is it a very serious matter? Because peer review (and the whole process by which editors are selected and journals build a reputation) are our best effort for a process to build science in a rigorous manner, to avoid error. An analogy would be building a construction where each step of the project has to pass some stress and safety tests before being allowed to proceed. External pressure would be someone coming in and pressuring the project manager to skip a step, either by giving him money or by threatening to fire him.

Alan Mitchell: The members of the TS editorial board are not, or at least need not be, the peer reviewers. I am no longer a member of that board and yet I receive invitations to review submitted manuscripts. Ann Olivier is right that the process of peer review is no guarantee of justice or fairness. There are philosophy journals that would not accept an article unless it follows one line of inquiry or method, e.g., the analytical or the phenomenological, even though the title of the journal might speak only of "philosophy". Certain approaches will be considered philosophical and others not. I repeat that I think the best thing would have been to append a note that the essay was being published by mandate of higher authority. Higher authority shouldn't be afraid to accept responsibility.

...the cleric--as a scholar who speaks through his writings to the public as such, i.e., the world--enjoys in this public use of reason an unrestricted freedom to use his own rational capacities and to speak his own mind. For that the (spiritual) guardians of a people should themselves be immature is an absurdity that would insure the perpetuation of absurdities. -What is Enlightenment? Kant, 1784

Father Komonchak,I thought I said clearly that editors could select reviewers who are not members of the editorial board. Take a look at my third sentence.

in the name of transparency why not list all the recent articles that have not been peer reviewed? And all of those solicited by the editor.Aside from this current article were there any rebuttals of the original article published? Or were similar submissions rejected? Or did the guild of theologians not submit any criticisms?This episode almost serves as a natural experiment - - we can see the results of a free marketplace of theological ideas a la John Stuart Mill (or theologians gone wild) vs. the results of the slightest of interventions in that playground.

Well, I have received a useful education in the details of "peer review," though I agree with Grant that editorial control (and transparency on what happened) is the core issue. That said, has anyone read the Ryan/Grisez piece (and the earlier one) and can they offer some further "peer review"? I doubt these pieces are available online. Wish they were. It sounds as though Ryan/Grisez had some direct critcisms that could be fact-checked.

Here's the original 2004 article of which Ryan/Grisez offer a rebuttal.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb6404/is_3_65/ai_n29117952/

Cool. Thanks ClaireGrant. I'll read tonight. Alas, I'm no peer.

Lisa, you have my utmost respect. Many long time posters to this site [I consider them to be old friends] are equally superior to me intellectually. I just hope that in some way shape or form intellectual superiority might manifest itself in a greater good that benefits the least among us. Religiousity and "star power" are. at least in my humble opinion incongruent. Your opinion regarding my contention would as always be appreciated.

"Well, I have received a useful education in the details of peer review""Same here - thank you

I repeat that I think the best thing would have been to append a note that the essay was being published by mandate of higher authority. Higher authority shouldnt be afraid to accept responsibility.Fr. Komonchak,This is not a challenge. Just a request for information. Exactly what authority does the CDF have in regards to "the Jesuit-run journal Theological Studies"? Is it official authority by order of the fact that the journal is run by Jesuits? Exactly what is the chain of command? Would the CDF have no authority, some kind of authority, or the same authority over the editors of Commonweal? What about over Catholic editors of a magazine that did not identify itself as Catholic? What is the purpose of insisting that the same journal that published the original article must publish the response?

On the substance: I quickly glanced through both articles, and didn't see either referring to my favorite book by John Noonan on the topic: The Power to Dissolve.http://www.amazon.com/Power-Dissolve-Lawyers-Marriages-Courts/dp/0674695... you really want to get into the question . . . whether or not you're a professional theologian, I recommend this book, which deals with the development by dealing with particular cases. It's a beach novel with footnotes, in my view. Lots, and lots, of footnotes in four languages. But you can't put it down.

Two points --The Ryan-Grisez statement says that the reasons it gave for its conclusions were the parts that were removed. If this is so, this would violates at least the spirit of scholarly criticism -- which is that views are rational only if we have reason for holding them. If that is what happened, then Ryan-Grisez do have a valid complaint.On the other hand, perhaps TS simply didn't have room for the reasons, a practical matter that can preclude the optimum operation of the scholarly system. Maybe the root problem is a practical one -- Ryan was trying to do too much in one paper. Had he submitted two better supported ones the whole brouhaha might never have happened. Or not. Sigh.

On the policy, I think there are 3 questions:1. What responsibility does a Catholic journal have, positively, to publish material defending the official teaching--especially after it was called into question in that same jouranl?2. What should it do when such material is published not through usual processes, but through the exercise of external authority? Joe has a plan, I think.3. What responsibility does a Catholic journal have, negatively, to refrain from publishing articles that call for the development of the tradition?It is one thing to say that Grisez/Ryan should be published. It's another thing entirely to say Corriden/Himes shouldn't, on the sole ground that it is arguing for a development in the teaching.And it's 3 I'm most worried about.

