How Catholic Is the CTSA?

A Response to Avery Dulles

Father Avery Dulles has leveled extremely grave charges at the Catholic Theological Society of America. I regret that he was not in attendance at the convention he censures so heavily. If he had been present he could have perceived how mistaken are the terms he uses to establish attitudes: for example, one speaker "sarcastically" declared, the priest who spoke "meekly" was "sharply" reminded, the chorus was "orchestrated." Neither the meetings nor the text of the Proceedings justifies his division of the participants into the sincere and the sneering. Many of us who have admired Avery Dulles can only ask what could have led this eminent theologian to adopt so hostile an attitude toward the CTSA and to offer so misleading an interpretation of its 1997 convention.

His first charge, that "the convention put itself on record as collectively opposing the irrevocable character of the teaching that the church has no authority to ordain women," misreads the resolution adopted by the society. Its text is: " (1) There are serious doubts regarding the nature of the authority of this teaching and its grounds in Tradition. (2) There is serious, widespread disagreement on this question not only among theologians, but also within the larger community of the church. (3) Once again, it seems clear, therefore, that further study, discussion, and...

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About the Author

Mary Ann Donovan, SC, is a past president of the CTSA and professor of historical theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.