The ability of an academic journal like Theological Studies or a respected journal of opinion like America to select and edit materials for publication freely and without interference from outside sources is vital to its intellectual credibility. Journals run by some religious orders may be subject to pressures they find it hard to resist. They may find various ways of coping with their situation. but each instance in which their freedom is seen to have been intruded on will be likely to weaken their reputations for intellectual integrity. It must have been painful for the editorial board at Theological Studies to face such an intrusion on their prerogatives. For people who know how to read the between the lines, the little comment at the head of the Ryan/Grisez piece would have been a stronger statement than it seems at first glance. I suspect most readers of Theological Studies would understand the situation immediately. Commonweal

I have been surprised at the archaic and myopic character of articles in ThS in recent years, as if it had surrendered to some sort of swoon into old-fashioned Catholicism. The latest embarrassment is along the same lines. Grisez is a failed theologian associated with a failed encyclical and is being propped up by artificial life-support. The creepy CDF world is trying desperately to project its dead theology on the organs of Catholic teaching and publication but the whole project is exhausted. The best Catholic theology is now being done outside these contaminated institutions. Some have even become Anglicans.Reputation for intellectual integrity is easily lost if a school or review is known to labor under Pravda-like pressures. The reputation of Catholic University of America has never recovered from the Curran debacle.

The first article voices well the misgivings that the current teaching on indissolubility arouses and tests the tradition for places where a basis for yielding and development might be divined. The Ryan-Grisez riposte strikes the high note of "the teaching is either true or false" and "the church cannot have been wrong for so long" at the very start, the same sort of reasoning behind the Humanae Vitae mess.

Joseph O'learyI love you

Prof. Mitchell: It was this flat statement that misleads: "The members of this board are the peer reviewers." That simply wasn't the case when I was on the board. David Nichol: I do not know how to answer your question in this case. From earlier examples, not all of them ancient history, this might happen: An important member of one of the Roman congregations gets in touch with the superior general of a religious order and urges that something be done about a piece published by a member of that order or in a journal sponsored by that order. Some negotiations make take place, involving the superior general, the author, the journal editor, and the member of the Roman Curia. In some cases, the Roman bureaucrat is persuaded not to make things worse, and the matter ends. In another case, the author might agree to write a clarifying article. In another possible case, the editor of the journal is persuaded to publish an article critical of the first piece. In yet another, the editor is placed under religious obedience to publish such an article. It seems to be the usual practice for Rome not to deal directly with the author but to deal with the matter through the superiors of the order. To repeat, I have no idea what happened in this case.

Joseph O'Leary, tell us what you really think...But a bit of moderation would be becoming.

The debate seems to have taken the correct form. My love to all...

Fr. Komonchak,Not to labor the point, but my experience is that members of the editorial board are the ordinary peer reviewers, but not the sole ones, which I was trying to say in the third sentence. At least that is the way it was when I was on the editorial board of the CBQ for eight years. I have been asked to review manuscripts for journals whose board I am not on. So we are in basic agreement.I have it on very good authority that in this case, which may be unusual, CDF dealt directly with the editor of TS.

What Rome and Academy should know that they have similar difficulty entering heaven than the rich man. Empire and Academy do not appear as gospel favorites. Matthew 11: 25At that time Jesus said, I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight."This is the real sign of contradiction which is lost sight of. Even Thomas Acquinas realized the vanity of learning as opposed to the richness of the Good News. The wise and intelligent are still not learning from infants.

I thank God that I am neither a theologian nor a Jesuit nor a priest nor anyone subject to pressure from the Curia. In this atmosphere, one should advise anyone tempted by such paths to look for other ways to minister to the Church.

What was so threatening about the Himes-Coriden article that warranted such an apparently vigorous counter-attack, albeit belated - number of citations in 5 years, quality of argument, adoption by others, scope, authors, journal, complaints to Vatican, ? Why couldn't it have been ignored until it faded away? It is hard to believe that all journal articles calling for re-evaluation of teachings get specific responses from distinguished authors supported by pressure to publish.

Rome wins as long as we let them set the agenda and relate to its absurdity.

Regarding the exchange between Fr. Komonchack and Dr. Mitchell: different journals operate in different ways. I do not know how Theological Studies works (except that I have never been able to get them to publish anything I have submitted to them), but when I edited the journal Modern Theology we did not use the editorial board for peer reviewers any more often than we used anyone else. The role of our editorial board was mainly advisory -- helping to set strategic goals for the journal. If someone on the board happened to be the right person to review a particular submission they would be asked, but we were as likely to ask someone else not on the board. Perhaps TS works differently, but Fr. K does not seem to think so.As to the substance of the debate: I am trying to put myself in the shoes, not of the editors of TS, but of the authors of the article (in the interest of full disclosure, Peter Ryan is a former colleague and I count him a friend, though we have plenty of theological disagreements; I have never met Germain Grisez). It seems to me that Ryan and Grisez were asked to cut their article in a way that they thought undermined their argument and, to put it bluntly, make them appear stupid. They could have, and perhaps should have, simply walked away. But I imagine they also wondered why the reviewers would ask for such cuts. Two possibilities probably presented themselves: (1) the reviewers had not grasped the argument and were only concerned about length or (2) the reviewers wanted the argument undermined. If I were in that situation and had recourse to a higher authority, and I thought the issues addressed by the article were important enough to the Church. . . well, I don't think I would have pressed it, because of my phlegmatic nature. But I can understand how someone with a more choleric disposition might just grasp the nettle and press that higher authority for unexpurgated publication.Finally, as to all the high-mined talk about peer review and academic freedom, all I can say is that the academy is (and probably always has been) a snake pit with more than its share of petty, biased, underhanded vipers who will use the rhetoric of freedom and mechanisms of "peer review" (i.e. I'll send this to my friends whom I know will give the thumbs down) to exert their will to power. To a certain degree the academy is my home, but I try not to have any illusions about it.

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About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).